18 May 2016


Latest Prep School Newsletter
18 May 2016

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Dear Parents

Music Ensembles
The dictionary defines an ensemble as: “A unit or group of complementary parts that contribute to a single effect.”

Making music together teaches patience, diligence, perseverance and achievement. I believe that making music together is one of the key elements involved in becoming a musician and is an integral part of any child’s music tuition. It is one of the best ways to help anxious children face their fears and to make music with their peers. It adds a sense of enjoyment to make music together, to share your talents with others and to make lifelong friendships.

Practising and learning a new instrument can, at times, be very lonely. Lessons focus mostly on individual tuition, during which a child is taught the ability and skill to play a particular instrument. To a certain extent, some instruments such as the guitar, voice, recorder and drums can be taught in a group format and children in these groups already develop a sense of making music together. Children partaking in individual lessons are also given the opportunity to be part of ensembles.

Teaching children to make music together teaches them to listen. It teaches them to listen much more intently than when they play a solo. It teaches them to breathe together, to make eye contact, to communicate using body language and to feel the phrasing in the music. The most beautiful moments in music are created with blended harmonies and when the complementary parts culminate in the perfect execution of a single effect.

Whether children are singing in a choir, playing in a band or orchestra or playing duets, trios or quartets, the process starts off the same. Firstly, the individual parts are taught until the children are confident enough to face the challenge of another part performing with them. The teacher fulfils the role as the partner, allowing them the opportunity to train their ears and grow accustomed to the new harmonies, melodies and rhythms.

When they are confident playing with their teacher, they start to perform with one other. Once they feel more at ease with the composition, musical nuances, melody lines and the general character and mood of the composition are added. They have to listen to each other and, in many cases, rely on body language or a single breath to start a piece or a new phrase. It takes months to coordinate an ensemble composition. It takes hours of practice, constant repetition and many moments where you feel like quitting – but you don’t. It teaches children to be disciplined and to listen. It teaches them to work with others and to be proud, supportive, kind and respectful team players – very much like a team sport. If you do not play your part, or quit, you are disappointing your team. It teaches children to deal with disappointment. If they make mistakes during a piece they have practised a thousand times, they should still go on with determination to do their best in the following performance. It teaches them to make and accomplish goals. It teaches them that it takes hours and hours of hard work and practice to perfect a performance.

At the Prep School, it is the expectation that voice pupils are part of the choir, string players are part of the string orchestra, selected percussion players are part of the drum line and brass and woodwind players are part of the jazz band. By being part of these ensembles, the children have a more rounded experience of the expectations of their instrument. The learning experience gained during these ensemble rehearsals is something that they will not receive during individual tuition.

Making music together is a passion of mine. Being a member of various orchestras still brings back so many wonderful memories that shaped my life as I became a musician. I distinctly remember one of our ensembles practising for hours, days and months to perfect Khachaturian’s trio for piano, violin and clarinet. We’d spent endless hours perfecting it for a master class later that year, only to walk in and find three chairs on stage with their backs facing each other. We were able to perform this piece using our body language, breaths and engaging with one another. However, we soon realised that we were faced with a new challenge.

Our lecturer at the time, Nina Schumann, the well-known South African concert pianist, opened a whole new realm of what is expected when you play together. It is not just about the notes and the breath you take or the nod of your head to engage with one another; it is creating an atmosphere, creating a sense of tension in the audience, more than one person uniting and playing as one. It was such an incredible experience. Needless to say, we had to start quite a few times before we were able to start together. Sitting with our backs to each other, the only thing we were able to rely on was the tension in the air. Achieving this goal allows the music to captivate you and your audience.

My dream is to instil this love for ensemble music in the hearts of many Prep children, where they are able to communicate in a universal language where race, nationality and personality are not as important as being connected on an emotional and technical level. I believe that making music together will develop attributes that will serve these children well throughout their lives and give them the opportunity to bless the lives of others.

