Valedictory Address by the Principal

BY Mrs M. Woods

We now come to the 2nd part of our proceedings this morning, THE VALEDICTORY CEREMONY.   (For the Grade 4s, this is when we celebrate and say goodbye to our young ladies in matric.)
Today is one of those special moments in time, that will be an indelible memory with you forever.
The inimitable Whitney Houston’s famous songOne moment in Time”, says;
 “Each day I live,
 I want to be,
 A day to give,
The best of me,
I’m only one,
But not alone,
My finest day, is yet unknown,”
All you young ladies of the class of 2016, you are my ladies of great “potential”, “your finest day, is yet unknown.”   Most of you have been waiting for 2436 days for this day to come and today marks the culmination of your journey over these past 9 years.   Each one of you valedictorians will make the symbolic journey through the foyer, striking the Valedictory Bell to signal the ending of one stage of life and the beginning of another. As you bid your teachers farewell, there is a shared knowledge that your lives will be forever altered. Pause to capture the gravitas of the moment, for you will be moving away from the safety of these walls into the unknown “adult” world with all its promises of triumph and disaster. As you pause briefly,  precariously pivoting on the edge of your future, remember us with a song in your heart.
The infamous Lady Gaga’s sings inThe Edge of Glory” :
“I’m on the edge of glory, and I’m hanging on a moment of truth
I’m on the edge of glory, and I’m hanging on a moment with you.”
That is exactly where you are now: caught in a moment  – for the last time –  on this stage – “hanging” out – in a way, “hanging on”. Yes, I do hope that you will be able to let go fearlessly, though not without a backward glance. Know that you are not alone.   You are not alone now. As you sit down to write your finals we will be with you – and God will be by your side.
I am confident that you leave this school taking with you the best of what she, your alma mater, has to offer you. I am confident that in the years to come you will continue to draw on those values she held dear. I know that you will be responsible adults, and that you will make the most of the world of possibilities ahead of you, perhaps even now you are standing on “the edge of glory.”   Asanda Msimang wrote in her matric profile that she would, “most likely become an African Lady Gaga.”    I say, go for it, Asanda, why not?
Over and over again you have been reminded of how much I love music. For me life would be the poorer without a song to sing. I love all kinds of music, and lyrics have been particularly meaningful to me throughout my career as an teacher. Yes, music has always fed my soul.  Sanelisiwe Jobela summed it up in a poem that she wrote in Grade 7:
Groovy, loud
Makes you dance
Makes stress go away
While I say Thank you for the music, the song I’m singing, to lyricists of the past and present, it behooves me to explore some of your writing when you were new, shiny, excited little Grade 4s:
You were asked to write about the most important life lesson you had learnt.   Megan de Beer wrote:  ”That I should appreciate what I get or I’ll lose it.”
On another occasion you were asked to complete the sentence, “Riebeek College is the best because…”
Siviwe Nongubo wrote, “it doesn ‘t have boys…” I wonder if she still feels the same way today.
Siviwe Hlonyane wrote, “I love the uniform and there is tuck—shop every day.   They sell all kinds of pies.”  
Shanice Pietersen wrote, “They treat everyone like they are special and they take us to PE to play hockey matches.”  I agree, Shanice, we treat you so special because you are so special.
You had to then complete the phrase, “Love is…..”
Atina Zekandaba wrote, “When my mom makes tea for my daddy.”
Danelle Koraan wrote, “When my father makes my mother breakfast in bed.”
Well, it is quite clear that food and not music has a lot to do with love!
Lastly, you had to complete the following:   “When I grow up I want to be…..”
Xolisa Mtengenya wrote, “Myself, because I think I am cool and strong!” As a matter of fact, Xolisa, that is our fervent hope for you: that you will be both cool and strong!
Nadene Chetty, wrote, “I Like Mrs Woods because she knows her stuff.”   Nadene, I take that as a compliment and I sincerely hope that you haven‘t changed your mind.
Do you remember Katy Perry’s number one hit a few years ago, “Firework”? I dedicate the words to you.
“’Cause, baby, you’re a firework
Come on, show’em what you’re worth”
In Grade 7, as seniors of the Junior School and budding young lyricists, your insight and talent was already quite evident.  Some examples of Form Poetry that you wrote have been well-documented in the magazine and I would like to read just a few of them to remind you of what you thought about School, Computers and Girls for example.
Awesome teachers
Learn  so much
Enthusiastic about our work
wrote Natheera Sirkhotte
Here is another, called
Fun, expensive
Playing, searching, typing
Don’t get a virus
This one was written by Carmynn Collins
And another:
Beautiful, Wonderful
Like going shopping
Have Knowledge, like playing
Always making jokes
Never quiet
Thus wrote Leslynne Kayster who also says in her matric profile that her throwback memory is, “our Junior School welcoming committee for teachers in the morning”
A few other matric profiles mention some interesting memories:
Lakin Segal remembersMrs Metcalf shouting at me for breaking some leaves off the trees.”
Aphiwe Sango’s highlight was the “Grade 7 pizza party”
Zoe Esau will never forgetWhen I fell out of a tree during one of my High School Musical moments.” and
Vuyokazi Bashe harks back to “The obsession with love bubbles in Grade 4.”
In Mrs Peltason’s  English class as a short writing exercise some matrics wrote reflections on their schooling:
Khanyisa Gqubule observes rather regretfully, “I wish I brought lunch every day.”
Atina Zekandaba seems quite sure about now when she wrote, “I never attempted any mischief yet.   Don’t know about next year!”
Nadine Chetty ruefully observes, “I should have listened to my mother when she told me to , “start now!”
Very wisely, I thought, Anathi Williams wrote, “If I was a negative person, right now, I’d be saying, I’d like to change everything about my life.   But, I’m glad that it can’t happen, because everything happens for a reason – it’s either a lesson or a blessing.   Besides, you only live once.”
You girls will be familiar with  R. Kelly’s, popular song, “I Believe I Can Fly”. The words of the song I share with you now as a mantra:
“If I can see it, then I can do it
If I just believe it, there’s nothing to it
I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away”
So beautiful class of 2016, you are worth so much more than you give yourselves credit for. May you all soar like eagles: Soar through your finals; put in the hours of study; remain dedicated; believe in yourselves and you will, I have no doubt, “fly and touch the sky.”
The following message, my very last matric class, in this, my final year as a teacher, I share with you. I say it as much for myself as I do for you:
Never regret a day in your life
Good days give happiness
Bad days give experience
Worst days give lessons
And best days give memories.”`
And now, girls, for the last time, let those words ring out and ring true: Once a Riebeek girl…

 October 23, 2016
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