Message from the ‘Office’ As many of you may have heard from our Education Minister, Angie Motshekga’s announcement on Tuesday evening, we have once again been given the go-ahead to reopen the school for teachers next week. In her address she assured parents that schools will receive the necessary PPEs (Personal Protection Equipment) and that they would be cleaned in due course. I have seen reports that this is indeed happening, although we have yet to receive our PPEs or notification of cleaning to be performed at our school. I hope that by the time this newsletter is sent out we will have received the necessary equipment or at least have notification of when this may happen. The education sector unions have made the following statement in response to the Minister’s announcement and a survey they commissioned on the state of school readiness: “We however wish to make it clear that if PPEs had not arrived at schools and the required cleaning had not taken place when the teachers return on Monday, they are not to endanger their lives by entering such schools”.
I have been very impressed by the advice and engagement that we have received from the unions throughout this crisis. As I’ve mentioned in previous newsletters, I’d love to be starting school as soon as possible but we can only do so when the school is ready and declared safe. We will keep you updated on this matter. In the meantime we are busy getting everything else ready for our girls’ return in areas that we do have some control over. If deliveries and promises are met in the next few days, we will be good to go in all other respects. Please also note that our school office will not be open until we get the all clear.
During the course of next week please keep an eye out for the following which will be shared with our parents: 1. A letter to our Grade 7 parents about what to expect on their return. 2. A general letter to all parents about the plans we have put in place to prepare for our girls return in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. (This may be incorporated into next week’s newsletter). 3. Two new policies which will be submitted for approval to our SGB at the Zoom meeting we have scheduled for Monday. These were both made necessary due to the circumstances of the pandemic. 4. An update to our hostel parents and our plans regarding the hostel once these have been approved by the SGB. 5. A letter to our music parents and the plans for the way forward.
Children with comorbidities We have been requested to compile a database on children who have pre-existing medical conditions that make them susceptible to the Corona Virus. To date we have not received many responses. Please complete the Google Form by clicking on the link below if your daughter suffers from any of the comorbidities such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease. https://forms.gle/x1BdCzrSxsn3uH84A
Survey on our work sent home during lockdown We will continue to send work home to the grades who will not yet return to school and we request that you complete the survey below for Grade 00-7 so that we can get some idea as to how you have experienced the work we have sent home and to get a feel for what is working and what we need to address. We would really appreciate it if you could take the time to complete it and if you could possibly complete it twice if you have daughters in different grades. Survey on home-based schoolwork: https://forms.gle/wP33DQkLqsrsbqjG9
Updated Parental Details I am sure that you can appreciate that it is more essential than ever, during this time, that we have your most recent contact details. Please complete the following link if any of your family’s contact details (emails and/or home/cell numbers) have changed recently. Thank you. https://forms.gle/BCN4fghpcW6Rh1XYA
In our community:
• Gary Grapentin from East Cape Shotokan-Ryu is looking to run a second free three week introductory online course to karate for beginners, if there is enough interest. This is in celebration of his 25th year of teaching karate. Participants must be at least 7yrs of age. Teenagers and adults are also most welcome. In order to register interested parties should please inbox Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• If any of our boarders have been missing going to the Baptist Sunday School they can go to the church website http://www.grahamstownbaptist.org.za/ Click Youth Ministry and then on Sunday School. On that page is a table under the prayer with a link to a video and an activity. I’m sure all are welcome to join if they wish to do so.
Message from the ‘Office’ On a personal note:
After much thought and contemplation, I have decided that I would like to share our family’s personal experience of COVID-19 with you, and how its global reach has had an impact on us.
As many of you may know my daughter, Toni was awarded a swimming scholarship to study and swim in the USA at La Salle University in Philadelphia. Her swimming career started in the VP pool! As you read this, I would like you to imagine your own little V.P. girl embarking on the adventure of a lifetime in the not so distant future.
Toni’s COVID-19 experience began during her “Spring Break” while she was with my childhood friend in San Francisco. This friend soon turned into my Angel Friend. While there, Toni was suddenly informed that she had to fly back to La Salle University and evacuate her residence within three days. We booked her a flight back to Philadelphia and she hastily packed all her stuff. She booked into a hotel and managed to book her a flight home via Doha; this would only leave three days later.
She caught an Uber to the hotel and then phoned us in a panic to let us know that she had left her student card, bank card and cellphone in the Uber. Enter our Angel Friend in San Francisco… who somehow solved this and managed to contact the Uber driver and it was returned to her.
On the night that she was meant to fly back to South Africa we got a call in the early hours to tell us that the flight had been cancelled. We tried to find all sorts of ways to get her to Doha from where she would have flown home but with no luck. In hindsight this was a blessing as we heard that those who did get there, spent over a week stuck at the airport. I am more than certain that Toni would have found this beyond stressful.
Enter our Angel Friend again, who simply said to me, “That’s it! Send her back, she’s had enough trauma!”. So she flew back to San Francisco. Please bear in mind that my little girl was born and bred in Grahamstown, she is not at all a globetrotter. Toni spent six weeks in San Francisco with my Angel Friend and her family. She was happy there but she was still very homesick and longed to be back on South African soil.
Having registered her as a South African stranded abroad with DIRCO we received an email to say that they were planning three repatriation flights from Washington, USA to South Africa. Then followed the big debate about whether we risk putting her on yet another flight, one to Washington and then the flight home. (The cost of which was enough to cause panic). We asked ourselves questions like, will they open our borders soon and could we then put her on a normal flight? Will we only be able to fly her home next year? We had no way of knowing what would happen.
In the end we decided that we could not take the chance of her only being able to return next year and booked her on a flight. This, in itself was stressful as even after paying, we could not get any confirmation that she had a ticket and that she was on the flight. Now she ran the risk of being stranded in Washington. In comes our Angel Friend yet again who happens to have a cousin who lives in Washington and arranged a “Plan B” if Toni became stranded there.
Kevin, my husband, managed to find a contact at SAA and emailed them the night before she was due to leave, and they responded quickly and confirmed her ticket number. This was such a relief. Toni set off for her first leg of her flight to SA. So far, so good. She managed to get on the plane. I later read that she was one of the lucky ones, as many who paid did not get on the flight and found themselves stranded in Washington. I can only hope that they too had an Angel Friend with a “Plan B”.
