CTTH hits the next gear in 2021

Sasha Katz in the newly renovated Ponevez Shul. Photo credit Nissim Brett

While many businesses and schools across the country are contracting, retrenching, and even closing due to the effects of the pandemic, this year CTTH is blessed to be able to mark its largest intake and student population ever despite all the obvious challenges.

The CTTH student population has grown by nearly 30% to top 60 pupils across the boys’ and girls’ divisions, our campus on Maynard St has also expanded, and to support the growth, our teaching faculty has increased in size.
Our home-base, the historic Ponevez Shul, has been fully renovated and restored making it a magnificent and historic space bursting with the sounds of youthful prayer and Torah study.

Torah education
The heart and soul of the school is its Torah education. Students have between two and three Torah periods a day in addition to the Tefillot and full gamut of General Studies high school courses. Besides for graduates in universities in Israel, South Africa, and the USA, we also have alumni studying full time in top Yeshivot and Seminaries in Israel, like the world-famous Mirrer Yeshiva, Yeshivat Shaalvim, and Midreshet Harova, as well as serving in the IDF!

World-class SAT results
CTTH is South Africa’s only Jewish International High School, and instead of IEB or NSC Matric exams, our students take the SAT exam, which is recognised as the leading college entrance and benchmark exam worldwide. We prepare our students for the SAT via a rigorous six-month programme honing the critical thinking and reasoning skills required to excel in this exam. The SAT is time pressured and cross-disciplinary including maths, writing, reading and critical thinking all in one sitting of four hours.

In 2020, CTTH students achieved remarkable results in the SAT, and the CTTH average (1313/1600) was a full 25% higher than the global average, with students scoring as high as the 99th percentile! These results open doors of admission to top universities around the world, as well as make them eligible for financial scholarships. Students have even been recruited by Ivy League schools just based on their marks!

Robotics, coding, and Israel education
How do you educate students for occupations that don’t yet exist in a fast-changing globalised world? This is a question we struggle with all the time, and with it in mind, the school implemented a new coding and robotics course starting from grade 9 in partnership with Resolute Robotics, and it is already seeing much success in the classroom.

To make Israel education and Ivrit contemporary, fun, and entertaining, while meeting the students on their own level, after much research, we partnered with both Israel Unpacked and Ulpan-Or, and 89% of our students choose to take Hebrew, even long after it is mandated by their graduation requirements.

Learning out of the classroom
As another part of our graduation requirements, students need to learn how to give back to their community. For this, we launched a new program called Litrom be-Yachad to nurture young producers of change in the Cape Town Jewish community by building connections between our students and many Cape Town Jewish organizations. Students shadow, volunteer, and discover what these organisations do for the community and how they too can help.

We are deeply grateful to Herzlia Schools for opening their extra-murals to our students, and we have also started an in-house Chess League, are building and planting an edible garden, and have a huge array of extra-curricular Torah clubs where students can take on more out of school learning for incentives and fun. Student Societies range from debating to yoga, photography to first aid.

Schooling may have changed more in the past year than in the past 100 years due to COVID-19, however, there have been many unexpected blessings in these changes. By thinking creatively beyond the limitations of the classroom, emphasising individual attention, and most of all, by fostering an innate love of Torah and Yiddishkeit, we can be confident that our students will continue to blossom and grow despite all odds.

Cape Town Torah High www.cttorahhigh.org

• Published in the print edition of the March/April Pesach 2021 issue. Download the March/April 2021 issue PDF here.

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