School’s out forever!

We asked the 2022 matrics about their school career

By: Chandrea Serebro

Megan Gruzd, King David Victory Park

My special subject would be:

Film-making and digital animation because I am passionate about storytelling. I love expressing myself creatively and aspire to learn how to combine my artistic abilities with high-tech computer skills. Especially with the constant use of social media in today’s environment, impactful content creation is an essential part of the future.

What I would change about school:

I know this is almost impossible but if I had a time machine, I would go back to 2020 and somehow prevent the pandemic because, unfortunately, we had to stay at home due to the lockdown. My grade missed out on the incredible opportunity of touring Israel in our Grade 10 year, for which we were all so excited.

The biggest gift school has given me:

Not only an exceptional Jewish education that has enriched my love for Judaism and Israel, but also a second place I call home which has nurtured me since Grade R, teaching me leadership skills, self-confidence, and most importantly, the power of kindness.

Shiri Kaplan, King David Linksfield

The biggest gift school has given me:

King David Linksfield has given me countless gifts and taught me numerous invaluable lessons, including a world-class top-tier education, leadership opportunities which have helped hone my leadership skills, and team building opportunities which have helped form social skills. However, the gift that I cherish most is friendship. At such a big school, everyone has the opportunity to find their ‘people’; like-minded individuals with similar interests and passions. I have made friends and formed bonds that I am certain will last a lifetime.

I’ll miss the most:

I am blessed to have been educated in a fun, stimulating, and social environment which allowed me to thrive and develop into the person I have become today. I’ll miss seeing and spending time with my friends every day. After school, friendships will require a lot more effort, planning, and frequent communication. I’ll miss having qualified adults looking out for me and caring about my mental health and happiness. As I go into the world, as an adult, I expect that the newer role models in my life, at university or in the workplace, will be less interested in my personal growth, achievements, and well-being. At school, teachers care about individual students and their academic progress. I’ll miss being a “child” as I get used to being an “adult”. I’ll actually miss school uniform!!! Waking up and robotically getting dressed without having to think about style, matching clothes or outfits is a blessing. For the rest of my life, I’m going to have to give thought to what I wear. Then, on a different note, as I end matric, I’ll miss my status as the “matric kid” in the house which has excluded me from many chores over the past year. So, now that school’s over, my status will be diminished and with it, my exemption from household responsibilities.

I will definitely not miss:

I will definitely not miss Afrikaans!!! School is very prescriptive and often too “inside the box”, disallowing individuals to reach their potential if found in an unusual area. Until grade 8, I had to do a full set of subjects whether they interested me or not. It improved slightly once I could choose my subjects, yet I was still stuck with Afrikaans! With little to no flair or enthusiasm for the subject, I found it hard to get through. I look forward to a future in which I choreograph for myself without prescribed curricula.

Kayla Kay, Torah Academy Girls

My own special subject would be:

Practical life-skills class – an hour a week dedicated to educating the often clueless youth on how to navigate common obstacles such as changing a tyre or opening a bank account.

I’ll miss the most:

The unique Torah Academy atmosphere of warmth and acceptance which is created by staff and students on our campus – my favourite is the break time atmosphere: music playing, some girls dancing, others playing volleyball, and everyone just enjoying each other’s company. Oh, and Shabbaton! I would give anything to go on Shabbaton again. The biggest thing I’ll miss, in terms of size, is my chair – I had a really comfortable chair in my classroom.

I will definitely not miss:

The bell. I will not miss the bell. I do not enjoy having a bell govern my life. One of my classmates even began a ‘Banish the Bell’ petition which accumulated over 80 signatures.

Nathan Rosen, Torah Academy Boys

My own special subject would be:

A compulsory subject where it teaches you practical skills required for adult life. These could be how to do your taxes, how to budget, and basic first aid. I would add this subject since this subject could help prepare teenagers for adult life and give them experience in adult life.

One thing I would change:

I would make certain subjects more self-taught. That way the person can learn all the relevant information in a shorter time when compared to a teacher teaching the same information. If the learner is not understanding a topic then he/she can organise a lesson with the teacher to explain the topic.

The biggest gift school has given me:

Self-discipline. Where if I am given a task to do I can set my mind to complete it while not being distracted by other stimuli around me. I can also push myself beyond my comfort zone to achieve this task.