Toni phoned us to say that she was on the flight and all was well. We were so relieved. She then phoned about a half an hour later to say the plane’s battery was not working and needed charging and that they were not sure how long it would take! They added that if any passengers had a connecting flight it may be a problem. I phoned my Angel Friend and she phoned the Washington airport in tears and begged them to get the flight to wait for Toni stressing to them that this little girl couldn’t possibly take any more.
I debated whether I should update my mother at this stage. She hadn’t slept properly since Toni had left for the USA, but I decided that she needed to know. My Mom’s reply was that, “she just needs to plug it in the charger”. Not having a good sense of humour at the time I said, “What Mom, do you think I must phone the airport in San Francisco and tell them how to charge their plane’s battery?’ She later explained that she thought Toni’s cell phone battery had died. We all had a chuckle about that afterwards.
We were very anxious that she wouldn’t catch her connecting flight but we had to remember that we had “Plan B” just in case. Finally, they took off and landed in Washington five hours later. On arrival, she phoned us in tears because she couldn’t find the baggage pickup and that she felt like she was walking in circles. “Ask someone!” I pleaded but she said their airport was pretty much deserted. I had to understand the anxiety she was feeling. Will she miss the flight because she couldn’t find her luggage? She found it, and made it onto the flight and told me she was so excited to hear all the South African accents and languages again. Finally, we all slept.
Toni phoned us when she landed in Joburg and we all celebrated. She is home. They got on buses and they now had to prepare for two weeks of quarantine. We waited and wondered where she would be sent. Would the accommodation be safe? Will she go mad with only her own company? Is she up to yet another challenge? How much more can my little girl take? An hour went by, two hours, three hours. Eventually after five hours she phoned. They were still waiting in the bus at the airport. She’s hungry and tired. How can this be? I am sharing this to let you know that despite being through a very challenging and scary time, the tale ended happily. I am with her now. After nine days in quarantine (in a very nice and safe quarantine hotel), she was tested and declared negative for the Covid-19 virus and released. After much effort to get the documents to travel to fetch her, we set off to Gauteng. The roadblocks were scary but the police were kind and we finally got to her.
It’s been a hard 2020 for many. Mr Greyling asked if we could fast forward to 2021. It won’t be a year fondly remembered, not by my Toni in particular, but she has been brave and I am extremely proud of her. I would never have chosen to have put her through what she went through but God often has other plans. I know by the tears and deep hug I received when we finally got to her, that she has experienced much hardship, but I also know that, although she may come out of this with some scars, she will also realise just how very strong she actually is. No, maybe not quite yet, she’s still fragile, but maybe when she next faces a challenge she’ll find that deep strength again.
As a mom I realised that we can’t always shield our children from life, and maybe we aren’t always meant to, but that they are certainly much stronger than we ever give them credit for. It is so important that we bring up our girls to have an awareness of their inner strength without losing their ability to have empathy and compassion. So my long story somehow links to our theme on resilience. We as parents need to be resilient too when we don’t want to “let go” of certain things and we need to allow our children to learn that they too have the strength of resilience within themselves. Also from my side I would like to say to you, enjoy your precious little girls while you have them safely in your care.
Now back to … Official Business:
At this stage the SMT will still not be returning to work. But I continue to hope that it will happen soon. We await the Minister of Education’s address on Monday for further updates. This week we were required to submit a report to our EDO at the Education Department on how we are continuing to ensure that our pupils are receiving work and are kept up to date. I was disheartened to note that a number of schools have either simply told their pupils to work in their blue department books or have not supplied their pupils with any work, because they have been unable to communicate with their parents during lockdown.
My objective is not to judge how other schools have navigated lockdown as not all schools and parents of the resources that we do, but to take this opportunity to express my thanks to our teachers who have endeavored to send work home so that our girls are able to continue with their learning. When I view the various worksheets from the different phases and grades it’s clear that a lot of effort has been put into making sure the work is interesting and manageable at home. We have adjusted our methods and layouts as we learn along the way too. I know that it is tiresome and sometimes draining for the parents to get their daughters to work but it is essential that they do. Your girls are very fortunate that they are able to receive work and keep the momentum going. We cannot possibly stop working and expect all to be okay once we return. It is essential that your daughters are disciplined about doing their work.
Unfortunately, especially in the higher grades, some girls may only work when they fear getting into trouble or getting demerits and this deterrent is no longer there. Our girls have to learn self-discipline and self-motivation, if they don’t, these weeks away from school are going to cause great gaps in their academic work and progress, and they will find their return to school very overwhelming. Please parents, I appeal to you to continue helping your daughter manage her work and tick off what she’s done and encourage her to complete what she hasn’t. We are all in a very difficult situation but our girls need to do their bit to ensure that they keep up with their school work.
I want to express my sincere thanks to all you wonderful parents too, for guiding your daughters tirelessly to keep on track and not fall behind. Although the thought of no work given for six weeks may sound like a dream, it actually isn’t. It is very sad. Let’s make the most of our opportunities and the position we are in. If our girls continue to work hard and follow what is sent home, the impact of the lockdown will be salvageable. If our girls don’t, it will be detrimental. This is one of those non-negotiables. Girls must complete their work and they are very fortunate that they are in the position to do so. They will learn essential life skills along the way too.
Much love to you all, keep strong and resilient,
Mrs Michelle Rafferty
Thank you to our many parents who have expressed their thanks to our teachers. They too are motivated by a pat on the back and we all enjoy feeling appreciated. I have shared some below:
A couple of Whatsapp messages:
“Thank u so much …it’s not just our kids who are learning here but also as parents we are learning a lot we are so grateful and humbled…”
“Thank you so much, we really appreciate your efforts and enjoying doing tasks with our daughters.”
I hope that your week has been productive and that you have found the time to go for walks or runs to clear your minds on some mornings.
This weekend we celebrate Mother’s Day. I hope that all our moms, grandmothers, aunties, step-moms and care-givers have a lovely day and are spoilt rotten!
