The weekend was an exciting celebration of sport and anyone who watched the First Team Netball in the Hall on Saturday would have quickly learnt the joy inherent in friendly rivalry at school level. The spirit displayed by the students who attended the Somerset College-PV Derby Day was exceptional and the Matrics and Student Leaders who garnered support and generated spirit did an exceptional job. The Astroturf was proudly and appropriately draped in our colours and the shouting and support was electric. One young student said, “Today is the most exciting day of school so far – I just LOVE this!” Many of this year’s student leaders can be very proud of their achievements. Lessons learnt through winning and losing are often lifelong lessons that cannot be taught in the classroom or at home as easily as they can be on a sports field. When the school stormed the Stanford field after the rugby match the camaraderie in spite of loss was exceptional and showed a wonderful spirit. A good school offers a holistic education that requires students to participate in all aspects of it so that they can learn about themselves – possibly the most difficult and most important task for us all.
And a very big thank you to the parents who cooked and cooked for spectators throughout the weekend. We have never had such a well-attended Derby Day and the support from the parents was particularly valuable – thank you so much. The Old Oaks tent was filled to capacity with wonderful alumni supporting their school and a number of them commented on the quality of the burgers and bacon and egg rolls!
The facilities staff worked hard too and by Sunday morning no one would have thought that there had been traffic jams of people and cars at the College – the campus was quiet and pristinely clean. Our facilities staff work very hard to ensure that students can resume the academic programme almost seamlessly after a big event.
STUDENT LEADERSHIP PROCESSES
Many of our surveys and interviews with parents and students have asked for a review of the student leader programme. After much research and a close look at the current needs of students we believe that we have the beginnings of an excellent system. The changes have been communicated to the Grade 11s in particular and to the entire school. While no leadership selection process is infallible or perfect (just look at the USA for example) we have tried to make the process more thorough. People understand leadership differently – many see leadership at school as a reward for hard work while others see it as a process to select students who are prepared to be courageous and take the school to the next level of relevant engagement at student level. On one hand we have reduced the number of student leaders as they currently are. We are in the process of selecting 10 prefects. Thereafter we will select portfolio leaders (much like the current student leader system) and then throughout their Matric year students can apply for a College Leadership position. The new system increases the scope of leadership. In addition to this we will be introducing a Personal Development Programme for Grades 8 to 11 from next year. This programme will aim to teach numerous skills and provide opportunities for leadership. The portfolios remain as they are and new portfolios may be added. Students are encouraged to be involved in portfolios and contribute to the life of the school so that they can learn about themselves and live the value of contribution to something beyond themselves.
Being the group to see in changes is often challenging. I commend the Grade 11s on the gracious way they have received these changes to the programme. Their willingness to engage has been noteworthy. Any new system will reveal pitfalls and they are encouraged to highlight these so that we can continue to develop a system unique to the College but relevant to leadership in the twenty-first century.
Student leadership selection aside, the third term is always busy with events and some parents find it tiresome. High school is so short. As a parent your child’s five year high school career will pass you by in a flash; sooner than can be imagined, there will be no more lifting and cheering and supporting to be attended to and interrupted Saturdays will disappear. Life will be inordinately quiet.
But for now we have Founders’ Day and then our Matrics begin their Preliminary Examinations. We wish them well as they begin to consolidate years of learning. They start their journey to bigger and better and more exciting things and we wish them well as they embark on this first lap of exams.
Founders’ Day is another special day on the calendar and we honour those who had the beautiful vision for this school and who worked hard to see it come to fruition. I hope we will see you on Saturday as we entrench this important and valuable tradition which culminates in the Werf challenge. Our Old Oaks will be playing various sports matches and we will celebrate in the evening with those students who left a decade ago in 2006. Students may leave school after the Werf Challenge at about 12pm.
We honour our founders and we celebrate our current students who hold the flag of Somerset College high and who continue to pursue excellence and be the best people they can be.