Ladies’ College Principal’s Report 2017
My Lord Bishop the Rt. Revd Dhiloraj Canagasabey, Venerable Archdeacon Revd Perry Brohier, our Chaplain Reverend Melvin de Silva, the Chairperson of the Governing Body and our chief guest this evening MrsThanja Pieris, members of the Governing Body, our Manager MrsRajini de Zilwa, former principal of Ladies‟ College, Heads of Schools, Special invitees, Prize Donors, members of staff, old girls, parents and dear students; a warm welcome to our annual prize giving. There is a familiar metaphor or idiom, used to represent an invisible barrier that hinders the advancement of women in careers, to the upper levels of management. This climate still prevails in our country which is why we are proud that our chief guest today has certainly broken the glass ceiling. MrsThanjaPeiris, is the first lady Chairperson of our CMS Governing Body which includes five leading schools in the country and she was the first lady Secretary of the Diocese of Colombo, basically the CEO of the Church of Ceylon, where she worked with four consecutive Bishops, coordinating the work of the Diocese in Sri Lanka, as well as the international links of the church. A lawyer by professionshe started her career with a renowned law firm, currently known as Messrs Neelakandan & Neelakandan whose establishment caters to a clientele worldwide. Within the five years she worked there, she gained a solid foundation in every aspect of the legal profession, whilst obtaining a hands-on experience in administration and management, which proved to be of immense use when she joined her husband‟s chambers in 1986. His sudden, sad demise left her bereft yet she courageously and admirably shouldered her responsibilities in bringing up her family whilst juggling her career. I believe it is her unshakable faith in God that provided her the strength and stimulus to continue her good work particularly in the church, drafting constitutions, rules and regulations for the institution and managing its properties, investments and finances in her added role as Secretary to the Incorporated Trustees of the Church of England in Ceylon; in addition, being a caring and good mother throughout. The roots for her service to God and her adaptability to life stems from her solid family upbringing. Her father was chaplain of two schools and the vicar at St. John‟s Baptist Church and St. James Church until his untimely death at the age of 49. Her mother was a teacher at Chundikkuli Girls‟ College, Jaffna (our sister school); the very school Mrs Pieris (then Thanja Coomarasamy) attended and left as head girl. Her two sisters were also head girls of this school and one of them is a missionary working with CMS Australia. Yet it is not only Mrs Pieris‟ vicarage upbringing, her education in a Christian school, her profession and involvement with the Diocese that makes her the ideal Chairperson of our Governing body but it is also her understanding nature, her ability to take on any challenge in an unruffled manner and her service to others; in short a true disciple of God that makes her an ideal leader for all our schools. I understand this in the words of Nelson Mandela when he said, “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” So it is with a firm but fair hand that MrsThanjaPieris took over the reins of the Governing Body in April this year and we are confident that she would bring her flavour of professionalism and good governance as she guides and steers the five schools which come under her purview. We are very pleased and deeply honoured Madam that you accepted our invitation and graced this occasion today. We are indeed glad that our Lord Bishop has had the time, to fit, in between his numerous engagements and work, our prize giving and to be with us this evening. He also confirmed four candidates at our annual Confirmation Service last term. I thank his Lordship very much for his unfailing support and guidance afforded to Ladies‟ College and personally to me. We are happy that he presides at this function. Our Archdeacon always stays in touch with our school and when time permits, he kindly takes our morning service. We thank him for his ready advice and involvement. The Governing Body meets four times for the year and provides a sound forum to discuss and deliberate on matters of common concern. I sincerely thank the members for their stalwart support. We were relieved that Mr Jayan Setukarvalar agreed to serve on the Governing Body for another term of office, as Chairman of the Finance Committee. His sound financial knowledge with years of experience in the field has contributed immensely and is evident in the procedures and accounting formats he has introduced in to our system and I thank him very much for his good work.