As we would have been promoting the value of resilience in our girls at school I thought I would include in this newsletter an extract of a lovely article with you which may help you develop resilience at home. I dare say some of the tips I found relevant to myself too. It is a rather long article so I have reduced it and included it in the second half of this newsletter. If you would like to read it in its entirety please go to https://www.heysigmund.com/building-resilience-children/
But first some business: We had just declared our newsletter good to go and in it, I had informed you of our plans for returning to school next week, when I received a Circular from the Education Department declaring that ‘due to unforeseen circumstances deep cleaning and other health related issues have not yet been delivered to our institutions’ and that ‘in the light of the above, District Directors are hereby instructed to postpone the returning of workers/SMT’s to offices/schools until further notice’. I am feeling strangely gutted at this news as I was hoping we could start implementing all the plans we had discussed and be one step closer to opening our doors to our girls again. I know that the health and safety of everyone is of paramount importance but I feel as though we have once again had a false start to a race I am so eager to run, even one as uncertain as this. No matter how anxious we are about it all, staying at home and prolonging the start of our preparations is frustrating and debilitating. I am sure that many of you are feeling the same way about returning to work. I have to believe that they will deliver the promised PPEs and perform deep cleaning sooner rather than later. Trust that we are revving our engines to go as soon as we are given the green light to return.
The SGB Finance Committee had a meeting this week to review the impact that the closing of our school has had, as well as to determine what impact the phasing in approach will have on the various aspects of our school. It is our function to make sure that this situation does not leave our school in a dire financial predicament and that it does not leave us unable to function in the years to come. We are in the process of implementing and assessing certain measures to ensure that we are able to continue to function.
Please note the following: • The hostel parents will receive correspondence from us early next week and we request that you complete and return it as soon as possible. • We request that you notify the school via email if your child has pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes. This needs to have been diagnosed by a medical doctor. • The Grade 7s are expected to return to school on the 1st June. We will be sending a list home prior to this, of requirements and rules and regulations that will need to be adhered to on her return. We can make this work if we all work together.
As you all know things change on a daily basis and we will keep you informed as often as possible. We will continue to send work home and I hope that your daughter is managing her time wisely. I also understand that many parents are finding it very challenging to work from home and to “homeschool” at the same time. It is important to try to find a routine that includes time for your daughter to work, gauging how long she can stay focussed, and reward her with well needed breaks in between. Try to limit TV time during the day and rather encourage break time to be spent outside for some fresh air, if at all possible. Make sure her working space does not have many distractions and she is able to work in a quiet and relatively uncluttered workspace. Her own designated work space is important. Although she is not officially back at school try to instil a bedtime (and wake-up) routine so that your daughter doesn’t wake up extra grumpy and too tired to concentrate. All this will help you manage “homeschooling” just a little better. Be strong, moms and dads! We wish so much that this was not how things were at this moment, but remember that we are an email away if you need any help or have any queries.
The Grade 4-7s will receive new work today in a slightly different format. Each grade has given parents some guidance on how to approach the work. We hope that this too will make your lives a little easier. Below please find a message from Mrs Orsmond regarding the Pre-Primary and Foundation Phase.
To Our Pre-Primary and Foundation Phase Parents and Girls Thank you to each and every one of you for your enthusiasm and support over the last 4 weeks, as we have taught and learnt “via correspondence”. In anticipation of teachers returning to work on the 18th of May we have decided that we would like to declare that week from the 18th to the 22nd of May, as a “Home School Holiday” for the Pre Primary and Foundation Phase. While you use the week to take a breath and perhaps catch up on some of the activities that you haven’t managed to do, we are going to use it to plan for the coming weeks. We are all eager and anxious, in equal measures, about returning to school. We are eager for our children to feel a sense of normality again, to learn and to play. Yet we are anxious as well about their health and the health of our families and community as a whole.
Planning for the return of our Foundation Phase is going to be particularly tricky as the younger members of the VP Family (as well as those who teach and care for them) are particularly tactile and a great amount of physical contact happens in our classrooms. Now is a good time to start preparing your daughter for her return to school by discussing social distancing and how it will affect her interactions with friends and teachers. The wearing of face masks in public is a compulsory regulation, find one that your daughter is comfortable wearing and get her accustomed to using it. Get into the hand washing habit, if you are tired of singing happy birthday while you do it, sing a different song!
We will all see each other again soon and when we do, I suspect that the elbow knocking and ankle tapping greetings will resemble a very merry dance instead of a sombre social distancing hello. Best Wishes, Mrs Ceri Orsmond
“Building Resilience in Children – 20 Practical, Powerful Strategies (Backed by Science) Building small humans into healthy, thriving big ones isn’t about clearing adversity out of their way.. A little bit of stress is life-giving and helps them to develop the skills they need to flourish. Strengthening them towards healthy living is about nurturing within them the strategies to deal with that adversity. Here’s how. 1. Resilience needs relationships, not uncompromising independence. Research tells us that it’s not rugged self-reliance, determination or inner strength that leads children through adversity, but the reliable presence of at least one supportive relationship. In the context of a loving relationship with a caring adult, children have the opportunity to develop vital coping skills. Anyone in the life of a child can make a difference – family, teachers, coaches – anyone. 2. Let them know that it’s okay to ask for help. Children will often have the idea that being brave is about dealing with things by themselves. Let them know that being brave and strong means knowing when to ask for help. 3. Build their executive functioning. Strengthening their executive functioning will strengthen the prefrontal cortex. This will help them manage their own behaviour and feelings, and increase their capacity to develop coping strategies. Some powerful ways to build their executive functioning are: • establishing routines; modelling healthy social behaviour; creating and maintaining supportive reliable relationships around them; creative play; board games (good for impulse control (taking turns), planning, working memory, and mental flexibility (the ability to shift thoughts to an alternative, better pattern of thought if the situation requires); games that involve memory (e.g. the shopping game – ‘I went shopping and I bought a [puppy]’; the next person says, ‘I went shopping and I bought a [puppy and a bike for my t-rex]’; next person … ‘I went shopping and I bought [a puppy, a bike for my t-rex and a hot air balloon] – the winner is the last one standing who doesn’t forget something on the shopping list; exercise; giving them opportunities to think and act independently 4. Exercise. Exercise strengthens and reorganises the brain to make it more resilient to stress. Here are some ideas, but get them thinking and they’ll have plenty of their own: • throw a frisbee; • kick a ball; • give a hula-hoop a spin; • dance • walk the dog; • detective (in the garden … first one to find five things that are green; or five things starting with ‘s’; or seven things that could be used for dress-ups; or ten things that smell gorgeous – ready, set, go!). 