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2000 Peterhouse Girls Speech Day

Our Guest of Honour - Mr. Pennant-Rea, the Rector and Mrs. Bawden, Governors, Invited Guests, Parents and Girls of Peterhouse - I welcome you to Speech Day and Prize Giving - our first in the New Millennium.

The New Millennium
We all eagerly, and somewhat nervously, awaited the dawning of the New Millennium expecting, as we had been led to believe, huge technological complications. Little did we know that, in Zimbabwe, huge complications would be brought about by something other than a Millennium Bug!

The prognosis for the immediate future
It has been a very difficult year for everyone in Zimbabwe. Sadly, the prognosis for recovery is bleak, certainly in the short term. We have witnessed a total breakdown in law and order, and a subsequent loss of respect for individuals and their possessions. At Peterhouse Girls' we strive to prepare your daughters for life.
We develop their academic potential; cater for, and give direction in, their spiritual needs; foster their cultural development and enable them to realise their physical potential. All this we do to ensure that they leave disciplined but confident, sensitive but determined and diligent but fun-loving. Individuals who fit in well wherever they may choose.
We are able to achieve this because we operate in an ordered and civilised environment - a far cry from what we see on the other side of our fence.

The irony of it is that we have had a most successful year because of the situation outside our fence. We have actually been able to focus more clearly on what is right because we have seen so much that is wrong. Parents have been more supportive because they are relieved to return their children to our normal environment. Even the girls have been heard to say - not that they would admit it - that they are pleased to be somewhere that is safe and sane, where they can get on with their lives in a normal way.

I was at the South African Heads of Independent Schools' Annual Conference in August. Mr. Pat Heenan, a dynamic speaker from Queensland, Australia, said that the single, most alarming problem, in Australian schools - is suicide. Here, you find that there is little time to think of suicide because you are fighting, as we are, to survive!
And so we look at the year 2000 - a year of so many personal and shared successes.

Happily we are blessed with a loyal, committed and caring staff in and out of the classroom.
Three new members joined in January. Mrs. Hewit to teach French and English; Mr. Waters to teach Geography and Art and Sister Ker who took over the San.
At the end of the first term Mr. George Gibson retired. He contributed in so many ways to the growth and development of many facets of life at Peterhouse Girls'. He was replaced by Mrs. Davidson - POACHED from Peterhouse! You could not ask for or find a better replacement. The only problem is that her name is Sue, as is our Senior Mistress'. Initials-wise both have SM as Christian names - SMD hasn't been easy while Mrs. S.M. Buckland is Mrs. SMB, but the plot thickens. Mrs. SMB is engaged to Mr. P.P.T.D. and when they are married in December, will become Mrs. SMD! Using adjectives like Old or Big will get me into trouble - wish me luck!
In the first term Mrs. Gladys Fantiso, our Shona teacher, produced a bonny son and Fiona Bickmore completed a term as a Junior Mistress.
Dr. Judith Bentley joined us in the second term to teach Science and English, part time. Sadly she leaves with her husband at the end of this term. I thank her for her input and wise counsel.

This term Kundai Mavengawenyu - a school prefect last year, joined as a Junior Mistress. Sadly Ms Kim Harvey leaves at the end of her four year bonding with the ATS. Kim has been superb in and out of the classroom and we will really miss her next year. Her efforts in teaching Maths and making it "consumer friendly" with our weaker candidates is much appreciated. But it will be her role on the sportsfield that will be impossible to replace. She is a sensible and committed teacher who, I hope, will return to teaching after her travels.

Academic results
I stated earlier that we aim to develop the girls' academic potential. Entry is not governed by the Entrance Examination. There are other criteria. Our intake is not of an academic elite, it is of mixed ability. I am therefore very proud of our continued success in public examinations. In 1997 we attained a 96% pass rate at 'O' level, 1998 - 98% and last year we managed again 96%. 96% of the girls attained five subjects or more with English Language. 94% of all subjects taken were passed. We had 100% pass rate in seven of the seventeen subjects, and over 90% in fourteen of the seventeen. In the National Rankings we were placed ninth out of 1558 schools and were the top CHISZ school. No mean feat.

At 'A' level 94% of the girls passed two or more 'A' levels and the quality of our passes was of the highest ever.
Each year several girls scrape into 'A' level study - they would not qualify at other leading schools. The two passes they achieve not only gives them the opportunity to study further, it gives them the confidence required to do well in whatever they may choose in life.
Science tour to Denmark
Our Science Department organised a Science Tour to Denmark. Mrs. Andersen-Mabira and Mrs. Munjoma accompanied and cared for the girls - the girls had a marvellous time and learnt a great deal.

