Valedictory 2018 Head girl's Address

BY Sinovuyo Madlavu

Does anyone else still remember back in pre-school and Grade R, when we used to get puzzles to complete in class? I remember always hating them because it always seemed like I completed the puzzle way too quickly and then I was left not knowing what to do with myself… today, I find myself feeling the exact same way. This Riebeek puzzle has been completed far too quickly and now we find ourselves in an awkward in between where we’re not really sure where our place is anymore… IT SUCKS!
Good morning parents, special guests, teachers, Riebeek girls and to the ladies of the hour, my fellow Valedictorians, my fellow matrics.
When beginning a puzzle, the first thing you do is find all the pieces and turn them the right way around so that you can see round about where they fit into the picture. This is pretty much what our junior school years felt like – trying to find our feet in “big school” and figuring out where exactly we fit into the larger puzzle.
Ziphelele falling asleep during Mrs Skeates’ Maths lesson on the first day of grade 4 was a poor indication of what our junior school years would be like. The classroom naps didn’t end there though. Luna managed to break Miss Arthur’s classroom window, with her head, after abruptly waking from a nap. Her window encounters continued in Grade 7, when she was hoisted through a window in Miss Inggs’ class to try to unlock the door because we had locked ourselves out, with the keys inside the classroom too. Luckily we solved the problem before Miss Inggs could find out.
Our sleepy phase was followed by one of missing teeth, money making schemes and games that got way out of hand. One lesson, Miss Johnson found a tooth just lying on the classroom floor. And when she asked whose tooth it was, the class’s silence was broken by Mona excitedly shouting, all the way from the other side of the classroom, “It’s mine”! She had finally lost the tooth that had been loose for several days.
If you were to ask any 2012 Grade 6, they would tell you that the best part of that year was White Rabbit Days. None of us ever actually knew what this meant, we just knew that if you were part of the first 10 girls to wish Mrs Vermaak a happy white rabbit day, you’d get R10 and that’s all we cared about. This became our get-rich-quick scheme.
As we were nearing the end of junior school, we had turned most of the puzzle pieces over. We had an idea of where things go and what we’re supposed to do. We were confident that at this stage, we had already figured out what the completed puzzle was going to look like – we felt we had mastered the placement of all the pieces… we were so wrong.  It seemed that there were pieces missing in our Riebeek puzzle box!
As the seniors of the Junior School, playing dodgeball at break time was a way of life for us. Who could forget the day Lilitha tore her grey pants attempting to dodge the ball? Mrs Stear came to the rescue and held the pants together with safety pins. The following day, Lilitha arrived with her pants all sown up and proceeded to repeat the move that tore her pants the previous day, so as to prove to us all, that she could do the move with her pants intact. She failed dismally and ended up re-tearing the pants in the very same place as the previous day. We couldn’t contain our laughter.
Another all-time favourite game was hot seat, with the very first question always being the legendary, “So, who do you like” and of course we were obliged to answer.
We’ve always considered ourselves a rather talented bunch, and as such, we often played “Classroom Idols” where we saw tight contest between Kayla Ann Fourie, Megan Taylor and Bernadine Williams for the title. With Bernie being the only remaining member of this trio, I think we can safely crown her the official winner of “Classroom Idols”.
Our Junior School memories will forever be echoed by the voices of Miss Johnson and Mr Jonas. Miss Johnson’s Horrid Henry readings were unforgettable, her daily instruction to cut and paste 8 pages in 3 minutes, because “That’s what they expect of you in the high school,” had us sweating bullets trying to keep to the time limit, and who could forget the line we all dreaded : “These marks are dangerously low”
Mr Jonas taught us life lessons that we’ll never forget, like how to make scrambled eggs, saying “you grab and then squeeze,” on the real reason why guys in his day had no front teeth and on the importance of personal responsibility because you dared not make your problems Mr Jonas’s problems.
At the start of Grade 8, we had all sworn that we would not let the new girls come between us and infiltrate our sisterhood, but that did not last very long and now we’re one. Together, we have stumbled through high school, trying to make all the pieces of our puzzle fit together perfectly and even at times, resorting to forcing in pieces that didn’t fit, in hopes of just finishing; however, this lead to major unrest, for example, Callaghan vs Buhlebezwe (codename Batista), Octavia vs Olwethu D and ultimately the Entle vs Abongile situation which ended in tears, anger and weaves gone wild.
One cannot mention high school, without making mention of our beloved Mrs Metcalf. Arts and Culture lessons (now called Creative Arts) with her always ended comically. The 8G’S (now 12G’s), fondly remember breaking out into the Phineas and Ferb theme song while Mrs Metcalf was out of class. Singing is a big thing in our grade and the girls got so carried away that they didn’t realize that Mrs Metcalf had been locked out of class when she left, because the latch was on. When they later responded to the knocking on the doors, they were met with a very dissatisfied Mrs Woods and Mrs Metcalf on the other end. That year turned out to be one of countless hidden shoes and more sing-a-longs, with our hit single being “We wanna go home,” with our desks as the accompanying drums.
Everyone always loved PT lessons – some of us, a little too much. This was the sad realisation during a 10C PT lesson. Ahlumile was busy singing so loudly that she didn’t hear Mr Calitz’s whistle and instruction for everyone to get out of the pool and she was left floating and singing happily. After some time, she realized that it had gotten too quiet, and to her surprise when she checked, she had been locked in the pool area all by herself. She panicked and screamed for help; the class burst out in laughter and Mr Calitz let her out.
