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founder's day principal's address

BY Mrs K. Stear

PRINCIPAL’S FOUNDERS DAY SPEECH 2018
 
·       Our guest of honour, Mrs Natalie Stear,
·       Those who hold the premier award of the school, the Freedom of Riebeek College,
·       Special guests, especially our reunion groups and two past Principals, Mrs Natalie Stear and Mrs Marilyn Woods
·       Ladies and Gentlemen
and Ladies of Riebeek College.
I welcome you all to this 30th Founders Day Service and the anniversary of the founding of our school 141 years ago.  In thinking about this welcome address for today, I found myself thinking about how much we love birthdays which then led to me thinking about the sonnet, “How do I love Thee” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  It starts with the lines, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”  In my address I thought we could do some counting, counting of the love abounding at this unique institution, Riebeek College.
It starts with the NUMBER ONE: One man, the founder of our fine school, Dominee Braam Steytler of the NG Kerk, who had a vision of quality education at a school that is 141 years young now and still going strong. 
Next we look at the number 141.  Although Riebeek is getting old, she stays young and updated because we value tradition while respecting change.  This is building number 3 that Riebeek has occupied in those 141 years.  There were 4 girls at Riebeek then but now there are 735.  Riebeek has lived through two world wars, and has been around in the 1800s, the 1900s and the 21st  century while all of our present learners have only known one century, having been born in the 21st century.
Next, we can count up the number of Riebeek principals that are present here today.  THREE.  And each of those Principals are tripling up:
Mrs Natalie Stear is NO 1 - a guest speaker on the special occasion of the Founder’s Day Ceremony that she started 30 years ago.
No 2 - A guest as the 12th principal  and
No 3 - My mom-in-law I am proud to say. 
Mrs Marilyn Dodd Woods is No 1 -  An Old Girl who is celebrating a 50th reunion  with the Class of 1968
No 2 -  A guest as the 14th principal and
No 3 - A unique part of Riebeek with a 56 year involvement in the history of this school. 
And then there is principal 3, me, tripling it up as
No 1 - The 15th principal
No 2 -  A very proud daughter in law and
No 3 -  A good friend of Marilyn who appreciates her solid advice. 
So, among the 3 of us is:
 the FOUNDER, Mrs Stear senior,
the LOUDER Mrs Woods, who is always fun
and then there is me, who is (I just have to get this in)
the YOUNGER.
 
Another important number to be counted this year is 30.  The school tradition of Founder’s Day started in Mrs Natalie Stear’s first year as principal.  Picture this, year after year, we have had Founder’s Day ceremonies. This is longer than the Class of 2008, who are seated in the gallery, have been alive and double the time our Grade 10s have lived.  The ceremony started as a March event, moved to June and settled in the first week of May annually.  Guest speakers have varied from:
 an air traffic controller,
two eccentric drama queens,
 a principal of Mrs Stear senior who taught soldiers how to shoot in World War Two,
the first Professor to the Chair of Nursing,
a News24 entertainment writer,
a Carte Blanche presenter and
the only neuro-psychiatrist in South Africa and the youngest head of department of Liaison Psychiatry.
 Two Dodd sisters have been guest speakers – Marilyn in 2008 and Carol in 2010.
 
In 1997 when Riebeek turned 120, Mrs Stear senior arranged a Big Riebeek Bake Off and the inter-class baking competition was a highlight.  So today we brought the cake back into Founder’s Day with a cake in the student centre with candles for our Founder of Founder’s Day to blow out. 


Next we count the bees:
The silver bee, that I am wearing, has become part of the culture and tradition of Riebeek College. It has become a tradition to read Mrs Rose Loggenberg Hartman’s letter written in 1999 recounting the origin of the Silver Riebeek “Bee” pin. She wrote:
 
“Miss Brehm, who was a staff member of the school, while on a visit to London, commissioned a jeweller to fashion the “Bee” into a brooch, intending that it be worn as part of the school uniform. This idea proved to be non-feasible and she contented herself that only one be made for her. One day, while on a visit to our home, she presented this to my sister, Dorothy, who treasured it as a gift from a valued family friend. Subsequently, Dorothy handed “The Bee” to Miss Bartlett, intending it should be held in trust for each succeeding Headmistress of Riebeek College to be worn when the occasion deemed it fitting. I think this was a happy gesture lending an added charm to the tradition. It only remains for me to wish you a most successful, memorable and joyous linking of hands with the past on this day, and that Riebeek College continues its successful path into the future”.
Up until 2016, there was only one bee, but in 2016, Mrs Snyman, our Deputy Principal, and Mrs Barnard, our Bursar and a Riebeek Old Girl, worked tirelessly to have a second bee created, this time a pendant, to give to Mrs Woods as a farewell gift from the school.  So, we have TWO bees. 
 
A very important number this year is 100. It is Nelson Mandela’s centenary year and we honour his values in the ethos of our school.  Our school theme of Ubuntu and our campaign this year called Mandela100@Riebeek100 acts of kindness all honour his legacy.  As of today, we are sitting at 30 acts of kindness and are ready to reach our target of 100+ acts of kindness this year.  This being the centenary year of the birth of Nelson Mandela, we are making every day a Mandela Day as we seek to demonstrate Ubuntu and the Madiba magic that he was famous for. In a world where one can choose to be anything, at Riebeek we choose to be kind, compassionate, generous, respectful, honest and inclusive. Each one of us CAN make a difference in the world. 
And we end our counting with the NUMBER ONE again.  One heart, one vision and one Riebeek College.  Riebeek Old Girls are known for their empathy and compassion. It is said, “your education has been a failure if it has failed to open your heart.”  Riebeek can be counted on to give a good grounding and to open the hearts of all who form part of the Riebeek family.
When YOU count your blessings, I hope that you count this day as one of them and I hope you count being part of this caring and spirited Riebeek multiple times. 
 
 

 
 

 May 10, 2018
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2018 continued
Mrs K. Stear

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