30 November 2011

South Africa: Oprah's First Class Awaits Exam Results

Photo: Oprah Winfrey Academy
Television icon and business leader Oprah Winfrey celebrated the first graduating class of The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa today.

The first graduating class at Oprah Winfrey's school for South African girls has finished their exams, with all of the students set for university studies, the head of the academy said Wednesday.

Results of their final exams will only be released in January, but all 72 students at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls are set for further studies either in South Africa or abroad, Anne van Zyl said in a statement.

"This is, of course, an extra special time for the school as well as the girls," she said.

"This year marks an important milestone in bringing to fruition the vision of our founder, Oprah Winfrey. In just five years the Academy has established itself as a place that nurtures talent and excellence. As a school we've come through some important challenges and learned lessons along the way," she said.

The girls now plan to study everything from medicine and law to arts and engineering, the statement said. Several have won full scholarships, others are still waiting for decisions on bursaries.

Two are set to attend American universities, eight are headed to schools in other countries, and 62 have been accepted at South African universities.

The multi-million-dollar school south of Johannesburg in Henley-on-Klip -- founded with Winfrey's own money -- opened in 2007 in a ceremony attended by Nelson Mandela.

The initial classes of girls at the school were aged between 11 and 13, chosen after an initial 3,500 applications, with Winfrey choosing the final 152 for their academic and leadership qualities as well as their disadvantaged background.

A few months later, the school was rocked by abuse claims, when a dormitory matron was accused of indecent assault on six girls and a colleague. She was found not guilty last year. - ANP/AFP

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