Serving up a feast of faith, leadership and excellence at Christian Brothers College Mount Edmund

| April 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

BY PRECIOUS MOTHIBA

Founded on 8 September 1922 in the administrative capital of South Africa, in what was then the Transvaal, Christian Brothers’ College (CBC) Mount Edmund is situated in the eastern suburbs of Pretoria, Gauteng.

The college’s original location was Lynnwood Road, adjoining the University of Pretoria. The foundation stone of the college was dedicated to St Gabriel of our Lady of Sorrows, who had been canonised in 1920.1 Established for the education of boys as a day and boarding college and staffed by Brothers from Pretoria and Ireland, Christian Brothers’ College St Gabriel’s (as it was formerly known) opened its doors to 56 young boys. The school was blessed by Bishop Cox, then the Catholic bishop of Pretoria.

By the 1960s, the University of Pretoria required the college’s property to expand its campus, and offered the school an alternative site near Silverton. In 1969, CBC moved to the new Silverton campus and it seemed only appropriate to rename the college. Today, we are proudly known as CBC Mount Edmund, in honour of the founder of the Congregation of Christian Brothers (a Roman Catholic lay congregation founded in Waterford, Ireland, in 1802), Edmund Ignatius Rice.2

In our 95 years of existence, the college has always maintained a culture of inclusivity. It was the first boys’ school in Pretoria to open its doors to learners from all races, and in 1994, it became co-educational, enrolling both boys and girls. We are the only Catholic school that is both co-ed and combined in the greater Tshwane area.

Gospel values prevail over 95 years

CBC Mount Edmund is rooted in teaching gospel values. Over and above the strong academic programme that is offered by our excellent teachers, we aim to develop independent learners who are critical thinkers, with Jesus Christ at the centre of what they do. We are focused on developing leaders, who actively participate in the rites of passage as they move through the different phases of the school in a manner that is modelled on the example set by Christ. On a spiritual level, year themes incorporating gospel values provide direction and spiritual depth throughout all areas of school life. In 2017, our theme is “A Heart to Serve”.

Our learners have really taken to the theme with great enthusiasm, as evidenced by one of the high school teachers: “[A]nd if ever I saw the epitome of a ‘Heart to Serve’, it was watching George last night. He has the empathy and compassion beyond his years and it says a lot about one of our children, who would rather spend his Friday night on the street serving the less fortunate, than hanging out with his friends.” This comment was made following an outing to a soup kitchen in the Queenswood Parish, with which we have close ties. Our learners frequently serve food there to those in need.

The year 2017 was historically special, as the college celebrated its 95th anniversary. College chaplain, Fr Peter Switala, made mention of two focal points during his sermon commemorating the occasion: Our Lady and Blessed Edmund Rice. “Our Lady has always been closely intertwined in the history of the Christian Brothers. Also, when boys and girls use their privilege for the betterment of their fellow human beings, that’s when we see that Blessed Edmund Rice has mysteriously been at work,” said Fr Peter.

Building mountains in the primary phases

CBC Mount Edmund is an independent English-medium Catholic school that provides quality education for boys and girls from Grade RRR to Grade 12. The college is made up of different phases and, in addition to the academic curriculum in each phase, co-curricular activities are included and maintained at the standard of being as much a part of the basic curriculum as any academic subject. Our preschool, named Little Mount, was a welcome addition to the college in 2009, and gives us the opportunity to teach and mould future leaders from a very young age. Our foundation phase (Grade R to Grade 3) seeks to achieve the holistic development of children, and the acquisition of basic skills is at the centre of the curriculum. In the foundation phase, we also offer arts and crafts, book clubs, choir and percussion groups, as well as an introduction to different sporting codes.

The intermediate phase runs from Grade 4 to Grade 7, and our learners are given personal attention and the opportunity to learn through discovery. This phase affords children the opportunity to participate in speech festivals and music, to groom their book club skills and develop in their different sports of choice. Many of our learners regularly obtain their provincial colours in a variety of our sporting codes.

Culinary arts another aspect of excellence

In our high school, each learner is given the opportunity to find their passion and grow their individual talents. The college produces excellent public speakers as well as exceptional sportsmen and women, who regularly receive recognition. Choral singing is highly respected, with a large main choir and a small jazz choir. In addition to the various phases offered in the college, we provide a safe environment through our aftercare programme, which was improved in 2004. Instead of the programme being run as a privately outsourced undertaking, it is now run as part of the college, ensuring that learners who require afternoon supervision receive nutritious lunches and homework assistance until 18:00 for younger learners, and supervised study venues for older learners until 16:00.

Hotel management was introduced as a subject in 1998, along with design and technology. We were then able to open our own small school restaurant, where many well-known chefs have started their careers. The restaurant aspect of hotel management teaches learners how to cook and how to run a restaurant in all aspects. It also provides learners who love to work creatively with their hands the opportunity to think outside the box and create masterpieces in the culinary arts. Learners in this department partake in various chef competitions and, as representatives of the school, have won the Pick n Pay National School Chef competition3 as well as the Pro Arte Inter-schools Chefs Competition4 on a few occasions. Some of our former students are now well-known chefs in South Africa, including Angelo Scirocco, who was in the top 10 of the San Pellegrino Junior World Chef 2016 competition,5 and Vusi Ndlovu, who at one point captained the South African Culinary Olympic team.6 Another alum, Jessica Human, is a junior sous chef at Pot Luck restaurant in Cape Town, widely considered to be one of the top 10 restaurants in South Africa at present.

The Edmund Rice tradition

Our college operates according to the Edmund Rice tradition, which means that we are part of a worldwide network of schools. Our vision statement promotes “Faith, Leadership and Excellence”. With regard to faith, our pastoral care team consists of management, educational psychologists, our chaplain and life orientation teachers, who regularly meet to ensure that the emotional and spiritual welfare of our community is nurtured and enhanced. Our Catholic students are afforded the opportunity to enhance their Sacramental development.

With regard to leadership, we encourage and inspire our learners to reach out to others, and to realise their own responsibility to assist those who are in need. Our values-based education fosters students who are socially responsible and able to identify the needs in our community, and respond appropriately. With regard to excellence, our highly qualified staff members are at the forefront of their fields of expertise, and aim to help our senior students choose from a variety of options at tertiary level.

A heart to serve

When Bernard Langton became principal in 2017, CBC Mount Edmund affiliated with ISASA. We see the benefits of a membership with such an organisation as an opportunity to network with like-minded schools through our staff attending the professionally administered workshops, seminars and conferences offered by ISASA. To us, being part of ISASA means that we are moving in the right direction towards ensuring our college keeps abreast of best school practice and professional development.

As an independent school, we believe that our main call is to put the needs of our children first. Despite the challenges that may arise, our learners’ successes are the driving forces behind our existence, and that is why our teaching and learning programmes are tailor-made to fit our college. Every child has a talent; whatever it is, we will find it. To be a good teacher, we believe, you must have a “Heart to Serve!”

References:

1. See: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-gabriel-of-our-lady-of-sorrows/

2. See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/priests/christianbrothers.shtml

3. See: http://www.picknpay.co.za/picknpay/action/media/downloadFile?media_fileid=47390

4. See: https://www.icachef.co.za/2016/12/28/judging-at-the-pro-arteinterschools-chefs-competition/

5. See: https://www.finedininglovers.com/special/sanpellegrinoyoungchef2016

6. See: http://www.saca.co.za/culinary_team_south_africa.html

 

 

Category: Autumn 2018

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