Blog

The Blue Note

21 June 2019

Dear Parents/Guardians

AWARDS

Our end-of-term assembly yesterday included the announcements of many awards that covered six areas of College activities and once again provided evidence of our holistic education, and of the success that many of our pupils are experiencing as they immerse themselves in our curriculum. Special mention must be made of the  following pupils who received Honours Awards:

Drama –           Hannah Haines and Reobogile Sachane

Music   –           Jade Howard and Nwabisa Ngotho

Service –           Ashley Low

STAFF

The same assembly included a farewell to Ms Joy Preiss who retires after a long and distinguished educational career. She has had a significant impact on the quality of art produced by our girls during the four years that she has headed up our Art Department and she will be passing on a very healthy department to her successor, Mrs Ghemma Wylde, who moves to St Anne’s next term from Maritzburg College.

PRESIDENT’S AWARD PROGRAMME

The President’s Award Programme, overseen at St Anne’s by Mr Andrew Gilfillan, is an exceptionally demanding and enriching one. Despite the tough criteria that have to be satisfied in order to progress from Bronze to Gold Level, the programme has attracted a disproportionally large number of participants since we introduced the programme in 2012. The success rate of these participants has been exceptional to say the least, with our 50th Gold Award having recently been announced.

2020 ENROLMENT

Our enrolment process for Grade 8 in 2020 is now complete. I am looking forward to welcoming a diverse and talented group of 90 girls from 42 different primary schools to St Anne’s at the beginning of next year. We now shift our attention to offering places to a few girls in senior grades. May I remind parents that a term’s written notice is required if you intend withdrawing your daughter from St Anne’s at the end of the year (not that I am trying to encourage her departure) and, obviously, the longer this notice period the better for the College.

PARENT SUPPORT

A very positive feature of St Anne’s is the significant parental support evident at various functions, despite the fact that so many parents live some distance from the College. Our recent Fete Day, Interhouse Music Competition and Grade 11 Parent/Teacher Meetings were no exceptions. Thank you for actively partnering the College in your daughter’s education.

DEVELOPING ETHICAL CAPACITIES/UNIVERSITY ADMISSION

For most of our Grade 12 girls and their parents, a significant amount of time, effort and possibly emotional energy have already been linked to the process for admission to university in 2020. Recently, with reference to the United States, it was reported that a number of parents have allegedly donated huge amounts of money to prestigious colleges in order to ensure that their children receive preferential treatment with regard to the admissions process. (Replace the afore-going words with “bribery” or “unethical behaviour”, as you see fit.)

Two reports, recently released in the United States that relate to the college admission process in that country, contain lessons that, in my opinion, are also relevant to our South African context.

The first report, released in January of 2016, argued that what’s important in college admissions is not the quantity of students’ achievements or long “brag sheets” but the quality of their ethical and academic engagement. In the first comprehensive effort of its kind, a large group of colleges publicly and collectively sent a message that they seek applicants who care about others and their communities, and who are energised by meaningful learning.

In a second report,

ROBBING THEM OF WHAT COUNTS

Turning the Tide II: How Parents and High Schools Can Cultivate Ethical Character and Reduce Distress in The College Admissions Process by Richard Weissbourd with Trisha Ross Anderson, Brennan Barnard, Alison Cashin, and Alexis Dikowsky March 1, 2019 

the researchers commented on the critical role of high schools and parents in supporting teens in developing core ethical capacities, including a sense of responsibility for others and their communities, and reducing achievement-related stress. While the report acknowledged that parents and high schools also powerfully shape the admissions process, an intense focus on academic achievement has squeezed out serious attention to ethical character, both in a large majority of high schools and a large number of families. Many parents—particularly, middle- and upper-income parents—seeking coveted spots for their children in elite colleges are failing to focus on what really matters in this process. In an effort to give their kids everything, these parents often end up robbing them of what counts, namely cognitive, social, and ethical capacities such as the ability to take multiple perspectives, empathy, self-awareness, gratitude, curiosity, and a sense of responsibility for one’s communities.

