Partners for Possibility

A simple printed T-shirt is making a big difference at Lavender Hill High School.
On Friday, 18 January, every new Grade 8 learner at the school received a T-shirt with the message ‘I am a 2017 LHHS matriculant’ printed on it.

School Principal Faseeg Manie, says he hopes that the initiative, which started last year will improve the school’s retention rate and encourage younger learners who are just beginning high school to finish grade 12.
“The initiative has proven to show signs of success with last year’s Grade 8 learners, the first group to have received the T-shirts. We had only 17 Grade 8 pupils who failed last year, while in the past there would have been many more,” he said.

The initiative has now been extended to include all grades. Grade 10 to Grade 12 learners received T-shirts with the words ‘Knowledge empowers’ printed on them.

“It’s not just about the wearing of the T-shirts, it’s about the symbolism,” Manie said. “It sends out a message that you are proud to be linked to Lavender Hill High School, but more than that, that you want to embrace a lifestyle that says ‘Yes’ to the positive things in life and ‘No’ to gangsterism, vandalism and a poor work ethic.”

Manie said teachers has also started to make small changes. “It’s about a mindset change and staying positive amid the doom and gloom. Instead of harping on the negative and making excuses, we decided to focus on the positive reinforcement and building self-esteem.”

“It’s one thing to have a T-shirt, but it’s still up to the wearer to change his mindset. It is for him to adopt a more responsible lifestyle,” Manie added.

I absolutely enjoy being part of events that recognize and celebrate the achievements of our children.

Last night Lavender Hill High school hosted their annual academic and cultural awards ceremony at Barron’s Estate. I could not attend last year’s event and relished the opportunity I had to contribute to this year’s one.

The event is considered to be awkwardly placed in the school year – very few, If any schools, have an awards ceremony in the middle of the year, but I can see the value in the planners’ minds – it is a perfect way to acknowledge students for work done and inspire them for work which still need to be done.

As with all ceremonies of this nature, the program is fairly predictable in terms of layout; learners are acknowledged across various academic categories in the various Grades. The rounds of awards are punctuated by cultural events and speeches. The same procedure governs the non-academic section of the evening.

What sets these events apart from one institution to the next, are the keynotes that are delivered to motivate the learners and staff. And there is always a learner or two that captures the hearts of the audience. This event delivered in both respects.

Let me start with the learners. The two standouts are dancers Chante Marinus and Fred Damons. Both danced their socks off. They have obvious talent and enthralled the audience with their energy. Their elasticity made me wonder where mine disappeared to over the years. The school is challenged to nurture them going forward.

The keynote address was delivered by the radio and television presenter and now actress, Natalie Becker. She narrates a powerful story which reflects on her own circumstances and how she used these to define her life.

You see, Natalie had a childhood no different from any child caught up in the social pathology issues that affect communities living on the Cape Flats. Without giving too much of the detail, she experienced pain and difficulty during her formative years and could easily have become part of a too common statistic in our province. She chose not to. She emphasized that adversity should fuel ones responses positively and to remain focused on realizing ones true potential.

The secondary speeches from Faseeg and me augmented the primary strands of Natalie’s input. Summed up, the quote from JG Jung listed below aptly defines the collective message.

By 20h00 the evening draws to a close. Many proud parents mill around with their learners waiting for transport to arrive. Everyone else remained engaged in small talk and moments of reflection. A thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all!

I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become. JG Jung

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Phone: 081 583 0027 or
081 232 1692
Address: 91 Grindal Ave, Lavender Hill, 7945, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa