Reddam House matrics of 2020.
Reddam House matrics of 2020.

Reddam House matriculant passes despite language barrier

By IOL Reporter, Tamara Mafilika Time of article published Feb 19, 2021

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Reddam House matriculant ChengRan “Benji” Zhang could only speak Mandarin and not a word of English, but this young teen beat the odds in passing his matric.

Focusing on so-called top achievers in this highly competitive world – we often miss out on the truly heroic achievements of those who have overcome huge obstacles - and made the grade against all odds.

This is a tale of two boys, ChengRan “Benji” Zhang and Luke Manuel who excelled at school.

Overcoming a language barrier to excel.

Zhang joined Reddam House on the Atlantic Seaboard in January 2017 – as a Grade 10 student could only speak Mandarin – without a single word of English.

Quickly introducing himself as “Benji” – and despite the language barrier – with his broad smile and warm disposition, he soon established a tight circle of friends.

ChengRan “Benji” Zhang, Reddam House, Atlantic Seaboard.

Struggling with poor comprehension and after intensive interventions, Zhang made the brave decision in 2018 to repeat grade 10, consolidating his language base and remediating the content of his academic year.

Two years later his sacrifice proved to have been worth it. Zhang passed his matric with a B-aggregate.

Talented, respectful and humble all rounder.

Luke Manuel, Reddam House, Durbanville

Luke Manuel from Ravensmead is an exceptionally talented sportsman. He attended regional and provincial hockey trials, where he met Reddam House Durbanville students.

After noticing his innate potential Manuel’s parents, Ivor and Karin, applied for a cricket scholarship for him at Reddam House in Durbanville.

His scholarship was approved and in 2018 when he joined Reddam House the school immediately recognised his skills, positivity and his unquenchable urge to be the best he can be in all he does.

“We knew that Luke was a special student,” said the school’s executive head, Barry Nieuwoudt.

“He has those special qualities of being very talented and respectful, so appreciative of what life has to offer. Luke took to our school and to our students like a duck to water and was such a positive influence in the classroom, on the sports fields and to his peers, playing a wide range of school sports,” Nieuwoudt added.

As a popular sportsman, Manuel showed his peers and certainly junior pupils it’s good to try new things and to support others’ endeavours.

In his matric year, he was voted onto the school’s senior executive council and led the sports portfolio, but the Covid-19 pandemic thwarted his efforts. However, just before lockdown in March, Manuel helped organise a highly successful swimming gala.

He passed his matric with 1 distinction and a 70%-average and applied to study Law or Social Sciences at two Western Cape universities.

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