I congratulate our teaching staff - all of them - for the passion they show in their teaching, they interact and co-operate as a team; they make a fine team. On the spiritual side we were lucky to acquire the services of the Rev. George Punshon, our Chaplain, in the middle of the first team. He has involved himself fully in the lives of the three schools. His clarity of voice, his conviction and traditional values are something that I cherish. He also has, I must add, the ability to choose the only seven hymns with nine verses for each Eucharist Service we have in the term!
Over twenty girls were Confirmed by the Bishop a few weeks back.
Our Scripture Union Group is very popular (and very loud). It's good to have a balance of traditional and modern, and Scripture Union ensures that this happens.
I would like to thank Mr. Keith Nicholas for his involvement in Chapel affairs - a newly converted Roman Catholic - who has been an Anglican all of his life - he does so much in Chapel.

Charity work
Each House is involved in Charity Work and this year we have subsidised the start of a nursery school in St. Francis' Village. Interact have been very active this year, thanks to Natsai Gondo. $100,000.00 was raised for charity at a Golf Day held at Ruwa Club. Our Valentines Charity Dance raised $12,500.00 for charity this year. Each week girls visit the hospital and Nyameni School. We host and entertain retarded children each week - it is important that the girls have "hands on" experiences.

Cultural administrator
We aim at fostering cultural pursuits and again this year that has been possible. Perhaps the most exciting development for me is the appointment of Mrs. Buckland as our Cultural Administrator. One of her aims will be to ensure a balance in our extra mural programme. Not, I hasten to add, that there has been an imbalance, but the cultural side has lacked a certain amount of direction at times.

The teaching of music continues to be an important feature of what we offer. Here we also use the expertise of Peterhouse and Springvale House. Our girls sing in the Choral Society and play in the Orchestra.
Our Choirs are respected as the top in the country, that's because we have the top Choir Master Mr. Nicholas. At the Eisteddfod our Junior Choir attained a Second in the Senior Section, while our Senior Choir gained Honours. The Chapel Choir attained a First in their Section.

Mrs. Pratt's reputation as one of the leading Art teachers in the country grows each year. Her students produce outstanding work.
Donna Ackerman and Emily Laing had work exhibited in Israel, while Frieda Madzikanda received a certificate for her entry in the "Children of the World - Illustrate the Bible" competition.
Thanks to Mrs. Gibson, we again excelled in the National Allied Arts Competition. We limited the entries because of the fuel problem - those who performed were outstanding.

English Department and drama
Tamsyn Bennett won the Lower and Middle School Short Story Section, while Kerry Heyns won the Senior Poetry Section in the School Millennium Short Story Competition organised by the English Department at Peterhouse.
The Interhouse Plays were again outstanding - Eland really excelled, thanks to the imagination and professional direction and guidance of Kate Laing.
Kate, our Head Chorister and lead in several school plays, won jointly (with Kerry Heyns), the Senior Public Speaking Competition and was awarded Honours for her considerable contribution to the Cultural Life of our School over the years.
We are very involved at the moment in the Pantomime which Mrs. Kate Sinclair is producing for the end of term - it is sure to be a great success.

Other activities
Toastmasters' and Debating are very popular activities as are Ballroom Dancing and Ballet. Sadly, Mrs. Loxton will not teach Ballet next year.
Our Bridge Team has gone from strength to strength. They compete regularly against Harare schools and Chess, thanks to Peterhouse, is again thriving.
Our Interhouse Quiz was a sparkling affair - beepers, buzzers and coloured lights, thanks to Mr. Munjoma. Sadly we were knocked out in the early stages of the National televised event.
We, once again, hosted the National Musicamp in the August holiday period.
The highlight of our cultural year, for me, was undoubtedly the Buckland Arts Festival at the end of last term - the entries in all sections were outstanding and the final concert most memorable. We do exceptionally well at sport and this year was no exception. I attribute our success to the determination, organisational ability and expertise of Mrs. Querl.

We completed yet another season unbeaten at Athletics.
Tsitsi Tembo qualified to compete in the South African Championships representing Zimbabwe.

