Chanri Strydom’s class act wins Matric of the Year title
The 2018 Herald Absa Matric of the Year struggled to contain her excitement as the smalltown teenager took to the podium on Friday to claim the trophy, cash and title of the Eastern Cape’s top matric.
Hoërskool Brandwag head girl Chanri Strydom’s ear-to-ear smile lit up the Radisson Blu Hotel venue as she graciously congratulated the other 19 finalists on their stellar performances in her brief acceptance speech.
The 17-year-old Uitenhage A-aggregate pupil said she had her parents – Rehan and Tania Strydom – and her school to thank for their support, which saw her excel in all aspects from leadership and sport, to culture and academics.
As overall winner of the silver anniversary edition of the awards, Strydom won her share of the R50,000 cash prize split between her and Excellence Award winner Membathisi Sikani from Soqhayisa High School.
The trove of prizes included Police eyewear (R2,500) compliments of Spec-Savers SA, a Samsung Galaxy Tab and data (R6,148) from Vodacom, a oneyear membership and spa voucher at Profiles Gym (R2,858), Caltex fuel voucher (R2,000) and a 12-month digital subscription to The Herald and Weekend Post online.
In a post-award interview on Friday, Strydom said that as much as she appreciated all the prizes, nothing compared to the feeling of satisfaction the title brought as an acknowledgement of years of sacrifice and dedication.
“I was hopeful but I didn’t expect to win – when I saw all the other contestants’ interviews, I realised anyone could take this,” she said.
“It is an overwhelming feeling, like a dream – it almost feels surreal.
“I almost passed out when my name was announced.
“It really was not easy to get here – all the sacrifices, sacrifices people don’t see behind the scenes.
“I feel like now I have really been rewarded for all my hard work. There is no better recognition than this – it is an amazing feeling.”
Rehan described his daughter’s achievement as overwhelming, “particularly when they were reading out her achievements – it was a rollercoaster of memories going through my head”.
Sikani, 18, said he had doubted that he would go any further than actually entering the competition, let alone winning the Excellence Award.
“I can’t believe I am standing here with this award in my hand,” he said.
“I need to thank my mother [Lungisa] for her support, without her I would not be here.”
In addition to winning the overall award, Strydom also scooped the prize for the academics category alongside Matt Dewar, 17, from Selborne College, who also won the sports category.
Caitlin Laing, 18, from Clarendon Girls High School, was the winner of the cultural category.
Isabella Finestone, 18, from Pearson High School, took honours in the community category, while the special community category was won by Thamsanqa Makeleni, 16, from Woolhope High School.
The Herald editor Nwabisa Makunga said with more than 100 entries from schools across the province, this year’s finalists were truly “20 of the best”.