Brass band, community bid headmaster farewell through song and dance

There were tears and hugs as the headmaster said his goodbyes.
There were tears and hugs as the headmaster said his goodbyes.
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

A video showing a brass band and an entourage of pupils, parents, teachers and residents bidding farewell to a retiring school principal has gone viral.

They joined principal Edmond Carelse of Lingcom Primary as he walked home, closing the final chapter on a teaching career that spanned 38 years in Graaff-Reinet.

In the video, shared on November 29, a jubilant Carelse, dressed in a white golf shirt and a blazer, can be seen in the middle of the crowd, smiling as he makes his way home. 

Carelse had traveled this route home for decades. He started teaching at the school in January 1981.

He said in a brief statement that he had entered the teaching profession believing children could be shaped to become adults with values.

“If the foundation is not laid in the right way, that child will not get the best out of life,” he said.

Besides teaching in the classroom, Carelse said he tried to teach pupils about respect for each other, their parents, community and the environment.

“You have to guide them daily, you have to look after them. As a teacher you have to be a doctor, an engineer, a farmer, everything.”

It was evident from the crowd gathered to say goodbye that his lessons would be missed.

When he arrived home, some people in the crowd hugged him and others burst into tears.

Carelse waved his blazer in the air, hugged those nearby and headed into the yard where his wife Zabeth was waiting to receive him. She hugged some of the emotional people lined up outside.

The couple said in the days leading up to Carelse's retirement, scores of former pupils had reached out to thank him for all he had done for them. 

Videos of the farewell were shared on Twitter by Carelse’s daughter, Vauldi.

She said her father had given so much of himself to the teaching profession. 

“I remember my dad coming home from school one afternoon, bleeding. He was stabbed in his hand by a drug dealer trying to sell to his pupils," said Vauldi. 

"The tears and outpouring of gratitude makes sense. This man protected his school.” 

Humility and respect were also one of his traits.

“He taught us about teamwork. [When the] time comes for photos, he calls his staff. All of them, even the guard who locks the gates of the school," she said. 

Vauldi said the emotional walk home was not planned.

"It wasn’t planned by the school. The mommies and daddies just showed up at the gates. The children from the brass band usually practice behind our house. And then there was this magic," she said. 

Carelse said he had wished to see the completion of a new building at the school. 

That particular section of the school was demolished two years ago and pupils had to be moved to a temporary structure.