To put this in to practice is another story. At times perhaps exasperated yet always having an eye on the ball, the financial stability of our school is firmly ensured by our efficient accountant Mrs Sharika Wirasinha who has astutely put in new systems and manages her section with much commitment and
professionalism. My grateful thanks to her and her team – Rangika, Yamuna, Akalanka and new comer Geethani for their valuable contribution. Though we were distressed when MrsRajini de Zilwa retired last year after serving the school for 25 years culminating as the sectional head of facilities, I was immensely relieved that she agreed to serve the school as our manager and in that role also Chair the School Advisory Committee. I can‟t think of a more fitting person – A 3rd generation old girl with the 5th generation in her family presently attending school, an engineer by profession with a Masters in Building Services and years of experience in the government sector, Rajini‟s devoted service to her alma mater thankfully will not cease. On the recommendation of the Finance Committee we were very fortunate to find a full time Human Resource Officer MrsRasikaWickremasinghe in January. She has fitted in well and has carried out her administrative functions with a quiet efficiency. She takes over her new role from MsNeelaShanmugam who has been balancing her academic and HR duties creditably, and whilst we express our grateful thanks to her for her service, we have no doubt that Neela‟s wealth of experience and knowledge will be available to Rasika whenever necessary. “They reap not where they labored, we reap what they have sown;” In the period of extraordinary growth the school witnessed during my predecessor‟s period and the expansion in terms of facilities we felt it was only fitting that we name a building in her honour; and in June this year the „NirmaliWickremesinghe Sports Complex‟ was blessed, named and dedicated to God by our Bishop. She serves on the Governing Body as the Old Girl representative and continues to share her experience in the field of education with all the schools. This complex is adroitly managed by MsPrithivaPerera who administers the facilities of five demanding sports within it and I thank her for her efficient service. The upkeep of our campus is a continuous arduous task. We have to balance the growing needs of our students in terms of providing a useful, comfortable and safe working environment, keeping in mind our founders‟ vision that we should provide a place of sound learning and a place of full and varied natural life to our girls. This year we welcomed an old girl MrsVidyaniRatnayakeas our Facilities head who took over these challenging duties seamlessly. Also joining us this year in May to this division, is another capable and efficient past pupil MrsAnargiRanaweerasinghe. Together with MrsNiranjaliRamanayake and MrKaviratne I thank this wonderful team and our support staff very much, for a job well done. At this point I have to make special mention of MsPrabha Fernando who sadly passed away after serving the school so faithfully for 45 years. Our founder also envisioned that we should provide our students a place of spiritual growth within the life of the church. To this commitment we are so fortunate to have our dear chaplain Rev Melvin de Silva who is a father to us in more ways than we or he can possibly imagine. I am deeply grateful for his concern, care, love and support and for always being with us for all our school events despite the long commute and his other numerous responsibilities. Our Hostel houses the needs of many. It is a safe haven for our boarders, teachers and day care children. Occasionally our athletes use it for overnight „bonding‟ stays and pupils from our sister schools in the outstations or Christian organizationsuse it as a convenient and comfortable abode for their children. Some of its rooms are also used as classrooms. Juggling all this is our trusted matron Mrs Tecla (Tania) Perera assisted by MsSusilaWijekoon and Bernadine Christie. I take this opportunity to thank them for the motherly care they foster. I also thank and wish Susila as she retires this year and we welcome Ms Stella Jacob and MsSuppiahKalaichelvi to our fold. The hub of the school is the office and my sincere and appreciative thanks are extended to its dedicated personnel. From my efficient and caring PA Anuradha, to Naomi, Champika and Susu, I offer my sincere gratitude not only for carrying out their multifarious administrative duties in a professional manner but also for their ability to handle children, parents, visitors and staff with great tact and care. In addition, I express my thanks and gratitude to Mangalika and Radhika who retired after serving their alma mater fruitfully and faithfully for 23 years and 5 years respectively and we welcome fellow old girls Mrs Chethini Weerasinghe and Mrs Nimali Ellawala who take over from them.
As much as we are grateful when past students return to serve their college, we feel blessed and honoured when some of them devote their entire lives to this institution. We salute and bid adieu to a teacher with many abilities Mrs Indira de Silva for her 43 years of loyal service and our head librarian Ms Nimala Samarasinghe who in an unprecedented 59 years of dedicated service has nurtured generations of girls. May God bless them both.
We also appreciate and acknowledge Ms Jamini Dassanaike our nursery swimming instructor who retires this year and who could take credit for sparking the initial confidence of our little swimmers. Her gruff voice belies her heart of gold. She along with technical support staff members Ratnayake and George Jayantha, complete 25 years of committed service. The Prefects form a valuable link between the student body and staff, and I thank them for their service. Our head girl DulinikaBulumulla wears many hats in leadership, at Ladies‟ College. Frequently she has sacrificed her personal needs, unselfishly serving the students and her school with responsibility, always conducting herself with propriety and decorum. Outside the gates of this school but very much a part of our community are two other supportive and strong bodies – The Old Girls Association and the Parent Teacher Association. Collectively they have worked hard, aiding us financially or in kind in numerous ways. Whether in an individual capacity or serving on committees I thank our parents and past pupils deeply for their valued contribution. As MrsPreethiAdhihetty completed her term of office as President of the Old Girls‟ Association, I have to place on record my profound thanks for a job done exceedingly well. Her tenacity to be inventive and innovative in organizing events and fundraisers are astounding – notably providing the entire funding for SMART Boards in each class room and to assemble a range within our premises and to purchase equipment for archery, not forgetting initiating an on goingprogramme which provides motivational speakers for our athletes annually. In addition, being a formidable presence, at every school event and encounter, leading „Red Wave‟ a cheering squad, was touching and effective. As our new young OGA president MrsNilouferVandergert who comes with a wealth of ideas, abilities and qualities, takes over, I look forward to working closely with her. The committee of the PTA has met every month and provides us an invaluable and continuing feedback from parents. With the steady support of our Vice President Mrs Maya Weerapura, our parents also provide assistance variously, particularly when we are in need of resource persons or when our sports teachers are stretched to the maximum, they fill in as reliable chaperones or doctors in attendance. Our appreciative thanks go out to them. The Association of Former Staff of Ladies‟ College was inaugurated in 2008. Theylook after and care for the needs of our past teachers and I thank them for their yeoman service. I was pleased to be part of their end of the year Christmas get-together, reminiscing and never forgetting that “the days of old have dowered us with gifts beyond all praise.” The School Advisory Committee serves as consultative board comprising of a mix of professionals and I thank them for their time and contribution. Whilst MsAnushyaCoomaraswamy and MsNeelaShanmugam, completed their terms of office and MrSanjeewaWeerawarana left due to other work commitments, we welcome on board from within Mrs Ayesha Fernando and MsPrithivaPerera, and old girls MsLakminiWijesundera specializing in IT and educationalist MsPriyanthiSeneviratne.