5. Build feelings of competence and a sense of mastery. Nurture that feeling in them – that one that reminds them they can do hard things. Nurture optimism. Optimism has been found to be one of the key characteristics of resilient people. If you have a small human who tends to look at the glass as being half empty, show them a different view. This doesn’t mean invalidating how they feel. Acknowledge their view of the world, and introduce them to a different one. 6. Model resiliency. Imitation is such a powerful way to learn. The small humans in your life will want to be just like you, and they’ll be watching everything. Without pitching it above what they can cope with, let them see how you deal with disappointment. Bringing them into your emotional world at appropriate times will help them to see that sadness, stuckness, disappointment are all very normal human experiences. 7. Encourage them to take safe, considered risks. Let them know that the courage they show in doing something brave and difficult is more important than the outcome. When they take risks they start to open up to the world and realise their capacity to shape it. There’s magic in that for them and for us. Don’t rush to their rescue. It is in the precious space between falling and standing back up again that they learn how to find their feet. Exposure to stressors and challenges that they can manage during childhood will help to ensure that they are more able to deal with stress during adulthood. 8. Nurture a growth mindset. We can change, and so can other people. Research has found that children who have a growth mindset – the belief that people have the potential to change – are more likely to show resilience when things get tough. Compared to ones who believe that bullies will always be bullies and victims will always be victims, children who believe that people can change report less stress and anxiety, better feelings about themselves in response to social exclusion, and better physical health. 9. Build their problem-solving toolbox. Self-talk is such an important part of problem-solving. Your words are powerful because they are the foundation on which they build their own self-talk. Rather than solving their problems for them, start to give them the language to solve their own. Some ideas: • What would [someone who they see as capable] do? • What has worked before? • How can we break this big problem into little pieces? 10. Make time for creativity and play. Problem-solving is a creative process. Anything that strengthens their problem-solving skills will nurture their resilience. Give them the space and the time to play and get creative, and they’ll do the rest. And above all else … Let them know they are loved unconditionally. This will give them a solid foundation to come back to when the world starts to feel wobbly. Eventually, they will learn that they can give that solid foundation to themselves. A big part of resilience is building their belief in themselves. It’s the best thing they’ll ever believe in. “
Keep strong and resilient, Warm regards Mrs Michelle Rafferty Principal
News from our girls:
Rachel de la Mare (Grade 4). “This picture is of me bringing the beach to me, just before lockdown, at my grandparents’ house. Now I have my own private beach! My message is: “Stay away from the Rona! LOL. Hope you are all having fun. I know I am!
I can’t believe that it is the 1st of May already. If life had continued as normal we would be coming to the end of a month into our second term. It has been 45 days since we’ve seen our girls and 44 days since we gathered as a staff and said our farewells at school. Nothing could have prepared us for what was to lie ahead and still there is so much uncertainty ahead of us. I have to remind myself to take one day at a time and to keep faith in the abilities of the amazing staff at VP and of course our extended community, including and more specifically our wonderful parent body who all have a vested interest in our precious little school. We have to rely on each other and work together to ensure that we do what’s best for the little girls who are entrusted in our care. I pray for God’s hand over all of us during this time.
Many of you probably listened to the Minister of Education, Angie Motshekga’s address last night. She has proposed that the school’s SMT will return on the 11th May and that the teachers are to return on the 18th May. I would like to stress that if this does happen, we will NOT be open to the public until we have ensured that we have the proper sanitization and protection in place for everyone’s safety. We will be available however on our school phone or on email. It was further proposed that the Grade 7s will then return on the 1 June.
One of my biggest concerns is that the issue of hostels has not been addressed. I have contacted both NAPTOSA and the Education Department for clarity on this. I ask that you please be patient with us as we consult the relevant parties. I do understand that this will have financial implications for both the school and you as parents. Please trust that we will inform you of the plans going forward regarding the hostel as soon as we have all the details and I have consulted with the SGB.
Ms Motshekga did however mention in her address that these dates still need to be approved by the NCC (National Command Council). As we hear news and updates from legitimate and relevant sources, we will keep you updated as often as necessary.
During the next few weeks we wish to assure you that we will endeavour to make sure that we meet all the necessary requirements to ensure that our school is safe and ready for our girls’ return, if this proposal materialises.
In the meantime we will continue to send work home on the D6 app and our website. For the Intersen Phase we will be sending memos home on Monday for the work the girls have already done so that they can assess for themselves, if they are on track and to amend things while the work is still fresh in their minds. We will start sending work on a weekly basis for the week following. Our next set of work will be sent next Friday, the 8th May. We are hoping this may help your daughter manage her time more effectively.
The Foundation Phase and Preprimary have been sending work home on a weekly basis and they will continue to do so. I trust that you have found many of the activities lots fun to do with your daughter. We aim to keep our girls’ minds and bodies active and to keep them on track.
When the school premises is deemed and approved as safe we would like to make worksheets and books available for collection from school at a later date.
This morning I took the opportunity to go for a lovely walk on mountain drive. It was wonderful to be out in nature again and I am no longer in the ‘dog box’ with my dogs.
As always, keep safe and keep the faith
Mrs Michelle Rafferty
Messages and images from the VP community:
Hey everyone. I hope everyone is doing well and coping with their schoolwork. I know this is a very uncertain time for us and it’s hard staying in our yards, but if we all play our part by washing our hands and staying home, we can get through this together. I know we all can’t wait to see our friends and get back to our normal lives. I would just like to thank the teachers for their hard work and effort. I know we will come back better than ever.
Lots of love, Tara Bettridge.
