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Memories

2003 Peterhouse Girls Speech Day

Our Guests of Honour, Dr. Alan Megahey, the Rector and Mrs. Calderwood, Governors, invited guests, parents and girls of Peterhouse, I welcome you to our annual Speech Day and Prize Giving.

I have spent quite some time trying to find a quotation to sum up the year 2003 and I found this one by Garfield : "It's amazing what one can do when one doesn't know what one can't do". I think that is what we've done, I hope you'll agree.

2003 has been a year of triumphs, sadness’s, challenges and frustrations but we've come through and I hope that we are all stronger for the experiences - staff, pupils and parents.

Whatever part we play in the upbringing of children, there are stressful moments. It was interesting that the organisers of the recent CHISZ Conference at Troutbeck decided that, as heads, we didn't need to listen to presentations on say, advances in education or leadership and management skills. Instead we were introduced to ideas to help us cope with the unique set of problems that we are currently facing in Zimbabwe; among other things, was Stress Management and we were given a simple definition to which I think we can all relate: "stress results when there is a gap between an important goal and reality". In terms of leading a school, there are far too many examples at present - staffing, school fees, balancing the budget, sourcing fuel, fulfilling staff, pupil and parent expectations. The list is endless but I believe it can be reduced if parents and staff work together more closely for the benefit of the children we are educating. One of the destructive elements, small but insidious, of the relationship between us and parents, is the proliferation of rumours which generally reach us in a very roundabout way - and I give three examples which have arisen this term:

"All your teachers are leaving and there will be nobody left." "PHG is becoming a weekly boarding school." "Condoms are being issued to the boys at Peterhouse and also to the girls at PHG." (this one fortunately was brought immediately to my attention by one of our parents who had heard about it at a hairdressing salon in Harare).
There is no truth in these rumours but they all increase the levels of stress at a time when we must work actively together to prevent any deterioration in the standards that we have set for our girls, your daughters.

I appeal to you now, as parents, to work with us, not against us, as the overwhelming majority of you do: the parents who supply transport, even this year, to South Africa, the parents who never miss a fixture or cultural activity, the parents who ensure that our gardens are beautiful by supplying tobacco scrap and manure!

I would now like to share with you a number of achievements that has made 2003 an outstanding year: I like to think that stress has challenged us to approach our problems more positively and, whenever possible, with a smile!

Academic results
Academically our girls have done supremely well and each can be proud of their achievements. We wrote IGCSE for the first time and our pass rate was a creditable 89%. Combining this with the subjects passed at ZIMSEC O level, our pass rate rose to 94%. We awarded Academic Colours to four girls with our top pupil, Tamsyn Bennett, achieving 7 A*'s and 3 A's. There is no doubt that, whatever the rumours, our staff give of their best to the girls and our girls give of their best in return. Our pass rate at A level was, for the first time, 100% with Anthea Bennett and Emily Laing each achieving 3 A grades. I would like to thank very sincerely the staff at Peterhouse for giving our girls the opportunity to succeed.

John and I were in England in August and were able to read about the English GCSE and A Level/AS results. According to the press there, GCSE is too difficult and A Level too easy. Recently, it was announced that pupils can no longer "fail" their exams - there is no F for fail; it has been replaced with N for nearly! 26% of maths teachers are not qualified to teach the subject. A cartoon with the article read "Half of you got the homework right, half didn't do it and the other half got it wrong". Aren't we, at our schools, lucky to have a system of relevant and reliable examinations and a staff of dedicated,, qualified teachers?

I recently came across a memo written in 1991 by the first headmaster, Mr Hammond, to the then Director of Studies - he was querying the discrepancy between O Level maths pass rates for boys (73.3%) and girls (51.9%) - I can assure you that we have caught up !

We are lucky, too, that we have been able to continue improving our facilities and it will be a great joy to have two more Science labs in operation by January, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor.

Outside the Classroom, we more than hold our own. This is no mean achievement when you remember that we are the smallest private girls' secondary school in Zimbabwe; I owe our staff a huge debt of gratitude; it is perhaps not obvious that we are understaffed in the area of extra curricular activities as we do not employ A Level teachers, but we still have to provide coaches and enthusiasts for nearly 100 A Level pupils in the afternoons.

Sport
Highlights of the Sporting Calendar. We have sent a record number of four touring teams to South Africa this year:

Athletics: Three girls were selected as members of the inaugural CHISZ Athletics Team which took part in the Inter-provincial Championships in PE in March. My special thanks to our Athletics Captain, Vimbai Hungwe and coaches Miss T. Matongo, Miss K. Swanepoel and Mr. P. Ginn.
Two girls were chosen for the Zimbabwe Athletics Team which, sadly, due to financial constraints did not participate in any international competitions.

Basketball: Under the guidance of Miss T. Matongo and Captaincy of Shingai Ruzengwe, our team toured Gauteng in August, the first time in 11 years.

Hockey: We were very fortunate to be invited to take part in an interschools tournament in Johannesburg and my thanks to Mrs Hough for her organisation, Mrs Querl for accompanying the team, and Kristy Querl for her leadership as captain.
Three girls toured Holland in April with the U16 Zimbabwe Hockey Team, and nine girls took part in the U16 & U18 South African Interprovincial Tournament.
Recently Geraldine Raynor was selected to play for the Zimbabwe Womens Hockey Team, but sadly the tour to India was cancelled at the last moment.

Rowing: Our team of 5 girls captained by Angelique Guimbeau, took part in the South African Championships and later in the year an enlarged team competed for the second year running in the Victoria Falls International Regatta.

