A bright pupil takes the lead

GOOD day, fellow South Africans. My name isTshepiso Mashinini. I am a 13-year-old Grade 7 pupil at Observatory Girls Primary School in Johannesburg.

GOOD day, fellow South Africans. My name isTshepiso Mashinini. I am a 13-year-old Grade 7 pupil at Observatory Girls Primary School in Johannesburg.

Our school has a proud academic excellence record. To illustrate this, two of my fellow pupils and I have been nominated to attend a youth leadership forum in the United States, known as the People to People Leadership Programme, held annually for promising pupils from across the globe.

None of us were able to go overseas due to financial constraints. My colleagues and I remain hopeful, though, that one day we will all make it and take in our rightful places. Thankfully, the People to People Leadership Programme organisers have reserved our places.

This year our school celebrates its 91st birthday, and a proud tradition of earning accolades in arts and culture, education and sports. Our enrolment intake is a mixed bag, with pupils drawn from various racial and cultural backgrounds, religious persuasions and geographical demographics.

Most of us come from different areas in Johannesburg and outlaying townships like Soweto, Alexandra and the East Rand, or Ekurhuleni. Basically, we are one big happy family.

The advent of democracy in our country has also seen our school accommodating children from different parts of our continent. We truly are a symbol of African diversity.

This year I am enjoying the privileged moment of being my school's mayoress or head girl, a role that carries lots of responsibilities and leadership in many areas, apart from striving to do well in my studies.

I have been able to discharge my task with composure, thanks largely to my supportive principal, Gerda van der Westhuizen, as well as the teachers, learner representative council members, and and the school's governing body, and all the parents and fellow pupils.

Unfortunately, our school has over the past few years been struggling to sustain itself financially. Commendably, though, our financial woes have not seen learning and teaching standards and quality fall.

To help out I approached the principal with a fundraising idea after I asked my dad, Zanele Mashinini, a respected artist, to commit himself to producing a special work of art to be donated to our school.

When I presented my concept to our principal and school management team, the go-ahead was given to raise the funding to print the work of art and then sell the prints.

I personally want to appeal to individuals, companies and organisations to donate R50000 towards the printing of 91 prints to coincide with our school's anniversary.

This gift to our school will be like lifeblood to many children from needy backgrounds. The art pieces would be sold at R100000 each.

We will ensure that our sponsors have their logos on the art works. Every art work sold will ensure that some child receives an education as well as learning and teaching support.

Interested parties can telephone our school on 011-487-1100, fax 011-648-5801, or e-mail: 131086@gde.za.net.