5 August 2015

Letter from the Head – 5 August 2015

Dear Parents

POPS 2015
The 2015 Pops Concert was a wonderful display of musical talent and I hope it was enjoyed by all who attended. My sincere thanks go to the parent committee, Simon Chapman, Diederick Basson and the various Music staff for ensuring a great show. Of course, there were numerous requests for additional shows but the cost of hiring the professional sound equipment becomes prohibitively expensive. Nevertheless, we will review the process going forward.

Continuing on the musical theme, those who attended Pops 2015 would have been in awe of the items by Gina Tanzer and Caroline-Jade Smith who succeeded on the international stage as well. Gina won the World Championships of Performing Arts held in Los Angeles during the holidays. Amongst her many awards are two scholarships: one from the New York Film Academy and one from the New York Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. At the same Championships Caroline participated in three duet songs and achieved bronze medals for all three; she also sang three solos in which she achieved bronze for one. We are all very proud of these exceptional achievements.

I am very pleased to welcome Mr Richard Sibeko to the English Department and I hope he will have a long and happy association with the College. Mr Sibeko was educated at St Stithian’s Boys’ College where he also taught after obtaining his degree from Wits University. Mr Sibeko is an energetic and talented teacher who has much to offer the College.

Mr Bevan Stephens joins the College staff in a part-time capacity as Head of Rowing. He is known to many Rowing parents and I am sure he will lead the Rowing Club to even greater levels of success. He is known for his ability to motivate and train students to achieve excellence.

Mrs Carla Mulder (Design) is leaving teaching at the end of the year to pursue her passion as an artist. While she has contributed significantly to the College as a teacher, the rest of the world is going to benefit from her exceptional creative talent. We will miss many aspects of Mrs Mulder’s vibrant personality. Mr Jonathan Ewing (History) will also be leaving at the end of the year and going to the UK to study further. Mr Ewing is a talented academic who has contributed significantly to the excellent results in the History Department in recent years. We wish these teachers well in their new and exciting endeavours.

In the previous newsletter I wrote about two of the four aspects for the acronym, WACC. The other two letters are both C and stand for Communicate and Community. I will endeavour to summarise the salient points from the writers of the article on parenting tips.

Communication is important and much research speaks to the value of having a meal together as a family and using the time to communicate effectively with each other. Bruce Feiler, author of The Secret of Happy Families, encourages parents to “set aside time to talk about what it means to be part of your family” and to ask about and set down family values. Furthermore, he goes on to present research that states that children who know about their family history have a greater belief that they have some control over their world and thus have a higher degree of self-confidence. In other words, knowing some family history helps to build emotional well-being in people. It is therefore important for parents to communicate the family history to their children.

Additional research indicates that children who regularly ate meals together with their families had wider vocabularies, better manners, healthier diets and higher self-esteem.

So in brief – try to have at least a few family meals together during the week and enjoy meaningful communication. Meaningful communication includes engaging in differences of opinion and engaging in moderate conflict from time to time. Sometimes parents shy away from disagreements which arise from debates which may ensue from ordinary conversations. Dr Judith Smetana, a leading researcher in teen-disclosure, confirms that in the final analysis, “moderate conflict with parents is associated with better adjustment than either no conflict or frequent conflict. Some leading psychologists argue that where there is less lying to parents, there tends to be more healthy arguing! They suggest that teenagers see their choices as being between lying and doing as they please or argue and trying to get their way or their view across.

And briefly: the other C is for Community. Many will not be surprised to learn that religious families tend to be happier because they exist within a supportive community of friends. Obviously this is a generalisation and the comment refers to families which are not oppressive in their religious leanings. Religious families tend to be happier because they tend to be connected to a sense of community. In addition, a teenager that has the presence and support of a trusted non-parent adult tends to have increased feelings of being supported and well adjusted. Grandparents often play this vital role and can bring huge benefits to helping raise healthy teenagers. Grandparents represent a sense of community. Furthermore children who have the opportunity to contribute into a community tend to be more co-operative, considerate and compassionate.

Thank you for all you do for your children – most of the students at Somerset College have excellent values, show respect and common decency which reflects the excellent care and guidance they get from home. They are certainly on the road to becoming contributing and creative adults ready to make positive changes to this rather muddled world.

Yours sincerely
Meg Fargher