Eli Shnaps, Cape Town Torah High

Advice for my Grade One self:

Cherish every memory! If you make your school years memorable, you will better recall incidents that occurred to you and your friends at school. Also, try and enjoy school as much as you can. If you try and find enjoyment in school, you will be more likely to succeed.

One thing I’d change:

The level of student involvement in certain decisions. I believe that students feel much more satisfied with decisions that affect them when they have a say.

Pearl of wisdom:

It is important to take the lessons and values learned from school into life ahead of school. Don’t underestimate the amount that school has given you in life. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for school.

Eliezer Zaiden, Yeshiva Maharsha Boys

My own special subject would be:

Breaking out of our bubble: how to stay Torah-true while interacting with the big wide world – this class would include lessons on emuna (faith) and bitachon (trust in Hashem) when going about business or professional lives. We could get guest speakers who are successful in their work and Torah lives. As many of us will be going into the working world, we want to hold strong to our Yiddishkeit while navigating this lifestyle.

One thing I’d change:

I’d put the whole curriculum online. That way everyone can work at their own pace, yet still have the social aspect of school. We would do this in the classroom with the teachers ready to facilitate should we have any issues.

The biggest gift school has given me:

Friends, I am so grateful to have my ‘bois’. Most have been in my class since nursery school and we have been on the same wacky adventure together over the past 15 years.

Olivia Diamond, Herzlia

Pearl of wisdom:

Work hard and have discipline. I have learned to set my eye on a goal and work towards achieving it. Herzlia has taught me to be diligent and to work with consistency. I will take forward the value of the work ethic that I have gained at school into the next steps of my life when I study at university and further on in my career.

My own special subject would be:

Entrepreneurship. This would help school leavers not have to rely on finding a job, especially in South Africa where unemployment is so high. It could teach students to think outside the box and create their own creative businesses to become self-sufficient and independent.

Advice for my Grade One self:

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. I must enjoy being young and having no real responsibilities and worries. It may sound cliche, but I must live in the present, enjoy the journey of school and life as it comes and not focus too much on the future and wanting to be older.

Moshe Zail, Shaarei Torah

I’ll miss the most:

It’s got to be the weekend. The appreciation that you have for the weekend when working hard the entire week is unmatched. On a separate note, the countless hours shared with my friends too will be missed. Whether silly jokes in class or copying each other’s homework, each event or experience was valuable. We were able to make the most of double sciences and endless portfolio work, it was a truly memorable adventure.

I’ll definitely not miss:

I, thank G-d, had a great experience at school and there’s not much I am eager to forget. Despite this, Fiela sê kind (our Afrikaans set work) will definitely not be missed.

Pearls of wisdom:

Don’t open a packet of chips if your friends are nearby. More significantly, it is clear from school that although many tasks may be overwhelming, they are indeed possible to complete. It reaches a point where you just have to put your head down and push through, do what is necessary even if you are not keen.

Gabi Kahlberg, Yeshiva College Boys

Pearl of wisdom:

Homework sometimes helps. Having a nap always does.

My own special subject would be:

How to Excel on Excel, and other useful things for life.

I’ll definitely not miss:

Nothing too big but I won’t miss the very early mornings. Especially in winter when it was still dark on the way to shacharit.

Liat Lew, Yeshiva College Girls

I’ll miss the most:

The carefree days, being around friends all the time and the fun memories we created together. I will miss that no matter where I went, there was always a friend within a three-minute walk.

I will also miss the stimulating environment of school. I always found it a thrilling experience to learn something new each day. Whether it was in my interesting secular lessons or thought-provoking Jewish studies classes, I was always challenged to engage with material that I had never seen before. I think it’s human nature to miss the past. Once out of school, we start missing school life. Once out of university, young adults complain about missing university life. Once retired, people reminisce about life as a member of the workforce. Although I will miss certain aspects of school, I recognise that it is important to enjoy every phase of my life, as I will be missing it once it is over. In this way, every new experience will hopefully trump all that came before it.

