School's first-ever matric ball

By Drum Digital
01 September 2010

IT’S one of the most anticipated events of a learner’s school career. A night to don fine gear, slick on the lipgloss or slip on the sharp suit and transform into a prince or princess for a few hours.

For many South African kids a matric ball is a rite of passage and a reward for getting through more than a decade of school. But for a group of learners in Pilgrim’s Rest, Mpumalanga, attending their matric ball really is a dream come true – it’s the first time one is being held in the school’s 12-year history.

Pilgrim’s Rest City Secondary School probably wouldn’t have had one this year if it wasn’t for the help of a social worker. A few months ago Isabel Jacobs was helping some of the matriculants with a problem when she asked them about their matric ball. “They looked at me as if I was from outer space,” the social worker says with a laugh. “They had no clue what I was talking about.”

Isabel remembered how special her daughter’s matric dance was a few years ago and wanted to give them something special to look forward to. She sprang into action, roping in friends and businesses to help.

“We liaised with the school and drafted letters to ask for sponsorship. Pilgrim’s Rest is such a small place so we asked the rest of the country for help.”

The results were inspirational – Isabel and her team found someone to sponsor a venue for the last Saturday in August, they organised free entertainment and even found evening dresses, suits and accessories for those learners who couldn’t afford them.

And tonight, judging by the joy on the faces of the 26 matriculants, their efforts have been successful. They had to take their classmates as partners, but that doesn’t make the night any less magical.

“My mom and gran got me a dress,” says headgirl Goodness Mashego, in a striking purple chiffon and satin dress, sparkly earrings and diamanté clips. “I can’t believe I’m walking down a red carpet. It’s wonderful!”

PILGRIM’S Rest is not the kind of place where there are many luxuries for the kids who attend the local schools. There are no fancy classrooms with white boards, or fans and heaters to regulate the temperature.

Little wonder the kids didn’t believe Isabel would succeed when she told them she was planning their matric ball. “When she asked if we’d like it we didn’t think it was possible, but we loved the idea,” Goodness says. “We believed her only when she kept coming back to tell us about the progress she and her team were making.”

Read the full article in DRUM of 9 September 2010

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