founder's day - riebeek soars

BY Heather Wilkinson

A breath-taking, radiant morning marked the beginning of our highly anticipated 140th Founder’s Day celebration. The Old Girls ceremoniously entered their alma mater radiating pride and enthusiasm as memories of school days past flooded their minds and rekindling of old friendships warmed their hearts. They were eagerly greeted by the youthful smiles of their successors and the open arms of their past teachers and class mates.
Upon entering the school foyer they were greeted with past and present school magazines, collages commemorating the various reunion groups and continuous camera flashes intent on documenting and preserving every moment. The adorable bees, Vicky Hoffman and Lindokuhle Mbanga, were a particular favourite of the visitors and no one was immune to their charm. They were lovingly supervised by their “prefect mother” Claire van Rensburg, who made sure her bee babies were kept warm within her blazer.
The traditional hockey match between the Senior 1st Hockey Team and the Old Girls’ Hockey Team was soon underway. The various grades watched from the side-lines, showing their support during this intense match and eagerly waiting for the first goal to be scored. The Senior 1st Hockey Team drew 1-1 with the Old Girls’ Hockey Team and both teams received explosive cheers when scoring their well-earned goals. At the end of the match both teams were red-faced and exhausted, but the sportsmanship between them was clear as the players hugged, laughed and complimented each other’s technique whilst trying to catch their breath.
The guests were then treated to the junior school formation on the bottom hockey field. The girls arranged themselves and proceeded to perform their well-rehearsed dance to the upbeat song “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” by Justin Timberlake. Their adorable smiles and enthusiasm also received appreciative applause from their audience as they completed their tribute to the school.
As everyone entered the hall they watched the Riebeek Soars promotional video which ended with line “Riebeek gives you wings”. During the assembly all ears were delighted by the melodic voice of Miss Mintoor, a teacher at Riebeek, who performed a hymn for Mrs Stear and the senior choir’s canorous performance received a standing ovation from all in attendance.
The performances were followed by the reading of memories which each reunion group wished to share with the girls. Everyone laughed and cheered as stories of drama productions, teachers and friendships were shared and enjoyed. After listening to stories from the class of 1967 and ending with stories from the class of 2007, it is clear that although uniforms have changed, teachers have retired and girls have moved on, the Riebeek girl spirit never changes. The morals, values, integrity and lively spirit we gain during our time at Riebeek never leaves us, nor does it change as generations pass. It is clear that Riebeek girls have always been pioneers and innovators, changing their world with their love and passion for life and bringing smiles to the faces of those around them.
The Class of 1967, with their reunion co-ordinator Mrs Rene van Rooyen Baard, had 19 ladies in attendance to celebrate their golden reunion. There were 20 ladies from the Class of 1977 in attendance to celebrate their 40 year reunion thanks to their reunion co-ordinators Lesley Bright Young and Mrs Terry van Vuuren Hattingh. The Class of 1982 celebrated their 35 year reunion with their reunion co-ordinator Debbie Thompson Mattioda and 14 ladies attended. The Class of 1987 celebrated their 30 year reunion with head girl and reunion co-ordinator Claire Soine Breetzke and 16 ladies who attended. There were 22 ladies from the Class of 1992 who marked their 25 year reunion. The 20 year reunion group was the Class of 1997 with 13 ladies who were in attendance and Bernadette Meiring as their reunion co-ordinator. The Class of 2002 celebrated their 15 year reunion with reunion co-ordinator Lindsay Flanagan and 16 ladies in attendance. The Class of 2007 celebrated their 10 year reunion with reunion co-ordinators Kelly Dido and head girl Ashanti Heugh (who, unfortunately, was unable to attend). 
The guest speaker, Old Girl Zhikona Bali, inspired and motivated the girls with her words of encouragement and advice on how to achieve your dreams. As an accomplished actress on numerous television programmes she understands the struggles which accompany achieving your goals since she has survived and thrived in a very competitive industry. Her success and humble attitude makes her a role model to many of the girls and her advice has further fuelled the girls passions and aspirations.
Zikhona Bali matriculated from Riebeek College in 2007. While at school, Zikhona was a school prefect and served on both the drama and dance committee. She studied Media Studies and Journalism at Boston Media House from 2008-2010. Thereafter she worked as a Photographer, a Writer and a Marketing and PR assistant. In her matric year, her peers recorded that their “drama queen gave an outstanding performance in Master Harold and the Boys” by Athol Fugard in the annual drama show, Impi. In July 2014 she made her screen-acting debut as Ziyanda in Mfolozi Street and played the same role in 2016 in Season 2.  She has appeared in a number of television series; with roles in the Mzansi Magic soapie, Zabalaza, the soapie Rhythm City and the SABC 2 sitcom Gauteng Maboneng. Zikhona played the lead role in an episode of the drama anthology series eKasi: Our Stories entitled Thula Thula, about an ambitious young girl whose plans are derailed when her Uncle abuses her. The episode first aired in January 2016.  In the same year she guest starred in the fourth season of the drama series Umlilo. In October 2016, she landed her first starring role on television on the Mzansi Magic teen drama series Is'thunzi which follows the exploits of four girls who call themselves "Ninjas". She plays Londi, a young wife who defies her in-laws by returning to school to get her matric. The show has been praised as “a breath of fresh air” in the way it was able to handle sensitive issues that South Africans face daily. There are advertisements that Zikhona has appeared in on the African continent and there is a short clip circulating on the internet where Zikhona conveys in a few seconds with only a roll of the eyes and a hesitant look at her complaining mother more than an entire script of dialogue. Her matric profile indicated her motto was “Don’t forget where you come from and don’t forget yourself”. We are pleased that Zikhona has not forgotten where she came from.
A special thank you to the junior prefects who assisted at the luncheon at the Uitenhage Golf Club, the senior prefects who were ushers on the day, the media committee, First Aid, Mrs Gerber and the teachers who helped organise the event. Our thanks is extended to the RCL who distributed the birthday doughnuts and juice to the Riebeek girls and Carleen Braun for running a photo booth for the Old Girls. We also thank Miss Hattingh who arranged the delicious luncheon and stunning décor which catered for over 120 Old Girls. Each lady received a Riebeek branded gift of lip ice with a beautiful reunion poem.  The venue was beautiful with pink and white balloons, fairy lights and touches of magic.
When the time came to part ways the nostalgia and joy had not yet left the hearts of many of our Old Girls. They left Riebeek with plans of further lunches and get togethers on their lips, intent on continuing the pure happiness which had consumed them throughout the day. It is definitely true that once a Riebeek girl, always a Riebeek girl.

 May 07, 2017
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2017 continued
Heather Wilkinson

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