From the Junior School head’s desk: 5 November 2021

Sarah Warner

This week was marked by more or less important events, beginning with national voting day on Monday, and ending with the historically English commemoration of Guy Fawkes or bonfire night today. In between, the Grade 6 and 7 girls began writing their end-of-year formal assessments on Wednesday, the Junior Primary girls held a Music assembly in The Edge, our Hindu community embarked on their annual Diwali celebrations on Thursday, and the Junior School continued to prepare for the series of valedictory events and rites of passage that bring the year to a close. The good news, of course, is that regulations constraining onsite parent attendance at school events have been relaxed; at last, we can look forward to welcoming you onto campus to attend and enliven the functions we have planned for the next few weeks.

In a meeting with the Grade 7 mentor teachers and class representatives last week, we were confronted by the usual problem of running out of time in which to realise and execute our extensive plans. This mismatch – between the time we have left and what we would like to accomplish in it – is one we face every year, with varying degrees of alarm, equanimity, and humour. The announcement of an additional public holiday on 1 November, while readily understood as necessary by the staff, was also cause for consternation – as the days before the end of term dwindle, and time marches on, all the teachers want is to be on campus with the children. November brings with it a focus on the leave-taking rituals of the Grade 7s, but we should spare a thought, also, for the younger girls and their mixed emotions as they prepare to meet their new teachers over the next few weeks and to step bravely into the next grade in 2022.

A new year brings with it new teachers, adventures, and expectations; it also marks the departure of some of our families, including those of our Grade 00 boys and our Grade 7 girls (to Senior School at St Mary’s or elsewhere) who we shall acknowledge in assemblies and chapel – and several of our staff. Teena Lowndes, Rulane Mthembi and Sallie Pettit retire at the end of the year; Carrie Firth, Caron Lawrence, Rosemary Ncobela, Lerato Shuping, Lynn Trollip and Nadine Wheeler leave us to pursue other opportunities. We give thanks for their selfless service and tender care, knowing that we shall miss them and the singular contribution they make to the Junior School. In a week that includes Diwali celebrations, it seems fitting to wish that their way be lit with prosperity and joy – and to reflect on our good fortune in knowing them these past years.

There is much to reflect on as we begin the strenuous process of writing reports, collating marks for the older girls, and documenting our observations for the term. The staff sessions with Lovelyn Nwadeyi (L&N Advisors) concluded last week, but the Grades 6 and 7 girls will enjoy the opportunity to spend some time with her after writing their assessments. I expect that the girls, like their teachers, will be enriched and challenged by their exposure to diverse thinking and empowered through their introduction to practical tools and approaches to resolving conflict, learning to apologise, and appreciating the difference between impact and intention. We look forward to maintaining the momentum of the training through our deliberate use of the tools we have been given, and the constant practice of learning, listening, and trying to do better.

My sincere wishes to our Hindu families for a happy and safe Diwali – I look forward to seeing all our parents on campus to celebrate our children, the joy and light they have brought us this year.


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