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Danjelle Midgley

I attended Michael Oak from the third term in Grade 1 in 1993 and finished Grade 10 at Michael Oak in 2002. I went to Constantia Waldorf from Grade 11 and finished Class 13 in 2005. For my Grade 12 Project I recorded a jazz album and arranged for a jazz band to play a composition of mine at the presentations. This year is my 10th year out of school!

After school, I studied a BMus in Jazz Composition at UCT’s music school from 2006 to 2009 where I specialised in jazz composition and traditional African bows and harps. As I have wanted to be an environmental lawyer from class 11, after my BMus, I switched to law and completed an LLB from 2006 to 2009 through UCT’s law school. I then completed a Masters in Law (LLM) through the University of Maryland and UCT from 2013 to 2015, specialising in Environmental Law. 

After many years of studying, I am very happy to be completing my articles of clerkship at a boutique environmental law firm in Cape Town called Cullinan & Associates. I am fortunate to work on cases which involve constitutional issues such as the environmental rights of traditional communities (the photo attached is one of me and an inspiring community activist called Nonhle Mathumbu who my law firm is assisting in opposing the construction of a tolled highway through the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape).

I have extremely fond memories of my 13 years at Waldorf schools. I benefitted from fantastic teachers and a very close, tight-knit class. My best friends today are still mainly my Class 1 Michael Oak friends and I think will always be. Waldorf provided the perfect environment for me to develop as an individual and as a person within a community who is conscious of their place in South Africa and on the earth. I believe my passion for environmental and social justice was nurtured by my upbringing and my school and I am privileged to have found a profession which allows me to feel that I am making a positive difference in the world.

Because I spent my whole school career at Waldorf schools I always imagined that everybody enjoyed school as much as I did. The further away I get from my school days, the more I appreciate how different my schooling was and how fortunate I am to have been placed there. My colleagues enjoy teasing me about some of the more unusual aspects of my education (whittling lessons in the treehouse at Michael Oak, felt-making, copper rods and veils and Eurythmy in general, years of King Arthur myths and an obscure game called ‘Nation Ball’), but none of them enjoyed school as much as I did and none have maintained as close friendships with their classmates they knew from the age of 6 as I have. The other evening I was reminiscing with some of my Waldorf friends and we realised out of our small Michael Oak class, almost half have masters degrees (or are studying for a PhD) in diverse fields including Philosophy, Law, Public Health, Architecture and Linguistics, amongst others.

In particular, Mev Wessels from Constantia Waldorf really stands out from my 3 years at CWS as someone who my class really loved and who put so much effort into our education at school and also on trips. Class camps were a highlight throughout my 13 years at school as were school plays, my social practical at the Hemel-en-Aarde Camphill and of course the class 12 projects.

 

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