On the 15th of March 2019 two-hundred-and-eighty pupils from Westerford marched to the houses of parliament, taking a stand against climate change.

On this day school pupils from all around the world stood up for what they believed in and voiced their concerns to their governments about climate change. There were over 1.6 million people who took part in the strike in more than 125 countries. This global strike was inspired by a girl called Greta Thunberg. She is a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden who has recently been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. On the 20th of August 2018 she stopped attending school, rather choosing to strike outside the Swedish parliament, demanding her country reduces its carbon footprint.  In December 2018 she was invited to address the United Nations Climate Change Conference; she was adamant that policy changes are necessary and that if the older generation is not going to do anything to bring about much-needed change, then the responsibility fell on us, the youth, to stand up.

Here at school, after many meetings, a significant amount of time and effort put in by the organisers, and an initial hold-ups, the go-ahead was given. Train tickets were bought, posters were made and Westerford prepared itself to take part in the Cape Town Climate Strike.

In the week leading up to the march, we had an assembly talk on climate change, took part in poster making events, and organiser,  Matthew Peddie, along with GSI and the prefects blocked off Founders Field in order to raise awareness of the long-term effects on our environment of current lack of awareness and international government apathy  .

We left school on the 15th of March after our final assembly and caught the train to Cape Town station. From the moment we arrived in the centre of town we began to feel the excitement and thrill of being part of something bigger and something so important.

Our support and presence was noted: Westerford High School brought by far the most pupils of any of the  attending schools. We believe we truly did ourselves proud and took the first steps towards taking the future into our own hands.

It was an incredible experience to be part of a global movement and it felt powerful for us as young people to be calling on government to make a change. We hope to build on this foundation, with the march as a starting point for the change to come.

by Matthew Suter

 

 

Valen-Cultural Day

On Thursday, 14 February, Westerford held its very first Valen-Cultural Day, a combination of two traditional events: Valentine’s Day and Cultural Day, to create one action-packed, exciting and unforgettable day. Prior to the event, pupils signed up for two interesting and unique workshops to attend on the day. The workshops were hosted by teachers, pupils and outside organisations/experts; pupils were taught a new skill or were given insight into different pastimes. Some workshops took pupils offsite, for example, the ice-cream event at The Creamery; the pizza-making event at The Village Bicycle, and the Woodstock Art Tour.

The day started off with a Valentine’s Day Assembly in the hall. The prefects hosted the assembly, looking sharp in suits and dresses. Various awards were handed out to individuals and couples, including awards like: Cutest Couple, Best Glow-Up, Cutest Grade 8, Best Bromance/Girlmance, and various other amusing awards. Interspersed between the presentation of the awards were light-hearted videos made by the prefects, giving the assembly a fun overall energy.

The Cultural part of the day began after a short break, and it was then that pupils  attended their first workshop. Some examples of events in the first slot were : Chinese Traditional Food Making, Acro-yoga, an International Backpacker talk, Crepe Making, a class on Astrology, and Hip-Hop Dancing.

After a second break, the pupils continued onto their second workshop option. Guitar for Beginners, Marimba Magic, Zumba Dancing, Self-Defence, Henna Art, learning to speak Korean, and Interior Design were just some of the workshops offered in this time slot.

After the second workshop was over, and the sun was scorching down at 31°C, it was time for the lunch break. Pupils sold food and cool drinks at food stalls, raising money as individuals or as a group. There were stalls selling popcorn, brownies, lemonade, ice-cream, pancakes, and many other delicious treats. Outside companies also came to sell their goods, such as Chipstix, The Spur, and Pura Soda. Amidst the business of the food stalls, music was played from the Southern Centre. Westerfordians were able to snack on some chips and sip on their icy drink while enjoying the background music and lively atmosphere.

The day came to an end in the Noel Taylor Hall with the much anticipated grand finale: a live concert by the band, The Kiffness. There was huge excitement, with Westerfordiansjumping, dancing and clapping along to the rhythm and beats. This finale was certainly not a disappointment and ended Valen-Cultural Day with a bang!

Westerford High School’s very first Valen-Cultural Day was a great success, and will hopefully not be the last of its kind. Big thanks go to Ms Laing, Ms Grobbelaar and EXCO for organising the day, as well as to all the hosts of the workshops. A special mention goes to the school societies, GARB and Bonne Cuisine, for organising all the roses and gifts for Valentine’s Day.

 

Ruby Katz Wright, Grade 11

 

HCA Pre-election Dialogue

As South Africa enters election season, her citizens may struggle to identify the candidates they feel are best-suited to serve the country in the years to come. Many young people experience intense feelings of civic responsibility, though often campaign chaos can overwhelm first-time voters. In an effort to educate and stimulate pupils, HCA  - History and Current Affairs Society - hosted representatives from the African National Congress, Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters in a pre-election dialogue on Tuesday 12 March.

 

Each speaker briefly outlined their party’s manifesto and vision in a four-minute opening statement, before the floor opened for a moderated Q&A session. The three student leaders dealt skillfully with poignant questions focussed on controversial issues such as land expropriation, social housing, economic development and corruption.

 

Restricted to just the hour provided by lunch break, speakers were forced to be economical with their time and most answers were limited to thirty seconds. Azola Krweqe from the EFF Student Command, Caleb Kay from the DA Students Organisation and Anathi Khaytwa representing SASCO (South African Students’ Congress  - a branch of the ANC) offered meaningful and concise insights into the policies and strategies of their respective parties, demonstrating that the future of South Africa lies in capable hands.

 

Although many Westerfordians will not be eighteen on 8 May 2019 and so won’t be eligible to vote, the outcomes of the elections will have a profound impact on everyone in South Africa - particularly on the youth. Researchers project that by 2050 there will be approximately 945 million Africans under the age of 25. The African Union’s Agenda 2063 document emphasises the need to harness the potential “demographic dividend” offered by Africa’s tremendous and ever-increasing youth population.

Over 100 pupils were in attendance at this event. Attendees were given ballots and asked to vote for one of the three groups, based on what they had heard from the student leaders. 98 ballots were counted with the results as follows:

 

  • 52% for the DA

  • 36% for the ANC

  • 9% for the EFF

  • 3% spoiled ballots

 

This hugely successful event also highlighted the crucial role that active young citizens need to play in the years to come - embracing the spirit of democracy and engaging in collaborative spaces to create productive discourse.

 

-Nadia Odendaal, 12