Reverend Denise Herbert who is based in Scotland, tirelessly seeks donations for the work Dr Lisa Brown does for our girls, not to mention often donating out of her own pocket. She receives our newsletter on a weekly basis and she often emails me a message in response to it. I have copied a section of her email which I believe helps make us aware that the whole world is in this together:
Reverend Herbert writes: “We have been permitted to go out once a day to exercise – in England people are now allowed to drive to a walking spot as long as the walk is longer than the drive – though not sure how they can monitor that but in Scotland we can only walk or run (depending on one’s inclination) from home. So every evening in the past month that we have had lockdown I have walked for about an hour or just over. I have found new foot paths to follow and seen how nature is changing day by day as Spring gets going and the days get a bit longer. Unfortunately I have not been able to photograph birds as they hide too well but they are doing their best to sing merrily, to find a mate of course, each early morning and evening. I have a chaffinch, blackbirds, sparrows, coal tit, pigeons and two robins coming to the bird table to feed on the seed I leave out for them – watched at times by the ginger teenage cat from next door – which I have to shoo away.
I have put together some of the photos I have taken during this time of nature at work. I am extremely fortunate to be living in a very pretty area – so though we might be cold – lately the sun has been shining but we do have a very cold wind, and living on a steep hill where the village is built – we pick up wind almost constantly. So I am still well wrapped in winter clothes. Now of course you are heading for autumn and winter, and whilst you might have bright blue skies and sunny days I remember how cold it can be at night and always feel sorry for those living in shacks and poor housing and how hard it must be to keep warm.
I don’t know if you would have space in the newsletter for the pics. But simply to add that I have been thinking of you all and wish everyone teachers, pupils and their families well during this difficult time and to say you are in my thoughts and prayers.
Message from the office (aka as the Rafferty’s lounge)
Greetings and lots of love to all our VP families wherever you find yourselves during the lockdown. We have decided to start our newsletter again in order to keep our gates of communication open.
I so wish I could be telling you when we will be opening our doors again and exactly how we will be proceeding ahead. Unfortunately at this point no one seems to know. I know that this uncertainty is causing anxiety and maybe even a sense of hopelessness in many. I myself wish I would wake up one morning and a cure would have been discovered overnight and life can go back to what it once was. But I know that this won’t be the case. I feel for all those who have to make such crucial decisions during this time. Their decisions will go down in history picturing them as either heroes or the village villains but the truth is, no one really knows what the future holds or what decisions will turn out to be costly and unnecessary or wise and life-saving. Our leaders have to trust the input from those who are experts in their relevant fields to guide them, and they need to put their egos aside to ensure that the citizens that they are there to protect are kept out of harm’s way.
This letter is meant to be uplifting and I seem to be going in the opposite direction. But the reason for the direction of my letter is that this is true too for us as a school in that we need to rely on the experts and unions for direction and have faith that the decisions that they make will be there to ensure that the health and safety of our girls, school staff and our community are of the utmost importance.
Various correspondence have indicated that they are looking into a phase-in approach at school where we will start with only one grade and then after some time slowly introduce the others. When and which grades we are not yet sure of. But they have stressed that there is NO final plan or return date and that this will be decided by the Minister of Education who is being advised by the Minister of Health and the National Command Council led by the president of South Africa.
Information with regards to social distancing, gloves, masks etc will also be shared with us and hence with you. We have been requested to stress the importance of being on high alert of any fake news that is being circulated as it contributes to our existing sense of uncertainty.
Like you, we as a school have many pressing questions and concerns about the proposal but as nothing is certain or definite, we need to at this time keep calm and have faith that the proposal will be made with clear heads and much consultation.
The VP teachers are missing their girls terribly and are desperate to be teaching them in the classrooms again and I have faith that this will happen in due course but we need to make the safety and health of our girls our biggest priority. As soon as we hear anything definite and I’m sure that this will very likely be shared with the nation, we will be in contact with you to share the unique plans that we will have in place at VP to secure the safety of all our precious girls.
In this newsletter we will be sharing messages from some of our teachers and I hope you enjoy reading them. My sincere wish is that you are all coping and keeping safe at home.
For next week’s newsletter I would like to encourage the VP families; parents and girls to send encouraging messages. It is our wish that it will make us feel somehow connected again. Please send photos too! Please email your message and/or photo to Ms Lang – I.email@example.com
On behalf of all the VP staff; we miss you girls very much, keep safe and we can’t wait to read your messages and see how you are all doing.
Mrs M Rafferty
Good morning Grade 7Gr
You know my favourite saying or phrase is “ Go and reflect” I sincerely hope you are using this time at home to reflect. Not only about school work but also about life in general. Maybe you have set yourself some long term goals for after the lockdown. Whatever that may be I hope one of your goals will be to spend more time with family and friends in the future. This lockdown made me think about time in general.
One of my goals will definitely be to spend more time with my family. During this lockdown, Luka taught me that life is full of questions because he is now at that stage of asking many questions. Isabella introduced me to some interesting apps like TikTok and we have been listening to music together. My wife and I are cooking together and we spend hours either in the garden or cleaning the house. I have lost track of time and I love it!!
But … I would like to be back in class teaching and I am missing my afternoon walkers. I am missing hearing the girls during break time and seeing some Grade 7’s sliding down the bannisters. And yes, I have seen some of you sending notes around or eating something under the table and also the chats in class even when I say to be quiet and get on with work. So whatever the outcome of this lockdown is, please know that I am thinking of you every day. Enjoy the tasks set by the teachers and treasure the time you have with your family.
Regards Mr Greyling
I miss you and think about you all every day! Lockdown has given me extra opportunity for reading, baking, building puzzles, chatting to my family over the phone, and best of all, spending time with my beautiful cat. I can’t wait to see you at school again, when I hope you will continue to laugh at my silly jokes, even if only for my sake if you don’t really think they are all that funny.
Here are two quotes that brought me some comfort during this time of lockdown. I hope they may do the same for you:
“Every situation in life is temporary. So, when life is good, make sure you enjoy and receive it fully. And when life is not good, remember that it will not last forever and better days are on the way.” – Jenni Young
“All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us.” – Gandalf
– Mr Keeton
A poem for the Grade 3’s from Ms Putzier
Please don’t forget to wash your hands
Now that Corona has come to our lands
Please don’t forget to stay at home
Don’t go out of doors to roam
Please don’t forget to read everyday
Then as your teacher I’ll say ‘hooray’
Please don’t forget that I think of you all
As everyday you grow strong and tall
Please don’t forget I am waiting for
that happy day you’ll walk through my door
My dearest Grade 00 darlings.
