Our Living the Legacy theme for this Centenary year is providing so many of us with plenty of opportunity to pay more attention to so much that we, as a school community, have inherited and all that has been passed on to us from those who have gone before. In essence, it is important to recognise that, embedded in the school’s legacy of the past, will be a number of non-negotiables that can and still do positively influence the boys’ learning habits here at The Ridge each day.
Of course, many of these ‘living moments’ are shared into the lives of the boys, directly and indirectly, through their contact with the adults in their lives. At a school like The Ridge, where class numbers are relatively small and where teachers recognise the importance of building relationships with each lad in their charge, we as educators believe that it is important to encourage the boys to recognise, respect and appreciate, in an adult context, the person behind the professional.
As this Centenary year unfolds, we will look forward to sharing old boys’ stories from yesteryear that describe some of the interesting and colourful personalities who have impacted on and influenced boys’ lives in days gone by. The following delightful anecdote is shared by Mark Holliday who was a boy at The Ridge between 1964 and 1969:
“Boarding life at the Ridge in 1969 was both routine and happy. The private high schools were starting to take on Standard 7 pupils so our senior class was down to a grand total of 12 pupils, hence we all became prefects. Half of us elected to take up a weekly boarding experience in anticipation of high school.
The senior dormitory slept 6: myself, McKerrow, Zoutendijk, Johnston, Impey and Barnes. There were four similar sized dorms with no doors, all opening onto a wide passage, which ended at the door to Mr Rose’s apartment. The entrance door at the other end was locked at night and when nature called you had to kneel over a metal potty placed under your bed making an unmistakable tinkling sound in the otherwise peaceful environment.
After a busy evening with prep, king-stingers, supper and showers to wash off the tattoos made from fountain pen fights, we usually went to bed exhausted. However, twice a week Mr Rose used to read to us and he usually chose adventure stories. He read two chapters before lights out, and I still remember clearly how engrossed we all were with Alistair Maclean’s ‘South by Java Head’ which took a whole term to finish.
One winter’s night, at about 12:30 he came into the senior dorm, switched on the light and said in his inimitable way: “Gentlemen, arise and take heed for there are events afoot that you will recall for the rest of your lives”. He placed his transistor radio on the shelf to the passage above my bed with the volume on low so as not to wake up the juniors. It was the age of entertainment by radio, so on that cold July night we all put on our dressing gowns and sat on my bed in the corner in semi darkness, ears glued to the commentary on Neil Armstrong stepping out of his lunar module. After Buzz Aldrin stepped on the moon half an hour later, Mr Rose stood up with his radio and muttered something about us “trundling down the vast hallways of knowledge in our size 11 boots” and then he ambled back to his apartment.
Such was the thoughtfulness and consideration of our inspirational teacher back then and he was right, I have never forgotten that night nor him.”
Transformation, Diversity and Inclusion:
We were most encouraged with the progress made on the TDI front here at The Ridge last year and with the important momentum that is now driving us forward. 2019 will be offering us many more such opportunities, as a school community and as individuals, to explore additional ways of addressing transformation, diversity and inclusion growth potential and perceived weaknesses within our school community and culture.
We look forward to expanding on what was achieved in designated key areas as laid out in our 10 Point Roadmap Plan of Action. In particular, we will again be highlighting and focusing attention on our language policy, our procurement processes, and on how we are working to eliminate institutional and subliminal racism.
Additionally, we look forward to working with the folk from Heartline in an effort to find safe and trusted ways through which people can share their own stories, listen to and empathise by connecting with others and be part of building relationships that will strengthen the feeling of belonging that we so desperately want for every member of our Ridge community. We look forward to being able to use both the Right Stuff Passport initiative and the Care-to-Learn programme to bring some of this home to the boys in ways that will enhance learning and conscientise related habits of mind.
As always, we are conscious too that we will need to remain attentive to what the diversity dashboard indicators are telling us about progress (or otherwise) being made against the equity and inclusivity scorecards. We look forward to sharing developments with the school community as the months go by.
Early Childhood Development Teacher Training Programme:
We are delighted to confirm that this coming Saturday morning will mark the launch of our very exciting ECD Teacher Training Initiative here at The Ridge.