The report also points out that too many parents fail to be ethical role models during the admissions process by allowing teens to mislead on applications, letting their own voice intrude in application essays, hiring expensive tutors and coaches without any sense of equity or fairness, treating their teen’s peers simply as competitors for college spots, and failing to nurture in their teen any sense of gratitude for the privilege of attending a four-year college. College admissions may well be a test for parents, but it’s not a test of status or even achievement—it’s a test of character. Alert to the wishes of parents in their communities, high schools in middle- and upper-class communities often follow parents’ lead. Many of these schools are too focused on highly selective colleges, don’t adequately nurture students’ interests and curiosity, and do little to challenge parents engaging in ethically troubling behaviour. Encouragingly, the report does confirm that many colleges have stepped up to make substantial changes to their admissions processes in line with the report’s recommendations, and that many high schools are also taking key steps in developing students’ ethical character.

In addition, the report offers actionable guideposts for parents and high schools for shaping an admissions process that puts young people’s ethical character and well-being at the centre of a healthier, more sane college admissions process. As an example one of these guideposts, entitled ETHICAL PARENTING IN THE COLLEGE ADMISSIONS PROCESS includes the following advice:

Keep the focus on your teen. The college admissions process is a key rite of passage in adolescence and can be a wonderful opportunity for parents to get to know their teen in a deeper way. It’s also an important opportunity for parents to model the empathy in their relationship with their teen that is key to their teen’s relationships. But it’s critical for parents to disentangle their own wishes from their teen’s wishes and avoid conflating their interests with their teen’s interests. Throughout the process, parents should get input from their teen about whether their involvement in the process is helpful. Often it’s important for parents to just pause and listen.

As stated earlier, the above contains lessons/warnings for schools, parents and pupils in our South African context, not only with regard to admission to tertiary institutions but also admission to independent high schools, particularly those where demand for places exceeds supply. The above also reinforces recent action taken by certain of our neighbouring schools in emphasising that there are consequences for unethical behaviour, a stand too infrequently taken in other sectors of our South African context.

D6 COMMUNICATOR: SUBSCRIPTION OPTION

As you should be aware, St Anne’s communicates to parents via the d6 School Communicator App. The d6 group is fully committed to protecting client’s data in line with the required regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA). As part of a process to ensure compliance, d6 has developed the capability for end users to select a subscription option which will allow them to use the d6 School Communicator mobile app with no adverts. Note that if you do not opt for the subscription offering, you can continue to use the app in exactly the same way as you previously did. The proposed launch date of the mobile application update will be before the end of July 2019. The ad-free option is not available for d6 School Communicator Desktop users. Please refer to the attached communication from the d6 group for more information.

(To download the d6 Communicator App, please click on this link.)

Kind regards

David Arguile

COLLEGE HEAD

“It is often easier to fight for principles than to live up to them.”

Adlai Stevenson II, American politician

INTRODUCING THE TEAM

STHEMBISO MEMELA, Security

We welcome Sthembiso to our Security Team. Sthembiso matriculated in 2009 and worked as a painter before joining St Anne’s. He was born and raised by his mother in Bulwer and has since relocated to Landskop. He enjoys spending time with his family and especially likes cooking for them. He works out at the gym and aspires to be a fitness trainer one day. His future goals also include being married by age 35, owing his own home and giving his two children a good education. Welcome to the team, Sthembiso.

DUM’SANI ELVIS MSHENGU, Security & General Estate Support

We are delighted to announce that Dum’sani, who was appointed to control the exit gate during the construction of the new theatre complex, has now joined us in a permanent role. Dum’sani is married with four children aged 23, 21, 4 and 18 months and lives nearby in Emvelweni, Sweetwaters. He enjoys watching movies and keeping up-to-date with current affairs by reading the newspaper. His favourite pastime however is watching soccer. Dum’sani is happy to be working at St Anne’s and says that “everybody here is welcoming and friendly, even the managers”.

SYLVIA BONGEKILE PHUNGULA, Housekeeper – Mollie Stone

Sylvia has joined us in the role of Housekeeper in Mollie Stone. She has two children: Zama who is 22 years old and Sonasipho, aged 13. She also is a proud grandmother to Enzo who has just turned one. Originally from Bulwer, Sylvia relocated to Edendale and spent 10 years working at Amberfield Retirement Village and three at a private cleaning company before joining St Anne’s. So far she has found everybody to be friendly and sees her position at St Anne’s as an opportunity to learn and grow. She considers herself a happy, friendly person, who is grateful for all of God’s blessings.