LEAP travels to South Africa


Members of  LEAP Club, staff members, and parent chaperones all traveled to Cape Town, South Africa in July to help other LEAP schools with their educational needs.

The members donated their money, supplies, and time, including $15,000 that the club raised to donate. Central’s LEAP Club supports the four LEAP science and math schools located in Cape Town, South Africa. These affiliates are low-fee paying schools that offer education to the children of the surrounding communities in Alexandra and Diepsloot in Johnnesburg and in Langa and Gugulethu in Cape Town.

Molly Arnason, senior, had the opportunity to go on the trip and described it as a touching experience. “I had gone on a trip to Ecuador two years before, and we visited an underprivileged school,” Arnason said. “I then found out about LEAP and realized that I could do more and help more.”

Though the club sponsored many fundraisers during the year, including car washes, bake sales, various sports tournaments, and auctions, their trip this summer was one of their biggest endeavors yet.

On the 10 day trip, students participated in a wide variety of activities. “For the first few days, we visited the LEAP township schools,” Arnason said. “We sat in on classes, participated in group work with the students, played soccer with them, and just got to know them.”

Another exciting part of this process for Arnason was meeting her pen pal, Ayabonga, who she emailed and communicated with several months prior to the trip. Central students also took the tenth grade LEAP students on a field trip to Table Mountain, a plateau located right outside their village. This was an exciting experience for them because, though they live right next to this mountain, they had never had the opportunity to go up to the top. “We rode with them to the top of the mountain in cable cars, and then were able to walk around at the top and take pictures,” Arnason said.

The students and staff of the LEAP schools were welcoming to the HCHS students. “The kids always greeted and thanked us in song. They were very open to us and did not judge us or treat us any differently,” Arnason said.

This open attitude is a focus of the education LEAP students receive, and it is emulated by an elementary school that feeds into the high school. There they have an AIDS-friendly policy where children with the disease and those without it are able to attend school together in a judgment-free environment.

Students who went on the trip said they were very humbled by it, and that they wished to bring much of what they learned home with them. “Being in Cape Town was an interesting experience because it is a multi-cultural city. Though many different languages are spoken there, it all blends together seamlessly. The people there are very warm, welcoming, and nonjudgmental,” Arnason said. “Walking through the school township opened up my eyes to how the world lives. It’s amazing to see how happy people are who have so little. They have showed me how happy you can truly be.”