The V&A Waterfront buzzed with excitement on Saturday as matriculants from Leonsdale celebrated their results.
Over 60 matrics received a free trip to Robben Island as part of a youth mentorship programme started by Ward councillor Franchesca Walker.
Walker says teens in Leonsdale contend with daily shootings while studying from home during lockdown and Saturday was aimed at celebrating their results despite the challenges they face.
“It started in 2019 when Elswood High School got a new principal, Marlon Kiewiet.
“I spoke to him about the challenges for young people and he agreed for us to work with the children,” she says.
“In that short time he raised the matric pass rate from 55% to 84%. We were blown away by how far the kids have come and their dedication.”
She says many of the teens have never visited the Waterfront or Robben Island and she sourced Ward 26 Allocation funds to host the celebration.
“With Mayor Dan Plato we picked them up in buses and enjoyed breakfast at the V&A Waterfront.
“The day culminated in a lunch and certificates handed to the pupils for their dedication.”
She says she is proud of the Class of 2020: “Many of these children have been traumatised by daily gunfire yet they still get distinctions and bachelor passes.
“Some come from poor households, others have to deal with relatives who are on drugs or in gangs and still they have chosen to work to finish school and to get that deserved recognition.