Not all work and no play for special school stars

2013-01-04 00:00

MATRICULANTS from the Open Air School in Glenwood, Durban, were told by their principal at the beginning of the year that they could achieve wonders through hard work.

Yesterday, pupils from the school proved they had done just that, scooping all the positions for the top five candidates in the Special Schools category in the KwaZulu-Natal education awards.

Xolani Shabane didn’t let being confined to a wheelchair hold him back, excelling in his studies and representing KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa in under-23 wheelchair basketball.

“This year has been challenging, but there have been some improvements in my marks,” Shabane told The Witness.

“Some subjects were tricky, but I was prepared for the others. I’m usually confident, but there were some I wasn’t confident about.”

Shabane, who scored distinctions in Zulu, business studies and life orientation, said he enjoyed juggling sport and studies, and would attempt to do the same this year while studying towards a BComm at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Another national basketball player who achieved high marks at the school is Thabane Tshange, Shabane’s team-mate at provincial and national level.

Tshange, who collected distinctions in Zulu and business studies, said he found balancing his sport and academics a problem at the beginning of the year.

“I eventually managed to do it and get my academics right. I’m very happy with my results.”

Of 2012, he said: “We did well this year as a school, and it’s a year we can never forget.”

They weren’t the only sportsmen to do well in the group. Darion Fynn achieved provincial colours for swimming, and hopes to represent South Africa at the Olympic Games one day.

For his matric year, he put swimming on hold to focus on his studies, and picked up distinctions in business studies, tourism and life orientation.

He said the size of the school worked to their benefit.

“You get to know people better, and when you are faced with challenges, others get to help you,” he said.

Robyn Tyne, who collected a distinction in maths literacy, agreed, saying that they were becoming like a family.

Her principal, Noel Moodley, described her as someone with a “mean sense of humour”.

Talking about her year, she quipped: “I basically just take stuff as it comes. I really don’t remember much unless I have to.”

Her challenges throughout the year? “I procrastinate quite a bit, so that was an obstacle.”

Tyne said she planned to take a gap year in 2013. But once that was out of the way, she said, she hoped to become a vet.

Zimisele Mzelemu, father of Lunga Mchunu, told The Witness that while his son was receiving his award, the family received a message that he had been accepted to study law at UKZN.

He achieved distinctions in Zulu, maths literacy and business studies.

“I am very happy that he has done so well. I hope to see him become one of the best lawyers around,” the proud father said.

Mchunu said the pressure and support he had received from his family had spurred him to achieve the results he did.

Moodley added that the school had achieved a 100% pass rate.

“They all achieved, not just these five.”

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