Well, after close to three weeks back, it’s good to be able to report that we’re off to a flier up here on the Westcliff Ridge.
If the first few days of the school year are anything to go by, 2020 promises to be a cracker. So many of our boys are already purposefully reaching out with engaging purpose in a variety of important growth areas as they look to make the most of all that will be coming their way in the weeks and months ahead.
Teachers and boys are now well settled into the formal classroom routines at each given level within the academic domain. On the extramural front, from early morning water polo and swimming, to afternoon cricket, basketball, tennis, swimming and climbing, the sports programme is in full swing – inclement weather notwithstanding, of course. Our Music and Performing Arts Department is in great shape with a record number of boys signing up for instruments training and participation in various ensemble groups.
The names of new members of staff were included in my first ‘welcome back’ newsletter. In addition though, and largely for the sake of new parents, I thought it appropriate to put a name to a title as I introduce senior members of our Ridge staff and those involved in Senior Manco and Pastoral Care Management:
Executive Leadership Team:
Nick Diana (Senior Prep Headmaster and Head of SP Academics); Mandy Herold (Junior Prep Headmistress); Gillian Dippenaar (School Bursar); Chris Verster (Senior Master); Di Wellard (Director of Pastoral Care); Moeketsi Motsepe (Director of Transformation, Diversity and Inclusion); Bennie du Preez (Director of Sport); Joe Kotwal (Director of Marketing). Carol Shutte (Director of Choral Music) will be joining this leadership team at the beginning of the 2nd Term.
Manco Senior Management Team: (This team oversees the design and development of our whole school academic curriculum.)
Nick Diana (Head of SP Academics); Mandy Herold (Junior Primary Headmistress); Urvasi Naidoo (Head of English); Daniel McLachlan (Acting Head of Mathematics and Head of IT); Nicci Kurz (Head of Research and Innovation); Erica Kinnear (Head of Middle School); Agnes Jooste (Head of Learning Support); Ashik Haripersadh (Head of IT Administration).
Pastoral Care Directorship:
Di Wellard (Director of Pastoral Care); Jacqui Haddow (Head of JP Pastoral Care); Nico Seakamela (Head of Middle School Pastoral Care); Ryan Bezuidenhout (Head of Upper School Pastoral Care); Candice Fletcher (School Psychologist).
Theme for 2020 – Growing Earth Children … Now or Never:
This would seem to be such an appropriate theme for The Ridge School family to get to grips with at this time when we are looking at what a new century will be bringing into view for us all. For so many obvious reason, not least of which being that the next generation of adults – in the form of our children, in particular – are depending on us to find answers, the time is now to start realigning so many careless or ignorant behaviours that are resulting in bringing Mother Nature to her knees.
Whilst this is a massive global challenge that directly or indirectly impacts the lives of every human being, and one that seems well beyond the reach of any single community – let alone a single person, we really have no option but to get involved.
If we have any moral conscience, are committed to act on the courage of our convictions and are prepared to take our heads out of the quicksand of apathy, then we will demonstrate to our children that we really do care. A level of care that will be prepared to set the right example as we equip them with the skills of strength of purpose, adaptability, resourcefulness and courage. Change-agent skills that, together with a more mindful focus, will better prepare them to be global citizens who are determined to make a lasting difference.
We intend to make every effort to build on some of what, as a practicing Eco-aware school, we have had in place or some time. But we also intend to be intentional about introducing additional initiatives and imaginative measures that will serve to transform what up until now has largely been a rather half-hearted effort
Wise About Waste is an easy to read handbook written by Helen Moffett that provides some excellent ideas on ways to help our planet. From the chapter entitled, Head Start, I share the following:
“One thing that’s needed if we’re going to be wise about waste is the ability and flexibility to change our ways of thinking. We need to get wiser in general. Making changes to our actions and habits starts in our heads, so our first task involves shifting mindsets. Here are some tips to help us prepare mentally for a waste-wise lifestyle:
- Step up to the plate. In spite of the terrifying data pouring in about the state of the planet, the impact of runaway capitalism, and the failure of governments around the world to address the single greatest danger we have ever faced – loss of our habitat – I still believe Margaret Mead’s words; ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’
- The problem with staring this in the face is that it renders us despairing and helpless. Do not be overwhelmed. Resistance is NOT futile.
- It comes down to a simple mantra we already know: think globally, act locally. To which I’d add this very important rider: act both as an individual and in concert with others.
- First, accept that there is no such thing as a ‘zero-waste’ or ‘waste-free’ lifestyle. We all generate waste, as we breathe, eat, drink – from the carbon dioxide we exhale to the biological wastes our bodies produce.