The Ladies‟ College Institute of Professional Studies (formerly DVS) is functioning well. They joined hands with the New Zealand Tertiary College and Edlocate to offer a degree in Early Childhood Education. Locally, following an audit conducted by the Tertiary & Vocational Education Commission (TVEC), the LCIPS was granted the Quality Management System certification, acknowledging the quality of education we provide. Our institute affords an array of courses. To mention a few, our popular Diploma in Pre School and Sub Primary Education is in its 35th year and this year‟s entire batch of trainees were offered employment by national and international schools even before they completed their course of study. I
thank our old girls MsRomola de Mel and MsSoharneeWalpita for conducting this programme with deep commitment. In addition to the professional courses such as teacher training and secretarial, a course on Spoken English and Personality Development was commenced. A seminar on Parenting Skills conducted by DrShavindra Dias Head of the Department of Psychiatry, University of Peradeniya was so in demand that a repeat session is scheduled next year. The holiday programme and camp for children was very successful, as evident not only in their eager faces but the relief this provided to working parents especially during school vacations. I thank very muchour Chief Operating Officer MrSunimal Fernando whose unflagging zeal is boundless, Deputy MsLahari Kurian and their team for managing the diverse courses effectively and efficiently. Our vice principal MrsDeepikaDassanaike shares my passion and love for our beloved school. A gifted teacher with slick organizational skills, she keeps everyone she engages with, on their toes. Her unstinted support to me and this institution is greatly valued. I am grateful that we at Ladies‟ College continue to encompass all that is of true value in education and that each of our sections continue to nurture and inspire our students to soar to new heights. We have therefore had another successful year and as I review the events that have led to this outcome, I do so, thanking God for his blessings upon us. NURSERY The path to any successful educational journey begins with the very first stepping stone and as young toddlers tentatively step into the homely atmosphere of Boxford, they are instantly put at ease, as they learn through visual, auditory and kinaesthetic stimuli. This year‟s theme for Activity Day was “Land of Shapes”, where in one exercise our children linked everyday objects to geometric shapes. The idea behind this was to explain to our young thinkers how knowledge can be gained and subjects learnt from their surroundings. Students explored the world on the topic “Oceans and Continents” for Project Day. Classrooms were transformed to underwater fantasies and cultural spaces. Their interests were stimulated from sounds and visuals of the ocean and its beings, to craft work, cookery, and communicative skills of language, and dance of different nations; prompting one to count in Chinese and another to sway to the Brazilian samba. This wonderful newfound knowledge was reinforced in a lively concert and recreated as activity races in their sports meet. Donned in red and white attire, the nursery and kindergarten pupils come together and gleefully celebrate Founders‟ Day. Our special children join them for the Easter & Nativity Services, and Harvest Festival, where students of all faiths participate and learn to share their gifts and produce offering them at the altar in our school chapel. These are then distributed amongst those less advantaged. I take this opportunity to express my appreciation and thanks to the Sectional Head MrsLilamani de Sayrah, Deputy MrsIshaniRekawa and their group of very dedicated teachers for harnessing such an exciting atmosphere, with the necessary caring support that our children need.
With the blessings of our Bishop, our young learners soon embark upon their platform to formal education. On their given topic „Forests and their stories‟, this year‟s students were enriched with the knowledge of how forests play an important role in the ecological balance of our planet, and how they contribute to the social and economic well-being of a country, including its influence on literature, through their Activity Day, Science Exhibition and Book Day collectively. Their daily lessons are enhanced with these events and they are stimulated to think independently and speak confidently on related yet varied subjects. As one child passionately expressed her desire to save the planet whilst giving me solutions to do so, another eagerly quizzed me on statistics of different rainforests dangling a toffee as a reward, while yet another
read a poem she had written of an imaginative tale of an enchanted forest. My kindergarteners certainly inspire me. Physical activity is an important component in any curriculum. Our girls have the advantage of having a beautiful backgarden and a swimming pool. Life skills are introduced and nurtured on both land and in water and further strengthened in competitive races in their swimming and sports meets. Students were also taken on class trips to different places of interest where they were even given the opportunity to be part of a production line. Needless to say all this wouldn‟t be possible without the untiring efforts of the Sectional Head MrsDiedreTheogarajah, Deputy MrsDharshiniDaluwatteAdhikari and their group of amazing teachers and instructors, to all of whom I extend my sincere thanks. As she retires mid next year we lose the valuable services of MrsTheogarajah who has been the mother, the anchor, the inspirator, the gifted teacher to both her students and teachers alike, not forgetting the firm but fair manner she adopts to our oarswomen, even the coach, as a teacher in charge of rowing. To this institution and to me she has shown the utmost loyalty and it is imperative that I place on record my grateful thanks to Diedrea for a job so well done. She will be certainly missed.