With a phenomenal time like this,
Staying at home with your superheroes is completely bliss.
Painting, drawing, running, jumping galore;
Puzzles and cool games found in the Play Store.
The activities are to keep your special minds busy,
Whilst bonding with your parents and having a high tea.
Soon the Lockdown will be done,
Then we can continue with our Grade 00 fun.
Teacher misses all of you.
Hope you miss me too.
To my Sweet Angels
My wish for you is that you see the light in this world, in yourself and in others because I see the light in you.
I am proud of you. Believe in yourself because you are stronger than you know. Try hard, but know your limits. Ask for help and trust others will help you.
Fill your hearts with laughter and smile, you are unique and special in your own way. There will never be another you.
I appreciate and miss all of you.
Dream, believe, inspire, nurture, love and always listen. These are the things I will also do for you.
Lots of love
Dear Grade 6’s.
We thought of sending you this ” Words to Build Resilience” caption to remind you that it is fine to be worried in these times but that we are all in this together and that we must just remind ourselves to take it slowly and deal with one thing at a time. Let us be resilient and show kindness where we can. We are missing you girls terribly and are all looking forward to the day we can see you again.
Love Ms Sauls, Ms Goodes and Ms Purdon.
Having missed this time in school, some of you may be worried about whether your daughter will be ready for Grade 1 in 2021. Dr Melodie de Jager is a qualified nursery school teacher and holds a doctorate in the role of neurological integration in the learning process. She is the founder of the Mind Moves Institute. She says that the foundations for school readiness and reading readiness include vocabulary and language skills, listening skills, motor development which includes using and developing all five senses and the muscles of the body. Therefore, if you are having daily conversations with your daughter which involve vocabulary development and listening skills, if she is actively involved in the day to day activities necessary to keep a household going, and she is keeping physically active you are doing a good job of helping her to be ready for school.
We miss you all and can’t wait to be together again.
Love Teacher Kerry and Teacher Sam
Dear Gr 7M and VP family
It’s been a while since we closed the school. I hope you enjoyed your long deserved rest with your family and are busy working on your activities. The lockdown made us think more about the value of life. As my late father-in-law would say ”Man proposes but God disposes”
During this period I have really enjoyed being with my whole family although my eldest daughter is working as she is a health care worker. We have shared some of the responsibilities in the house like cooking. We have also done some challenging exercises to keep active and I have had some quality time with my granddaughter.
Hope to see all of you soon.
Dear Grade 1s
Mrs Andrews and I have been so lucky because we’ve managed to have contact with you on our class WhatsApp groups. Thank you for the photos and videos. They make us happy (and sad). Happy, because we are seeing your faces and we know that you are safe and well. But sad because we miss you and we miss seeing you learn and watching you grow. You are the little pots of gold waiting for us at the end of the rainbow, which we know will appear when this “Corona Holiday” comes to an end.
Mrs Orsmond and Mrs Andrews
I hope you are all well and enjoying / surviving this strange time in which we find ourselves living. I am missing you all very much, especially the afternoons in the library and the chats that we have.
Grade 7s – not a day goes by when I don’t think of you. I wonder how you are getting on and whether you are managing to do some work. I hope you found the worksheet that I sent you interesting. I am fine – I have good, positive days and some down days. My good days are when I can focus and feel I have achieved something. I have made a couple of other comprehensions for you based on interesting articles that I have read pertaining to what is going on in our world at the moment. I can’t wait to share them with you and hear your thoughts. Other days I literally ‘veg’. I’ve decided against the setwork I had planned to do with you (The Boy who Harnessed the Wind) because I don’t think we’ll finish it. Instead, I’ve found another called The Whistlers, by Penny Maytham. Google it if you can and see what you think. It’s shorter and a little easier, but the uncertainty of when we’ll be together again prevents me from preparing too much on it. I mustn’t take up too much of this newsletter as I’m sure other teachers want to write to you too. If you feel like trying the book puzzle included please do. I’ll send answers next week!
With much love,
We have ended our term with uncertainty that is unprecedented and bound to cause unease and anxiety. I trust that you all received the notice regarding our plans that were made in light of the school closing early and the later return. Let’s work together to keep calm and avoid causing our daughters unnecessary angst.
Keep your families and daughters safe. The education department shared directives from the Department of Health and NICD which we have been requested to share with our parents:
• Be vigilant and look out for symptoms of fever (more than 38 degrees celsius), coughing and shortness of breath.
• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol- based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
• Practice safe cough etiquette. Cough or sneeze into your flexed elbow or into a tissue and immediately dispose of the tissue in a safe place e.g. a bin.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as well as handshakes.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, spaces and areas.
• Identify, isolate and report anyone who is showing symptoms especially if they have travelled to highly affected countries as reported by the WHO.
Keep safe and find the time to read with your daughter these holidays. If you are going to need to find a way to bide the time, encourage your daughter to read. Please make sure that your daughter does the work that is provided to her to ensure that we do not fall too far behind in the curriculum and that she keeps on track during the holidays. Try not to let her leave it to the last minute where she is unable to complete it all as she’s left it too late. Encourage her to try do a little every day.
I’d like to express our thanks and admiration to our teaching staff for the production of “Can Giraffes Dance?”. It was a beautiful production. The girls were amazing on stage and the girls behind the scenes did an incredible job too. A special wow goes to Ms Knott-Craig who put the script together and the choreography of the beautiful dances. Thank you, talented teachers and girls. You have earned your rest!
Merit Achievers: Congratulations to the following girls who have received over 250 merits so far this year: Sophie Büttner, Gracie Chitsike, Onikayo Gude, Eleni Kyazze, Liyabona Mbutye, Haidee Thondlana, Zahraa Mansoor and Eve Daniels. Well done and keep up the hard work and positive attitude, girls.
We congratulate our top ten achievers in Grade 4-7. Well done!