We are presently in the throes of the Stellenbosch Eisteddfod performances. I would like to compliment and commend all our ensemble players who worked diligently; mostly during break times, before school hours, during the public holidays and over weekends to perfect their performances. Well done to those children who already performed so well and to those who are still taking part. We are proud of you!

“I love the humanity to see the faces of real people devoting themselves to a piece of music.  I like the teamwork. It makes me feel optimistic about the human race when I see them cooperating like that.” –  Paul McCartney.

Mrs Marisa van Wyk
Head of Arts and Culture


Academic News

In a world so full of transition, new challenges and expectations to adapt and function effectively in an innovative world, parents and teachers are tasked to work together as a team to develop, equip and support our children during their time at school in order to prepare them adequately for the 21st century world.I was privileged enough to attend the annual Cambridge Schools’ Conference, ‘Leading Learning’, in Johannesburg recently. The keynote speakers, as well as the workshops I attended, were both interesting and informative.  Certainly a common thread that was evident in all the addresses was the need for pupils today to develop intrinsic motivation and to take responsibility for their own learning. We learned that some of the key characteristics people need to live in this century include; independence, problem-solving, critical thinking, the ability to communicate in many different ways and to master skills to work collaboratively in teams to address issues that are relevant and significant.In her address, Professor Cheryl de la Rey, Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria, shared the transitions that our children face as they leave High School and go on into our universities.  This, together with the transition from adolescence to adulthood, can result in a number of difficulties for them.  Professor de la Rey highlighted the competitive nature of gaining acceptance into a good university and emphasised how important it is that sound work ethics are established and reinforced at school level.  It is the ethics and consistent quality that children bring to their learning that really matter.

It is therefore imperative that we encourage and ensure that our children cultivate habits of excellence and develop intrinsic motivation to do well while still at school.  While we as parents are eager for our children to achieve and want to support them by often overseeing their work or in some cases even doing the work for them, we are actually not assisting them at all.  It needs wisdom to know when to intervene and when to support emotionally, but we need to allow our children to face and work through problems. When teachers and parents take a complex task or difficulty away from a child, we essentially disempower them to persevere and face challenging situations in life.

These opportunities and moments instead should encourage determination and allow children to grow personally when facing adversity. Professor Guy Claxton (Kings College, London) in his address to us on The Learning Power Approach, highlighted the need for ‘learning agility’, the ability for children to be able to ‘think on their feet’ and be allowed to “flounder intelligently.”  All too often, we step in and do work for our children in a quest to ‘help’ them but this in fact, is not preparing them for what lies ahead.  We should rather allow them to struggle and make mistakes for it is this that allows learning to happen.  He referred to this as ‘stuffing them with answers’ rather than providing them with skills for life.

Education is for life, not just for school.  Parents and teachers won’t always be there but it is our duty while children are still at school to help them to become independent, confident learners who are resilient. We need to develop children who are able to persevere and who show determination in challenging situations.  It is these skills, Professor Claxton believes, that provide the basis for success in a child’s academic future.

Quote from The Guardian article: “Are we Bubble Wrapping Our Children?” Click Here

We welcomed Mrs Jenny Masterson to the Pre-Prep and Preparatory Schools on Monday and Tuesday, 16 and 17 May.  Mrs Masterson is our mentor for the IQAA Accreditation process. I would like to thank the whole Somerset College Prep family for welcoming me so warmly into the school. It has been a real pleasure to work with all of you and I commend the diligence, honesty and rigour with which your self- evaluation was conducted. You have much to celebrate. The school has the most beautiful setting and facilities and is well resourced and maintained.  The innovative and creative teaching encourages individual thinking and problem solving and there is a palpable energy and excitement in the classroom, where pupils are encouraged to think individually and to question and debate. You have raised concerns with objectivity and I have every reason to believe that these will be addressed in your quest for excellence. I am especially grateful to Mr Verdal-Austin, Debbie Kitching and the Evaluation team for their positive participation in the IQAA process. I have been energised and delighted during my visit and I wish you all every success.
Jenny Masterson (IQAA Mentor)

Mrs Debbie Kitching
Head of Academics

Early closing – Friday 27 May

Somerset College will be hosting a Cross Country League Race on Friday 27 May. We are expecting about 450 children to participate in this event and in order to ensure good traffic flow to and from Somerset College and to avoid any clashes with the athletes who are taking part, the school day will end at 12:40 for all Grade 1 – 7 children.
Children who cannot be collected will be supervised in the usual manner.

