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1998 Peterhouse Girls Speech Day

Mrs. Kay, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen - welcome to our Speech Day and Prize Giving Ceremony. We are indeed honoured to have Lady Soames with us today. Lady Soames will officiate at the Boys' ceremony tomorrow. Lady Soames is the daughter of the late Sir Winston Churchill.
As we near the end of our eleventh year we take time to look back and consider our achievements. It hasn't been an easy year - it has been one beset with much personal tragedy. Set against the backdrop of uncertainty in our country. We are now, more than ever, being put to the test.

The year did started on a positive note. Mrs. Buckland and I travelled to Nyanga with the group of newly appointed prefects - we returned three days later- with a closely knitted enthusiastic team with Carol Munyame as Headgirl, and Caroline Kew as her Deputy.
While we were completing team building activities on the mountains and in the rivers, Mrs. Nel organised and co-ordinated a most worthwhile Induction Course for our new girls in D Block in Gosho Park.
The Vth Form girls who wrote '0' level last year returned two weeks before formal lessons began. They were involved in the Acquaint Course, again organised by Mr. Bell. Each of the girls during the course attended a Leadership and Life Skills Course again in Nyanga.

Mrs. Barrie returned as a permanent member of staff; Mrs. Buckland transferred to the Boys' School and learnt what it's really like to be a day scholar; Mrs. Vandoros joined us as a counsellor and Mrs. Ireland-Jones as a tennis coach.

Excellent exams results
The 'A' level results arrived first. Eighty of the 92 subjects taken were passed - 82% of the girls managed two or more passes.
Our entrance criteria to 'A' level studies allows weaker candidates the opportunity to study for 'A' levels. It was pleasing to see how many of our weaker candidates passed two or more subjects. Our top 'A' level candidate was Miranda Ncube with two A's and one B.

When the 'O' level results arrived, they were cause for celebration. Only two of the 51 who wrote didn't manage full certificates, which gave us a pass rate of 96%. 92% of all subjects taken were passed. Twenty of the 51 girls managed five A's or more. Our intake into the school is done on a mixed academic ability basis. Our success must be attributed to sound teaching, close monitoring and well motivated girls with a positive work ethos. Our top '0' level candidate was Vivien Makava with nine A's and one B, while Irene Maeda managed A's in all nine subjects she entered.

Other issues
One of my aims this year was to reach out more to the girls or, at least, give them more access to help if it was required. Three tutor groups per block to 'O' level were introduced, ensuring closer contact between girl and tutor. And Mrs. Vandoros made herself available to talk to the girls. A peer group Counselling Workshop was held in the first term, but sadly, our educational psychologists in Harare are inundated with work and we were unable to run a course of counselling skills for our girls.
Cell phones were legalised among the girls - the promise of extra telephone lines and pay phones by March came to nothing. It is a disgrace that a school of 295 girls and twenty staff with a website should still only have one line in, besides the one pay phone that is sometimes available for the girls!

Sports and cultural activities
During the first term we acquitted ourselves well on the sports field remaining unbeaten at Athletics. Our Swimming Team qualified for the Finals Gala and travelled by train to Bulawayo for the National Competition. Several girls distinguished themselves, particularly in the U14 Age Group. We coped well at tennis and volleyball and it was good to see an increase in fixtures for cultural activities such as Chess, Bridge and Debating. The House plays were again of a very high standard and our Junior and Senior Choirs sling beautifully at the Eisteddfod.

During the term our rowers travelled to South Africa to compete in the S.A. Rowing Championships; Lety Kachidza competed in the S.A. Athletics Championships; and during the holiday period three girls, Sandy Bettin, Lisa Mentz and Sarah Moore, travelled to South Africa with Mrs. Bettin to compete in the S.A. Aerobics Championships. A squash team, with Miss Harvey, travelled to the Eastern Cape and several of our girls travelled to Italy on the History Tour organised by the History Department.

