Over Spring Break, 17 sophomores and juniors and 4 chaperones flew over 10,000 miles to Cape Town, South Africa to participate in an exchange program. For two weeks, Blake students lived with host families, attending a few classes at Cedar House School in Cape Town, and hitting the Town to go on excursions. It was an amazing experience to learn about South Africa’s past and present from the perspective of South Africans our age.
Cedar House School used to be the home of a prominent “Capetonian” family for many years. An ancient, huge cedar tree outside the school gives it its name. Inside the house, hundreds of photographs of students adorn the brightly painted walls. There are picnic benches and skating ramps in the yard, where students hang out during “tuts,” what we know as “free blocks.” Cedar House School is only 16 years old, begun two years after the end of apartheid (separateness) and the first election of a new democratic government in 1994. The school’s motto is “Education for our time,” which is reflected by the honesty and openness in the curriculum about South Africa’s difficult past and by how the staff inspires social responsibility and works to build strength of character in the students there.
The attitude at Cedar House is laid-back, accepting, and full of love. Many students there hug someone when they meet them for the first time. Every student is creative in his or her own way, and this creativity is reflected in art, dance, music, personal style, in the classroom, and on the weekends. Different races, cultures, forms of dress, social classes, and ideas converge at Cedar House, but everyone gets along really well and is committed to making all feel welcome.