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Game, set, match for Yeshiva’s high achievers

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Jonathan Hazi won a silver medal for Gauteng in the U19 National Volleyball Games during matric last year, while his fellow 2022 Yeshiva College Boys High School matriculant, Ariel Richards, gained invaluable speaking skills on the school’s public speaking team.

Hazi says matric was his best school year. Richards says, “Not only did the school nurture me in the younger grades, it also strengthened my values, enhanced my knowledge, and inspired me to be the very best version of myself.”

“Our team hadn’t lost a game until it came to the finals where we lost to KwaZulu-Natal three sets to one,” Hazi says of the National Volleyball Games, held in Limpopo.

At the games, a committee selected players to play for the South African team. At the award ceremony following the games, Hazi was selected for the South African U19 team for a tournament which took place just two weeks before his preliminary examinations. “This made it extremely stressful for me when I returned from the tournament as I only had two weeks to study,” he says.

Nevertheless, “My matric year was amazing, to say the least. It was fun and exciting. Trying to create a balance of schoolwork, time with friends, and volleyball was extremely difficult, but there isn’t one thing I would change.”

Says Richards, “Yeshiva isn’t just a Torah-focused school, but a multidimensional and interdisciplinary institution that has afforded me many varied opportunities and enabled me to reach my potential. I will treasure the precepts and values that Yeshiva has imparted – chesed, a love of Israel, a devotion to Torah, and a dedication to academics – and I know that these will inform my future decisions and motivate me to succeed.”

He says being part of Yeshiva College’s public speaking team “gave me the skills to speak with confidence and assert my ideas”.

Hazi got into volleyball through the school. “We would often play at break, and found I had a real talent and love for the sport. I decided I wanted to continue playing out of school.”

In terms of academics, Yeshiva College gave Richards the resources to achieve in general studies, the term used to describe secular academic work at the school. “It’s the curriculum set by the IEB [Independent Examinations Board],” he says. “Due to Yeshiva’s multifaceted learning structure, the Jewish work is split from the secular into general studies and kodesh.”

Richards says every one of his teachers went beyond the call of duty to assist him in achieving his goals. “During matric and Grade 11, I completed as many past papers as possible, and this helped me to achieve. Throughout my matric year, I set a strict routine, woke up early each morning to study, and varied the emphasis of my learning so I didn’t lose focus. These techniques helped me to achieve targets that I would never have thought possible.”

Hazi, who has attended Yeshiva College since the age of three, says, “Matric was the first year where we were given freedom and respect from our teachers. We started to become independent and have responsibility for doing what was best for ourselves, which allowed us to grow. We were also given the space to do the things that we had to do, which gave us time to have fun, all contributing to matric being the best year.”

Richards, who has been at Yeshiva College since nursery school, says, “I’m extremely grateful for everything that Yeshiva has taught me – both in Limudei Kodesh and in the secular realm. I attribute my calm, focused state of mind to the school’s guidance, support, and excellence.”

This year, Richards will be studying accounting science at the University of the Witwatersrand, while Hazi hopes to study electrical engineering at the same institution and play a lot more volleyball.

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