- Becoming waste-wise means shifting our mental habits, and becoming aware of and alert to our consuming patterns. We must change our ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitudes to waste.
- Understand that you will have to swim upstream – like a spawning salmon – against the tide of popular culture and mass marketing.
- Prepare to research everything. Take nothing for granted ever again. Do not fall into the trap of believing fake news, conspiracy theories and simplistic claims, not even when they tell you what you want to hear.
- Don’t waste time arguing with climate-change denialists or sceptics any more than you would with flat-earthers or apartheid apologists.”
Music at The Ridge:
I am pleased to report that our Music Department personnel haven’t missed a beat since returning at the start of term. Irene Morrick as Acting Head of Choral Music and Leslie Elderkin as Head of Instruments and Performing Arts have set in place an exciting programme of class music, instrument training, and choir / performance ensembles.
Irene and Leslie have met with their team of highly talented peripatetic music teachers and are busy fine-tuning the many instrument practice sessions for the host of enthusiastic young aspirant musicians. We can look forward to seeing (and hearing) some exciting new developments on the music front in the weeks and months ahead.
Names and Faces App:
Following the individual and staff photograph session this past week, you can expect the 2020 electronic Names and Faces app within the next few weeks. More information on this will be coming the way of parents shortly.
Lightning Early Warning System:
The 2019 January and February months saw an unusual number of particularly dangerous electric storms passing overhead here at the Ridge.
To date, we have not experienced nearly the same number of storms but we remains as alert to any lightning dangers. I want to assure parents that our lightning alert system here at The Ridge is in good working order and can be trusted to give advanced warning of approaching storms. In summary, the system works as follows:
- The lightning alert siren will go off if lightning strikes within a 15km radius of the school.
- The siren is mounted on the Nicolson Hall and has a very powerful and blaring resound.
- An ‘all clear’ siren will sound after 30 minutes should there be no more strikes within a 15 km radius.
- The ‘all clear’ will only go off 30 minutes after the last recorded strike.
We understand, of course, that no matter how good the system, there will always be a responsibility for coaches, teachers and parents to remain alert themselves, use their initiative and their own common sense and act decisively if they believe that lightning is threatening.
To this end the following instructions have again been issued to all members of staff:
- When a storm is approaching anticipate that the lightning alert siren will probably go off.
- When it does, do not hesitate. Get the boys under appropriate cover and into safety as soon as possible.
- Staff are then responsible for looking after the boys in that place of safety.
- No boy may leave that sheltered and protected space for any reason whilst the storm is overhead and before the ‘all clear’ has sounded.
- Only when the siren sounds an ‘all clear’ can the coaches or teachers return to the fields, tennis courts or swimming pool enclosure.
- If the ‘all clear’ is not given after an extended period of time and parents are intent on taking their boys home then the coaches and/or teachers may only release the boys if the parent or guardian is there in person to collect their son.
- Boys waiting in the carpark are expected to wait under shelter at all times when a storm is threatening or is overhead. They will be supervised accordingly.
- Coaches and staff at away fixtures or galas will take their lead from the host school (most have their own lightning alert systems) but will always be free to make a call themselves should they believe that there is a lightning threat in that area.
Salvazione News – The Friends of Salvazione Project:
As part of the PTA AGM Information Sessions, parents will have heard the appeal from the Chairman of Salvazione Christian School, John Lobban, regarding the re-launching of the Friends of Salvazione Project. Through this project the school aims to encourage willing donors to contribute an amount of R250 per month to the school. If successful, this project will ensure that Salvazione is able to mitigate against the risk of receiving a reduced subsidy from the GDE. If you would like to hear more about this project or about the school, please would you contact Jenny Mundell at Jenny@consult.net.za or call her on 082 771 2812.
Every now and again one picks up a book that speaks into the heart with just as much fervour as it will stimulate the mind. Sometimes, most unexpectedly.
I enjoyed such an awakening during the December holidays, having received and read a book written by Charlie McKersey. The title of, what is Waterstones Book of the Year in the UK, is titled, ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse’.
If nothing else, it offers a delightfully refreshing bedtime story that parents will enjoy reading to their young lads. The fact that it has been read and re-read by multitudes of adults and is a celebrated best-seller in the U.K. right now, suggests that Charlie McKersey has written something far deeper and more profound than simply a children’s story book.
I will leave it to you to make up your own minds. My one word of encouragement, don’t just read it once. Read and reread this book that, to me, speaks simple wisdom and gentle truth into what the world needs to hear right now.
Best wishes to you all as we enjoy together all that this 1st Term will bring our way.