26 June 2015

Letter from the Head – 26 June 2015

Dear Parents

Examinations, the demands of the term and the early morning shuttle service to school have come to an end for a few short weeks.  Ends and beginnings always bring change in some or other form and we welcome the change in pace and milieu because it helps to invigorate us all.  After all, if we don’t regenerate, we degenerate.

It always strikes me as somewhat peculiar that people are so often averse to change. Imagine if we still solved headaches with the drilling method rather than paracetamol or if we still punished children who erred by beating them rather than guiding them.  The list is endless. The standard of living for most people is infinitely better than it was 100 years ago and therein lies the challenge for those at school today.  How are they going to ensure that they can maintain a good standard of living while at the same time improving the living standards of others less fortunate than themselves? How can we educate them so that this is a priority in their lives?  As we spend time together as families this winter, it certainly is a conversation worth having.

I am enormously proud of our students, assisted by some teachers, who are going to be building a house for Habitat for Humanity in Pelican Park this holiday. Not only will the students be contributing to making someone else’s life more bearable, they will be acquiring skills and experiences that will hold them in good stead for many of their future endeavours. Their experience is certain, one way or another, to be life-changing and I wish them all the best as they build and learn together. Their actions are a poignant metaphor for the possibility that exists in our country.

There have been many highlights this term. Successes on the sportsfield, successes in Olympiads and on the stage and gains in the classroom are obvious points of celebration.  Some students have left for the Youth Leadership Summit while others are ready for Exchange. Growth in individual character development is harder to measure but when one sees evidence of that then we should all celebrate. When a student can go against the norm of accepted opinion and honour their own view in a respectful manner, not just for the sake of being contrary but because they think something different, then character is emerging.  Teachers are often the fortunate observers of such growth and it is the reward of such observations that sustain them in their endeavours to teach far beyond the scope of the curriculum. Many Somerset College staff are excellent at that type of teaching.

Reports will be e-mailed on Monday. I hope the students who worked hard for the examinations will be well-rewarded. Some students are challenged by the rigour of examination-writing but they are encouraged to continue to approach their studies with focus and endeavour as next term is one for class work again where everyone can do well if the relevant effort is afforded the tasks set. The Matrics are unfortunately not exempt from examinations next term as they will be writing their Preliminaries and should use some of this holiday period to focus their preparation.

Although the College makes every effort to contact parents when they have a concern about an individual’s performance, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s Grade Head if you have any concerns.

We bid farewell to Mr Grant Caldwell after ten years of service to Somerset College English Department. Mr Caldwell is going to Qatar and we wish him much success in this new venture.  We will welcome Mr Caldwell’s replacement in the course of the new term as he has to complete his contractual obligations to his former school.

Mrs Su Nightingale will be leaving at the end of Term 3 to be closer to home and her baby daughter. The commute from Paarl each morning has proved onerous. Sadly Mrs Nightingale could not be convinced to move to Somerset West instead as her husband has a successful  medical practice in Paarl. She will be sorely missed by all of us at College and we will say the appropriate farewell next term.

Mrs Jill Worth, assisted by Mr David Scott, will head up the English Department from the fourth term onwards.

Mrs Arlene Laing concludes her contract in the Development Office at the end of June but will remain on the College Trust.  Mrs Laing assisted in establishing clear guidelines for fundraising and the parameters she set down will hold the College in good stead going forward.

Enjoy the changes that holidays and ends of terms bring. If you are traveling I hope you will all be safe and most of all enjoy your wonderful children and bring them back to us, restored and refreshed and ready for new learning and new growth.

Yours sincerely
Meg Fargher