Domino Servite sent two teams to the Regional SAICE Model Bridge Building Competition held in Pietermaritzburg on 22 March. Stephan Botes, Louis Geldenhuys and Bonumasa Nkala's team was the first runner up, winning themselves R100 each and R200 for the school. Our team, Cornelis Grobler, Gabriel Khwela and Mxolisi Mthembu won the overall prize and R100 each and R500 for the school. We qualified for the nationals held at St Albans College in Johannesburg.
The National SAICE Model Bridge Building Competition was held on 29 August and the day of competition started at 7am with breakfast. We were then lectured on the ‘general principles of bridge building' and quizzed on famous bridges around the world. The clear span (minimum length) of the bridge was given and pocket calculators were immediately whipped out and memorized designs and dimensions were adjusted accordingly. The green light was given and we started with construction work. With only a six and a half hour time limit, we worked as fast and as accurately as possible reaching an adrenalin-filled frantic climax in the last minutes and managing to finish with just a few seconds to go.
Our models were to be tested that evening. After an eternity of speculation, could-haves and should-haves, the time of testing finally arrived. The bridge was given a score calculated by the mass the bridge carried and its aesthetic value. This total was divided by the bridge's actual mass.
The first team's bridge carried a weight of 40kg after which it broke. They achieved a score of 85. After 11 teams, it was our turn. Our bridge also carried a weight of 40kg. Our score was 84. There was a difference of 1 point in the aesthetic rating. Two teams later, though, St John's College from Zimbabwe knocked us down to third position by winning the competition hands down. Their bridge carried 52,5kg and earned itself a score of 103.
With R1000 each in our pockets and another R1000 each, for our teacher and our school, who could complain, though?
Cornelis Grobler, Gabriel Khwela and Mxolisi Mthembu
When considering the statement, ‘Do not judge a vacation by its location', the Efaya sugar cane fields evoke memories. A weekend on a survival camp was the educational idea of one of our Life Orientation teachers.
Initially we loathed this idea. The thought of leaving civilization and all its comforts for a whole weekend was almost too much to handle.
As we journeyed to the campsite on 20 June, away from any civilization zones, it slowly dawned on us what we had let ourselves in for. We zigzagged through rocks, along dust roads, past vast stretches of greenery and finally arrived at the drop off point. We got out of the four-wheeled transport and onto the two-legged type. We had to carry all our gear, including slippers, nightgowns and bedroom sets to the campsite. This was not a walk in the park, mind you, we followed a map to get to the site. When we arrived at the campsite - a piece of land over-populated with rocks and trees - we had to cultivate it into a place which we could call home for three days! The first task before nightfall was to build a shelter in which to sleep for the night. I nominated myself as the tree-hacker and proceeded to hack with my machete. Yes, we were armed and dangerous!
The cooking team got a fire burning, roasted some viennas and tossed them into fresh buns. We were ravenous and demolished everything. We then turned to devour the bread but we kept in mind that we would starve at breakfast the next morning if we ate Saturday's rations.
We continued with the shelter constructions. They were made out of plastic and bent trees. The plastic was supposed to protect us from rain and wind. A rumble of thunder gave us a rude awakening, for we knew if it rained we would be drenched and probably die of hypothermia. When the rain did come down, we scurried and tucked into our sleeping gear. This part of the camp was the ‘I hate Life Orientation' part. Some of us barely slept a wink. Some covered their sleeping bags with plastic but others were not so lucky. When morning arrived I revisited the statement: hunger is the best cook. We had stiff pap for breakfast with a dash of chilli sauce.
The prison camp morning jog came next. An army style punishment system was also put into place: push ups! Lunch was a more civilised meal of good noodles and mince. We piled our plates high to survive the rigours of the afternoon.
What I really enjoyed about the camp was that the close bonds between us were reinforced by this experience. What we initially thought would be a nightmare excursion resulting in nothing more than stiff smelly bodies and pneumonia turned out to be an excursion where we learnt to tell each other, ‘I accept you and I will be there for you'. Summarising the weekend is quite impossible. It was three days of forever. Fate determines who comes into your life but your heart determines how long they will stay in there.
Two words that send shivers up any PC-playing commercially-minded teenager is ‘The Bush'. What started off as agony, pain and certain starvation ended up as a camp on a farm we would never forget.On arrival, task teams were allocated with various duties. The 6am Saturday morning wake-up call reminded us that the word ‘boot' comes before the word ‘camp'. We played team games and the boys astounded each other with their cooking abilities. We had a great time and it was even educational. We learned so much more about each other than we could have in a classroom situation.
At Domino Servite we have long felt the need to expose our learners to events such as career expos to increase their awareness of career paths after school. Last year we made the decision to bring the careers exhibition to the learners instead of taking them to it.
After the successful 2007 Careers Day, during which we also invited neighbouring schools, the decision was taken to change the format for 2008. Instead of inviting exhibitors, we asked speakers to share their work experience with our Grade 10 to 12 learners on 15 May.
Miss Newlands closed the day with four video presentations. They tied in with Dr van Eeden's appeal to the learners to consider serving others as an integral part of their career planning. These videos showed ordinary people, some still at school, who made a difference in their communities through selfless giving to those around them.
While we consider career counselling to be very important, we also aim to make our learners aware of the great spiritual and social needs in South Africa. It is our prayer as the staff that we will be able to instil in learners the realisation that life is not about personal and material success, but about making a difference in the lives of the people in the communities around us.
Mrs H Pretorius