18 May 2016


Latest Senior School Newsletter18 May 2016

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“Comparison is the thief of joy,” said Teddy Roosevelt. The sentiment is often true. For example, comparing the Finance Minister and our President robs us of joy. Or if we compare the possibility of Donald Trump as a potential president for the USA to other presidential hopefuls we may feel a terrible sense of hopelessness for humanity. Indeed, “Comparison is the thief of joy”.

So while the world around us whirls, it is probably best to focus closer to home. When we compare ourselves to others, or worse, if we compare our children to other children, albeit positively, we dilute the joy inherent in the individual simply as they are. As we approach exams there is often a tendency to compare abilities and it is an utterly fruitless and sometimes a pernicious exercise.

One thing that all students can do is to prepare for exams intentionally and know that each one has to prepare according to his or her own needs, not according to the needs of others. Everyone learns differently and there is no one methodology that serves everyone equally well. If there were such a quick-fix panacea to studying we would all be imparting the methodology with great excitement. However, some recent research released earlier this year, by the Association for Psychological Science led by Kent State University Professor John Dunlosky, rated ten typical learning tactics and rated their efficacy.

Amongst the worst practices listed by Dunlosky are the techniques of highlighting and rereading as this tends not to lead to long term understanding. Highlighting works for some students but is often simply a methodology to seem to be studying, rather than actually internalising and understanding information. Highlighting tends to isolate information rather than help to link information to make relevant and meaningful connections.

The best learning strategies, with the most evidence to support them, are according to Dunolsky lesser known practices such as distributed practice, for example. Put simply, this strategy involves spreading out study sessions, rather than engaging in one marathon session. *“Cramming information at the last minute may allow you to get through that test or meeting, but the material will quickly disappear from memory. It’s much more effective to dip into the material at intervals over time. And the longer you want to remember the information, whether it’s two weeks or two years, the longer the intervals should be.” Therefore it is best for students to start their learning some time before rather than the night or two before exams.

The second learning strategy that is recommended by the report’s authors is practice testing. Research shows that the mere act of calling information to mind strengthens that which is being learnt and it also aids in future knowledge retrieval and application of that knowledge. While practice testing is not a common strategy — despite the robust evidence supporting it – the one familiar approach which underpins its benefits is the use of flash cards. There are a number of apps that help create flash cards but they do require time to generate and then to be used for revision.

Distributed practice – or learning over a longer period of time – and practice tests were rated as having high utility by the authors and may be useful for students to consider prior to their exams.

Other practical ways to help students to revise include putting phones and social media away, teaching another person the information that has been leant, exercising, not listening to music while studying, and getting enough sleep.

World over there seems to be an increase in anxiety levels and a sense of pressure. Being prepared and understanding that assessment is simply a part of life goes a long way towards normalising exam time. Parents can help by not projecting their own anxieties or fear of exams onto their children. There is a great deal to enjoy about exams – there is a change in routine, there is the hope of holidays and there is the joy inherent in challenge. So while exams may be a few weeks away for juniors, there remains time to begin revising gently and put distributed practice into practice. We wish the Matrics much success with their exams which begin next week.

Besides exams and the learning that occurs before exams, there has once again been much to celebrate in the Somerset College Community. Most joyous is the long awaited arrival of Baby Hill. Mr Hill and his wife are the proud foster parents to Demi Hill who arrived in their home last week. I am sure you all join me in wishing them a happy and special time with their precious little girl.

Other staff news is that Mrs van Zuydam is congratulated on passing her Masters in Mathematics from UCT with Distinction. We are very fortunate to have highly qualified and excellent teachers on the staff.

While sports results are usually reflected in the Sports Department’s news, it would be remiss not to congratulate Vezi Mntungwa and William Sendin on being selected for the SA under 19 squad which will tour to Sri Lanka next month. Very well done to both boys. They have been dedicated about their practising and give hours to ensuring their skills are as sharp and as dependable as possible. Like studying well, practice is distributed over a long period of time and excellence does not happen overnight. I do hope that this is the precursor to long and illustrious international cricket careers for William and Vezi. We are exceptionally proud of them!

Our Junior Debaters have also performed superbly this season and Aiden Renaut, Saurabh Roychoudry and Spencer Wiggins are congratulated on their excellent performance in the final round of the Boland Debating League. Kayla Prothero and Tiana Nauta contributed very positively in the preliminary rounds and I look forward to their future success. Dr Zoia has been instrumental in placing us back on the debating map and together with the support of Mrs Beck and our eager and dedicated debaters it seems that debating will flourish. It is an invaluable skill.

Georgia Faure and Ruby Tinelli have been selected to go on the Africa Young Leaders Programme to be held in the holidays in America. They are congratulated on their success. I have only mentioned the overt triumphs of individuals. There have been many personal and quiet successes made by others. Each person who has made an effort to be better than the day before is successful because there is no point in comparing; each of us has quiet gains and losses as we navigate the wonderful and sometimes wild path of living in this exciting, volatile and remarkably enigmatic country.

The swimming pool is being examined by engineers and various companies are compiling reports on how best to address the concerns. Reports that came in at the end of last term suggest there are some significant problems with the pool’s structure and these problems impact on the quality of the water in the pool. While we are trying to address the issues around the pool, it may be necessary for us to seek alternative arrangements for water sports should the temporary repairs not last for the duration of the summer season. Ideally we need a generous donor to fund a new pool as this certainly is not on the school’s budget as there are some pressing academic needs and we cannot keep asking parents to fund unplanned but necessary projects.

