27 January 2016

Letter from the Head – 27 January 2016

Dear Parents

While Margaret Thatcher may have fallen out of vogue, her comment on sitting on the fence and taking the middle road is both figuratively and literally relevant: “If you stand in the middle of the road, you will get hit by the traffic from both sides.”

Figuratively, obviously we need to be constantly examining our thinking, assessing our prejudices and adjusting our thinking and opinions as we gain new insights. To do so is to evolve as an effective human being. Evolution is, after all, about thinking more intelligently and more humanely so that the world is a better place. We encourage our students to have opinions, but not opinion for the sake of opinion – rather opinions that they have thought about for themselves. It is easy to have an opinion but good thinking requires us to consider our opinion.

Taken literally, the quotation is clear: it is unwise to be in the middle of the road. To this end I have been asked, by seasoned, wise and well-travelled parents, to remind newer parents and perhaps young drivers about the dangers of the Bredell Road intersection. Turning right into the R44 from Bredell Road is not only extremely dangerous but also a traffic violation. There have been numerous accidents on that road, many of them fatal. Ideally there needs to be a more substantial intersection at that point as the road is used not only by Somerset College, but by numerous residents and the many people who work at Helderberg Village. You are very precious to your family and to the Somerset College community, so please drive carefully on the R44 and avoid making the right hand turn into or out of Bredell Road.

Some parents have also taken to parking in the middle of the traffic flow areas on campus. It has been inordinately hot and parking far away from the venue of an event at the College may cause discomfort. There is sufficient parking, but some of it requires walking a little distance and enduring the heat. Enduring will be infinitely better than being hit by another vehicle on one or both sides if parked in the middle of the road. Causing a traffic jam for other parents may also have unintended consequences which I am not sure the College could necessarily resolve. Please observe the yellow lines as no-parking areas. There are reasons we have designated areas as no-parking zones and it is advisable not to move barriers to these areas in order to park. It would be fair to say that having to remove a four-by-four from a soak pit would lessen the re-sale value of the vehicle.

Our first set of Cambridge AS results have arrived. Our students did us proud with most students passing very well. Dario Trinchero and Robert Harris performed superbly in Mathematics achieving 100% and 99% respectively. While all students passed English, the higher standard required by Cambridge was evident. The curriculum is demanding and challenging and requires huge academic commitment from students. Special mention must be made of the IT, Maths and Science results and the teachers have to be commended on their drive and dedication. We look forward to this programme growing from strength to strength and we welcome our new cohort of Cambridge students who come to us from far and wide.

At a recent Matric Parents’ Evening, I inadvertently omitted to speak about the value of considering a non-university option after school. As an academic institution we often forget to honour and value non-academic career choices. It is common place abroad for artisanal, vocational and technical occupations to be more highly valued. In South Africa it is predicted that people able to offer a practical and well-executed artisanal service will earn better than those with more esoteric skills. Trigonometry and Shakespeare are unlikely to help when a pipe bursts or a computer crashes or a car engine fails. There are any number of paths to follow and going to university should not be the default destination of all students. One of our top achievers from last year has chosen to study Carpentry at a German Polytech. I salute her decision to march to a different drum beat. Also the jobs of the future, the drone dispatchers or skilled robotic polishers or another unthought of technological skill that will become essential, do not currently exist. Our task is to help our children cope with volatility and change. The world is uncertain – that is the only certainty.

Thank you to those of you who attended the PA Cocktail Party to introduce the Board and for the Chairman to give a brief overview of the College. We also bade farewell to Mr Eduard du Plessis as Chairman and welcomed Mr Pierre Malan as the new Chair. Special thanks to the Prep PA for a wonderful evening and for their hard work in putting together a well-attended and positive event.

Please read all the Sports results – Franco Carstens’ bowling results against Pinelands will give you hope for the future of South African Cricket. We wish the Water Polo Team success at the Grahamstown DSG Water Polo Festival.

The Grade 8s enjoyed a successful camp at Mizpah and are now fully fledged Somerset College students and our expectations of them are high. The Inter-house Relays and Athletics were also great fun and indicative of a fabulous spirit. Helderberg House is congratulated on their convincing win.

Thank you for the positive spirit in the College, for supporting our events and for being part of a special community. I hope you have all registered for the Family Fun Day which promises to be a great deal of fun.

Yours sincerely
Meg Fargher