Principal’s Report 2020 , 2021
17th December 2021 marks the completion of another set of highly successful academic years, to which we are immeasurably thankful for. However, they can by no means be termed as ‘straightforward’.
As I go on to briefly recap on the various highlights of these two schooling years from 2020 to 2021, I do so with God and his many blessings in mind.
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.”
The start of our academic year in 2020 began as usual, with the happy chatter of our girls as they went about their normal onsite academic timetable, with newly labelled exercise books, bright red ribbons and neatly pressed uniforms.
On 17th January, we had the blessing of our Grade 1 students by our Bishop, the Right Reverend Diloraj Canagasabey, marking their entry into the first stage of their formal education. Simultaneously, Boxford was buzzing with anticipation, as were our little Kindergarteners, as plans were being made for our ‘Nursery and KG Founders Day Celebration’. Clad in their outfits of red and white, this event took place with much success, as our little ones showed their appreciation for our Founders.
Similarly, our Founders Day service was held for the rest of the school. This was followed by our Founders Day programme, in which the students of Grade 12 joined forces to present ‘The History of Ladies’ College’ in a series of energetic skits. The day ended with an action-packed prefects and staff netball match.
Shortly afterwards, we held our Ash Wednesday service as our students and staff alike were blessed.
Meanwhile, our girls continued to practice with focus on their various sporting outlets because as always, sports play a vital part of any LCite’s foundation, as our girls are always encouraged to participate in any of our sixteen sports. In preparation for our Inter House Sports Meet, plans were carefully made and house decorations went up with much pride and creativity using recycled material. Hence, it was with much anticipation that we welcomed our Chief Guests, a unique combination as both husband and wife are principals and are from fellow C.M.S. schools, the Principal of St. John’s College, Jaffna, Mr. V. S. B. Thuseetharan and his wife, Mrs. Dushyanthi Thuseetharan, the Principal of Chundikuli Girls’ College, Jaffna. It was an eventful day, marked with fun and heightened excitement.
Moving into Inter-School Tournaments, in chess, Anaisha Choksy was placed 1st by winning all her games at the Sri Lanka Schools Individual Chess Championship (Colombo District). She qualified to play at the All Island Individual Chess Championship but could not participate due to unforeseen circumstances. She also qualified to play at the nationals in the Sri Lanka Schools Individual Chess Tournaments (Colombo Zone).
At the 13th South Asian Games 2019 held in December, in Kathmandu and Pokhara Nepal, our students performed very well. In swimming, Dinasha Hewagama represented Sri Lanka and was placed 5th in the 100m Backstroke. In tennis, Alana and Anika Seneviratne were awarded Silver Medals in the Women’s Team event. Anika was also awarded a Bronze Medal for the Women’s Singles event. Whereas in table tennis, Ayla Chitty was awarded a Silver Medal in the Women’s Team event. In fact, both Alana and Ayla, sat for their public O-Level Examinations in Kathmandu, in the presence of Officials from the Department of Examinations, Sri Lanka showing great perseverance and commitment, subsequently obtaining very good examination results.
Carrying on with racquet sports, in the Table Tennis Junior Nationals 2019 which was held in 2020, Ayla participated in and emerged as the Runner Up in the Under 18 Girls’ Doubles event and Jithara Warnakulasuriya was placed 3rd in the Under 18 Girls’ Singles event and was awarded Champion in the Under 18 Girls’ Doubles event and Mixed Doubles event. Ayla and Jithara also participated in the 73rd National Table Tennis Championship 2019 which was held in 2020. Here, Ayla was awarded 3rd place in the Women’s category and became Runner Up in the Open Women’s Doubles event and Jithara emerged as Runner Up in the Open Women’s category. At the Tennis Clay Court Nationals 2020, Alana and Anika Seneviratne were awarded the Under 18 Doubles Champion. Anika was also the Women’s Singles Champion and Mixed Doubles Runner Up. Whereas in the Asian Tennis Federation Tournament, Nishka Vivekanandan emerged as Runner Up for the first 2 weeks and became the winner at the SSC Clay Court, Under 14 category. Lastly, in squash, Nethmi Wickremesinghe emerged as the Runner Up in the Under 11 category at the 30th Sri Lanka Squash Junior National Championship held at the tail end of 2019.
