Let me begin by swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
I grew up just outside of Fish Hoek in a place called Faerie knowe. It most definitely was not the best place to grow up but home is where the love is. My parents did not send me or my sister to Fish Hoek, even though it was close and affordable. My home is a Waldorf home, through and through.
I grew up hearing rumours about Fish Hoek. There were whisperings of a high rate of pregnancy, primary school drug users, gang violence, sex in bathrooms, all of the types of things that people do not want to hear connected with a school or children.
I based my knowledge of government schools of my knowledge of Fish Hoek. I believed that government schools were quite literally hellholes in which you went in a child and came out a pregnant, drug taking sex addict.
As an adult my judgement has become less harsh for 2 reasons: 1, Waldorf schools also spawn young individuals who become pregnant, take drugs or become bums. 2, I have met many government school-going adults who are wonderful human beings. This is just the way of children.
I had the honour of being invited to speak at Fish Hoek High Schools’ Culture and Service awards last night. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced in any school setting. The Principal, the teachers, the faculty and staff were all so warm, supportive and welcoming. The students were so mature, grounded and well-mannered.
The Culture and Service awards is an evening of acknowledging those that traditionally would not be celebrated. At a guess, I would say that more than 200 awards were handed out for achievements such as ‘most imaginative writer’ and ‘most improved singer’. From ‘Western Cape no1 creative writer’ to ‘Western Cape no1 up-and-coming male ballet dancer’.
There were awards for best cook, most enthusiastic cook, for backstage technicians, for first aid workers, for student council members, for eco-design champions, for artists, singers, dancers, writers, performers. I was filled to bursting with absolute amazement. The creativity and peer support were something I had never seen before.
Being invited to be a part of this event was and will always be a badge that I will wear with pride. To be asked to speak to youth about how important it is to be creative tells me that I am doing something right in the way that I present myself and what I do. It also tells me that education is slowly finding magnificent ways to change and allow for individuals to step out of the box.
FHHS had the most diverse group of young people that I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. Growing up in the Fish Hoek area, I am very aware of the Black, White, Coloured divide that still hangs like a dark cloud over the Southern Peninsular area. I did not see this heaviness inside the huge, beautifully lit hall at FHHS.
All schools have their struggles and most minds are set in their ways. I am glad to be able to acknowledge my prejudices and allow them to dissolve and disappear. Well done to Fish Hoek High School for starting to be the change that is needed in Fish Hoek and ultimately in the whole of South Africa, Africa and the World.
Image from Odyssey.