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Head Girl's speech at Valedictory

BY Ambesa Daniels

Valedictory - derived from the Latin word "Valedicere" meaning to bid farewell.
A very good morning to Mrs Stear, staff and learners, family and friends and a bitter sweet greeting and, soon, a farewell to the Class of 2017.
Contrary to popular belief, today does not mark the end of our journey - our journey still continues beyond high school - it is rather a milestone on the road to something different. The purpose is not to mourn the loss of the Riebeek family in our day-to-day lives, but rather to celebrate what we have experienced so far and to celebrate this significant stage in our development as ladies.
At the Muir College speech night, Standard bank provincial manager Mr Gary Markson said, "my life has been punctuated by angels". I have no doubt that the matrics will agree that looking out at a hall full of people who have been blessings in the past 9 years, we can't help but to be blinded by the array of halos before us. Encounters with the people gathered here this morning have helped to shape us into the ladies that we have become.
I would like to acknowledge those angels, but so many of their angel wings are not seen by the average eye, so believe me when I say it is not possible to thank every angel. Thank you to our parents for their patience and love.  And a special I love you to a certain Mrs Daniels in the audience. Thank you to every teacher who has had an impact on us and done so much more that teach us the syllabus. Thank you to the office staff, the ground staff, the prefect body, the Grade 4s for the hugs, the Grade 11s for providing reasons to laugh at youth, and Mrs Snyman and Mrs Stear.
Allow me to rewind to 2009: A group of 70 little girls, rocking ankle length skirts, ribbons in their pigtails or no hair at all (that would be me) and uneven teeth walked into the gates of big school with the feelings of excitement and nervousness causing butterflies in their tummies. We were met by our teachers for the year, Mrs Skeates and Miss Smith. With their enthusiastic and calming nature, these two amazing teachers managed to get everyone settled in and accustomed to the shock of being in a high school. 
Thinking that we were sweet bundles of joy was everyone's first mistake as we have proven over the years to be loud and mischievous. Mrs Skeates, unfortunately, learnt this the hard way. Of the many words that could be used to describe the medical knowledge of Chené Simon in Grade 4, smart had to be scratched off the list. A magic trick attempt went wrong and resulted in her swallowing a drawing pin during one of Mrs Skeates' lessons. Mrs Skeates still has the x-rays in her class! Another two that gave her grief were Hylene and McKenzie Hill who found it impossible to share a desk. I hope the desks were bigger in the school that Hylene moved to. Poor Mrs Skeates had no other choice but to hammer a nail into the middle of the desk so that McKenzie and Hylene would stop fighting over how little space each had because of the other taking up most of it.
Then there was Clementine who left Riebeek at the end of Grade 9 for reasons completely unrelated to the story I am about to tell. Clementine's performances in Miss Smith’s class were memorable. Her singing and dancing to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and other songs in her repertoire were, to put it lightly, loved by the deaf and appreciated by the blind.
2009 passed by swiftly and we were no longer the babies of the school anymore. We were now in the awkward space between being the leaders of the junior school, Grade 7s, and being the babies - too old to be adorable but too young to "be cool and rule".
Mrs Vermaak and Miss Arthur had no problems when it came to putting us in our place. However, the shenanigans continued when Mrs Vermaak’s class upset a student teacher. The class got into trouble for being late after first break. The student teacher warned us that if anyone set foot in the class after her at the end of second break, it would only mean trouble. Let's just say it didn't end well for us.
English with Miss Arthur included a class Zeebee, whose job was to collect scrap paper. But if you didn't cut and paste fast enough, you did not have the privilege of walking around to collect everyone’s scraps of paper. So, then no Zeebee for you! To our surprise, ma'am is a closet jokester. This side was revealed to us at the expense of Mihlali Nzimela, who also left Riebeek also for unrelated reasons to what I am about to tell you. Mihlali had to remove her wig in front of the whole class thanks to Miss Arthur’s sense of humour.
Grade 6 was the year of fast-pace living. We all remember watching Miss Johnson's door during break hoping you could finish your sammies before that door opened as it was class time the second that door opened. You also have never experienced an adrenaline rush if you have not tried to cut and paste 6 pages in 2 minutes.
We had the honour of being taught by Miss Inggs, or Mrs Panayiotou as many of you knew her, for two years. Her welcoming smile, out of the box teaching methods, words of wisdom,  encouragement and her willingness to let us play with her hair are just a few of the reasons why she is still sorely missed.
Then the much - anticipated 2012 arrived. We were the "netrics". Where this word came from, I have no idea, but we refused to be called just Grade 7s. This year marked the beginning of the homework club and our love for singing which always got us into trouble.
Grade 7 was a year of discovery. We discovered that grass could grow through tiles and that oranges bounce if frozen. Nicole Rhodes discovered that tables are not chairs. Jessica Schoeman learnt that ice cream melts when left out of the freezer overnight.  
