Sha’ar HaNegev: A School Fit for Heroes

Published: 
June 29, 2012

Source: World ORT

 

This week saw the inauguration of the Sha’ar HaNegev High School's new 14,000 square-metre campus, just a few seconds rocket flight from Gaza, which includes two buildings provided by World ORT and its partners at the ICA Foundation and Ministry of Education with the support of British ORT, ORT Zurich and private World ORT donors in the UK and Canada: the academically oriented EMQ Science and Technology Center and a mechanics center for vocational training.

 

For most of the 1,200 students at Sha’ar HaNegev High School scrambling for cover amid the wail of sirens has been a mundane part of growing up for as long as they can remember.

 

Now they have a school fit for heroes, the rocket-proof realization of its principal’s dream to create a community in which Israel’s next generations can not only attain educational heights but probe deeper truths.

 

Explosions punctuated the night air as nearby Netivot again came under rocket attack but the people gathered in the open-air auditorium for the inauguration ceremony – including Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, whose ministry funded more than half of the NIS 105 million project – remained calm: the design of the campus meant that they were surrounded by reinforced concrete buildings and so could easily and quickly find shelter should the terrorists decide to target them.

 

The campus, which will be operational in time for the opening of the new school year in September, has been cleverly and sensitively designed not only to maximize protection from terrorist attack but also to foster the openness and transparency of the school’s communal culture.

 

The reinforced concrete buildings are oriented at a 45-degree angle to the direction of fire from Gaza so that only two of a square building’s four walls would face the full force of an attack; windows and doors are blast-proof; and small, brightly colored shelters dot the grounds so that no matter where you roam you are never more than 15 seconds away from safety. Each grade class has its own ‘home’, identified by colour, and teachers have rooms by the classes so that they are always close to the children.

 

And at the heart of the campus are World ORT’s buildings, whose $1 million cost amounts to less than half the organization's investment in the school’s new site, as well as an art center provided by the San Diego Jewish Federation and, uniquely for a secular Israeli school, a synagogue.

 

“The whole process of schooling is based on a search for your identity – your Jewish identity, your Zionist identity, your human identity,” said Principal Aharele Rothstein. “You can’t ignore the fact that any place around the world which is associated with Jews has a synagogue.

 

The goal is that our students will be able to answer two questions when they finish school: ‘who am I?’ and ‘why am I here?’. If you know who you are then you know much better what you want to study, and when you know why you are here you are here you will be much more able to be part of a community. We have a very high standard of academic achievement and it’s because of this.”

 

See the entire story on the World ORT website.

Updated: Jul. 04, 2012
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