SPECIAL EDUCATION AND LEARNING SUPPORT UNITS
These two facilities continue to grow from strength to strength. The Special Needs Unit works with differently abled children, with the aim of integrating them with the mainstream section, whilst honing their skills and teaching them to communicate and cope with the challenges of daily life. They hand stitched bags and used recycled material to make gift items for their craft work sale, the proceeds of which were used towards their CSR project when they visited the Methodist Elders‟ Home.Their interaction with the elders was endearing and commendable. They were also taken to a post office where they excitedly mailed notes to their parents, and they actively assisted in a wafer Dansala on Poson Day. The children continue to enjoy their Swimming and Tennis lessons which improve their mobility and encourage balance and coordination skills. There is combined participation with the mainstream students in Art, PT, dancing, singing and related meets and events, where both groups of children not only delight in each other‟s company but learn to respect each other‟s abilities. We were pleased when ReharaWeerasinghe represented Sri Lankain dance at the Sambhav 2017 Alpana in New Delhi. The Learning Support Unit on the other hand, provides remedial assistance in Mathematics and Language, to students from grades 1 to 11,who have specific learning difficulties. Here they are able to learn at their own pace, where one to one attention is provided or they work in small group settings. Depending on the need a teacher will even go into class to assist the student in her main lesson. The results have proved to be beneficial and fruitful. It was once said that, “Every child deserves an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be.” This is reflected in the sheer patience and skill of the teachers in these two units which is why I express my grateful thanks to them and their Head MsShakuntalaSeneviratnefor their understanding nature, calm temperament and their special gift to teach.
With their educational journey now well in motion, our students enter the Primary section. This is where they learn the meaning of responsibility, teamwork and the importance of delving into new challenges. A good example of the latter would be the introduction of termly examinations and competition in sports and extracurricular activities. Here they get the opportunity to represent their house or school, which we try to introduce without pressure but find it increasingly difficult when parents bring upon unwarranted stress and competition upon the children, which again we try to diffuse.
To enhance their progress, the teachers encourage pro-active learning through encouraging the use of role play, playlets and independent research. For instance, this year‟s Book Day, “Nursery Rhymes and their stories” had the children acting out and explaining the significant morals and history behind well-known nursery rhymes. Students were also further stimulated through their various class trips, that had each grade learning important subject matter such as cultural significances through the Martin Wickremesinghe Museum, history through visiting the ancient temples of Kelaniya and Weherahena, and industry by probing the Sri Lankan Airlines Aircraft Hangar and the production line of the Kist factory. In order that they have an appreciation and a good understanding of their language and traditions Sinhala Day &Tamil Day were held successfully,with the essence of our cultural roots in mind. My sincerest thanks go to a team of well-committed teachers which include our new Sectional Head and old girl Mrs Kalum Hewage who joined us this year. She holds a Masters degree with a postgraduate degree in Education and 19 years teaching experience in Primary schools. Also a graduate, her deputy MrsSandyaWickramasinghe is no stranger to us, having vaulted from the Kindergarten, she assumed her duties seamlessly. With their ready smiles and approachable nature, together, they ensure that this section runs smoothly.
This is the stage where our students further gain in confidence, uncover untapped potential and showcase their presentation skills as they deliver assemblies on this stage. Grade 7 presented „Dolls around the World‟ in which they educated us into realizing that dolls are not merely cuddly toys and walked us through the evolution of dolls, its history, politics and modern use. The Year 8‟s presented an emotionally uplifting one, as they voiced their concern and encouraged the protection of endangered marine life in Sri Lanka. The 9th graders took on a well-informed flashback through the ages, as they discussed epidemics. The students, along with the Primary School, then worked on their class projects. „The World of Light‟ had the students diving into the past with celebrated minds such as Thomas Edison and his early experiments, the present with our dependence on light in our everyday routines and finally the future, where they were asked to imagine how the uses of light would evolve. Tomorrow they would present not the Boston Tea Party but the „LC Tea Party‟ – celebrating 150 years of Tea in Sri Lanka. Robotics has proved to be a great educational tool as it has sparked an interest in programming and artificial intelligence, which are vital umbrellas of growth, in every sphere, in our technologically enhanced future. In addition it enhances the understanding and skill in Mathematics and Science. Our children were absorbed when this hands on progamme was introduced in the second term. Book Day this year centred on the popular playwright, Oscar Wilde. The children delved into his early beginnings in Dublin and enthusiastically brought his work to life through playlets, displays and projects, ensuring that the day finished on a high note. An adaptation of his plays was also staged in this hall, by our students for the Inter House English Drama Competition. Along with the upper school students they were taken on stimulating class trips within Sri Lanka which made them realize and appreciate the wonders & treasures of our beautiful island. It is with much gratitude that I thank the Sectional Head MrsSuvendriniGnanaskandan, Deputy MrsRanmaliBalasooriya and their unit of talented teachers, as they take on their academic duties and the challenges of teenagers, with equal responsibility and tact.
