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1992 Peterhouse Girls Speech Day

t is my very great pleasure to welcome you all to our fifth annual prize giving this afternoon. A very special welcome to John Paterson, former Head of Springvale School, who has timed his visit to Zimbabwe at just the right moment to present the prizes from the stage of the school over which he presided for 11 years. I don't know if you are a believer in the power of prayer, but let me tell you a true story.

Nine years ago, when John and Mary Paterson last visited the school, it was standing empty, looking somewhat derelict and forlorn, The occupying school, St Philips had moved to Daramombe, the government had decreed that no primary school could re-open in this area and nobody really knew what the future for this lovely site would be.

We all came to have a look at Springvale from Peterhouse and on arrival, we met Patrick Gosho who gave us his usual warm welcome, after which he told us to follow him to the Chapel. We were asked to kneel down and John was requested to say a prayer for the future of the school and that it might soon be operating again 'as in the good old days', as Patrick put it. After this, we emerged from the Chapel, had a walk round and thought no more about the matter. Little did we know that within months the school would be handed over to Peterhouse; I would be asked to move over here from Malvern House and that after a couple of years the girls would occupy the premises. So perhaps John's previous visit had something to do with the start of the girls' school!

1992 has not been a year that many people will remember with affection and even in our small world here, the effects of world recession, devaluation and drought have been felt. It has been hard to make our pupils realise that only a few kilometres from here, people are dying of starvation and having to walk long distances to obtain a bucket of water. This is certainly a land of contrasts and we are indeed fortunate to have survived so comfortably in the midst of such devastation. Our survival has not been without cost, however. In March, our recently installed pump that would ensure that we'd never go short of water again, sucked the last drop out of the Nyakambiri Dam, that had been the source of water for the school since it had opened.

Our two rather feeble boreholes showed signs of giving up the ghost and for a few weeks we were supplied with water by a fleet of tractors and bowsers, which managed to cope with our needs. At great speed a borehole drilling rig was acquired and five holes were dug without yielding a drop of water. What to do! A small army of contract labourers was hired, who dug over three kilometres of ditch, after which a pipeline was laid from the Peterhouse storage tanks to our side of the road. The pipe passes under the main road and railway line through two conveniently sited culverts and this pipe has supplied our needs for the last eight months. Many thanks to Mr Wilde, the Estate Manager and his team for masterminding the whole operation which ensured minimal disruption to our daily lives. In a new school like ours, there is an enormous amount of capital development to be done before we can say that our facilities are second to none, so it is frustrating in these times of inflation, recession and drought to be restricted in what we want to achieve. However these things don't happen overnight and looking back over the year, we find that during the course of it we have acquired a convector oven for the kitchen, the bain marie for the cafeteria style of feeding (very popular with the girls), an extension to the Art Room and a new squash court, not to mention painting and refurbishing four classrooms. Despite what some of you have heard at Speech Day, we cannot claim full responsibility for the squash court, as the costs were shared roughly equally between Springvale House and ourselves. We are most grateful to all who contributed in cash and kind towards this much used sports facility. Thanks also to those who gave so generously towards the extension of the Art Room, where such lovely work is done: there are examples of this on your right and I hope you have seen the Exhibition in the Art Room.

Next year we plan to upgrade the kitchen further and two more tennis courts are also planned for 1993. As a matter of urgency, we still require common rooms for the junior girls, improved hot water systems (assuming that there will be water to use and electricity to heat it) and a further accommodation unity to lessen congestion upstairs and in the San.

A liaison committee has been formed to investigate what is needed and fund raising has started towards a new dormitory block. Our thanks are due to Mrs. Prue Huck, the only lady on the male-dominated Executive Committee, for all her hard work in setting up the committee and drawing the attention of the authorities to our needs.
So far we have dealt only with the physical side of the school, but this is only one aspect of what makes a school tick Provided that your daughter delivers the four newsletters that I write to parents every term (and I sometimes have my doubts about this!) you will be aware of our successes and problems over the year. Two girls, Janet Matema and Ivy Muvuti have been awarded a CHISZ Bursary to study at Rhodes. There were 12 awards this year and we are very proud to have two winners from our school.