Shiloh du Plessis
Governing Body By-elections
Due to the ban on gatherings, we have had to postpone our SGB by-election which was due to take place on Wednesday, 18 March at 17:30. We will now have the by-election on Thursday, 16 April at 17:30. All nominations that have already been submitted will be retained for this meeting. Thank you to those parents who have already volunteered and been nominated. We appreciate your willingness to work for your school.
Happy Birthday to the following girls who celebrate their birthdays in the holidays: Tazné du Plessis, Onika Jimmy, Pippa Wolmarans, Kylie Daniels, Emily Steele, Elethu-Ibhongo Makeleni, Marlene Loeffler, Amyoli Tshetu, Tristen Williams, Siyasisanda Nene, Kaylee Vosloo, Abongile Mtshemla, Likhanyile Mtshemla, Alulutho Solani, Anovuyo Nkohla, Zamankwali Dingela, Zahraa Mansoor, Grace Mayekiso, Azile Hambaze, Kelly de Jongh, Kayleah Evans, Mbali Maxhaulana, Unam Mazwi, Hluma Mbiko, Phumelela Macetyana, Lisakhe Mcilongo, Alexis Killian, Uviwe Ngcizela, Thobile Willy, Lisakhanya Mpahlwa, Zenazi Gqeke, Ayola Taboshe, Cayden Daniels and Emihle Nyenge. We hope you have a wonderful day!
We had our induction assembly on Monday where Tara Bettridge was announced as our Headgirl and Bronté Agnew as our Deputy Headgirl. I have no doubt that they will make for an effective and dynamic team.
Other new announcements were Likhanyile Mtshemla as our Netball Captain and Onwaba Santi as our Hockey Captain with Tara Bettridge as the Vice-Captain. We also announced our hostel monitors who play a crucial role in helping the matrons in the hostel. Well done to the following girls who will be our 2020 hostel monitors: Olona Tamsanqa, Mihle Maqoqa, Siyolise Gobozi, Abongile Mtshemla and Somila Lunguza.
Linking with this assembly and our focus on the value of responsibility I shared the following summary with our girls: With any role that you are given comes plenty of hard work and responsibility. These are the following points I’d like our girls to consider. Many points are relevant to all our girls. Not just to those in the Leadership Team.
1. Set a good example.
As a leader, you realize the importance of setting a good example for your team and your school. You can’t do one thing and say another and expect people to listen to you. You need to look smart and represent your school in the best way possible. You need to make sure you follow all the school rules. Treat your teachers and your peers with respect. My daughter and son both used to say when they were in leadership positions while in Grade 7 that they used to hate it when teachers would say something along the lines of ; “You are on the leadership team, you should know better’. People are going to judge you differently or more harshly. You are going to have to measure up to higher standards.
The best leaders learn to handle failure as gracefully as they handle success.When things get a bit too overwhelming it is your responsibility to not give up and to keep at it. Never be too afraid to ask for help if you need it.
3. Build good communication skills
Every good leader knows the art of compromise and talking to people they work with or serve in a manner that is respectful. It is your responsibility to communicate with everyone in this school respectfully and with love. At times you will have to tell your friends what to do which may be hard or make you not so popular. As hard as it is, always make sure you speak kindly and with respect. Try not to get bossy. People won’t always respond well to that.
4. Work on your decision-making abilities
Sometimes you may find yourself overwhelmed by too many choices, weigh the pros and cons of each option and make the most informed decision possible. This will help you to make correct decisions in everyday life. This is quite a responsibility to learn but through discussion with other team members, Mrs Sauls as your head of the leadership team, a teacher or your parents, you may learn the skills to make a good decision.
5. Learn to plan
Life is going to be hectic this year if you haven’t already realised this. Learn to plan your days. It is going to be expected of you to be responsible and go to your meetings, be prepared and follow up on all your commitments. And of course, use a diary to make sure that you don’t double book yourself. If you have, be responsible about excusing yourself from your teacher. This is such a crucial life skill to learn that you will need your whole life if you want to ensure people see you as reliable and responsible.
6. Get out of your comfort zone
You will be expected to do things that you are not comfortable with, you may even think, ‘How can you ask that of me? I can’t do that?”. But sometimes, to grow and discover things you didn’t know that you could do, you need to try things you’ve never done before. And sure, sometimes it may go well and sometimes it won’t but you most certainly will learn something on the journey that you never would have if you didn’t try. And sometimes you will just have to do it because it is part of your responsibility. You’ll just have to dig deep and do it!
7. Establish your values and stay true to you
Lastly make sure you know what your values are and what you are not prepared to compromise on. If honesty, reliability or responsibility are values you hold dear and your reputation is something you value it will be very difficult for others to convince you to go against the grain of who you value yourself as. If you don’t know what you value or you value your popularity or being liked above other values, you will find yourself easily swayed. If you haven’t already, go home and decide what values you, as a person you respect in yourself, won’t compromise on and ensure that you stay true to them.
Most people want to be a part of the Leadership Team but it is not all fun and games, it is a lot of hard work. A lot of expectations will be placed on you but we know that you are up to the task. Congratulations leadership team of 2020. Thank you for all the hard work you’ve done already. We are certain that you will continue to serve the school to the best of your ability this year.
We will be saying our farewell to Ms Bruns at an assembly on the 16th of March as she heads off to join her fiancé in Portugal. What an exciting adventure! We are working through the department to transfer the new Grade 3 teacher who is young, dynamic and experienced in teaching Grade 3’s. I am certain that Gr 3B will adjust happily.
On Thursday the 19th of March we will have our farewell for Mrs Arnold who is retiring. Mrs Andrews is already well established in the Grade 1 class and we know that that transition will be an easy one. Mrs Orsmond will be the acting FP HOD.
Mr Mkula has accepted a post at St Johns in Johannesburg. We are delighted to let you know that we have been able to get Mrs Jones back. Unfortunately her planned emigration to New Zealand fell through. As Mr Wynne has experience in both violin and cello he will continue with teaching the strings pupils and Mr Wynne’s current pupils and music classes will be shared between himself and Mrs Jones. We wish Mr Mkula all the best as he takes on this new challenge. We will also say farewell to him on the 16th of March.
