From the head's desk: 8 August 2019

In celebration of Women’s Day, the Bailey family have donated this iconic photograph to St Mary’s. The photograph was taken on 9 August 1956 at an anti-pass campaign where 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

The work of a school is influential and lasting in the lives of those who attend it and begin their educational journey in its classrooms. An educational offering is so much more than academic lessons and it will possibly affect all aspects of an individual’s self-development. Schools are also important drivers in forming moral and ethical members of society who will contribute to a better existence for all. This is a goliath task but one which drives our educational philosophy at St Mary’s School.

With this responsibility in mind, members of the Board, senior management and Form V girls attended the recent Habits of the Heart conference hosted by the Anglican Board of Education and St John’s College. The programme included panel discussions and reflections on the following topics: culture, race and xenophobia; gender and sexual identity; religious diversity and practice; inequality and social justice. It was a meeting of the Anglican Church, Constitutional scholars, educators and pupils all committed to education in our country and for our time. Zaina Hassim (Form V) delivered a personal and moving account of her experience at St Mary’s and of her appreciation for the environment in which she developed a good self-esteem.

Issues of faith, society and identity are difficult to grapple with and the day of conversation and reflection was intense and, at times, emotionally charged; however, with an overwhelming commitment from all delegates to mould schools into places where the love of God, of self and of one another is fundamental practice. There are no absolutes and schools must hold the tensions that often exist in our communities but we have guidance in the Bible, the Constitution and our school policies.

The following is an extract from a reflection for the day by Revd Janet Trisk:

“The temptation is always to push ‘my’ point of view, particularly in a world of noisily competing voices and when I feel strongly about certain ethical conclusions I have reached. However, recognising the enormous shifts in theological stance that have taken place over time... and in humility, recognising that my perspective is just one among others, may encourage a respectful welcoming of different points of view. It may offer to questioning teenagers the hospitality of Jesus, rather than judgement and alienation.”

Ultimately, it is about being human and knowing our shared humanity. In the words of Publius Terentius Afer/ Terence, “I am human, I think nothing human alien to me.”

I wish all our families a restful and happy holiday. We return to school with the promise of spring.

Deanne King
Head of school