29 April 2015

Letter from the Head – 29 April

Dear Parents

I trust that you have enjoyed Freedom Day and the respite Public Holidays bring from routine.  Although we have only been back at school for a short while there is much to celebrate which augurs well for the rest of the term.

I am very pleased to announce that we have our first Yale Young Global Scholar for Africa.  Jacques Morris (Grade 9) will be attending the Yale Africa Conference in Zimbabwe in August and he is congratulated on managing the application process and for being selected from what the panel said was an extremely competitive group from over 30 different African countries.  Not only will Jacques represent the College he will represent South Africa and we are very proud to have our first scholar on this programme.  Samuel Kingwill, Caitlin McLoughlin and Leo Henman will be travelling abroad on account of their selection to the Global Young Leaders Programme and we know that they will also be excellent ambassadors for Somerset College and South Africa.  I would like to thank all parents who support their children in these endeavours.  It requires sacrifice and courage to let your children develop new skills.

We congratulate our Grade 8 2016 scholarship winners who are Dhania Schultz (Somerset House), Spencer Wiggins (De Hoop Primary School) and Jonathan van Druten (Somerset College Preparatory).

With xenophobia being a blight on our national conscience all attempts to engage with difference – be it race, gender or culture – are vitally important.  There are important conversations to be had with young people as we learn to understand what drives the behaviours of people, as hard as it may be at times; it is our challenge to seek first to understand rather than to be understood.  Getting to know other cultures is one way to practise this important habit and so it is very exciting to see our students travelling abroad as young ambassadors.  Aristotle guides well when he declared, “Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.”

Last year we underwent an extensive inspection process conducted by Umalusi, the state’s quality assurance arm. I am pleased to inform you that we have been given a seven year accreditation.  I am indebted to the staff and in particular Mrs Tessendorf who spent many hours ensuring that all our documentation was coherently compiled.  The teachers too had to produce evidence of good practice.  Not all schools achieve the full accreditation so we are pleased with this achievement.  Soon we will have to participate in the Independent Schools Quality Assurance.

The Grade 11s hosted an elegant and very special dance befitting the Matrics.  The Matrics, in turn, conducted themselves in a manner which reflected their calibre. Well done to all concerned for an excellent evening.

Many of you will have heard the good news that Marli visited school for a short time last week.  She also saw the decorated hall before the Matric Dance.  Her special Grade 11 friends remain a sound support for her and each day is a step forward in her healing.  We have no idea how long it will take for Marli to return to school, nevertheless thank you to all those who have done special things, offered prayers and support.  Hope was all we had a few months ago and we have now all seen its power.  Some of the special things that can be mentioned are the actions of Mrs von Stein and her tutor group, the families who offer unwavering support, the teachers and all the staff and especially Mr Cordery who hold her in their thoughts and Margaux Tison for her clever idea of creating the “Marli Tree”.

Thank you all for being a united and caring community.

Warm regards
Meg Fargher