This is a crucial phase in any student‟s life as they approach the early stages of adulthood. Here students face the nerves that go hand-in-hand of sitting for public examinations and the importance of making life-altering decisions, as they apply for universities and institutes of higher studies. That is why we at Ladies‟ College aim to carefully guide and support our students until they are ready to independently assume the gravities of the outside world. With this in mind, our students are given various opportunities through selected workshops, seminars, exhibitions, field trips and leadership programmes, to widen their educational experiences. In addition, the popular drama „Vikurthi‟, which is part of the curriculum, was staged exclusively for our students in this hall.Career guidance for grade 12 students are held once a week, which include in house activities and speakers in different fields to address our girls. As part of their examination project our London A-Level Travel and Tourism students showcased their talent for event planning as they independently organized a fashion show called „Contours‟. Bringing in the Art & Design girls, this enterprising group of students, not only sought out the necessary sponsorship required, they designed, planned, ordered and executed very professionally, every element that is required of an event of this magnitude. Inviting reputed guest judges they finally dazzled us with their innovative designs as the girls walked down a spectacular ramp that was set up across our pool. In short, it was a memorable event. It is with pleasure that I announce how successful our vocational programme, the Pearson Business and Technological Education (BTech) Diploma in Hospitality, was this year. Our first batch of students not only passed with distinction, one in particular ShenayaPerera was the only student to receive the High Achievement Award in Sri Lanka. All of them have got confirmed offers from William Anglis, a leading hotel school in Australia which included an exemption from 5 modules in the 1st year at university, a concession not afforded to others in its history. This year we introduced Business Management, as a second BTechprogramme and signed an MOU with BDO Partners to obtain practical training for our girls. In April we signed an agreement with Chandigarh University in India and acquired an exemption of one year in the undergraduate programme for Hospitality and Business Management for our Btech students. Although a school should not be defined by its external examination results alone, I am proud to announce that our senior students continue to excel in academia. At the GCE Ordinary Level Examination in 2016 out of the 21 subjects offered, 100% passes were obtained in 16 subjects and over 95% passes in 5 subjects. 25% of our students obtained 9 „A‟s, a first I believe in our history. From the 114 students who sat the exam 111 qualified for the Advanced level. Our Advanced Level students also fared very well. 72 students sat the 2016 examination and 94% qualified to enter university. 14% obtained 3 „A‟s. In the Science Stream, there were over 92% passes in Physics, Biology and Chemistry and over 83% passes in Combined Mathematics. The Commerce stream gained over 96% passes in Economics and Accounting and 100% passes in Business Statistics and Business Studies, whilst there were 100% passes in all subjects in the Arts stream except the 80 % pass in Political Science. Ladies‟ College was ranked 5th in the island in the Commerce and Arts streams. Students gained admission to Medical, Biological, Management, Commerce, Arts and Law faculties in Sri Lankan universities. The results of British Advanced level AS and A2 level examinations were exemplary and students have gained admission to prestigious universities around the world. At the Cambridge AS Level examination held in November 2016 AtarahRatnavale and OviniGunasekera received High Achievement Awards for obtaining the highest mark in Sri Lanka in English Literature and Computer Science respectively. In the June 2017 examination Aleena Cader, DulaniHannadige and RahadhyaAbayakoon achieved the same award for English Literature, Sociology and History respectively. At the A2 Level examination held in June 2017 HayatiRassoolwon the „Top in Sri Lanka‟ prize for English Literature and Ishara Abbey received the High Achievement Award for History. Similarly, at the Pearson EdexcelA level examination Natasha Karunaratne, Kyra Ramchandani, Amrita Perera and MinaaliJayaratne obtained High Achievement Awards for overall performance. We receive scholarships from diverse universities overseas. This year Tokyo International University was added to this list, offering three 100% scholarships, exclusively to Ladies‟ College students.
Great praise must go to all the upper school teachers who continue to ensure that our students gain not only the knowledge, but values and life skills that are required for them to venture out and become valued members of our society. I thank them and sectional heads of O/Level Mrs. ShaliniAlawwa and Mrs. AsiriniWijesuriya, Local A/Level Sectional Head, Mrs. Ayesha Fernando and Deputy Mr. InduMallawarachchi and British A/Level Sectional Head Mr. AyaduraiNaguleswaran and Deputies Ms. Indira Ratwatte and MsMedonieRajamoney, very much indeed for their diligence and dedication.
At Ladies‟ College, we believe that our students should be well-rounded and have a healthy interest in various activities. Therefore sports play a huge part in our students‟ normal routines, with sixteen sports on offer. In order to maximize participation, we have Inter House competitions in almost all the sports, the foremost being the Sports Meet and the Swimming Meet where we were pleased to welcome the new Principal of Trinity College Mr Andrew Fowler-Watt and his wife Vivian and former Swimming Captain Ramani Fernando Jayawardena respectively as our chief guests. Whatever the event the school is represented, a fine reputation has been established for high standards, good sportsmanship, modesty and generosity. In this regard we owe a debt of gratitude to our dedicated coaches, not forgetting our committed sports teachers and teachers in charge of sports, headed by the indefatigable Mrs Kamala Kulatilaka. Most of them are on the academic staff as well, working well beyond the call of duty, sacrificing valuable time with their families to be with our children. I extend a heartfelt thank you to all of them. In today‟s ambitious and competitive world, true friendship in sports seems to be a rare trait which is why win or lose, it is heartening to see the ties we have built with sister schools, Bishop‟s College, Musaeus College and VisakhaVidyalaya, in our friendly encounters, which we marginally lost but proved our mettle in establishing records in the C Four race and the prestigious A four „Boat race‟ in rowing. Ishara Abbey was adjudged the „Most Outstanding Oarswoman‟ at the regatta; whilst in Water Polo our juniors convincingly won their trophy and our seniors played a gritty, magnificent come back game. Our children continue to make waves in the inter school arena. Our swimmers were adjudged champions at the Novices Swimming & Diving Meet and some won first and 2ndplaces in individual events at the Sri Lanka Schools Aquatic Championships, National Intermediate Age Group Swimming Championship and the Western Province Championships. DunyashaHewagama won all her events at the All Island School Games. Additionally, for 2016, AmrithaPerera, SashiWeerawarana, DunyashaHewagama and Nimashi De Silva were awarded Western Province Colours. At the National Age Group Diving Championship SherayaPerera was placed 2nd in her events. In a graceful yet strenuous aspect of aquatic sports, our synchronized swimmers can applaud themselves as they were adjudged the Overall Champions at the National Age Groups Synchronized Swimming Competition and won 1st and 2nd places at the National & Junior National Synchronized Swimming Championships. Renata Melvani, Anika Ratnayake, Rivinka de Silva, ThariniPerera, JerushaPerera, Shiyanka de Silva and ShenayaMendis represented Sri Lanka at the Singapore National Synchronized Swimming Championships. Whilst obtaining places in their age categories, in the open events Shiyanka was placed 3rd and Shenaya&Jerusha were placed 2nd in the solo and duet events respectively. The latter two were also placed 3rd in the 16 – 18 age category. In Water Polo, our teams were placed 2nd at the Ellawala League and National Tournaments. Shenara David, Rheana David, KanchanaSwaminathan and Nimashi De Silva represented Sri Lanka at the Princess Chulabhorn Water Polo Tournament in Thailand. This year has been particularly fruitful for our athletes as we emerged overall champions in the Circuit and Zonal Athletic Meets, with SenuriPeiris being adjudged the under-20 champion in both tournaments. Our students also performed well in their individual events at several meets, with Rheanna David, SiyanaWickremesinghe and SareeshaGunasekara being awarded Western Province Colours for 2016.