This was also a year where everyone seemed to find it hard to get along resulting in a few arguments and talks from Mr Jonas who was not embarrassed to say it like it is. All I am going to say is that the tennis court holds a lot of memories - memories that some would love to forget.
SU camp in the same year was quite significant although we didn't realise this at the time being a lady would become an operative phrase. The last night on the camp saw many of the boys sneaking out of their dorms. Not wanting to miss out, the girls thought it would be a good idea to do the same. Liyema Douw's dorm sadly couldn't leave their room as their group leader had hidden the keys and Sandiso MacGyver Ntsele couldn't manage to retrieve the keys. A plan was devised to escape through the window and have a Muir boy catch us on the other side. This plan, of course, failed but the significant part was when a gentleman addressed us as LADIES when telling us not to be too loud and risk getting caught.
And indeed, we had reached the transition phase from Riebeek Girl to Riebeek lady. In the following year, we were the babies of the senior school. We were joined by many and a few left the school, but this change was expected and the new-bees were warmly welcomed into the family.
2013 - 2014 were the years of colour blocking, nerd glasses, magic lip gloss peace signs and a weirdly strong force of gravity that would only be experienced when taking photograph. I present to you Exhibit A - Sanelisiwe Jikeka and Lelona Myira will demonstrate the pose. For the sake of everyone's reputation, it would be a safer to fast forward past these years as the details are tragic.
Grade 10 finally came and we were expected to finally grow up - another bummer for our hopeful teachers and parents was that we did not conform this growing up in Grade 10 thing. Shannon Richards was elected RCL, after Mr Calitz suggested it as a joke, and she was a great part time RCL member.
From Mr Calitz we learned not to have break away conversations during class discussions, a bite is not a whole sandwich and that it is in your best interest to hand assignments in on time to avoid sitting for an hour on a Friday for "special LO didactical aid".
From Mr Hoare we were taught to start from the very beginning; it's a very good place to start. From Mrs Gunter we learnt how to say water. Mrs du Plessis was on the verge of giving up trying to explain why certain balances were on the debit side and others on the credit. Mrs Ferreira was always confused by Ambesa Kasibe and didn't know how many times she would  have to teach her the difference between a colander and a sieve during practicals. But her most mind boggling question was "Kan Ambesa Engels praat?".  From Mrs Mapoma's choice of oral topics, everyone learned how to give weather forecasts and more about water, but this time not said with an American  accent of Mrs Gunter. Grade 11 arrived and we were almost at the finish line but that seemed to be the year that dragged the most. A highlight for this year had to be unintentionally tricking the entire school into thinking that a fight had broken out. All we had innocently done is start clapping and cheering for no particular reason. This resulted in the entire school rushing to see what was happening and Mrs Hickson having to karate chop through the crowd of excited learners to stop a non-existent fight.
Then, at long last, matric was no longer a future destination, it was a reality. At that point, it was clear that everyone had given up on trying to get us to behave like normal people.
To their surprise though we came to the realisation that "Being female is a matter if birth and being a woman is a matter of age, but being a lady is a matter of choice". This year we chose to finally blossom into true Riebeek ladies - the one of a kind batch that is "the last of the 90s kids" and all-around LEGEN17ARY.
 We became a tight unit and aimed to uplift school spirit. This could be seen at the gala and in our participation in other inter-house events. In between the hard work and studying, we managed to find time to send our teachers on a treasure hunt (with us being the treasure of course), look effortlessly gorgeous at our farewell; and the Qhama Jonas and Andisiwe Dyala tag team always found the time to catch up on the one factor that maintains your sanity during the year: sleep (in class).
But we can't escape the inevitable and we have to acknowledge that a big part of today is saying goodbye. So I thought long and hard and decided to say farewell with that one thing that's always brought us together - music.
Over the past 9 years, you, ladies, have become my sisters and I've grown to care about each and every one of you so much that "darling I would catch a greenade for ya". I don't always say it but "I've loved you for a thousand years and I'll love you for a thousand more". When those tears creep up on you telling you that "if we walk our separate ways, everyday it'll rain" just "shake them off, shake them off". Today is a nostalgic day but "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". Just "keep our love in a photograph where our eyes are never closing, hearts are never broken and time's forever frozen still". "And although we've come to the end of THIS road" there is more road left to travel tall upon.
I wish you all of the best for the upcoming finals and hope that you know that sacrificing the next six weeks will be worth it in the long run. 
And so all that's left now is for us to take some precious advice we learnt and that is when it is time to go, you should, and I quote,  "DUST".  Which means, Class of 2017, we have to clean up our act and get these finals polished (that’s dusting) and then we have to go out there and sprinkle our magic on the world and shine bright like a diamond.  Love you all, my diamonds. 
 

 October 22, 2017
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2017
Ambesa Daniels

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