Somerset College Prep has Talent

At the end of last term, we hosted our triennial ‘Somerset College Prep Has Talent’ show. Our very experienced judges, Mr Duncan Combe (Head of Music at Parel Vallei), Mrs Jessica Foster (teacher at Elkanah house, and daughter of Mrs de Villiers) and Phil de Lange (Smile FM DJ) had a challenging task deciding third, second and first places in both the junior and senior phases.The audience was entertained by singers, dancers, drama skits and so much more. The children were all exceptionally talented, and made this evening such a memorable event. We ended the evening with The Marimba Rockers. This was a marimba item performed by some of the Somerset College staff. We rocked!

Choir Camp

Our annual choir camp was held during the first weekend of the second term.  We were blessed with the most amazing weather and all the children had such a wonderful time. We had a very productive weekend, preparing the choir for the Stellenbosch Eisteddfod.

Emo Adams Concert

“Ons het gewikkel en gedans dat dit so lekker gons, want ons is lief vir jou, Suid Afrika!”

What a memorable night we enjoyed with the South African singer and actor, Emo Adams!  Emo Adams shared the stage with De Hoop’s junior choir, the Macassar Primary choir and the junior and senior choirs from Somerset College. The children sang beautifully and enjoyed every moment. It was an evening where we celebrated culture, making music together and having fun. The choirs all prepared an item for the evening, after which Emo Adams and his band entertained the audience.  The evening concluded with a few songs he sang with all the children. 

Stellenbosch Eisteddfod

The annual Stellenbosch Eisteddfod is currently taking place. The children have worked exceptionally hard and preparations for many of these pieces has been in progress since last year. We entered children for music, drama and art, and we are very proud of all of their wonderful achievements. More results will be published in the next newsletter. The following achievements were obtained in the various categories:

To view the Eisteddfod results click on this link

Singing Concert

When I came across the following saying, it somehow summed up this special evening for me: “I do not sing because I am happy, I’m happy because I sing.” I hope that this is true for all my students. Singing is so much more than just learning a melody or learning the words and try to sing them on pitch. It is about giving of yourself. It is about performing your song to engage the audience in your story. I was so proud of my singers. They are all exceptionally talented and it is a pleasure to see their progress and development. Thank you to the parents who made the Prep hall look so festive. It contributed to the relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere of the evening. Mrs Ronel Viljoen
Music Teacher



Fire is amazing. For many, it is both a fascination and a fear. It enables us to cook food. It provides light and keeps us warm. It also transforms – for example, it enables glass to be shaped into something beautiful and elegant.On Sunday, the church celebrated Pentecost, the day that the Holy Spirit (promised by Jesus before His ascension) was given to those that had gathered in Jerusalem. God chose fire to demonstrate the arrival of the Holy Spirit, as there are strong parallels we can draw between the two:1.     Fire is powerful (Acts 1:8)
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. 
There are times when no human intervention can stop fire’s path. Its power can be overwhelming. We have been promised power when we receive the Holy Spirit; power to stand up for the weak, to share our faith, get over mental barriers of self-doubt, or do or say things we didn’t think we could.

2.     Fire comforts (John 14:16,17)
I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Comforter, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.
There is something very comforting about sitting close to a fire when it’s cold. The Holy Spirit too, comforts. When he was on Earth, Jesus spent time comforting, reassuring and listening. Now that he is physically gone, God continues to do this through the Holy Spirit.

3.     Fire moulds and transforms (2 Cor 3:18)
And we … are being transformed into his image, …which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

A glass blower needs to be gentle in order to mould the glass into its required shape. Impurities also need to be carefully removed to make the glass smooth and clear. So the Holy Spirit carefully transforms our character and gently removes our impurities.

