The Chairman of the Board, James Clucas, and I have recently returned from a brief trip to England where, following the success of last year’s event and amongst other engagements, we were delighted to host a second Old Boys’ Reunion for Old Ridgeans based in the United Kingdom
Making use of the wonderfully warm and comfortable RAF Club facilities, we greeted and spent the evening with around forty-five men of varying ages who were again able to make the most of reconnecting with their Ridge mates from yesteryear. The rekindling of memories allowed for a light-hearted and jovial get together that also, very appropriately, turned out to be a well-received and happy Centenary celebration in which the 100 Year Spirit was certainly felt to play its part.
James and I took some time to share some of this past year’s Ridge-specific educational developments and happenings with the group as we brought them all up to speed with so much that describes and defines the current Ridge School offering. We made the point of also making sure to invite all old boys present to join us here at The Ridge on the evening of 26th July for our gala Centenary Old Boys’ Reunion Dinner.
Aside from the Old Boys’ reunion, and more particularly against a fund-raising backdrop, James and I also enjoyed some important and very fruitful, one-to-one contact time with individual old boys.
During some ‘downtime’ I took the opportunity to visit two well-known English prep schools and spent some important time comparing notes with respective head teachers while enjoying seeing The Beacon School for Boys (Buckinghamshire) and Hartsfield Prep School (Hertfordshire) in action.
E-Safety WARNING – ‘Momo Challenge’
A recent social media challenge targeting children and young adults called the ‘Momo Challenge’ is creating real concern throughout the country due to its disturbing nature. Whilst we now understand that this is considered to be a hoax or an urban legend, the purpose of this special warning is to make you aware of this challenge should it exist, provide you as parents with information about it, and urge you all to monitor your children’s use of social media and the Internet.
The ‘Momo Challenge’, a game found on Facebook, Youtube and WhatsApp, features a frightening avatar who asks its viewers to perform various tasks and provide photos as proof. The ‘Momo’ threatens those who do not perform the tasks. It is reported that it is also beginning to make its way into games such as Minecraft and Fortnite.
One of the first clues for parents to be concerned with is the image of a Japanese statue of a woman with bulging eyes and scary features. Children are given the series of tasks in order to finally meet the ‘Momo’. You can learn more about the ‘Momo Challenge’ by visiting the links as provided below. Please be warned that some of the images and stories may be disturbing:
To assist you in considering age appropriateness for children’s use of technology and time spent on social media we are sharing some links that offer advice and assistance:
Top Tips if your son or daughter has come across ‘Momo’
- Tell them it’s not real
Just like any urban legend or horror story, the concept can be quite frightening and distressing for young people. Whilst this may seem obvious, it’s important for you to reiterate to your son that ‘Momo’ is not a real person and cannot directly harm them. Also, tell your boy to not go openly searching for this content online as it may only cause more distress.
It’s important for you, as a parent or carer, to be present while your children are online. This will give you a greater understanding of what they are doing on their devices, as well as providing you with the opportunity to discuss, support and stop certain activities that your son or daughter may be involved in. as the nature of each task becomes progressively worse it’s also important to recognise any changes in your child’s behaviour.
As well as monitoring your child’s activity, it’s important for you to discuss it with them too. Not only will this give you an understanding of their online actions, but those honest and frequent conversations will encourage your child to feel confident to discuss issues and concerns that they may have related to the online world. Such regular communication reinforces important relational connection points and will foster deeper levels of trust.
Device settings and parent controls
Ensure that you set up parental controls for your devices at home. This will help to restrict the types of content that your child can view, as well as help you to monitor their activities. In addition to this, it is vital that you are aware of your device and account settings to ensure your son’s utmost safety. For example, on YouTube you can turn off ‘suggested auto-play’ on videos to stop your child from viewing content that they have not directly selected or that you feel would be inappropriate viewing.
Trends and viral challenges can be tempting for boys to take part in; no matter how dangerous or scary they seem to be. Make sure that you talk to your lad about how he should be prepared to say ‘No’ in order not to succumb to peer pressure and do anything that he is not comfortable with, online or offline. If he is unsure, then encourage him to talk to you or another trusted adult.
Real of hoax
As a parent it is natural to feel worried about certain things you see online that may be harmful to your son or daughter. However, as we all know, not everything you see online is true. Check the validity of the source and be mindful of what you share as it may only cause more worry and anxiety.
Report and block
You can’t always rely on parental controls settings to block distressing or harmful material. People find ways of getting around a platform’s algorithm in order to share and promote this type of material. Due to this, we advise that you flag and report any material you deem to be inappropriate or harmful as soon as you come across it. You should also block the account / content to prevent your children from viewing it.
Transport provision for the upcoming Grade 4 – 7 Outdoor Excursions:
Senior Primary boys and staff are gearing themselves up for the Outdoor Excursions that are now only a few weeks away. Heads of Grade in each year group have been working hard to plan for these very worthwhile ‘away from school’ adventures and most of the important behind the scenes work has now been done to make sure that our boys’ will be well looked after, that their safety is assured and that we have many willing and able staff members (both from The Ridge and from respective camps) to oversee, supervise and manage the boys in the few days that they will be away.
In this regard it is important again that I bring to parents’ attention the meeting that Bennie du Preez and I enjoyed with two of the senior regional personnel in charge of delivering a quality Stabus transport service. The following bullets give some further details and clarity:
- All buses are maintained and serviced by the M.A.N. and Mercedes Benz mechanics;
- This servicing takes place at their own specialised and fully-equipped service centre;
- All buses are routinely checked every week whether in service or not;
- In addition, before the bus leaves the depot the driver does a thorough check of the bus that he will be using that morning;
- Every Stabus vehicle goes through a road worthy certificate every six months;
- Terrence Phakhati, our senior safety and security officer, is in charge of checking each bus when it arrives here at The Ridge and before any boy is allowed to board. This is a routine but a very detailed check of everything from road worthy certificates, drivers’ licence, bus licence, condition of tyres, safety-belt check, etc;
- Every driver has a job card that is filled out by the school immediately after the trip each time;
- All trips are well planned with maps, detections and staffing supervision;
- All the Stabus drivers are handpicked and each has a PDP licence that is renewed every two years;
- Each driver is also given a full medical once a year;
- Disciplinary hearings and procedures are carried out when and if needed, and then as a matter of course;
- All vehicle speeds are governed at 100km;
- The Stabus company has always been very willing to work with us to improve their service and offer us reliability and flexibility; something that we make use of every so often.
Since last year, there have been two additional improvements made to the Stabus service offering:
- A newly installed and implemented drivers’ monitoring system is now being employed on every bus;
- Tracking of buses is available to the school to show where buses are at any given moment in time.
A Final Word
As we take time out on Thursday 21 March to commemorate, reflect on and celebrate Human Rights Day I would encourage us all to find time to engage with our children and loved ones on the significance and relevance of fully embracing the Human Rights rallying call. Following yet another appalling mosque massacre atrocity, this time in New Zealand late last week, and the ongoing human rights violations that so haunt the lives of so many people around the world, we are honour-bound to stand united and with firm resolve in support of the rights of all people.
In closing, I wish you all a happy, family-filled and safe long weekend
Warm regards and God’s blessing