In partnership with facilitators from the Teachers Learning Centre and made possible through some very generous sponsorship, we will be welcoming twenty young, aspirant pre-primary teachers into the programme.
We look forward to opening the doors and utility working areas of our new Junior Primary block each Saturday morning for the next fifteen months in order to help to facilitate a level NQF 4 ECD teacher training course. Thereafter, we are trusting that further donations will allow for a continuation of the programme and to us being able to offer upliftment, upskilling and empowering to the many other young caregivers who are all so desperate for a qualification that says, ‘I can’.
The students have been selected from various pre-primary and nursery schools from within the greater Alexandria neighbourhood just north of Johannesburg. The course will run between 09.00 and 13.00 each Saturday and occasionally during the school holidays. It will be facilitated and managed by experienced ECD professionals.
Improvements to the Nicolson Hall’s welcome and concourse area:
Parents will, I’m sure, be wondering about the ground work being done on the east side of the Hall. Whilst some of what has been planned is ‘under wraps’, I am able to say that the decision has been made to continue the Centenary Garden’s indigenous plant theme on the west side of the Hall and in doing so, to connect this area of the garden with Ollie’s Garden which skirts the north and west sides of the new Junior Primary block.
The project forms part of the macro plan that aims to bring the external aesthetics of the new JP block in line with the older more established part of the school.
Protocol to be followed when dropping off boys at the start of each day and when collecting boys during school hours:
- Parents are reminded that for Grades 3 – 7 the school day starts at 07:30. Having been back at school for a month now, it was hoped that parents would be able to adjust their schedules to accommodate a drop off ten minutes earlier. Thank you to the many who have. Sad to say, though, there are several boys still arriving well after the 07:30 line-up bell. This is proving to be embarrassing for them and disruptive for the rest of the school. I appeal to all Grade 3 – 7 parents to assist their lads and the school by getting their boys here on time each morning.
- If parents need to collect their son during school hours, they are asked to please send a request to Mrs Semoko (firstname.lastname@example.org), their son’s class teacher and/or either Mr Verster (email@example.com) or Mr Diana (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A reminder that on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays school ends at 15:00 for Gr 5-7. An Exeat Permit needs to be collected from Mrs Semoko at Reception prior to leaving the premises, no boy will be permitted to leave without the Exeat Permit. Your assistance and support in this matter is appreciated.
A Final Word – Junior Prep classrooms come to life:
Having been back at school for almost a full four weeks now and with our new Junior Primary block being very much in use for all of that time it is appropriate to tap into what the teachers say about their new teaching and learning facility. The proof of the pudding, as the saying goes, is in the eating, so I asked each of our JP teachers for a few thoughts and three words that for each person best describes their first four weeks in the new facility:
“This has been a once in a lifetime opportunity! The whole experience of watching this building go from the foundations phase to a totally functional learning space has been unbelievable. I love the bright coloured furniture, the collaborative learning spaces and the fresh air that moves through the corridors from the outdoor balconies.”
“I am really enjoying my new space and airiness that it brings. It has such a good feel to it and every morning so far with the beautiful view and happy boys coming, the start of my day is truly something I think every teacher aspires to. Being under one roof is so wonderful as a JP section.”
“We are so fortunate to have such a lovely building and to incorporate the outdoors with the indoors. The boys are loving their space and I’m sure in time to come teaching in these classrooms will deliver different experiences that will unlock meaningful conversations.”
“Moving into the new building has been both invigorating and energising. Being in a new space and having unlimited ways to set up the new furniture translates to new and unlimited thinking around ideas of teaching and learning in this new space. The boys have a renewed mindset and discovering this new building together has created harmony and a sense of community for both staff and boys.”
The first few weeks of the year have, as always, flashed past. With half-term coming into view, I would take this opportunity to thank so many of you mums and dads for the very positive and engaging way in which you have drawn alongside of us here at The Ridge during what has been an unusually fast start to the year’s operational programme.
I do trust that you will be able to find some down time over the half-term week, when it arrives, as well as some important family catch-up time. Travel safely if you are on the roads and God’s blessings.