CTTH Societies: Nurturing school spirit through a pandemic 

Nissim Brett on Mandela Day

By Mrs. Daniella Conibear, General Studies Principal

The school year, along with every aspect of our daily lives has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown.

In education, the greatest challenge has been the transition to providing a rigorous and holistic online education while meeting our school community’s social and emotional needs.

While screens provided the answer to many problems they also raised new ones. A challenge to keep children active and social during this time arose and with that the need to take a deep look at the role that schools play in the wider social fabric. In society today schools are needed to meet not just children’s academic needs but also their social and physical needs too. This time of crisis affirmed that schools need to teach children to be balanced, active and healthy individuals that can in turn contribute to their wider community.

It is within this context that Cape Town Torah High launched an initiative called Student Societies, an effort to engage children on a physical, creative and emotional level to support and extend them through this challenging time. They say that calamity is a great inventor and there have been many additions to school life that will be maintained even once our school life looks a little more like it used to. Student Societies covered an intentionally diverse spectrum of areas so there is something for everyone to get involved in. These include yoga, baking, comic book creation, creative writing, origami, debating and public speaking, fitness and art, online and on campus.

Each society provides a chance to get children off the screen and active in the hours after the school day is complete, learning new skills and finding opportunities for growth despite confinement.

The intangible spirit of a school is something that is integral to the school experience and in 2020 we have learnt new and creative ways to develop this necessity. Without classroom walls to stick words of encouragement on, we held online positivity sessions, wellness mentor groups and when we could not meet in person for our weekly chessed lessons, we each went out into our own communities to give back in ways that we could, culminating on Mandela Day, taking these acts of giving to the streets of Cape Town.

With each Student Society session we hope to be teaching our children that we can grow through this challenge and emerge equipped with creativity and resilience.

Cape Town Torah High www.cttorahhigh.org

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