While it remains under construction, a multi-purpose hall at the iconic Harold Cressy High School will soon become an integral part in the many milestones of learners at the school. On Saturday, the Harold Cressy Alumni Association Committee (HCAAC) celebrated the completion of phase one of this building with the ‘Wall 2 Hall Honour Celebration’. The success of the wall of honour initiative is attributed to a thriving pledge system supported the public.
The upliftment project was sparked by six educators as a means to raise funds for a school hall. Tired of the lack of space offered to learners and parents, they decided to launch the Wall of Honour to fund the project.
“The rooms inside the school building are really tiny. The structure just lacks space. At previous events we had parents and children not able to sit inside the venue as the main forum was too small,” says principal Khalied Isaacs.
The project started out with R100 000 and has since made R2.8 million in just six months. Each phase had a particular amount of money allocated to it. The project is valued at R5 million. People can pledge any amount towards the project and once the donation is made, a plaque will be put up in their name.
The colour of the plaque varies on the amount donated and is not only restricted to Harold Cressy learners and alumni but to companies and members of the community. Co-ordinator Hashim Nacerodien says the project doesn’t thrive on merit but on funding.
“We are not recognising plaques based on merit but on those who have contributed to this project. It is about raising funds and we need it for to build this hall,” says Nacerodoien.
The hall is used for examinations, school functions, indoor activities, theatre event, sports, community events and conferences. The venue generates additional income for the school.
“We hire out this hall at R5000 a function roughly generating R30 000 per month. Imagine what you can do with this money,” says chairperson of the alumni association Shafiek Ismail.
Educators say they can see the difference in the learner’s attitudes to school functions and academics now that the structure has been erected.
For history teacher Carol Stuurman, the hall is a beacon of hope for her grade 8 to 10 learners.
“It’s nice that this has happened because for the first time this year there was enough space for these children to write their exams in this hall. It’s been a real change. It’s just created this sense of seriousness amongst these pupils. They wrote exams in this hall I can’t believe this project has come so far and been this successful,” says Stuurman.
Isaacs, who shed a tear at the event, said the impact on the pupils’ lives was felt when the matric class of 2016 celebrated their valedictory in the building.
“This year, for the first time, our matric class could have their valedictory in the hall. It was so amazing I could not hold back the tears,” says Stuurman.
Harold Cressy High School started in 1951 and was named after the first black university graduate in South Africa.
Over the last 60 years, the school has never had a proper school hall. Henri Fortuin from the class of 1969 said the hall was something he was not fortunate to have had.
“I don’t remember us having any assemblies or anything. I was at Cressy in the 60s and there was nothing like this. We were not like other schools… we didn’t have that luxury,” says Fortuin.
For learners and ‘Cressyites’, the change is visibly life changing.
“Thanks Cressy keep up the good work. I am so happy to be associated with this school,” says Rose-Anne Reynolds.
“Really excited about this project and the direction this school is heading,” says Xolisa Arnold.
“I’m excited that my matricball will be here,” says Yusrah James.
“I can’t wait to see the progress of this project. It has really been a god sent,” says Fatima Isaacs. VOC (Nailah Cornelissen)