“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.” – Herman Melville

In spite of the limitations placed by the COVID-19 pandemic, our College has been hard at work with regards to community engagement.

The second term kicked off with a workshop for all College staff, organised by myself, Cathy Gush (CE co-ordinator) and presented by a team from the Rhodes University Community Engagement Office (RUCE) led by Di Hornby. The workshop explored the meaning and importance of community engagement, and a few case studies of community engagement were presented by students and local NGOs. These personal testimonies of involvement were particularly powerful, and drew a good response from KC staff. It has laid the foundation for community engagement going forward, and we hope to see a number of fruitful partnerships being built, such as the one between the Environmental Club, Life Sciences pupils and Helen Holleman from River Rescue.

The College BY group, numbering 18 this year, embarked on a mutually beneficial exercise around the Budding Q School Readiness Programme, whereby they did an accredited short course on Literacy Advocacy and Leadership through RUCE, while implementing the practical exercises for gross and fine motor skills with Grade R learners from KC Pre-Primary, George Dickerson and Grahamstown Primary. This not only created a much greater awareness around the issues of literacy development and school readiness in South Africa, but also provided them with something for their CV and benefitted local young children.

The short course culminated in a mini-imbizo, where the BYs presented their final assignments and these were discussed in groups facilitated by student leaders from Rhodes.

In support of the Lebone Centre – one of the main vehicles for community engagement by the College – members of the junior and senior Interact clubs have been working on revamping the outdoor equipment for the Little Red Dragon Preschool, while some Interacters also spend Wednesday afternoons playing educational games and giving homework support to the children in the Aftercare (ACE) project.

Grade 8 learners, as part of their Life Orientation curriculum, have been designing literacy and numeracy games for the ACE children, and trying them out in person on one or two occasions. Where possible, these events take place outdoors, and always with the observing of all the necessary protocols.

Grade 10 learners had a talk on Nal’ibali as a national campaign that promotes reading for enjoyment, and subsequently did an online quiz as part of their LO marks for the term. They also put together collections of Nal’ibali cut-out story booklets for distribution to Grade 4 learners at George Dickerson Primary.

In the Junior School, connections have been made between Kingswood and St Mary’s Primary School with regard to Robotics, and plans are in the pipeline for learners to share in exploring this exciting new field.

As the ethos of sound community engagement grows, it will become an ever more important part of school life at Kingswood, and of the process of building character, developing leadership and facilitating transformation.

Kingswood can be proud of the progress being made in this area, and could even claim to be one of the leaders in the field when it comes to understanding and implementing community engagement at school level.

Cathy Gush, Community Engagement Co-Ordinator. [Email Cathy]