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School hall metaphor for academic progress
Principal endorses Archway Foundation's work

So important is the Archway Hall in his school grounds that principal Cliffie Vraagom intends to use it as a metaphor for academic achievement.

Around 1 200 high school children attend Mr Vraagom's school, Diazville Secondary, in Saldanha, where he and his staff of 40 teachers have set an enormously high standard and the school's results are exemplary.

'There must always be a way of rewarding achievement, and there are some conventional means that include certificates and medals. But it struck me that the school's greatest achievement was its acquisition of our Archway Foundation school hall, and this should in some way feature in the reflection of our learners' progress through the school,' he said.

His ambition, ever since the hall was built and handed over in 2009, was to collect enough money to build a gallery level at the back of the hall, which could be used as audience seating during performances and school assemblies and then, also, as a much more personal measure of achievement for the senior pupils.

As soon as the mezzanine gallery is completed, it will become the domain of the senior classes in the school. They will occupy the three levels on the gallery during assembly, while the rest of the school will be seated on the ground floor level. 'Even on the main floor, seniority will be indicated by the position of the classes during assembly,' says Mr Vraagom. 'Junior classes will be in front, and will progress to the rear of the hall until they too one day occupy the gallery'. The levels of the gallery will also be used for pupil project work during the school day.

John Matthews, CEO of Garden Cities and head of the Archway Foundation, said that Mr Vraagom's initiative was another example of excellence in education. 'Our recent research has shown that a school hall is acknowledged as primarily important to the successful holistic education of our children. Cliffie Vraagom entirely endorses that, and in so doing, has enhanced the function of his hall immeasurably. We applaud him and urge others to take just such a lateral view'.

The Archway Foundation was established by the Board of the company at the instigation of John Matthews eight years ago.

Cliffie Vraagom is an innovative educator and is considered to be one of the headmasters who have made the very best of their hall. It is generously shared with the community and other schools in the area who do not have a hall. It is also used to raise funds for school requirements in a number of creative ways. Funding for the R198 000 gallery has been raised by the school through events and the contributions of benefactors.

Mr Vraagom has visited the halls at schools headed by his colleagues and gained insights from those who have shown the most initiative in the use of their halls. He acknowledges Archie Benjamin, head of Mount View High School in Hanover Park as one of the top achievers in the optimum utilization of his hall. 'He is a very good example.'

The Archway Foundation has in eight years built nearly 40 halls for children of the Western Cape at schools in disadvantaged areas. This has given over 50 000 kids a place to hold assemblies, stage theatrical events, play indoor sports and host the pupils of other schools at joint occasions. But there are over one million children in the province who don't have a hall.

They each cost around R4 000 000 to build.

The Foundation has valuable corporate collaborators and the WCED to help in the efforts to provide halls as fast as possible, but it invites others to vote funds to assist with the building of the halls. Each contributor has full naming rights to the hall, and can use it to enhance their CSI programmes in the media and in their market place.

Call John Matthews on 021 558 7181

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