God, through His Spirit, wants to empower us, comfort us and gently mould us, so that we may be transformed into the beautiful and valuable person that He created us to be.

Mr Patrick Cordery



Chaplain’s Corner

News from the Pre-Preparatory

The Pre-Preparatory Physical Development Programme

Physical development involves developing control over the body; particularly muscles and physical coordination. The peak of physical development happens in childhood and this is, therefore, a crucial time for neurological brain development and body coordination.  As children learn what their bodies can do, they gain self-confidence, promoting social and emotional development.At Somerset College, the Pre-Preparatory children engage in gross motor activities on a daily basis.  Our physical development programme includes ball skills and kinetics; rhythmic gymnastics, and swimming lessons. Swimming takes place in the warmer summer months and is replaced by rhythmic gymnastics in the winter months.In order to allow for the teacher to have as much one-on-one contact with the children as possible, the classes are divided into smaller groups for rhythmic gymnastics and swimming.  If the teacher observes that a child or group of children is struggling with specific skills and she finds it difficult to give them the needed attention during the lesson, she might take them at a different time during the week to practise these skills individually or as a small group.Kinetics and Ball Skills
During kinetics and ball skills lessons, the children are exposed to activities that develop their body and spatial awareness, balance, locomotion, coordination, bilateral integration, midline crossing, strength and flexibility. The mastery of these activities is imperative for the execution of everyday functions such as walking, running and skipping. It will also influence their ability to sit upright, to attend to class instruction, sit at a desk, move between classrooms, carry a heavy school bag and to have the endurance to cope with a full day of school. It also assists in developing skills such as catching, throwing, bouncing and hitting with various implements. This will stand them in good stead when they start taking part in the different sports disciplines later in their school career.

During the gymnastics lessons, we focus on developing coordination, building muscle strength and improving flexibility. The children are also developing the confidence to manage movement challenges, exploring new ways to move and learning how to control these movements safely in the spaces around them. Through these lessons, they are given the opportunity to overcome fears, grow in determination and build social skills.

During the summer months, we had a great time in the Pre-Prep swimming pool.  Our focus during these sessions was to grow the children’s confidence in the water and to teach water safety. Basic swimming skills were taught in a fun and interactive way.

It has been a fun-filled and exciting few months in the Pre-Prep and we look forward to more adventures as the year progresses and our children develop and grow.

Miss Danette Smith
Pre-Preparatory Physical Education Teacher

Sport News

General enquiries and sick notes for sport – prepsport@somcol.co.za
Physical Education for girls please e-mail Kirsty de Kock – k.dekock@somcol.co.za
Physical Education for boys please e-mail Hilton Toro – h.toro@somcol.co.za


Please follow the correct lines of communication with regard to Physical Education (PE) and Sport if your child is sick and needs to be excused.For PE, you should email k.dekock@somcol.co.za for the girls and h.toro@somcol.co.za for the boys. Please send these emails by 08:00 in order for Mrs de Kock and Mr Toro to deal with them before they have to attend to PE lessons. Please do not email prepsport@somcol.co.za regarding Physical Education. Physical Education is an academic subject and is separate from Sport.For Sport, please email prepsport@somcol.co.za. Mrs Heidi Hudson-Bennett deals with these emails and informs the relevant Heads of Sport/coaches.

The girls played their first netball matches last week against Lochnerhof. This was also the first matches for the Grade 1s. They had so much fun and showed us that they have learnt a lot over the last few weeks. Lochnerhof were tough to beat on the day, but College held their own and did extremely well.This week, we played SWPS. With a game behind us, everyone played fantastic netball and we hope to see this and more during all of our matches this term.Well done, girls!Mrs Kirsty de Kock
Physical Education Teacher & Sports Coach

Water Polo has become an exciting sport in the Prep School this year. Some of our children were invited to take part in the Boland U13 trials which took place at Paul Roos on Friday 6 May. We would like to congratulate all of the players who took part.

