At first, the 30 pupils seemed uncertain as to how they should interact with one another.
The usual enthusiasms of 17- and 18-year-olds seemed to have been put on hold, supplanted by a recognition that the moment called for composure.
However, as the minutes ticked by, a nervous energy began to take hold. Conversations became more animated as the classmates turned to each other for support, understanding the bonds that existed among them were designed specifically for times such as these.
Undoubtedly these same scenes were being played out at schools around the country, but the significance of the Silikamva example was not lost on anyone.
Only a four short years earlier, the school had opened its doors to meet the need for another high school in Hout Bay, and both pupils and teachers understood the performance of this first matric class would reflect just how far Silikamva had come in this period.
The approach of deputy principal Dianne Morgan, the bearer of the pupils’ final results, was naturally greeted with cheers and smiles, although no one doubted that beneath the surface nervous anticipation loomed large.
Once principal Angus Duffett had seated the pupils, a cross-section of the 72 Silikamva matriculants, every eye in the room turned to the wooden box on the table that contained those envelopes. That fate could be so tightly compacted seemed almost surreal to some.
With the school-leavers positioned at their desks, Mr Duffett began to speak.
“We have a lot to celebrate,” he began. “Our results are the culmination of the hard work and effort from you, your teachers and all the organisations that support us.
“In a moment like this, we will always have disappointments, so let’s be aware that we need to be mindful of those disappointments,” he said.
Ensuring his charges registered the importance of empathy in all things, he continued: “Today we are celebrating a 92 percent pass rate. Of that percentage, 62 percent received a Bachelor’s pass.”
For a second, the pupils were silent, as if his words were addressed to someone else. Then someone whooped, the sudden comprehension of what had been achieved spreading through the room in a glorious wave.
While they had not yet received their own individual results, the pupils were reassured that every one of them had qualified for supplementary examinations, prompting further cheers.
Given Silikamva’s brief history, the performances truly make for remarkable reading: 10 pupils received As in history; two in English; eight in life orientation; and three in business studies.
“You are leaving a legacy at Silikamva. You have set a benchmark for the Class of 2017 – although we expect them to beat it,” Mr Duffett quipped.
“When I went to retrieve your results, officials at the Western Cape Education Department were full of praise for your performance.”
He also wanted the pupils to know that finishing matric was an achievement in itself, in that the retention rate in the Western Cape was 62 percent, although the highest in the country, still well off the desired number.
“You are part of that 62 percent, and you should be proud of that.”
Eventually it was time for the pupils to receive their results. Individuals were requested to come up to the front of the classroom to collect their envelopes, which were to be opened in the passage outside.
Minutes later, and the first delighted shrieks could be heard from the leafy area above the school buildings. Close friends formed pockets of joy all over the property, tears flowing freely as they attempted to share this experience with their peers while simultaneously speaking to their parents.
Silikamva’s Bachelor’s pass rate was not lost on Ms Morgan, who also assured those who had not passed that the school would be doing everything possible to ensure that by March every matric would have passed.
“We will be here to help you get through,” she said.
For one of those who did obtain a Bachelor’s pass, Sithembele Jingose, the moment was celebrated with a sprint around the school grounds, encapsulating just what the accomplishment means to these pupils, many the first of their families to study for a degree or diploma.
Across town in Hangberg, Hout Bay High School’s matric class were receiving their own results.
Principal Juan Julius was happy with the school’s 86 percent pass rate – the same percentage obtained in 2015 – but said more hard work was needed.
“I would love to see us getting 90 percent or more in the next two or three years, but I am very happy and proud of what we have achieved,” he said.
“I would like to salute my teachers for their hard work and the extra mile they go for the learners. Our parents struggle with money and can’t afford extra tutors, so at the end of the day it is the Hout Bay teachers who make sure learners pass.”
Mr Julius also thanked the Central Education District for providing Saturday and holiday classes, as well as study materials from curriculum advisers.
Hout Bay High’s top pupil, Victoria Yon, was delighted with her results, which saw her post As for two of her subjects and obtain a Bachelor’s pass. “I was mostly happy, but a bit disappointed in my English and tourism results. For now I am keeping my options open to see what I want to study,” the Hangberg resident said.
“Our principal and teachers always pushed us to our limits, and we want to thank them for that.”