In another sport where hand-eye coordination is vital – archery – at the 2nd Open Archery Championship 2019, Tharuni Samarakkody was placed 1st in the Under 14 category (18m), winning a Gold Medal and Nadeesha Fernando was placed 2nd in the 60m Cadet Girls’ category, winning a Silver Medal. In the Team events, Raaya Pathirana, Devinka De Silva and Thimanthi De Silva were placed 3rd in the Under 17 category, winning Bronze Medals, whereas Jaana Roderigo, Tharuni Samarakkody and Vinuri Gunaratne emerged 2nd and were awarded Silver Medals in the Under 14 category. At the 5th All Island Archery Championship Wayamba, in the Under 14 category (18m), Ana Latiff came in at 2nd place. In the Under 17 category (30m), Aanya Fernando and Tharuni Samarakkody were placed 2nd and 3rd respectively. Lastly, in the 60m Cadet Event (for Girls), Nadeesha Fernando came in at 2nd place and Tharuni Samarakkody came in at 3rd place.
In artistic swimming, a sport in which grace, strength and stamina meet precision, Renata Melvani represented Sri Lanka at the Asian Age Group Artistic Swimming Championship 2019 held in India in the Solo category. At the Artistic Swimming Nationals 2019, Anika Ratnayake and Renata Melvani were placed 1st in the Duet category, whereas Tanalia Rekawa was placed 3rd in the Solo category. Tanalia also placed 3rd in the Solo category at the National Age Group Artistic Swimming Championships 2019. Finally, at the Artistic Swimming Junior Nationals in 2019, Nischka Nanayakara was placed 2nd in the Solo category.
Karate, described as a martial-arts discipline, Galena Gunawardena was placed 3rd in the Kumite at the Sri Lanka Schools Karate Championship held in 2019. At the Western Province Karate Champsionships 2019, Thiyara De Silva was placed 1st, whereas Hiranya Fernando and Anuradhi Pushpakumara were placed 2nd, whilst Maheli Ranasinghe and Reaha Varia were placed 3rd.
In 2020, in two very demanding sports, our girls shone, winning the Overall Championship for the 17th consecutive year at the Circuit Athletic Meet, also winning the Senior Cup and Relay Cup, and emerging as Champions in the U-20 Circuit Netball Tournament. Continuing this winning streak, our U-19 team emerged as Champions in the A Division at the All Island Inter Schools Under 14/19 Table Tennis Tournament. Likewise, our oarswomen performed very well, as they were adjudged as Champions in the Ladies category of the Rowing Junior Nationals, and gained the Flipper Trophy for winning the most number of Gold Medals. Additionally, our girls also fared well at the Rowing Junior Nationals Diyawanna 2020. Here, Kiara Kumaranayagam and Avani Amarasinghe were awarded Gold Medals for the Under 18 Pairs category. Likewise, Anya Dewapura and Gabrielle Senanayake were awarded Gold Medals for the Under 18 Double Skulls. Similarly, Anithra Fernando was awarded a Gold Medal for the Under 18 Sculls and School Girl Sculler whilst Jana Rodrigo and Haaya Hassen were awarded Gold Medals for the Under 14 Double Sculls.
International representation continued in various sporting tournaments held abroad. Tharuni Samarakkody participated in the Vegas Shoot Archery Tournament held in Las Vegas, USA conducted by the National Field Archery Association in the USA. Tia Latiff participated in the Amir of Kuwait Ninth International Shooting Grand Prix.
Soon, came the month of March, which started off as planned although things took a rapid turn during its middle. It was at this point, when Jithaara Warnakulasuriya was selected to represent Sri Lanka at the World Table Tennis Championship that was set to take place in South Korea. However, this was postponed due to the events which suddenly took place.
In other words, it was in the midst of our schooling year, that we were all hit with the unfortunate and unthinkable news – a new and rather unpredictable virus, Covid-19, which had manifested worldwide. This unprecedented turn of events, effectively brought about our day-to-day activities to an abrupt halt in a blink of an eye. From the 13th of March schools were closed island wide and our country was subjected to a curfew. Before long, it was clear that we were in a pandemic situation. Thus, due to this virus’s far-reaching effects, we as an educational institute faced many challenges. However, we were determined that our children, whatever the age or grade, should be able to have (as far as possible) their lessons and other activities.
