Head girl's induction day speech - 18 January 2017

Good morning, Ms King, staff, parents, girls and the matric class of 2017.

It is widely known that 2016 was not exactly the year the world had hoped for, and I could spend my time upon this stage reflecting on the infamous hallmarks of the year and promising that this year will be better. I will, instead, remind you of 2016’s comeback moments:

  • Leonardo DiCaprio finally won his Oscar
  • A world was brought together through the mourning of a gorilla. The death of Harambe brought to light important animal cruelty awareness campaigns, and exposed zoos for their harsh conditions and animal safety policies. Harambe also helped us all in the daily banter department, no?
  • Twenty-one Nigerian schoolgirls were released by the Islamic group Boko Haram just in time for Christmas
  • The Ice Bucket Challenge of 2015 helped fund a breakthrough in research in 2016. A gene that contributes to the development of the disease ALS was discovered
  • Although Pokémon Go might have been considered a juvenile obsession, the game encouraged its 45-million users to exercise and get outdoors in order to hunt Pokémon
  • The end of 2016 marked the beginning of a South African artist’s rise to fame. Nasty C enticed us with his declaration that he would never dumb it down a bit and that there are two kinds of girls; good girls and those girls who abuse the use of Snapchat filters
  • The Obama and Biden memes managed to show us that a bromance can indeed exist, and that Drake lied when he said fake love is a thing

We were also blessed with some great dance moves, such as hitting the quan, hitting the folks and hitting the dab; all three of them crucial but the most important one, of course, the dab. Parents and teachers, if any of this sounds unfamiliar, your best shot at survival at this point would be to contact my mother; she’s a real sport when it comes to hitting the dab.

On a more personal level, within our community we had our own 2016 comebacks:

  • The basketball girls beat our number one rival for the very first time, and subsequently won the Redhill Tournament
  • The St Mary’s dance crew went to finals at inter-high for the first time
  • Six of our magnificent rowers represented South Africa at the Junior World Championships in Rotterdam
  • The play Eclipsed won FEDA and went on to perform at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival
  • And Daniela Passoni and Lace Hallendorff represented South Africa in New Zealand, at the FINA World Women’s Youth Water Polo Championships

These few achievements, along with many other unmentioned ones, prove that in 2016 the St Mary’s girls’ work worked and, in the words of Ms “Beyoncé” Knowles-Carter, were not at all sorry.

This holiday, when I sat down to write this speech, the one thing I struggled most with was finding something to compare with St Mary’s. All of us here this morning are aware of the standard of excellence St Mary’s girls naturally attain, and to find something to describe this standard was particularly challenging. As my mind drifted to all the various places it usually goes to in my Math classes, I finally found something to compare the St Mary’s environment to: a constellation.

When you look at the sky and you see one little star on its own, shining brightly, although it is shining brightly, there always seems to be something missing; something small yet significant. But then when you look at a constellation of stars, you see many little stars shining brightly. So what’s the difference? Togetherness.

Although the little star on its own may have been shining brightly, it would never shine as brightly alone as it will in the constellation. The Form Is will be familiar with the St Mary’s air, as I have already spoken to them about it. It’s the atmosphere that distinguishes St Mary’s girls from other schools, among many things; the one thing that plays a huge factor in the development of the St Mary’s atmosphere is the togetherness among the girls.

Before you come to St Mary’s you are that little star all on its own, shining brightly, but with so much potential to shine even brighter with the help of the St Mary’s sisterhood.

Matrics, from having four older sisters, I have learned that you need to label your clothes when they go to the wash or you may never see them again, except you know, on your sister’s Instagram page. No, the real lesson I learned was that student life is fun, but tough. So enjoy the last year of being able to ask for money when you go to dinner without being told, “But Sizi, I gave you your allowance last week. Where did all the money go?”

Twenty-seventeen is the year in which females make a U-turn. Instead of bringing one another down, we will build one another up. Let it start in your friendship group, then move into your grade, then into the rest of school, and then take it one step further and let it reach the broader communities. If we females build one another up more, the levels of greatness we would achieve would be those previously thought of as unattainable.

This year I encourage every one of you girls to explore yourselves, and use what you find in yourself to advance the St Mary’s atmosphere and beyond. We as the youth have the knowledge to see something that is not right in our society, but we as young women have the bravery not only to call it out but also actively to rectify it. There are six specific words I should like you to remember this year, next year, the year after that and so on:

BE BOLD, BE BRAVE, BE YOU.

Be bold in your manner of expression and be brave enough to take risks knowing that failure is an option, because without failure there is no success. Lastly, be you enough. Dr Seuss told us that “no one is youer than you” and in this society, because it focuses on people being mainstream and following trends, we sometimes forget that no one is you, and THAT is your power.

We now look to 2017; a year when the successes will surely better than those of 2016; a year in which St Mary’s girls will continue to breathe in the St Mary’s air and thus succeed in everything we do. We will remember to be bold, be brave, be you. Not, however, as lone stars. Together we shall learn to shine as part of a constellation. So, here’s to 2017.

LOVE | COMMUNITY | INTEGRITY