The Open Day from hell that ended in triumph
Our Open Day attracted more interest than in previous years. Over 300 attended. The events up to - and on - Open Day were clear indications of what we could come to expect nationwide during the year. Two days prior to Open Day there was a strike. Tidying up for the day wasn't easy. And then after years of pleading, the Rural Council arrived in the morning to re-seal and tar our access road - on Open Day! There was a power cut, which meant no water, and girls had to carry buckets of water from the swimming pool to clean the toilets used by those arriving for the occasion! Despite it all, our girls were as impressive as ever and again proved to be the selling point of our school. So many parents remarked on how well mannered, confident and helpful they were.

Next year's fees
The Chairman of our Executive Committee informed us that there would have to be an increase in school fees. The dollar was showing signs of weakening, the prices of goods and services were increasing at an alarming rate. Your support at this time, and at the end of the second term, when again the fees were raised, was beyond our expectations. Many, I fear, are finding it difficult to pay the fees. There is little consolation in the fact that fees at independent schools in England range between f4000 and f4500 per term for boarding, somewhere in the region of $405,000.00 per year!

Second term
The second term started on rather a traumatic note - the Rector had suffered a minor stroke in England; I agreed to assume the role of Acting Rector until his return. Happily he returned fit after the month of extended leave. The time gave me the opportunity to work closer with colleagues on this side of the road and gave me a far greater appreciation of the girls on our side.

Our B Block travelled to Far and Wide to focus in their minds their goals for the future. And Ballroom Dancing started as an extra activity.
We were shocked and saddened at the death of Mark Palmer. It pushed buttons that needed to be pushed. I invited the Rev. Rory Spence and a group of counsellors onto our campus to discuss with the girls the extent of the problems facing the youth of today. His report was positive; it was circulated to all parents at the end of that term.
During the term our new basketball facilities were completed and our Hockey and Basketball teams excelled. In all we had twelve provincial Representatives and four National A or B Representatives. Melisa Bezuidenhout travelled to play hockey in Cape Town and Tracy Pereira was capped for the U19 Zimbabwean Polocrosse Team which played against South Africa in Bloemfontein. Many excelled in the National Allied Arts Competition, and Gayle Hacking was adjudged the overall winner of the National Pritt/Zimbabwe Chemicals Art Competition. She, along with several other of our winners, had the opportunity to meet our First Lady, Grace Mugabe. who presented the prizes.

As term was closing, we were shocked to learn that Bruce and Sandy Wells, and Gaye-Lynn Carter had been killed in an aeroplane accident. They were returning from RIFA Educational Camp where they had accompanied the Grade 7 Springvale House children. It has had a profound effect on our school and will have for years to come.

Third term
The Rev. Housman left at the end of the second term. I believe he will be back soon to check on his family's preparations to leave at the end of term. Our thanks to Martin for his commitment over- the years we wish him and his family happiness back in England.
Mrs. Gibson stepped down as House Proctor of Impala - she initiated community work in that House and ran it with the usual quiet efficiency that is expected of her. Impala won the Public Speaking Competition for the first time and then won the Interhouse Arts Competition superbly organised by Mrs. Buckland.
During the holiday period we hosted the Floral Society Workshop and the National Musicamp.

At the end of the holiday we heard of the sudden and tragic death of Heidi Anderson who left school last year.
This term started quietly - Rev. Ken Anderson who was Chaplain some years back presided at our first Sunday service of term. Mr. Archie Kennedy joined us to teach Art in Mrs. Pratts absence and Happy Cater took over the catering in the school.
We have again acquitted ourselves well at tennis, volleyball and swimming this term, and hope to do well in the public examinations.

We say farewell to Mr. Dick de Courplay, our Financial Manager, who retires at the end of the year. He has been responsible for the purse strings for some twelve years - years of growth, expansion and development. I thank him for his support over the years and wish him well in his retirement.
We have and three Strategic Planning Meetings which have looked at the academic, cultural and sporting aspects of our school. I look forward to co-ordinating the exercise when the final paper on Peterhouse Boys' is published.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our girls and all of the staff for their efforts during the year. We are a elite school - we will always insist on the best. We won't, however, insist on the best in an elite way.

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