In another highly competitive sport, our Under 17 team were placed second at the Inter Schools Tennis Championship and emerged champions at the National Schools Tennis Tournament where the Under 20 team were placed second. Winning many accolades Anika Seneviratne bagged the under 16 & 18 singles titles at the Junior National Tennis Tournament. MedhiraSamarasinghe was awarded multiple trophies which included the Women‟s Single Champion and Player of the Tournament at the Sri Lanka National Tennis Championships. She also represented Sri Lanka at the Fed Cup that was held in Tajikistan and she was awarded national colours.Additionally, Medhira along with Shenara David, OshaniWickremesinghe, SetharaAmbawatte, Anika Seneviratne and Serena Madanayake were awarded Western Province Colours for 2016. Anika Seneviratne also represented Sri Lanka at many international tournaments notably the 6th Commonwealth Youth Games in Bahamas, and the WTA Future Stars Tournament in Singapore and together with Sathi Silva represented the country at the Junior Fed Cup in India. Our Table Tennis players performed exceptionally well this year. The Under 14 „A‟ team emerged champions in the „A‟ division at the All Island Inter School Table Tennis Championship and our Under 17 team also emerged as champions at the Western Province School Games and the All Island School Games. Anoushka De Silva, ManeshaSiriwardena, Ayla Chitty and JitharaWarnakulasuriya were awarded Western Province Colours for 2016. Jithara also went on to represent Sri Lanka in the South Asian Junior & Cadet Table Tennis Championship held in Colombo and ITTF World Junior & Cadet OpenTournament in India. As part of the Under 15 team that entered for the South Asian Cadet & Junior Championship held in Colombo, she won both a Bronze medal for an individual event and a Silver medal for a team event. Based on this achievement she went on to represent the country in the Asian Junior & Cadet Table Tennis Championship in Korea. Continuing with racket sports, Badminton had its highlights as well, with our Under 17 and Under 19 teams being placed 2nd in the „C‟ division and the under 15 team placed 3rd in the „B‟ division at the All Island Inter School Team Championships. The under 17 team were the quarter finalists at the Western Province National School Games. It was encouraging to note that our young shuttlers were placed 3rd at the under 11 Badminton Team Championship. In squash our „B‟ team was placed 2nd this year, in the open category of the Inter School Squash Tournament and Ladies‟ College was placed third overall. In the Novices Squash Tournament our players were placed 1st and 2ndin all the age groups. Kiara Guruge represented Sri Lanka at the Asian Junior Squash Tournament in Hong Kongand along with ShenayaSiriwardena they travelled to Jordan to compete in the Asian Junior Individual Squash Championships. Kiara captained this girls‟ team. Our Netball players had a successful year as well, as the Under 16 and Under 20 teams were placed 1st and 2nd respectively at the Circuit Netball Tournament. HeshanthiMunasinghe represented the Colombo District Schools Hockey in the red „A‟ team. The Under 16 team proved strong as they were placed 3rd at the 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament conducted by the Basketball Federation and the under 19 team were placed 3rd in the „B‟ Division All Island Basketball Tournament.DulinikaBulumulla represented the Sri Lanka Schools Basketball team at the Senior National Basketball Championship. The discipline of Karate also has its place at Ladies‟. Players were placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd at the Colombo District Karate Championship. AmanahFaaiz and Amrita Dumbukola were placed 1stand 3rd for Kumite at the Western Province Karate Championship and the National Championships. Presently four students hold First Dan black belts.