The Grade 11 Life Sciences class had a mind of its own. The class took the liberty of adding one more learner named Asanda to the class. Asanda only existed when demerits were going to be handed out for talking. She was also the person that never handed back their demerit, which always left Miss De Beer counting and recounting the demerits. However, there came a day where Asanda was called upon to answer a question. After a solid minute of complete silence, the class died with laughter. No one knows if Miss De Beer ever found out that Asanda never existed, but Ma’am, we apologize.
After being left alone for a mere 10 minutes because the teacher had left for a meeting, the Bio girls decided that a game of indoor volleyball, using Miss De Beer’s exercise ball that she sits on, was in order. That was a day the girls will never forget and we made sure to put the ball back safely where is belonged so she wouldn’t notice a thing.
Our fondest memories, by far, are our little taste of High School Musical, by breaking out in song in the bio lab. The best times were when Joy would introduce Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj throwbacks, which would have the entire class rapping along to every word – it was priceless.
Every day is sort of a jigsaw puzzle. You have to make sure that you always start with the boarder of the puzzle – in other words, put the most important things first. By matric, it was not funny anymore; being lax was no longer acceptable and we quickly realized that serious time management skills were needed. Doing homework had to become a priority, and I’m sorry to say it but, the order in which it was done was always based on which teacher would be the most lenient if their work was not done. We learnt that class and grade unity were essential, and we’ve always been a tightknit group with a firm belief in ‘All for one and one for all.”
And that takes us to where we are now… There are no more pieces left to place. Our Riebeek puzzle is finally complete and we are challenged to go forth into the world using the lessons and skills that assembling this puzzle has equipped us with. There is no other group of ladies that I would rather have walked this journey alongside and I know I have tried my best to represent you well.
Part of our puzzle making was the realization that the puzzle of life is not just about us! I must thank the people that got us here. Thank you to our school parents; also known as the teachers. You have groomed most of us from Grade 4 and the rest from Grade 8, until now. You have endured the drama, the noise and the need to sing at the most inopportune times. Thank you for always going the extra mile for us, even when we didn’t deserve it. Thank you for your patience, care and truly for everything you have done for us over the years. I do not know how to aptly express our gratitude.
Mrs Stear and Mrs Snyman, I would like to thank you for always having your door open when I needed help, for the amount of faith you have put in me and for everything that goes beyond your job description in how you have interacted with me as head girl, with the prefect body and with the Class of 2018.
I would like to thank my parents for the support, guidance and immense belief in me. It wasn’t always easy and when the pressure was high, it’s always comforting to know that you have someone in your corner. I want to thank my baby sister for the daily hugs. Pholisa, thank you for the little things you do to show you care; you have no idea how much they mean to me, baby.
I want to thank the prefect body for trusting me to lead you and for being loyal, hardworking and weird individuals. I’m proud of us and the work we’ve done; I could not have asked for a better team.
Omhle, you have been my right hand, quite literally and have grown to be a dear friend too. Having you as my confidant and support has helped me a great deal. I cannot express how much I appreciate you. Thank you so much! I love you girl.
Class of 2018: This is the best part. The best part of anything really, is the moment before it starts. And ladies, we are at a start, not an ending. Thank you for giving me the greatest memories that’ll last a lifetime and for being such a unique group of individuals. You ladies have all touched me, in one way or another. I will miss you all.
Today, the words of David Frost come to mind, “I probably wouldn’t do anything differently, if I had to do it again. Every little thing that happens to you, good or bad, becomes a little piece of the puzzle of who you become.”
If I have omitted anyone, forgive me. We would like to thank everyone who has influenced and shaped us into the ladies we leave as today. You fulfilled the picture of our puzzle.
I knew that I would have to deliver a speech like this but; I guess I didn’t realize that having to leave a place you’ve spent practically every day for 9 years at, would be so difficult. But isn’t it beautiful to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard? I cannot help but have a heavy heart leaving the College today. She has taught us so much, but failed in one regard; she never taught us how to say goodbye…
Ladies please remember these words, “There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.”
In closing, matrics, it is now time for us to mould our lives into whatever we want them to be. It won’t be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. I leave you with a line from a Bob Dylan song, which says, “May you always be courageous. Stand upright and be strong.” But most of all ladies, I hope that you will continue to chase your dreams passionately and that you will never accept less than the wonders you deserve of the world.
“We are all beautiful and magical puzzles made up of so many tiny pieces and parts. Without just one of them, something would be missing and we would not be whole. It is all of our parts that make us who we are…Each piece is special and necessary…Every single piece fits perfectly.”
The puzzle pieces have all fallen into place now. The picture that is created is of the Class of 2018 heading off into the future, well prepared for the larger puzzle of life and ready to build new ones, while always remembering fondly, the Riebeek puzzle.

 October 13, 2018
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