When the initial Centenary Year programme of events and happenings was being considered some two years ago, there was unanimous support from within Angie Chapman’s Centenary Committee and our Ridge School Exco team to set time aside at various stages during the year to share the Spirit of Centenary and so many expected blessings with a wider community. A central aim being to bring deeper awareness and learning to our boys by encouraging exposure to the reality of others people’s lives, and, in particular, children, who are in need of special love, support and care.
Looking back at this stage of what has been a truly memorable 100th birthday celebration, it is pleasing to be able to report that every effort has been made to connect in meaningful ways with those who are less fortunate than ourselves.
Of as much importance, of course, is the fact that the majority of our Ridge lads have been directly involved in some form of community service. This has allowed them to demonstrate first hand a semblance of their understanding of those deeper human virtues such as care, kindness and compassion.
The following are some of the areas of community engagement that our boys and/or other members of The Ridge family have been involved in thus far this year:
Salvazione Christian School:
The support that has been directed towards the Salvazione community has been astonishing. Both in financial terms and through ‘in kind’ gestures of conscious support and service, The Ridge family has again opened its heart to this amazing little school and to its children and members of staff.
In addition to the usual financial support that The Ridge provides each year, the Centenary Committee set out to raise R1,5 million that would be given as a donation towards the building of Salvazione’s new Junior Primary block. This was achieved within the first four months of the year. There have also been a good number of additional donations that individuals have bestowed that are over and above what the Centenary celebrations have generated.
One of our Ridge dads, for example, very generously arranged and paid for solar panels to be installed as an alternative energy source for the school. An obvious utility cost saving provision that has been greatly appreciated.
Ijeoma Solarin, as Chair of the PA, together with Smeeta Devchand have been facilitating fact-finding tours to Salvazione once or twice each term. These too have served to generate a good deal of interest in and information about the school for many of our parents and others who have wanted to get involved in some way.
Our termly Care-to-Learn community engagement programmes have allowed for some important pupil-to-pupil interactions that the Salvazione and our Ridge lads have been able to enjoy together.
Right Stuff Action Day:
This truly memorable Saturday morning outreach initiative on the 1st June proved to be a particularly significant and enlightening exercise for all of our Ridge boys and for the majority of staff and parents. Such was the depth of learning and sensitizing for so many of us, it has been agreed that we will need to make time available every year for a similar type of ‘action day adventure’.
Right Stuff Passports
This was another Centenary initiative that has galvanized some wonderful support from the majority of our Ridge boys. The ‘100 Minutes of Service’ challenge that was given to the boys in a Friday assembly at the beginning of February set in motion, for so many lads, a desire to harness for themselves a spirit of giving. This has been done in a variety of ways. In addition, Ijeoma and Smeeta, have run inter-class and inter-house competitions to encourage boys to maintain this ‘thinking of others first’ commitment. It will be of interest to parents that some boys have achieved over 1000 hours of service as reflected in their Right Stuff Passports … and we still have two months of the year to go.
Headmaster’s Leadership Project:
So many of our Grade 7 boys have been leading by example during another busy senior year by embracing all that the HM Leadership Project has asked of them. There are four components that have to be tackled, one of which is the compulsory service component. It has again been a real eye-opener for me to see the lengths that some boys have been willing to go to in order to bring support, blessing and joy into the lives of others. There are far too many to list now but I will be asking some senior boys to share their ‘leading through service’ stories on chosen Friday morning’s in the weeks ahead.
Early Childhood Development Teacher Training:
Midway through the month of February this year, we, together with the Teachers Learning Centre, launch a Partnership of Hope initiative. Our vision has been to make a difference in the lives of young Gauteng children by upskilling, equipping and empowering teachers and caregivers.
This Partnership of Hope programme is seeking to develop and improve the head, hands and heart application of skills for aspirant young ECD teachers. This training, which takes place each Saturday morning here at The Ridge, is enabling, equipping and enriching these young teachers as they look to becoming confident educators within respective, often very humble pre-primary learning environments.
The Ridge has hosted 20 learner teachers and their TLC lecturers and facilitators on our campus since the launch in February. The Teachers Learning Centre is providing a variety of eighteen months Short Course Programmes in the field of ECD and Grade R Phase teacher education.
I am delighted to report that the programme has gone from strength to strength and, as we remain trusting that we will be able to find additional funding support, we look forward to this vital teacher training initiative continuing to grow into the years ahead.
Visual Arts Exhibition … 16th – 18th October:
Parents would have seen that Nicci Kurz and our Ridge boys will be exhibiting at and hosting the annual Visual Arts Exhibition next week. We are delighted to support Mrs Kurz and our many budding young artists as the showcase their artwork and through their work, the many creative and imaginative approaches that have been used to bring visual art alive here at The Ridge this past year. Please note that the Music and Arts Cocktails Evening calendarized for the evening of 17th October has been cancelled.
On the evening of the 18th October, with the beautiful artworks acting as backdrop to proceedings, we will be hosting the first Farewell to Mrs Fox evening. Parents will understand, I’m sure, that Janet’s remarkable 27 years here at The Ridge have been shared with countless people; many of whom are now bracketed as old boys, past staff or past parents. The 18th October is reserved for this group of Mrs Janet Fox van der Poel supporters.
The current family of boys, parents and staff will be honouring her and bidding Janet farewell at various functions and happenings during the month of November.
A Final Word:
Under the banner of our Standing in the GAP theme for the term, regular encouragement is offered to our Ridge boys to play their part and be actively involved in recognising, respecting and reaching out to others. In addition to good manners, etiquette and politeness, they are reminded, as well, that there is an expectation also for them to be sensitive to the needs of those around them here at school, within respective families and, where appropriate and possible, in the greater community.
During the closing Friday Prayers that are read out by a senior boy at the end of the Service part of the assembly each week, the school, Grade 1 – 7 boys and teachers, is asked to respond following each of a few meaningful and recognised prayer requests. As the prayer comes to an end they read aloud together the following:
We are trusting that, given the added exposure to community engagement and the plight of so many others, these words might continue to hold more weight and meaning to each of them as Ridge boys conscious of what has been entrusted to them to stand in the gap and to make a difference.
Best wishes and God’s blessing on you all