Our oarswomen were placed first in the Junior and Under 14 Sculls, with two teams placed 1st and 2nd in the Under 14 Fours at the Opening Regatta. They also were winners in the Double Sculls event at the South-West Monsoon Regatta, along with first and second places at the Ranfer Sprints Regatta. At the Sri Lankan Schools Rowing Association Annual Regatta we were the overall champions in the under 14 & under 16 and categories. At the National Rowing Championship Ladies‟ College won the under 18
category and in the open event Ishara Abbey was placed first in sculls beating the competitors from the armed forces.Ishara also represented Sri Lanka at the Amateur Rowing Association of the East Regatta held in India, where she won gold medals in three open categories. She, along with Devina Koch, NiharaWarawita, and AshviniSubasinghe also represented the Colombo Rowing Club at the Madras Colombo Regatta that was held in Chennai, winning gold in their events. Ishara, Nihara and Ashvini were awarded Sri Lanka colours. Adding more variety would be our Grade 9 golfer Kayla Pererawho represented Sri Lanka at the Faldo Series Middle East Championship in Dubai and the Junior World Golf Championship held in Thailand whilst 12 year old Tarini de Silva was the only female member selected to represent our country at the Optimist Asian & Oceanian Sailing Championship in Hong Kong. Chess, a sport where tactical thinking is of great importance, had our under 20 team being placed 2nd at the Western Province School Games. AnaishaChoksy was placed 2nd in the under 13 Sri Lanka Schools Individual All Island Chess Tournament. She represented Sri Lanka at the World‟s School Chess Tournament held in Romania and qualified to participate in the Commonwealth Chess Championship in New Delhi. She also participated in the West Asian Championship under 14 age category held in Sri Lanka and the 13thAsian Schools Chess Championship held in China and was placed 4th in the under 13 age category. In the well-attended Annual Inter School Scrabble tournament with over 31 schools participating, our under 19 team emerged as the 2nd runners up. Thirandhi de Silva represented Sri Lanka at the West Youth Scrabble Championship held in Malaysia.
Finally, in a relatively new sport for Ladies‟ College, our archers performed with distinction. RehanaTayabally, AmritaDumbukola and TharuniSamarakkodi won gold medals and Nadeesha Fernando a silver medal at the Junior Archery National Championships. They continued their winning streak in the National Archery Championship where Nadeesha, Amrita and Leah Ramchandani won a team silver medal and Nadeesha won an individual bronze medal. Rehana was the only school girl amongst the armed forces to compete, win and be awarded the Senior National Women‟s Archery Champion for 2017, certainly one in the makings of a toxophilite.
CLUBS AND SOCIETIES
Extra-curricular activities are an influencing factor in a student‟s life as they allow the student to experiment in varied interests. They are also given the opportunity to be of service to others in community outreach programmes where each grade gains enriching experiences. At Ladies‟ College, all faiths are upheld with the upmost respect, where religious societies have students visiting numerous places of religious significance, organize camps with interesting activities and celebrate important religious festivals. Similarly, societies which address the environment, the sciences, our heritage and literacy in English, Sinhala and Tamil ensure that our students not only appreciate our surroundings, history and culture but have separate „Days‟ allotted so that significant topic based activities and programmes are experienced not only amongst our children but also shared with other schools. Another popular choice with the student body is the Model United Nations club. It collaborated with Royal College this year to organize a musical show in our premises, which raised funds for worthy causes. Representing Sri Lanka our MUN club won the „Outstanding Overseas Delegation‟ at the YALE-NUS Asia Pacific Model United Nations Conference in Singapore. This impressive feat was accomplished by Aimee Perera, SheriahPieris, ThisariRanasinghe, SerikaSiriwardena, Yenuli Fernando, SaheliHapudeniya, MitharaLiyanage, KimayaAbeyesundare, SamadheeDissanayake, ShanyaSadanandan and MidulaWijeyanandan. The latter two students also won an honorary mention. Some of them also participatedin the Thai Model United Nations Conference.
In recognition of the impressive work she has been part of for Sri Lanka Unites, DulinikaBulumulla was selected to participate for the Global Unites fellowship programme being one of the two selectees from this country.
Debating is an activity where our young minds are put to test under a thought-provoking and quite often, nerve-wrecking atmosphere. The „A‟ team emerged champions at the inaugural S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike Memorial Debating Tournament and the Impromptu Debating Championship.GithmiRabel and ShanyaSadanadan were the only debaters selected from Sri Lanka to participate in the Asian Schools British Parliamentary Championship in China, whereShanya was judged best speaker and Githmi was placed 3rdamongst 144 participants. Together with Avayar De Mel, AbineshaRajaratnam, TiashaKamalgoda, MithsandhiSeneviratne, SharayaPieris, ThisariRanasinghe and Erandi De Silva, they participated in the Oldham Cup 2017 Debate Competition in Singapore. Avayar then went on to represent Sri Lanka at the World School Debating championship in Bali. Similarly Nimaya Harris and SiharaJayasekera were the only two debaters selected from Sri Lanka to participate in the Cambridge Union British Parlimentary Debating Tournament in England. The Lillian Nixon Debates organized by our Debating Society continues to grow in popularity, with an increased number of participating schools. This influenced our Sinhala Debaters who inaugurated and organized a similar competition which was well attended. This year the Sri Lanka Girl Guides Association celebrated its centenary and our girls were in the forefront of all the activities that were organized. It is noteworthy that in its history many Ladies‟ College alumni have been Chief Commissioners of this Association, namely MukthaWijesinha, FrenyJilla and MarlynDissanaike including the present commissioner Yasmin Raheem. We also have had past Presidents namely Shiromi Rodrigo and DushyanthiPerera. We are proud of the leadership roles they have played and the difference they made to the lives of children in this country. In honour of Children‟s Day, thrilling events were organized by the prefects and the excitement of the day was evident in our students‟ smiles. The Tamil ManavarSangam presented „Ravana‟s Kingdom‟ a Tamil Dance Drama which was a well-received public performance. Our Tamil Choir performed very well in Choral Singing at