Meet Caleb Wessels, the best matriculant at Arcadia High in Bonteheuwel who despite stigmas attached to the community and the challenge of load shedding, still came out top of his grade.
Caleb, 18, said he chose to applied his mind to his books to avoid becoming another statistic on the Cape Flats.
He went as far as to take an extra subject to help him achieve his goal of becoming a lawyer.
Caleb said he had God, his family, friends and community behind him as he tackled his matric exams, which he passed with a 75.1% aggregate.
While this might not be anywhere near the marks of the country’s top matrics, it is a huge achievement for a young man who had to fend off skollies, gang shootings, drugs and other vices just to finish high school.
“Matric was a journey that was tough but it also shows that if you put work in, it will pay off. It is true: what you sow you shall reap,” he said.
Caleb recalled nights where he had to study with two candles or use his cellphone light to deal with load shedding, while skote rang outside.
“There were nights where you had to grab your books and duck as soon as the shots went off, it was hectic, but because I always knew I wanted to make a difference, and did not want to become another statistic, I never gave up,” the determined teen explained.
Caleb said his mother, a qualified nurse, is his biggest inspiration.
“People call it clever but it’s not clever, it’s working hard. I say this because it wasn’t the same in primary school.”
He also works part-time at a decor company to earn extra geld.
“I want to make a living for myself, I want to be independent and not sponge off people,” he added.
Proud mom Carol, 52, said: “Firstly, we can only thank God for His grace. There’s such a lot of challenges that can make a child go astray, especially on the Cape Flats, but Caleb always proved otherwise.”
She said her son brought tears to her eyes at his valedictory where he received nine certificates in all of his subjects.
Ward councillor Angus McKenzie commended Caleb and his fellow matriculants for their dedication.
“Because of people like you we can work to make Bonteheuwel great again,” he said.