In a digital innovation competition, a team of Christel House students developed a winning concept for an app to tackle the unemployment crisis in South Africa. The six students won the award as part of the goIT program, a competition that gives middle and high school students a hands-on technology education. The Christel House South Africa (CHSA) students competed against seven other schools during the goIT challenge. The CHSA team app idea would allow a user to search for job openings in specific industries. As part of their concept, the app goes a step further by recommending upskill opportunities for available positions by suggesting courses the user might take to qualify for the open jobs. For their concept, each of the CHSA students were awarded a tablet for winning the challenge. Alutha, Grade 9, was inspired working with her classmates. “I have a great interest in technology and coding,” she says. “After winning this challenge, I would now love to pursue a career in a coding related field.” Mr. Cedric Esterhuizen, Head of the Language, CAT, Robotics & Droning Department is proud of the CHSA team’s showing. "The students really put their best foot forward,” he says. “Their work ethic was admirable as they developed their concept."
Christel House South Africa (CHSA) students learn to dream big and think creatively from a young age. Timia L., a 7th grader, has created a thriving business baking and selling boxes of butter biscuits in her community. But with her entrepreneurial mindset, she found a unique way to make her baked goods even more popular. Timia came up with the idea to sell the biscuits in single servings! She knew that community members would love the sweet treats and they would be able to more easily afford the cost of individual biscuits, especially during the pandemic. Her newfound customers bought the biscuits at R1 each (around 10 cents in USD) and her business started thriving. Timia credits her grandmother for teaching her how to bake the biscuits. Timia dreams of one day teaming up with her grandmother to open their own bakery, cooking treats side-by-side. Timia also wants to see the world. “I hope to be able to travel,” she says. “I’m saving money to one day visit London.”
Timia’s mom, Vanessa, is also a familiar face at CHSA. She has volunteered at the Christel House library since 2015. Like her daughter, she’s fulfilling her own dreams. Vanessa plans to become a teacher. With encouragement from colleagues, she is working as a teacher’s assistant at CHSA while taking classes to become an instructor.
Cee-Jay, a Grade 9 student, has a love and talent for art. When he was diagnosed with Keratoconus, a progressive eye disease that hinders his ability to see properly, students and staff at Christel House South Africa (CHSA) stepped forward to raise funds to provide treatment.
Cee-Jay struggles to see the board in his classroom. He has only 20-25% vision but enjoys drawing and would one day like to see his artwork in galleries. “It is through my late grandfather, that I have a passion for art,” says Cee-Jay. His sight can be corrected with highly customized contact lenses, but the cost of the special contact lenses is expensive. To show support for their classmate, CHSA organized a charity run and distributed fundraising lists to each high school student to help raise donations for Cee-Jay. Working with Eyes to Eyes, a South Africa nonprofit dedicated to overcoming corneal blindness, students and staff managed to raise the targeted amount for Cee-Jay's corrective contact lenses. The lenses are now being manufactured in New Zealand. “I feel extremely happy for all the support and the money raised for my contact lenses,” says a grateful Cee-Jay. “I still can’t believe that I will be receiving them soon. With the contact lenses that I will be receiving, I will be able to draw and see clearly.”
More than 60 Grade RR students received a warm welcome as Christel House South Africa (CHSA) opened three new classrooms for 4-year-olds. “CHSA turns 20 this year and adding this crucial phase to our Early Childhood Development program has long been a dream for us,” says Adri Marais, CEO.
The new classrooms were made possible by a unique partnership with MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet and Builders. “We are humbled to be given the opportunity to provide Christel House and its learners with three new classrooms to provide an even younger group of children to start their early learning developments,” says Pieter Twine, General Manager of MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet. Getting children into preschool leads to better outcomes for youngsters. “Research has proven that the formative years of a child’s life are the most important and early intervention is key in removing the many barriers to success that our students face,” according to Carol Kriel, CHSA Junior School Principal. Each classroom has a dedicated teacher and is equipped with modern teaching equipment such as interactive smart board technology. Each class will also have access to a teacher assistant to ensure a high student to teacher ratio and to improve early language acquisition through English immersion from day one.
Christel House celebrates the well-being of students around the world, such as Zoe S. at Christel House South Africa (CHSA). With the support of Christel House social workers, Zoe was able to bounce back from medical complications this year.
Zoe is an 11-year-old Grade 6 student at CHSA. She lives in Crawford, a suburb of Cape Town, with her mother, grandmother, and older brother Matthew, a Grade 10 Christel House student. Zoe enjoys physical activity and the great outdoors. In fact, her favorite thing to do in Cape Town is climbing the iconic Table Mountain. But this year, Zoe experienced pain and sickness that landed her in the hospital. After she was hooked up to machines, her doctors found a cyst on her kidney. She needed to go through surgery to heal. The surgery was physically challenging and emotionally taxing. Zoe was afraid she wasn’t going to wake up. When she experienced pain after surgery, she worried that she would need additional treatment. But throughout every challenge, Zoe was supported by her school. “Christel House really helped me,” she says. “I visited social services every week and the Social Workers let me do some activities, they asked me questions, and allowed me to be myself around them and just talk about my fears.” With support from the Christel House community, Zoe recovered and is healthy again. She says her favorite part of Christel House is the people—her teachers, her social workers, and her peers. On the road to a full recovery, Zoe says “I can run without stopping and I’m hoping to do athletics again!”
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