Online teaching was therefore the answer. Considerable resources (providing whiteboards, laptops, routers and data packages) were initially allocated to our various faculty members. Next, we looked at providing training and technical assistance to our entire faculty of 184 academic staff, to ensure that they could conduct their lessons, as effectively and efficiently as possible. This was initially a slow and quite often challenging process and yet with a series of workshops and seminars, the faculty were ready to welcome our girls for the inception of this online teaching platform by 29th April 2020 – making it a milestone in our academic history. This was marked with an online assembly addressing the whole school, in which a video monologue welcomed the girls, showing them pictures of various areas of our campus, to try and counter the feeling of yearning to be in school. This was very well-received.
It seemed that technology was to be king in other aspects as well. Extra-curricular activities had certainly evolved to incorporate it. For example, Reiha Wimalasekera represented the Sri Lanka ‘B’ team who were adjudged as Semi-Finalists at the Tilbury House World Schools Debating tournament that occurred online. She was also adjudged as the Best Speaker at the Dr Vijitha Weerasinghe Online Memorial Tournament. Lastly, our Ladies’ College ‘A’ Team were Runners Up at the Debaters’ Council (online).
In mid-July, with numerous safety measures in place, which had impressed the Public Health Inspector (PHI) we had gained into our midst, Ladies’ College re-opened for the students of Grade 11 upwards. In fact, by 21st August onwards, onsite school commenced on a staggered basis for different sections in keeping with the Health and Safety measures set by the Ministry of Education. Thus finally, by 2nd September onwards, school was in session from Nursery to Grade 14. Social distancing was maintained in every classroom, wash basins and foot troughs were fixed at five entry points and many hand sanitization facilities were placed throughout the school giving easy access to students, staff and visitors. Temperature checks were maintained at all entry points and in accordance to health and safety regulations, a monitored isolation room was put into place to accommodate anyone who showed any symptoms of this highly infectious virus. In line with the ministry requirements the school was not permitted to resume sports activities onsite and to re-open the day-care, cafeteria and sports complex. Nevertheless, a few other extra-curricular activities resumed on campus whilst adhering to these new guidelines.
It was certainly heartening to hear the melodious voices of our children fill our hallowed halls, as everyone adjusted to the changes that this pandemic had brought about. We were also relieved that we were able to hold the Valedictory Service in our Chapel for our school leavers in September and it was with many tears and well-wishes that we bid them farewell as they embarked on the next phase of their academic journeys.
In a bid to limit large gatherings, certain events still occurred via an online platform. As such, our Lilian Nixon Debates took place online in September allowing an unprecedented number of schools to participate. In fact, foreign judges who had formerly judged the ‘World Debates’ attended this event. The students as a whole, certainly gained much valuable insight from the feedback that they received from them and as such we were delighted to have their presence.
On 2nd October, our KG Activity Day, ‘Canals and their Stories’ was held as our youngsters, dressed in their colourful and meaningful costumes explained through song, dance and drama the significance behind the different canals, in different parts of Sri Lanka and the world. They learnt in their lessons that canals are manmade waterways in unique geographical locations built for a variety of uses which include irrigation, urban water supply and transportation. They also dramatized stories connected with these wonderful waterways bringing on stage historical events. It was an endearing experience to see them learn through activity and play.
Just when it seemed that circumstances were improving somewhat, we were hit with the unfortunate news that due to a second wave of Covid-19, on 9th October, schools island-wide would close once more.
With our increasing understanding of the numerous online features, more subjects were added and our online timetables were adjusted and tweaked until our students were partaking in their entire curriculum with suitable gaps as we were mindful of their overall screen time and digital wellbeing. Timetabling was certainly a challenge due to how we had teachers in various sections as well as siblings who needed to share devices, and yet we managed to adapt to a workable system. Lesson material also evolved to include other online features, such as MCQ quizzes, online assignments and breakout rooms.