Yours sincerely
Meg FargherAnnie Murphy Hall in “Brilliant: The Science of Smart”


SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL ROWING CHAMPIONSHIP WINNERS!Amber Ryan and Katherine Williams won gold in both the sculls and doubles at SA Champs earlier this month.

OUR JUNIOR PROTEAS!William Sendin and Vezi Mntungwa made the SA u19 cricket team to tour to Sri Lanka in June!

To view the latest


please follow this link to

our website.

FORTY-EIGHT STUDENTS SELECTED TO REPRESENT PROVINCIAL TEAMS IN NETBALL, HOCKEY AND WATER POLOBack row: Jesse Dukes (U14 Hockey Central Regional), Ryan Botha (U14 Hockey Central Regional), Kira Bester (U15A Boland Water Polo), Ryan Hunter (U16A Boland Hockey), Preston Hugo (U19A Boland Water Polo) Richard Milton (U18 Hockey Regional Team), Jared Brown (U19A Boland Water Polo), Marcus Nel (U18B Boland Hockey), Franco Carstens (U18A Boland Hockey), Nicholas Friedrich (U14 Hockey Central Regional), Alec Venter (U14 Boland Water Polo), Robert Janse van Rensburg (U14 Boland Water Polo),
Sam Henderson (U16A Boland Hockey)

Middle row: Daniel Love (U15 Boland Water Polo), Ashley van der Merwe (CMNF U21B Netball), Nicola Goudvis (U15 Boland Water Polo), Sarah Pool (U16 Boland Water Polo), Kylie Townsend (U15 Hockey Boland Regional Team), Hannah Ernsten (U15 Hockey Boland Regional Team), Stephanie Bihl (U14A Boland Hockey), Maya Williams (U14A Boland Hockey), Mikayla Boettger (u14 Boland Water Polo), Michaela Beart (U15 Hockey Boland Regional Team), Athraa Abrahams (U15 Hockey Boland Regional Team), Georgina Palmer (U14 Boland Water Polo), Frances Carstens (U18A Boland Hockey & U19 Boland Water Polo), Garrick Hugo (U15 Boland Water Polo)

Front row: Zoe Holbrow (U15 Boland Water Polo), Jo Whall (U15 Boland Water Polo & Boland Hockey U16 Central Regional Team), Carla du Plessis (U15 Boland Water Polo) Tanagh Breytenbach (U16A Boland Hockey), Jean Hugo (U15 Boland Water Polo) Megan Johnstone (U18B Boland Hockey), Sophie Butler (Boland Hockey U16 Central Regional Team), Kaylin Strydom (U16A Boland Hockey), Hishaam Braaf (Boland Hockey U16 Central Regional Team), Nathan Henderson (U18B Boland Hockey) Christina Espach (U19 Boland Water Polo),
Mark Limbert (U15 Boland Water Polo)

Absent: Chad Hunter (U14 Hockey Boland Regional Team), Andrea Marques (U16 Hockey Boland Regional Team), Charles Fauel (U18B Boland Team), Chloe Townsend (U19 Boland Water Polo), Anthea Sass (CMNF Senior C Netball), Jessica Kessel-Strachen (CMNF U21B Netball).

IN CONVERSATION WITH ADVOCATE MADONSELAIf anyone is interested in purchasing a video of this event, please contact

Nicky at marketing@somcol.co.za. The cost of a DVD is R120.

is taking place on Thursday 19 May at 18h30 in the Chapel.
Please come along and listen to our talented musicians.


For more information about this competition visit Music Maestro Competition

Good quality, second-hand uniform items can be purchased from the
College Shop between 08h00 and 14h00, Monday to Thursday.Donations of good quality, unwanted school clothing is most welcome.

The latest edition of the Somerset College Smalls can be viewed
by clicking on the image below.To advertise in this publication please email Jean at smalls@somcol.co.za
Here is the 2016 Rate Card 


NEW GYM EQUIPMENTThe Somerset College Gym, or Rowing Centre as it is known, is featuring some wonderful new equipment. Thank you to the 2015 1st team rugby parents and rowing parents for fundraising to make this possible. We aim to create a safe environment with functional training equipment for all sports teams to use. We aim to provide all coaches with the necessary knowledge to guide the teams through a functional training programme during the season and the off season.

Currently the centre will be used by teams for training. No student is allowed
to use the centre without staff supervision.

SPORTS TEAM PHOTOGRAPHSWe tried something different this year and have had some informal photographs taken of our Sports Teams (see examples below).

To view and order these photographs please go to http://www.rayphography.com/,
click to the “Phoenix (Members Only)” tab and enter the password “fenix@sc”.

For those of you who prefer the more formal shots, these will be taken next term and made available to parents to purchase.

NB. The watermark of the Phoenix logo won’t be included on photographs ordered.


IMPORTANT NOTICEPlease be aware that parents are NOT permitted to turn right on to the R44 from Bredell Road.

Please take Steynsrust Road

to get back on to the R44.

MATRIC DANCE VIDEOThis video can be purchased from Carla at Digital Moment at a cost of R150.

Click on the title above to view the teaser.

Matric Dance Photographs can also be ordered through Carla.

(Please email Carla at info@digitalmoment.co.za

for the password to the website.)

SUPPORT SOOZI DINNIEWe have been asked by the Parents’ Association to advertise this fundraising initiative for Soozi Dinnie, a College parent. Soozi was paralysed in a tragic accident 18 months ago and is in need of a special wheelchair which will seriously improve her comfort and mobility. $20,000 is needed.

Please click on this link to support this fundraising initiative.


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*Somerset College Senior School*

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