Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever ~Mahatma Ghandi
2013 SPONSORSHIP RECIPIENTS TO ALEXANDRA HIGH SCHOOL
It occurred to me, as I was back 'home' visiting Victoria that October of 2013, that a natural and logical evolution of Ukulapha's nurturing of the educational environment, was to provide scholarships to the top 2 students, a boy and a girl. I contacted Andrew Graaf, then principal of Alexandra High School to make this request since I knew full well that their enrollment for 2014 would be full. He was thrilled by the idea and made space for our students. I also contacted Mr. Msomi who was also delighted and he and his team then had the 'heads up' to commence the evaluation process.
When Siyanda and Nonhlanhla's parents were called to Mr Msomi's office they were very nervous as this was a best kept secret! Andrew Graaf came to the school, as he has done every year, and when Mr. Msomi explained to the moms, they were stunned as were the youngsters! They were both working studiously with no clue of the reward that awaited them.
There is a very broad and fair evaluation process that spans the full school year measuring every aspect of a student's work and school involvement, including behavior and attitude. We also seek full support from the family in creating a study conducive atmosphere at home and it is compulsory for a parent/caregiver to attend parent/teacher meetings and be involved in their child's high school life.
Now starting Grade 11, Siyanda Khanyile still vividly remembers what he felt when it was announced he would be one of the first recipients of a scholarship for Slangspruit Primary learners to attend Alexandra High School. It was especially gratifying because he had informed his sister that he would be attending the high school (which shares his middle name), but due to his family situation, it appeared as little more than a pipe dream. However, following the end of his 2013 school year, that dream became a reality, and now Siyanda exemplifies the virtues of dedication and perseverance. Reflecting on his Grade 8 year, Siyanda acknowledged that “it was hard to meet people, to know friends” but that later in the year he adjusted to the school, the new culture, and made many friends. His favourite subject is history, because learning about the past and the history of South Africa is something he finds both enjoyable and rewarding; this is helped by his history teacher ensuring that his learners are able to learn and have fun at the same time. When he isn’t busy studying, Siyanda enjoys playing Mlabalaba (aka Morabaraba), which is a popular board game in South Africa, similar in some ways to chess, and just as challenging. When he is finished exercising his mind, Siyanda plays the position of midfielder in soccer, which ensures that both his body and mind are in excellent shape. Following high school, Siyanda intends to study to become a GI Specialist or to enter business. For learners who wish to be in the next cohort of scholarship recipients, Siyanda has this advice: think ahead and don’t look back, but they also need to remember to take the opportunities to learn, especially about technology, as the world becomes increasingly digital. From what he has said and done, there is no doubt that he will continue to succeed.
Nonhlanhla Gwala, now in Grade 11 at Alexandra High School still remembers her feelings at being informed of her scholarship to attend the high school. It was a mixture of joy and immense pride, as she is the first one in her family to attend a formerly whites-only school. Because Nonhlanhla was one of the first Slangspruit students to receive the scholarship, there was no warning that she was being considered for the scholarship. For schoolwork, Nonhlanhla had this to say, “I didn’t know that I was going to get the scholarship. I just studied, just for fun….I really like studying.” One of the reasons she loves Alex is its diversity, where she finds herself studying beside people from all walks of life and colour. Another part of Alexandra High that Nonhlanhla enjoys is how supportive the school and staff has been, which started with her transition from Slangspruit and continues until now. Now starting her fourth year at Alex, her favourite subject is Physics, which is due to her love of Maths. Nonhlanhla also enjoys her Drama class because she loves acting and History because she finds the topics covered very interesting. Outside of class, she is involved with the community service club, the school newsletter and is also her class representative. Part of Nonhlanhla’s involvement with the community service club at Alexandra High is to raise funds for local charities and assist at local schools, such as Slangspruit Primary School. For the newspaper club, she interviews students for stories about the school and write about local events, such as the award ceremony at the beginning of the school year. Nonhlanhla plans to put her skills to good use after high school, where she intends to study law and eventually have her own law firm while acting will be her hobby. For students at Slangspruit Primary School who also want to attend Alex, Nonhlanhla has this to say “they should work hard, but not just to get the scholarship, just work hard just for fun”. With that mindset, Nonhlanhla will have no trouble achieving her dreams.