Year-end at The Kusasa Academy has a tinge of sadness as an entire group of learners leave our school and transition into the next phase of their education. Nothing warms our hearts like seeing Kusasa-kids return to offer their support and to inspire the existing students.
Two top-performing alumni, Minati Qalekiso (16) in Grade 10 and Zanetah Shanez (14) in Grade 8 paid us a visit recently. Minati is attending the prestigious Bridge House School on a soccer scholarship and Zanetah boasts a coveted spot in the equally impressive La Rochelle Girls High School. She is also in the top four of her current school’s academic achievers after being the top academic achiever when she graduated from The Kusasa Project in 2019 and was dux-learner of her Grade 7 graduate class.
Just a few years ago, these two students were playing on the jungle gym in The Kusasa Academy’s courtyard wearing their navy tracksuits. Today, they are back in one of their old classrooms, sitting on the tiny chairs they have outgrown and wearing freshly pressed high school uniforms.
They popped by to chat about where they are in their lives, what they miss most about The Kusasa Project and how they carry life-long lessons taught by our dedicated teachers of The Kusasa Academy.
What stands out most about these accomplished teens is how highly they speak of their former teachers. Accolades and thanks are given as if they graduated from university when they left The Kusasa Project on their way to Grade 5. “They would always find new and fun ways to educate us . . . They made sure we always understood the work. They laid a good foundation,” says Zanetah. This is especially valuable as she plans to become either a cardiologist, a neurosurgeon, or a theoretical physicist and Minati aims to be a business owner.
Principle Marie-Louise Raymond is given special mention for the role she played in Minati’s life. He explains: “I grew up with my cousins, she was sort of like a mother figure to me and I could talk to her about anything, even when I had something that bothered me at home. I could come talk to her, she was basically my therapist”.
Minati is especially grateful for the leadership skills he applies in his daily life attributed to his experience at The Kusasa Project. “I was a top student at [The Kusasa Project] and even my peers, in the same class as me, looked up to me. From the age of 7 I was a leader, still now I see myself as a leader”. Minati believes The Kusasa Project instilled these skills in him.
Sitting in the classroom, it is easy to see Minati and Zanetah are two distinguished learners. They speak with purpose and greet everyone at the school with respect, just like The Kusasa Project taught them not so long ago.
“I miss the dances in the morning,” says Zanetah about The Kusasa Academy’s famous synchronised dancing called Morning Celebration. Without skipping a beat Minati chimes in with an affirmative gesture and a soft yet sincere “yes”. As they reminisce about it, Zanetah confesses that in hindsight, she did not appreciate it as much as she should have when she was here. “When we didn’t have it anymore, I realised how necessary it actually was”.
We are so privileged to have been a part of Minate, Zanetah’s and so many other Kusasa-kids’ lives. If you would like to donate to keep our wonderful Kusasa-kids with us until they transition into their new phases, click here to donate.