This eventually featured an online examination system. Here, as our students were unable to sit for important mock examinations and so forth, we set up a remote system where our students were properly monitored through the use of cameras and recording options. Trial runs were set up prior to the examination days, so that rooms could be properly inspected and our girls could be instructed as to what steps were necessary in this process. Softcopies of answer scripts were marked and paper discussions were held online where possible, making this a unique but viable alternative. For the first time, evidence-based predicted grades (Centre-Assessed Grades) for the British A-Level students had to be sent to the different Examination Boards, for which the relevant boards applied a standardisation process, due to examination cancellations which took place abruptly because of the rise in Covid-19 cases worldwide.
With the academic curriculum now in place within this digital forum, our next step was to look at ensuring that our students had regular access to their extra-curricular activities from religious societies to the performing arts. In fact, all four of our religious societies had meaningful online, interactive events, which were geared to uplift our students. In addition, dry rations were donated to our support staff. Our students also participated in an online Bible Study which was organised by the Student Christian Movement of Sri Lanka. A meeting was held in school within the presence of Representatives from the Diocese, myself, the Vice-Principal, SCM Teacher-in-Charge and the Office-Bearers of the SCMs of both Ladies’ College and Bishop’s College to discuss programmes and events for the Centenary of the Diocese. Unfortunately, we were restricted from implementing these due to the risks of the pandemic.
The Tamil Literature Society celebrated Tamil Day online where the upper school students engaged in meaningful cultural songs and dances. Similarly, the Sinhala Literature Society held a virtual event ‘Sankalana’ showcasing our girls’ talents in music and dance emphasising different aspects of our culture. The English Literature Society on the other hand, had an onsite assembly on ‘Epics and Legends’, and an online ‘Blackout Poetry’ programme for both the junior and senior students.
In Girl Guides, Samadhee Dissanayake and Romasha Purijjala successfully completed the President Guides Award and shall be receiving their honours in due course. Our Guides, Rangers and Little Friends also took part in a virtual campfire that was organised by the Singapore Girl Guides’ Association.
Sessions with the Counsellor were offered individually as well as by class and grade. Ms. Thilini Wijesura left due to family commitments and an Old Girl, Ms. Navindra Fernando joined in July 2020. I thank them both for their patience and compassion, for being a soothing balm in times of need. Class time with their class teachers for the younger students also occurred. This was all integrated into the normal – or the new norm as it were – a virtual school day.
Back at our beloved school, although the lack of our girls meant there was a deafening silence, we did see an abundance of wildlife. Various lapwings and their families nested in our back garden along with plenty of parrots on our trees and kingfishers in the vicinity of our pool making it a different and wondrous experience. In fact, we cared for a rare migratory bird that was found injured. It was diligently nursed for a month before it was taken to the marsh lands to be released. It seemed that nature too was adjusting to the global changes.
Steps were also taken in the ongoing upkeep and upgrade of our school. Refurbishment was done to the Home Science Room in order to meet the necessary requirements for the BTEC in Hospitality students, who would require the use of professional kitchen equipment to carry out their culinary practicals for certain modules. The generator in the Main Hall was connected to the electricity supply lines of the main school, chapel and hostel. Upgrading of the back garden occurred, as well as commencement for the work for the relaying of the Squash court floor within the Sports Complex, along with the reconstruction of the long jump pit. Landscaping was also done to the front garden, KG garden and Science block garden. Pathways near the Administrative Office to the Nursery and Gunawardana Block were paved as well as the Science Lab Area. Finally, the interior work that was planned for a new Board Room was completed.
It was now clear that this academic year would have to remain online. Hence, in November, our Special Education Unit (SEU) held a virtual Christmas programme where our special children participated in Christmas themed games, while adorned in the Christmas hats that they had made during their online lessons. It was encouraging to see how online teaching had enhanced the independent learning skills that these students had, as they learnt to log in on time for their specific time slots on their own. They also became more environmentally conscientious, as they started to carry out recycling tasks at home, were planting various vegetable crops and had made bird seeders.
Meanwhile, our Upper School girls prepared for an online open competition that was organized by the University of Moratuwa titled ‘Thinkwave’. Their efforts were recognised as they became Thinkwave Championship Runner up, Ideathon Championship (for the best idea) and Most Popular Team.