Nicholas Pretorius, James Visagie, Samantha Erskine, Jemma ten Siethoff and Georgina Wraith have all made the ‘non-travelling reserves’ list. This will help these players to improve and will put them in good stead for the future as they receive the coaching and gain the exposure that they need.

A special congratulations is extended to Tessa Wittles, who made the U13 Boland girls’ team. This team will be taking part in the National Schools’ Water Polo Tournament from 7-11 December 2016.

Miss Ainsleigh de Kock
Head of Prep School Water Polo

A popular question amongst the Grade 1 boys this term was: “When are we going to play a real rugby match?” The Grade 1s’ first “real” rugby match was therefore welcomed with much excitement, but with nerves too. Their nerves were soon forgotten once the game began. After talking to the Grade 1s about what they most enjoyed about the match, it reminded me of the value of a team sport for children. Some said they enjoyed “real tackling.” Some said they most enjoyed the support of their parents on the sideline, while others said “everything.”

The boys took the skills, the discipline and the values taught during their practices and played an excellent game of rugby. The U8s and U9s had a good day of rugby and were victorious in their matches. Teamwork and enthusiasm were key factors during these matches. The U11 and U13 boys enjoyed victories over Somerset House, outplaying them in all departments of the game. Well done!

We enjoyed great results in all age groups. It was a wonderful day of rugby and it was great to see the level of respect and competition between the two schools. We also bid farewell to Jaden Terblanche, who has moved to Durban. He enjoyed a few years of good rugby and was a great ambassador for the school.

Thank you to all who supported the matches and who shared in the excitement with the Grade 1 boys. What a great start to the season!


Playing Gordon’s Bay is always going to be tough as they enjoy being physical in all their matches. This time, they were surprised to see that Somerset College children were holding their own in all aspects of the game. It was exciting to see the level of teamwork and togetherness shown by our Preppies. The boys lived up to our motto: “Small school, big heart.”The junior teams continued their dominance, coming out victorious in most of their matches. The senior teams played their hearts out and we could not falter their level of commitment. Although they lost their matches, we as coaches and teachers were proud of the spirit in which they played their matches. All of the teams never gave up, but fought all the way until the end!U12 WP TRIALS
Well done to Ethan Ganz who, for the first time in the history of school, made it to the last round of WP trials. He was one of the top 60 players in the Western Province. Ethan unfortunately did not make it to the last 22, but is to be congratulated on his awesome achievement!

Mr Hilton Toro
Head of Rugby

All our teams have been in action over the past two weeks, playing matches against Somerset House and De Hoop. There has also been exciting news for a number of our U13 players with the announcement of the zonal teams.We had a successful day hosting Somerset House on Thursday 5 May. The beautiful weather certainly contributed to a good and healthy atmosphere around the fields.On Thursday 12 May we played at De Hoop. Most of the matches took place on the new synthetic field and the day ended under floodlights following 41 matches in the afternoon. The results were mixed, however. Our teams found the going tough against a determined De Hoop outfit on a new surface that plays quite differently to astro or grass. We look forward to more big fixtures as this where all of our teams have the opportunity to play.

The Zonal hockey teams were announced last week and it gives us great pleasure to congratulate NINE of our boys and girls on being selected for representative teams. We wish them well as they prepare for their respective tournaments and, of course, the experience that they will gain playing in these tournaments.

Tessa Wittles
Jemma Falkenberg
Liam Bayer

Wynand Janse van Rensburg
Joshua Beart
James Visagie
Nicholas Pretorius

Chad Hunter

It is also fitting to mention that a few of the coaches at Somerset College coach provincial teams. Jacques Grobler is a coach familiar to your sons and daughters. He is coaching the Boland U18A boys and will attend the National U18 IPT this July. Ainsleigh de Kock, another stand-out coach that your children will know, coaches the Boland U16B girls and will attend the National U16 IPT these holidays. Another prominent coach in the Senior School is Mark Pickering who coaches the Boland U18A girls’ team. Our school is most fortunate, amongst many other really good coaches, to have these high performance coaches to help steer our hockey. We also wish them well with their respective teams these holidays!