We have had a record number of National representatives this year in the other disciplines: Squash 3, Swimming 3, Polocrosse 1 and Basketball 1.
I would like to thank all the coaches of our sports from aerobics to volleyball for ensuring that 2003 has been a very successful year. The strength of our sport is emphasised by the election of two Sportswomen of the Year - Kirsty Querl and Geraldine Raynor not because there wasn't one good enough, but because there were two who were!

Cultural activities
Once again, cultural activities have played a major part in our afternoon programme and the girls demonstrate their talents in a wide range of activities. This year, we have competed, as usual, in the various Allied Arts festivals with considerable success. There have been two major interhouse activities, both organised very efficiently by Mrs. Davies - drama and the Buckland Arts Competition - and also public speaking, bridge and quiz competitions. All these help to ensure that the House spirit continues as strong as ever.

2003 has been extra special for two other reasons: the biennial PH festival held at the beginning of August and the Springvale Campus Golden Jubilee Celebrations. The festival was a huge success and we are all indebted to Mr John Barrie and his team for an outstanding weekend. Our girls were an integral part of the activities taking part in aerobics, modern dancing, drama, music and three plays.

Springvale Campus Golden Jubilee
You will have perhaps noticed our emphasis for the Golden Jubilee shifted during the course of the year. Two years ago, the prospect of building a Springvale Campus school hall seemed feasible - our perspective has changed and we have, I hope, adopted a more realistic approach. Many of you may have seen the plans for the hall which we have purchased the drawings. It seems more important now to concentrate on people, in particular our staff, and not buildings. The Golden Jubilee team headed by the person who never seems to run out of energy - Mrs. Penny Raynor - has provided us with a wide range of cultural and sporting activities. We have enjoyed a fashion show, the Andrew Lloyd-Webber show with the Springvale Choir, a morning service followed by a picnic in Gosho Park which will become an annual event, a combined Toastmasters Meeting sponsored by Jewel Bank and tonight, the highlight of the year - a dinner dance. We will end the year with a final service on the last day of term.

Pastoral matters
2003 has also seen an increase in our pastoral role, both in and out of the school. We continue to support many of our local charities and our workers' schools by fundraising, cake sales, the annual charity dance, visits to the orphanage, hospital and homes. This year we held an Aids Awareness week, conducted by Sophie Dlimitis and from this has grown an active club which fundraises for Aids sufferers. This term the Marondera Junior Council produced a play "Killer" written by our own Chengetai Makuni who co-produced it with the junior Mayoress, Dananai Majuru. It was a powerful piece of drama portraying the dangers of Aids. Our service clubs - Interact and Leos - are well supported by the senior girls and do a great deal for the less fortunate. It is so important to learn to give and not just to take, which I fear we do without thinking nowadays.
We encourage team building and leadership. Five of our girls were lucky enough to attend one of a series of Global Young Leaders Conferences in the USA last term - a unique experience to mix with young people from all over the world. D Block had its Induction Course in the 1st term, C Block have just returned from Far & Wide and a few weeks ago our 5th Form spent a weekend in Gosho Park on a team building course masterminded by Mrs. Claire Hough, accompanied by her 3 month old baby, Oliver! So many of our girls will, I hope, be the leaders of tomorrow.

Chapel
We continue to draw strength from our chapel services led by our Chaplain, Fr. Punshon, Mr Davies and, on Africa Day, Scripture Union. The annual Confirmation Service has taken place, and I thank Father Punshon and Mr. P.P.T. Davies for their teaching and preparation of the confirmands. Sadly Father Punshon retires at the end of this term and returns to England. We wish him Godspeed.

Each week we enjoy the accompaniment of a group of musicians in chapel. We are particularly lucky to have so much talent and a group of dedicated music teachers from our three schools to nurture and encourage this talent. It is not often that we award Honours Ties but this year, Shamiso Whitcomb received one for her outstanding Contribution to the Musical Life of the School. I understand that she hopes to further her musical studies.

Staff
And so we come to the end of another successful year. Goodbyes, sadly, are inevitable. At the end of last term we said farewell to Mrs Loraine van Staden, she was a breath of fresh air in the Maths Department and was responsible for putting PHG on the map in golf. This term sees the departure of three members of our community : Mrs Dorthe Andersen-Mabira has been a member of the Science Department for 8 years, has recently taught maths and has taught guitar, volleyball and the skills of debating. She will be going to Denmark for medical treatment but hopes to return to Zimbabwe. We hope that she returns fully recovered.

Mrs. Liz Ireland-Jones has been part of PHG for many years as coach in charge of tennis and in this, her second year of teaching, she Heads the Geography Department. She has developed a very enthusiastic Gym Club. She is also a Lacrosse expert - sadly we haven't been able to see her in action but we persuaded her to learn the rudiments of hockey! Australia will be lucky to have her and her family.

Miss Catherine Swanepoel started her teaching career here two years ago and has hardly paused for breath! She has been a great asset to the Science Department, is a concerned and caring tutor to the B Block and has coached tennis, hockey and athletics with success and dedication. We wish her 'bon voyage' as she embarks on her travels overseas for a year. There's always hope that we'll see her back here.

The future
And so to the future - the school will be full next year and we have long Waiting Lists. We are currently involved in a Strategic Planning exercise which will result in an updated 5 year plan. We continue to make changes, we hope, for the better. This term we introduced an experiment - girls could go out every weekend. There are pros and cons to this arrangement as many parents have pointed out to me. Next year, the number of Floating Weekends a term will definitely be increased; which sums up our positive attitude at PHG.

And to end - a quotation said to have been made by Alan Paton, author of "Cry the Beloved Country" at a South African Heads Conference some years ago:
What would you do if you were told that the world was to end tomorrow? The reply was: Go out and plant another apple tree.

S.M. DAVIDSON (Mrs.)
Headmistress
6 November 2003

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