The standard of our tennis has really improved - I was fired as the U14 Coach - I suppose things will get even better. Kim Christian, our first National Representative at tennis, captained the Zimbabwe Junior Team at the South African Interprovincial Championships in December last year. Zimbabwe was placed second overall.
Mrs. Ireland-Jones has done a tremendous job with our seniors. The Jan Robertson Coaching Academy coaches continue to coach individuals on request and our team players once a week.

At swimming we have been weak in one or two age groups and this makes it difficult to excel in the team competitions. Jamey Miller and Karen Palmer have excelled as individuals. Karen was placed third in the 100m Breaststroke at the Interprovincial Championships, which is very good considering she runs for the Athletics Team and plays hockey in the A Team.

Our last gala takes place on Saturday - I wish the swimmers success.
Hockey is another sport that has improved in its overall standard, thanks to the services of Mrs. Vandoros and Mrs. Hough who coach the Juniors, and Ms Harvey and Mrs. Querl who coach the Seniors.

Ms Harvey was elected Manager of the National U18 Side that played in South Africa. Jenna Hunter, Angela Raynor and Ngaa Mataswa represented the U18A Side, while Jessicca Pswarayi represented the U20A and Bridget Potterton the U20B.
Volleyball and Basketball have had their share of success. Cecilia Midzi was selected for the U20, while Shingai Ruzengwe and Vimbai Hungwe were selected for the U16 Provincial teams.

Rowing - we again travelled to Pretoria for the South African Championships. The crews were able to practice, en route, as all the rivers were up during the floods - again they distinguished themselves. We were sad to say farewell to Mr. John Bell - he has done much for rowing in a relatively short period of time. He returned to England to coach rowing in Durham.

Golf is gaining in interest and popularity and Mrs. A.J. Foakes now requires a 28 seater to take the girls to golf. We played in the Interschools Competition and did well - Robyn Jobson is our top golfer.

Squash is popular - played mainly at the Boys' School - is there a connection? According to a well-known Squash Maestro - Mr. Phil Ward - we have attained an "excellent standard" this year.

Geraldine Raynor competed in the World Optimist Championships in Spain in July and learnt a great deal from the experience.

Prize giving
It is now time for Mr. Rupert Pennant-Rea to present the prizes and I would like to hand over to Mrs. Buckland.....
Rupert Pennant-Rea has had a varied career as economist, journalist, central banker and businessman. He was born and brought up in Zimbabwe, and at school in Ruzawi and Peterhouse. He has degrees in Economics from Trinity College, Dublin and the University of Manchester. He has been Editor-in-Chief of The Economist and Deputy Governor of the Bank of England.
He is now chairman of The Stationery Office, which was formed in 1996 from a privatisation of Her Majesty's Stationery Office. He is on the board of various international companies, and is a consultant for the World Bank. He has written several books on economics and one novel.
Mr. Pennant-Rea has spoken at management conferences for many of the world's leading companies, and is a frequent speaker at public conferences.
His main themes mix economic analysis with broad political developments. He highlights issues of current interest, then puts them in historical context in order to clarify how they may evolve. This is the approach he used in all his writing for The Economist, and it continues to be one that audiences like. I now have much pleasure in asking him to address you.....

Headgirl's speech
It is now the time for Jessicca Pswarayi, our Headgirl, to deliver her speech. Before I call her to do so, I would like to thank her and her prefects for their loyal and committed work during the year. They have been an outstanding group, responsible, too, I feel, for the stable and caring environment so necessary this year. Well done girls.
For some time I have been thinking seriously of doing away with the Prefect system as we know it. I aim, in time, to involve the whole of the Sixth Form in the running of our school. Each girl should have more opportunity to contribute in this way and experience authority and responsibility. This will probably be the last occasion when I announce Prefects at Prize Giving. Jessicca will call out the ten who will form the basis of our team - others will have the opportunity to join before our team building exercise in Nyanga next year. Jessicca ...........

In closing I would like to commend all of the girls for the way in which they have conducted themselves during the course of this year.
After 20 years of Independence, racism is an issue that has been resurrected in an attempt to divide and rule.
This concerted attempt has had the opposite affect and people are now closer than ever before. Closer in our realisation that change is essential.
We now have a common vision - we need to bring about a change that will enable us to build and grow again. If we believe in God we must believe that, in the end, sense will prevail.

I wish our exam candidates success in their Public Examinations - I hope that those who are leaving school will remember what they have been taught and that, in time, they will return to make this country, Zimbabwe, a just and wonderful country.

12 October 2000

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