This Thursday we welcome Lochnerhof Primary and Reddam House to our campus and we look forward to watching the hockey to be played and your generous support.
Mr Quentin du Toit
Head of Preparatory Hockey
Please take note of the following arrangements for sport matches next week. Netball, rugby and hockey matches in Week 8 will take place on the following days:
Monday 23 May – Netball matches versus Gordon’s Bay at Gordon’s Bay
  • Team Lists will be placed on the Communicator on Friday 20 May. Normal practice (Netball, Hockey, Rugby and X-Country) will continue for those who have not been selected to play in the matches.
Tuesday 24 May – Hockey matches versus various schools
  • Team Lists will be placed on the Communicator on Friday 20 May. Normal practice (Netball, Hockey, Rugby, Cross-Country and Fitness) will continue for those who have not been selected to play in the matches. Please check the team lists carefully as only certain teams are playing.
    • U8 matches to be played at Lochnerhof
    • U9 matches to be played at Hendrik Louw
    • U10 matches to be played at Somerset House
    • U11 matches to be played at Beaumont
    • U12 matches to be played at Somerset College
    • U13 matches to be played at De Hoop 
Wednesday 25 May – Netball matches versus Beaumont and Marvin Park at Somerset College
  • Team Lists will be placed on the Communicator on Tuesday 24 May (afternoon). Normal practice (Netball, Hockey, Rugby, Cross-Country and Fitness) will continue for those who have not been selected to play in the matches.
Wednesday 25 May – Rugby Matches versus Raithby at Raithby
  • Team Lists will be placed on the Communicator on Tuesday 24 May (afternoon). Normal practice (Netball, Hockey, Rugby, Cross-Country and Fitness) will continue for those who have not been selected to play in the matches.
Thursday 26 May – No hockey matches. Normal practice for all children.
Mr Warren Bevan
Deputy Head: Extra-Curricular (Sport) and Discipline

Grade 5 Outing to the Nature Reserve

The Grade 5s were treated to a visit to the Helderberg Nature Reserve. We were met by the guide who gave us a “basket” to fill with all the knowledge to be learnt. Thank goodness it was just an imaginary basket as most of us would have left with very droopy shoulders! It was such an informative outing. Trust me, you would not have volunteered to carry that basket by the time we were done filling it.Our guide gave us a lot of information about plants and how seeds germinate. She went on to explain something very intriguing, something which we would normally think is bad but is actually good. This is about the benefit of forest fires. We feel awful about forest fires and try to think of ways to prevent them. She explained that in the absence of these fires, our national plant, Proteas, wouldn’t be able to grow. Even if the plant is dead, only the touch of fire will cause it to spread its seeds and germinate. How interesting!Our guide also showed us how photosynthesis works using videos and a PowerPoint presentation. We hiked through the forest and were introduced to different types of plants and trees. Did you know that honey badgers are one of the world’s bravest animals? They can go through a pack of lions without any scratches. Pretty impressive! The outing was very enjoyable. We had a fantastic time. I hope to visit again soon and I am sure that my fellow Grade 5s do too.

Thushani Naidoo
Grade 5 – Mrs Margie Joachim

Grade 5 Heartlands Nappy Drive

Thank you to all pupils and parents for their overwhelming support of the
nappy drive. The school handed over 15 000 nappies to Heartlands!

Agape Educare Centre

Dear Grade 2 parents, children and teachers
A huge thank you from all at Agape Educare Centre for your generous donation of beautiful toys, educational equipment and scooters. As you can see from these pictures not only were our staff thrilled, but our children wasted no time at all in enjoying the new donations.We are, as always, so very grateful to Somerset College for their continued support and generosity to us as a school!

Without such support from the extended community, Agape Educare Centre would not be the thriving, happy place it is today.With thanks
Jenny Cunningham
Volunteer Project Manager for Agape Educare Centre

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