|Dear Parents and Guardians
The recent heatwave took us all by surprise. I was just beginning to enjoy the temperate weather when we were hit by a series of energy sapping, hot days, reminding me why at times I do not like summer!
It was during this time that some of our girls decided to test their collective and decided to embark on a “protest” for the school to close during the hot weather and then demanded air conditioning for some classes. I should not have been surprised at one level. Open any newspaper or listen to the news and you are bombarded by the South African culture of protest action. We take it for granted that our girls understand the levels of frustration in society that often lead to tragic consequences and that they are aware of the desperate circumstances in which many live. This intentional and entitled break time activity by some girls raised important issues around privilege, how one uses one's voice and the desperate need for our girls to practise resilience and restraint. I was also deeply disturbed by the way it played out afterwards when some girls refused to return to class.
Our girls are indeed encouraged to voice their opinions and think independently. They are also taught to be respectful and harness their positive energy to bring about constructive, meaningful change. Many unthinkingly, no doubt carried along by the excitement of the group, could not distinguish between that balance of joyful enthusiasm and disrespectful, inappropriate behaviour. What a learning opportunity they presented the staff!
As a school community we need to confront and discuss critical issues including what was unconsciously at the heart of the girls’ thinking: elite privilege demanding air conditioning. What must hold us strong in dealing with these challenges are our values of respect, self-awareness and regulation, compassion and responsibility, to name a few. The character building that is developed through Round Square thinking naturally draws us to address these things.
We need to teach our children to keep on seeing things in perspective, especially in a society that gives undue value to materialism and allows it to define our understanding of success. I love the opportunity that girls have to be involved in service projects in the higher grades and I have been most impressed that almost eighty have completed the Bronze, Silver and Gold Award Challenges with their strong volunteering component. As the girls are exposed to and become aware of real poverty, they learn to look with eyes of compassion and develop a sense of purpose in being able to make a difference. It is equally important that we as adults and parents model attitudes of gratitude and humility for our girls.
I learned a valuable lesson from a series of photographs taken of a Tibetan monk and his teacher. He had to stand at different angles to his mentor and explain the different perspectives one could have of the same situation. As our girls proceed through the school, they too need to develop an age appropriate understanding of life and be challenged to widen their perspective. Air conditioning is an undeniably lovely gift for which we are truly grateful, but what of those who may be learning under a corrugated roof? We want our girls to learn to live with humility and gratitude with the privilege they enjoy. We have had a number of speakers addressing the girls about the activities they are involved in and will continue to expose them to more. Most of all we want our girls to be actively involved in nation building, not only by giving, but also by doing.
The Foundation Phase is presently fund-raising to finance a Christmas puppet show for our sister school, Good Hope Seminary Junior School. The girls will be able to enjoy the performance at school with the satisfaction of knowing it will be enjoyed by students down the road the following day. If they are included in the preparation of goodies to sell, either baking or cleaning up afterwards - real work - they will have a sense of achievement and an understanding of service.
Recently one Grade 6 class also collected much needed goodies for a creche they had visited on a trip to Langa. The collective voice was proactive, practical and outward looking.
The hot days of last week were soon replaced by cold weather so the fickleness of the girls’ needs have dissipated. However, there have been interesting conversations around needs and wants, having a responsible opinion, and learning to live in the African heat!
Enjoy the good weather predicted for this weekend mindful of the many blessings we have heaped on us at this school. We do not want to be a privileged school but rather feel privileged to be able to be part of this community which holds true to our values and seeks to be relevant in our current context.
Carol te Water
Please be mindful of the 'drop and go' procedure both at the Cypress Lawn and in Belmont Road. Ensure your daughter is ready to alight as you stop - no time for final hair brushing and long farewells. The Belmont Road exit is also very busy and a plea to those parents who walk their children into school to park respectfully away from the gates so that there is a free flow of traffic.
Please note that dogs are not allowed on campus. During the week we had to deal with a group of traumatised girls who witnessed a dog injure one of our goslings.
Textbook swops (in the words of Mrs Redelinghuys)
We would really like to encourage our girls to buy textbooks from students in the year ahead of them – not only to cut down on costs, but because we are an eco-school where we should all be working together to reduce, recycle and reuse. If you would like to sell your textbooks, please alert your CLP by sending her your name. Conversely, if you would like to buy textbooks, ask your CLP to put you in touch with someone in the above grade. It will then be your responsibility to arrange both payment and pick-up. A general rule of thumb for pricing is: books in good condition (and one year old) should be costed at half price, and thereafter depending on the age and condition of the book, 25% or 20% of the cost of new. However the principle of “willing buyer, willing seller” also applies. There may be some books on the book list that are newly prescribed and those will need to be bought new.
Earlier this week I had my final meeting of the year with the Class Liaison Representatives. They have played an important role in many families’ lives with reminders of upcoming events, supplying help at PA events and generally giving support at all levels. Many thanks to them for all their hard work and commitment to the school.
Round Square Integrated Programme dates for next year
The Integrated Programme takes place from 13 to 15 March in 2019. These are the last three days of the school term. Girls are expected to attend and will be able to be fetched around lunch time and go straight to bed afterwards!
This week we received the news that Miss Pitt will be leaving us at the end of the year to take up a teaching post in Zambia. She has been an integral part of the school for the last three years and we will miss her gentle but firm manner. She is an excellent teacher, much loved by her girls, and we wish her well as she embarks on this exciting, new adventure.
The St Cyprian's School 2018 annual magazine will debut in a brand-new, online format this year. With the help of technology, online magazines engage readers beyond print’s capability and offer a more substantial experience. Rich media streams like video and music, reading within your browser and easy search access are some of the trends that an online magazine delivers. For parents who are interested in a printed version of the magazine, which will include QR codes to access online content, please email email@example.com to indicate interest. If there is sufficient interest for a print run, we will proceed early in the new year at a cost of R200 per copy for your account.
Parent Forum: 13 November
BE THE CHANGE: BE WOKE
This term, we will be hosting our second whole school “Conversations Evening”, following on the success of the “Critical Conversations Workshop held last term and facilitated by Mhlatse Mashua. It is time to talk once again.
Dan Corder, the youngest breakfast radio (Good Hope FM) host in the country, co-host of BBC World Services’ #Rhodesmustfall broadcast coverage, commentator on #feesmustfall, creator of ‘Luister’, which revealed racism and problematic language policies at Stellenbosch University, is an engaging, energetic and optimistic young South African. Son of Hugh Corder, an eminent constitutional law expert and co-author of South Africa’s Bill of Rights, Dan recently visited our High School students during “Woke Week.” He engaged, pricked, prompted and encouraged our girls on a range of issues - from white privilege, to battling bias, to the importance and responsibility of student voice. He spoke to the fact that higher education offers young people the opportunity to contextualise history and traditions through listening and talking to people from backgrounds vastly different to their own. Dan’s appeal was so wide-reaching and his effect on our students was wonderful to see in the ignition of the Soap Box discussion that followed his talk.
We’ve asked Dan to share his story with our parents. It is so important to hear the young voices in our country as they are integral in shaping perspectives and shifting paradigms. I urge you to make a point of meeting Dan. Please join us for an evening of informative and exciting discussion on 13 November. Please diarise this date and look out for the invitation to follow on Monday next week.