Rest assured that your girls will remain in capable and caring hands.
Conquesta Olympiad: Should you wish for your child to participate in Conquesta 2020, entry forms are available from Mrs Sauls. Conquesta is only open to Grades 4-6. Please complete the entry form and return it to school in an envelope, marked Conquesta with the relevant entry fee. Closing date for entries are 13 March.
For more information please go to http://www.conquestaolympiads.com/
Governing Body By-elections
On Tuesday your daughter brought a letter informing you of the VP SGB By-election on Wednesday, 18 March at 17:30. We are looking forward to parents who will raise their hands to say “Include me” and be prepared to serve on our SGB. If you read the back of the letter sent home you will find a charter of what is expected of a member of the School Governing Body. Please read through those points carefully to ensure that if you are nominated you will be able to fulfill this role. Please attend this meeting as we will need a quorum for the nominations to go ahead. We have the choir and orchestra entertaining parents from 17:00 until the start of the meeting.
Our young musicians will perform in the progress concert on Wednesday 18 March at 14:00. All beginners will present work to showcase what they have achieved so far this year. The concert will take place in the hall and should be concluded by 15:00. Please feel free to attend and support our young musicians.
Ms Hanslo has sent out a letter to Foundation Phase parents inviting them to experience a music class with their daughter. This will take place on Tuesday, 10 March 2020 in our school hall. Parents must please refer to the letter for the correct times per grade.
Our top swimmers have been very busy this past week and have certainly done us proud! On Friday, 28 February Ayalakha Mokoena swam in the Top 8 gala at Newton Park in PE. She came 3rd in the 50m Freestyle and won a bronze medal. Well done, Aya!
On Thursday, 5 March Ayalakha Mokoena, Charlotte Welgemoed and Daniella McLean swam in the Interdistricts gala at DSG as part of the Albany team. Aya won gold in the 50m freestyle, backstroke and butterfly. Her relay team also won both their relays. Danni and Charlotte’s relay team also won. Well done, girls!
The extramural/sport schedule for the rest of the term is as follows:
Please note: Grade Ones will continue with summer sports until the end of the term.
9 March (Mon)
Senior Netball Trials: U11 & U12 (14:00-15:00)&U13 (15:00-16:00)
Senior Hockey Trials: (14:00-15:00)
10 March (Tues)
Junior Interhouse Tennis: (14:00-16:00)
11 March (Wed)
No extramurals. School finishes at 12:30 for all girls as staff will be attending training in Port Elizabeth. Please ensure that your daughter is collected by 12:30 if she does not attend Aftercare.
12 March (Thurs)
Junior Hockey trials: U8 & U9 Top Field (14:00-15:00)
U10 & U11 Bottom Field (U10 & U11)
Senior Interhouse Tennis: (14:00-1600)
16 March (Mon)
Junior Netball Trials: U8 & U9 (14:00-15:00) & U10 & U11 (15:00-16:00)
17 March (Tues)
Interhouse Cross Country: During School
Our U13A netball team will participate in the Frans Erasmus Tournament at PJ Olivier this afternoon and tomorrow from 08:00-12:00. We wish them lots of success at their first tournament of the year! Supporters are welcome.
Our production “Can Giraffes Dance?” begins next week. Tickets cost R20 for adults and R10 for scholars. On Thursday & Friday night the PTA will serve coffee/hot chocolate and a cupcake for R10. Please buy tickets early as there is limited space available.
The seventh edition of Masicule, which sees almost 1 000 voices gathered on stage in song, will take place in the Guy Butler Theatre at the Monument in Makhanda on 8 March (6pm) and 9 March (7pm). What makes this year’s concert so special is that the special guest artist is Nomfundo Xaluva (old VG girl and head girl 2002). Tickets are R50 and R40 for students and learners. Book online at www.tickethut.co.za or get your ticket at Makana Tourism, Fusion or the Joza Youth Hub. Mr Mkhize has tickets for sale at VG as well.
There are reports of an outbreak of lice at various schools in town. Please check your daughter’s hair regularly and if you find any lice or nits begin treatment immediately and keep your daughter at home until she is completely clear of all lice and nits. One of the salons in town is offering to assist with this: TranquiLICE – Head Lice Removal Clinic. Situated at 135A HIGH STREET and open Monday to Friday 8 to 5; (closed on Tuesdays) and on Saturdays 8 to 1. Treatments are done by appointment only. The Removal of Lice is done by using controlled heat, followed by the use of a vacuum-like device called a V-comb, which catches the lice and nits into a filter which is then discarded. This is a neat and safe way to get rid of the problem. The treatment includes a shampoo and blow dry as well as a spray on take home product to prevent further infestation. The process takes about one hour to one and a half hours, depending on the severity of the problem. Our Vision is to dispel the stigma associated with head lice and to stop the overuse of pesticides on our children and the environment. Many head lice removal products today contain insecticides that may be harmful to children’s nervous systems. Our mission is to change the way people treat head lice and to deliver an effective and environmentally friendly service. Together we can do this. Introductory Price for March 2020: R320 (regular Price R400.) For any questions or more info please WHATSAPP 0836489522; FOR APPOINTMENTS WHATSAPP 0836489522
Happy Birthday to the following staff and girls who celebrate their birthdays next week: Mrs Rafferty and Mrs Goodes; Cazlin du Plessis, Othandwayo Jaji, Sisipho Loliwe, Amila Mdingi, Cassidy du Plessis, Olwethu Nojoko, Tyronéya Francis, Buhle Mabanga, Ariba Nawaz, Amnuyela Sakata, Unakho Kate and Zoë Butters. We hope you have a wonderful day!
Mrs M Rafferty
Friday 6/03 – Frans Erasmus Tournament@PJ
Saturday 7/03 – Frans Erasmus Tournament@PJ
Sun 8/03 – Masicule Concert – tickets from VG
Mon 9/03 – Masicule Concert – tickets from VG
Wed 11/03 – School ends at 12:30. No extramurals.
Thursday 12/03 – Can Giraffes Dance? 18:00
Friday 13/03 – Can Giraffes Dance? 18:00