Founder's Address

BY Miss R. Thomson

After an introduction like that, I’m even more nervous now! Wow, this brings back a lot of memories. When I was writing my speech, I was trying to think of funny moments and things that had happened, but it all escaped me until I walked through the front door, and then I just remembered a whole lot of stuff.

We grew up in a time of Backstreet Boys, NSYNC and the Spice Girls, and we proceeded to put together a whole show for Mrs Osher in Grade 4. We had all the Spice Girls and it was just wonderful.

“Ladies sit up straight!” I’ve always wanted to do that! Mrs Stear used to do it to us in Grade 4 and it looks amazing. Okay, you can go back to yourselves now!

Mrs Woods, thank you very much for this opportunity. Charles Darwin said, “It’s not the strongest species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the ones who are 

most responsive to change.” Basically, it means Adapt or Die… That’s a bit dramatic, but you get the point. Adapt, change, alter, improve, modify.

The reason we have these reunions is to witness the improvements, modifications and changes within ourselves and that of others. We return to these unchanging halls of tradition and we use them to measure how far we’ve come since we were last here. One thing that’s changed in my life is that I now pay taxes… which suck!

As Mrs Woods has mentioned, I’m an Air Traffic Controller, and I cannot imagine doing anything else. I mean, it’s a perfect fit… I get to talk for a living and stare out the widow all day, and those were my basic skills at school… Just ask my Maths teacher! I don’t have any paperwork or deadlines and I work hours which are strictly regulated, which means a lot of free time. The company I work for, ATNS, is government owned. Mrs Woods asked me to tell you a little bit about it, so I’m going to tell you about the process and how to apply.

It’s a very male dominated industry and they have a lot of woman development programmes, so I would like to see at least 50% of you there in the future! It’s a bursary programme and you can apply online. It’s a full bursary, the pay for everything, including accommodation, your flight, they give you food, they even do your laundry!

The requirements are Pure Maths and English, that’s it. They basically train you to do the job, so you don’t need any qualifications or anything to apply. Just Maths and English. If your application is successful, you will go for an interview, psychometric tests and psychological tests. They are basically looking for a type of person. It’s not what you know, it’s the potential of what you can know. Then if that is successful, they send you to the aviation training academy in Johannesburg, where they will train you and it’s really amazing… They have these big simulators and you sit with an instructor, who will tell you what to say, basically. You have four months of exams which is 13 subjects in four months, you write two exams every week. The passing mark is 70%... 69.9%, and you are off the programme… It’s hard, but it’s worth it. It is definitely worth it. Like I said, a little work, I plug in, I talk for five hours, plug out and I’m done… So I would really encourage you to do it.

Air Traffic Control: there are basically two types of air traffic controllers. Every airport has a tower, you sit in the tower and you control what you can see. So you have vehicles crossing the runway, you have people landing, you have helicopters crossing, maintenance going on on the runway, and it’s your job to keep them all separated. You basically tell the pilot what to do, so that they don’t do the wrong thing. Because, if the pilot messes up, the pilot dies. If the air traffic controller messes up, the pilot dies… So it’s a win, either way.

Then you get Approach and Control, that is you sit at the radar screen and it’s like a video game. There are these dots on the radar screen and all you have to do is keep them apart. That’s it… It’s not rocket science, just like a video game. Yes, they’re big metal ships carrying 300 people in each of them, but just keep the dots apart, it’s really not that hard - so, apply ladies, I would really like to see you there!

To the class of 2006, wow, we’ve changed. So many things have changed in our lives. I’ve recently gone through some changes as well, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m not a natural blonde… I know right! But, change is always a good thing, for there can be no growth without change. The butterfly needs it and life demands it.

Speaking of change, there will definitely be a huge change around here… Mrs Woods, you impacted my life immensely. You believed even when I didn’t and all that I have become is a result of that belief.

I spent many, many hours in Mrs Woods’ office, sometimes for good things, others not so much. But, she always gave me a speech and a lecture - sometimes it didn’t work, but obviously in the end, I think she won. So thank you, and I speak for many when I say thank you.

I’m not going to keep you very long, because I know it was ten years ago, but I remember that… This day drags! So that’s it from me.


 May 16, 2016
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Miss R. Thomson

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