Our academic record has shown an improvement, which is as it should be and our O Level results were 10% better than in the previous year and only 2% below those achieved by the boys, which was a very good effort for a school that was only in its second year of O levels. We achieved a 100% pass rate at Art, Biology, Commerce and History. Our small group of A level pupils did well and their results compared favourably too, with an 85% pass rate. The Big Question now is 'Can the 1992 candidates improve on these statistics?' In the male dominated Vth Form, twelve out the total of 18 prizes were awarded to girls, so the future looks pretty good.
During the year, we have scored a number of firsts - we have had regular careers talks, we ran our own short leadership course this term, we have had the first official Public Speaking Competition, and we have put on our first full-length play in the second term. The D Block took part in 'Jerusalem Joy' in the open air theatre across the road and we had our second Inter-House Drama Competition, with three plays produced virtually single-handed by the girls themselves, while Mr Gibson kept a watchful eye on rehearsals. The standard was immeasurably higher than the first effort a couple of years ago. We also have a large number in the Pantomime. We won two first awards in the annual National Schools Art Competition.

Thanks to the enthusiasm of Jenny Ewels, our junior mistress last term, a group of girls visited a refugee Camp, taking food and clothing to the people and our Charity Collection has raised further money and clothing for this cause. Music has continued to flourish with the Choir and Choral Society taking pan in several concerns during the year, as well as singing regularly in Chapel, and a number of girls have learned the piano and other instruments.

In the sporting arena we have had a very successful year again, thanks to the dedication and organisation of all those who coach the different sports.. In swimming we earned a place in the National Finals which involved a never to be forgotten trip to Bulawayo when the train was held up by a derailment at beautiful Hunters Road and the party spent a large part of a chilly night in inky darkness which reduced even Dave Johnson, our most vocal supporting parent, to near silence! After the Big Three Schools, we have more than held our own in swimming. Although bureaucratic bungling prevented us from staging the Girls' School Athletics Meeting this year, we managed to stay in top spot and we beat Chisipite and Arundel for the third year running. Our Hockey and Basketball teams both had their best season so far: we reached the semi-finals of the Golden Girls Hockey Tournament, upsetting the form book in the process and in Basketball we only lost one match all season. Volleyball, Squash and Rowing also showed a steady improvement throughout the year. 12 girls achieved Provincial or National selection in various sports, which included two who were chosen for polocrosse teams. Well done to all on an excellent record.

As always, it is sad to say goodbye to a number of girls, nine of whom have been here since we first opened our doors in 1987, though naturally they are longing to move into the big world now. I view the Rotary Exchange Scheme with a slightly jaundiced eye, especially when it means that we lose two such valuable pupils, as Sam Robertson and Angela Wilkinson earlier than we should. However, we are delighted that they have been awarded bursaries - Sam will be smiling her way to Canada and Angela will no doubt make an impression in Germany, (although it will be unusual for her to be at a loss for words until she masters some basic German). They have both made a major contribution to the life of the school from dancing to drama and numerous sports and we wish them the best of luck as ambassadors for their school and country.
And so another year draws to a close - a year in which we came of age with our first intake departing from the top of the school. My thanks to Janet Matema, our first 'home grown' Head of School and all her prefects this year, who have carried out their duties willingly and effectively, despite the occasional frustration caused by the antics of some of the younger girls. They have been a very pleasant group to work with. The nine pioneers who leave today will always hold a special place in our hearts (goodness, I'm beginning to sound like Mills and Boon!) and we wish all who are leaving the very best of luck for the future. Thank you for all you have done.

I should like to thank the staff too for all that they have done throughout the year. Every activity and academic matter that I have mentioned earlier has involved member of staff somewhere along the line, which will give some indication of how much time they give outside normal school hours. Only Mrs Attwell will be leaving and I thank her for all she has done during the year she has been with us. Unfortunately, her husband is a hunter in Tanzania, so she naturally wants to move closer to him next year. We are very lucky to have such a stable and dedicated staff in these uncertain times.

And now to the future. We shall continue to consolidate and try to improve on what we have already established. The Business Studies Course will move across the road next year, which will enable some girls to take a couple of A levels, plus some aspects of Business Studies, while those not taking A Levels will spend a year virtually full-time on the course at the Boys' School which for some, make it a more attractive option! I hope you've had a good day. I'll close by wishing you an overcast and wet Christmas holiday, which will make everybody in Zimbabwe very happy and perhaps more optimistic for a return to prosperity in 1993.

A M Hammond
21 November 1992

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