I will definitely not miss:

Maths lessons that I will never use again in life. Trigonometry, geometry, all ‘ometries’ basically. If you are, in fact, a mathematician, I applaud you for surviving maths for 12 years and going to university and taking it yet again. However, on a deeper level, school to me sometimes felt like a waiting room for the real world. Self-actualisation, in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, is the highest level of psychological development, where personal potential is fully realised. The feeling of being sheltered in a bubble is something that I will not miss as I depart from school. As I enter the said ‘real world’, I am excited about the opportunities and challenges that I will face. Indeed, leaving school will enable me to reach the highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy. I will be able to actualise my potential with new-found hope, eagerness, and optimism.

Pearl of wisdom:

There is a famous quote by theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein: “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Often we focus on what we are bad at and completely miss out on what we are good at. However, the problem with focusing on failures and ignoring successes is that we remain static. To be a ‘genius’ in Einstein’s terms, we must step back and determine what our strengths are.

My experience of school has taught me the invaluable lesson of acknowledging where I find success. With each passing year of my school career, my teachers and peers have helped me recognise and fine-tune my strengths to be well-equipped for the future that lies ahead of me. Certainly, this is a way forward as I can focus on how to improve my capabilities instead of being held back by any limitations.


From the teacher’s mouth

Ronit Genish, Hirsch Lyons Girls

The strengths of the youth:

Although I have the title of ‘Morah’, it is often I who learns from my students, and I expand my knowledge with new opinions and insights discussed in the classroom. My students keep me sharp and on my toes as we delve into a plethora of new themes and ideas. Being a teacher to high school students keeps me in tune with the new generation. With the times and trends changing ever so frequently, I feel that it is important to remain updated and relevant. School has taught our children to be resilient and work under pressure and meet expectations. I am certain that all these tools and skills will be useful to youth in their future endeavours.

Pros and cons of being an educator:

I truly believe that the pros far outnumber the cons. However, like every job, this too has its drawbacks. Although the very core of our job takes place in school, that is not to say that our work stays within those walls. Many hours are spent at home planning, organising, marking, and finding new and exciting material. This is all done with the utmost love and care. I feel that I have a great responsibility to lead by example. As a representative of the school and as a teacher, I strive to be a role model to my students. This is not a con, per se, yet a responsibility that I take very seriously. No matter what we may have going on in our personal lives, it must be pushed to the side when we enter our workplace. For me, when I come into my classroom, I make sure that no matter how I may be feeling, I need to put a smile on my face and give my best. Lastly, one must mention the holiday periods which we teachers are granted. This precious time allows us to recharge our energy levels and come back into the classroom feeling motivated, rejuvenated, and driven.

What students love most about school:

Every student tells a different story. Each one with their likes and dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses. Some might say the highlight of their academic career was the outings and seminars whilst others may have enjoyed the volunteering. I believe, however, that there is one consensus between my students. This being that they all loved and benefitted from the close-knit and familial environment that our school provided. The underlying values of care, kindness, and warmth are something that all Hirsch Lyons students know and love.

Rabbi Steven Krawitz Principal Hirsch Lyons Boys

What drives kids today?

In many ways, the same things have driven youth since Hashem created the world, but importantly, channelled through modern technology. Teenagers replace their family with their peers as their main social group and need validation and affirmation from their friends. Social media magnifies the joy and the pain of acceptance and rejection to an unprecedented degree. Teens want to expand their social groups, but the internet can connect them to positive and negative elements, and worryingly removes parental control from the social sphere. Teens need to succeed and prove their worth to society. Today the pressure to excel can be crippling, if not managed well.

Prepared for the future:

School can prepare students for the future by being a safe ‘laboratory’ for real-world experiences. Parents should learn to let go a bit and allow teens to experience success and failure during high school, as both are part of assuming personal responsibility. Parents who insert themselves in between their child and the world create a false sense of security and deny the opportunity to learn to deal with setbacks, which we will all experience.

I wish they had known:

I wish that my students all realise that as an educator I love them and want them to succeed in their lives and that this love underpins everything I do. I want them to know that learning to learn is more important than specific content, that the intellect is one of the greatest gifts Hashem gave to us and that developing intellectually is a purpose of life, especially learning Torah, but also about His creations through the sciences. Also important is to measure yourself against yourself and not in comparison to anyone else.

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