the Western Province Inter School Tamil Day Competition, where the juniors and seniors were placed 1st and 3rd respectively. The juniors went on to the All Island Competition winning third place. The icing on the cake was the performance of our Intermediate and Senior English choirs who for the first time participated in an international arena in the Asia Pacific Choir Games and Grand Prix of Nations, held in Colombo. The Intermediates were placed first in the Children‟s Choir Category and the Seniors were the only school team amongst the adult professional choirs in the Gospel Category in the Open competition. They too won their category and both choirs won gold medals. Looking back with nostalgia, would our former principal Ms Gwen Opie who established a Choral Society forming a school choir in 1931, have ever imagined that one day our choir would not only be taking part but excelling in international competitions? Whilst I say Bravo to our girls, I thank very sincerely our choir directresses, Mrs Beatrice Devasagayam, MrsBagyani Benedict and MrsAnushkaAbeyaratne for their perseverance, patience and absolute commitment. Our students were educated, inspired and at times moved with the achievements, milestones and life stories shared by our guest speakers at assembly: Ms. JayanthiKuruUthumpala and Mr. Johann Peiris our Everest heroes; old girl Dr Asha de Vos, a marine biologist and pioneer in blue whale research, and MrDihan Fernando CEO of Dilmah Tea whose international business encompasses conservation and charitable foundations. In this fast track world where our children are bombarded and influenced with information and experiences, perhaps beyond their years, we feel very concerned for their emotional well-being and we are grateful for the services of our full time counsellor ThiliniWijesooriya,for the caring support she renders to our children.
Climate change and old buildings have a growing relationship but with time it is necessary for us to upgrade these dear edifices so that they provide a safe and comfortable environment. Rewiring, electricity upgrades, extra cable and fan installations and refurbishments to the chapel, Copleston and office blocks
were implemented. With the focus always being our children and importantly so, sometimes we neglect to see to the needs of the very people who teach and nurture our girls. The area of our main staff room was the same as it was when my mother taught here 50 years ago and with an academic staff of over 180, I felt the need to make their area a comfortable and homely place as well. Our former Chairman Dr Dan Seevaratnam who laid the foundation stone, declared open this building in April this year. This multifunctional two story building also houses three class rooms, an extended library, a revamped Prefects room, a store room for government text books, a secure space for musical instruments and a tea room. Throughout all the sections of our school, our students are taught through various means and mediums to become innovative thinkers. In the world, a tug of war is currently looming between proponents of STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and advocates of STEAM lessons, which add architecture or art to the mix. In annexing robotics, perhaps we can say that we have endeavoured to provide a STREAM curriculum staying on par with the new frontiers of education. In the same frame of mind, came our venture into the use of SMART Boards or interactive whiteboards within our daily routines. These SMART boards utilize active learning, where our girls are stimulated and engaged kinaesthitically, visually and through auditory means. This leads to deeper thinking in our students, ultimately empowering their educational journeys. Presently we have these devices functional in every class in the Kindergarten and Primary sections and by next year we hope to have them operational in all classrooms. Apart from the many seminars and workshops our teachers have been attending both here and overseas, SMART Board training is ongoing. We know that with a flick of a finger we cannot expect fast and spectacular results, yet both staff and students are looking forward to this new experience. None of these educational enhancements would have been possible or useful without the multi-talented and dedicated staff members who give of their best to our students and our school. As second mothers and fathers their duties are not confined to mere lessons. Whether firm or fair or both, I have seen their love to our girls extend beyond the classrooms. I include our academic, non-academic and support staff when I express my heartfelt and sincere gratitude to all of you for the role you play in our children‟s lives – a huge thank you. Though not an easy task, in conformance with the Governing Body I had to find replacements for very senior teachers and staff. Consequently, this year due to retirement, migration, medical necessity, matrimony and spousal career changes 28 staff members and support members departed and we welcomed 41 new staff to our fold. In this high-tech roller coaster world, now it is not only our human children or adults who are in a „selfie‟ centred culture, it‟s extended to machines as well. The latest venture with Samsung has its fridges taking selfies (or should we coin a term – „shelfies‟) of its contents and sending pictures to its owners reminding them to go grocery shopping and artificially intelligent robots are being given citizenship in Saudi Arabia.Whilst we are moving to an era where our reliance on technology and machinery are increasing, hand in hand we are destroying the very nature and creation of our maker with our contribution to climate change, overpopulation, epidemics etc. This prompted renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawkings in his impassioned speech at the Starmus Science Festival in the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), in June of this year, to say, that at the rate we are demolishing our world we will be compelled to colonise other planets. And so this year, brings us another step closer in NASA‟s journey to Mars which has envisioned us humans living on it by 2033, and engineers and scientists are working at developing the technologies needed to allow humans to make this red planet a secondary home. Whether it is „selfies‟, „shelfies‟ or shelter in Mars, we are able to face any tomorrow because of the spiritual upbringing, its values and morals which have been ingrained and inculcated in all those who pass through the portals of this hallowed institution. As the Psalmist said, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of need”. With that assurance, armed with all that we have learnt at Ladies‟ College, we move forward to any environment with courage, confidence and humility for that is our victory even our faith.
Haec Victoria Nostra Fides.
(Mrs) Eesha Speldewinde
4th December 2017