As the month of December came along, we had our Nursery and KG Nativity service online, where our little ones showed us the importance of Christmas. This was soon followed by an online Nursery concert where our little learners did small performances from home featuring various songs and dances. To wrap up this unique school year on a positive note, we held ‘Carols with LC’, an online event which featured our girls from various age groups spreading Christmas cheer by giving their spin on our well-loved carols. My deep gratitude is extended to Ms Anushka Abhayaratne, our Choir Directress for always ensuring that these events are maintained to our very high standard, with much commitment and attention to detail.
Soon it was 2021 and a new academic year was upon us. Due to the impossible nature of the virus, online classes had to continue for all sections from Nursery to the Advanced Level. However, by 25th January 2021, onsite school reopened for our O-Level students from the 2020 batch, as they were due to sit for their 2020 GCE Ordinary Level Examinations in March of this year.
Our annual events were also held online, with our Chaplain conducting confirmation classes on this forum. Founders’ Day 2021 was celebrated for the entire school with a pre-recorded service played for our students, along with other Founders’ Day activities making it memorable, as we gave thanks to our Founders for their insight, vision and dedication in establishing our hallowed halls. It also paved way for the possibility of conducting further events such as the valedictory service.
By March, as per the new Government directive, onsite school for Grades 5, 11 and 14 also resumed. However, online teaching was to continue for all other grades. This once again meant readjusting timetables to create a viable hybrid to accommodate all our students and our teaching staff.
All extra-curricular and co-curricular activities continued online to give our students a much needed outlet during these trying times. For instance, our Guides and Rangers participated online in the World Thinking Day 2021 activities that were organized by the Girl Guides Association of Malaysia. The 5th Colombo Girl Guides camp was held virtually as well, topped off with a campfire that was held via Zoom. Our rangers also participated in the International Women’s Day virtual programme organized by the SL Girl Guides Association WP. Its focus was on female inmates in Sri Lankan prisons. The 5th Colombo Girl Guides then celebrated their Centenary Celebration via an online platform, where many former Guides from both here and overseas participated, with a sense of nostalgia. Our Guides, Rangers and Little Friends also utilised their creative skills in designing a badge on the elimination of child labour. This was organised by the Sri Lanka Girl Guides Association and was an interesting way of raising awareness on a very important topic. In a thrilling event, our Little Friends were able to participate in a virtual All Island Giant Sleepover. We were also happy to witness how eleven of our Little Friends became Guides.
Debating also continued to occur actively in various online forums. To begin with, Reiha Wimalasekera was selected to represent Sri Lanka in the Online World Schools Debating Championship that was held in Macau. Closer to home, our Ladies’ College English Debate team emerged as Champions at the N M Perera Online Debate Tournament organized by Ananda College and at the D S Senanayake Online Debate Tournament. They were also runners up at the Sri Lanka Law Faculty Debate Tournament which was organized by the Law Faculty of the University of Colombo. We emerged as champions in the Colombo International Schools Debating Championship and the Lakshman Kadirgamar Debating Championship. Reiha Wimalasekera also represented Sri Lanka at the South Asia Schools Online Debate Championship 2021 where ‘Team Sri Lanka Yellow’ emerged Octo finalists. Likewise, Chirathi Perera and Reiha Wimalasekera represented ‘Team Sri Lanka Blue’ and Yellow respectively at the EurOpen International Online Debating Championship, where ‘Team Sri Lanka Blue’ emerged as Runners Up and ‘Team Sri Lanka Yellow’ emerged as Quarterfinalists. Reiha Wimalasekera, Indeevari de Silva and Keshya Varia were also selected to represent Sri Lanka at the Hong Kong Online Debate Open World Schools Debating Championship (WSDC). Reiha Wimalasekera was then selected to represent Sri Lanka at Protea Worlds, International Schools Debate Championship, Oldham Cup 2021, WSDC 2021, ARGO 2021 – all of which occurred online – where her team emerged as semi-finalists. She was ranked 3rd best speaker and at the Oxford WSDC where they emerged as English as a Second Language (ESL) Champions.
For Sinhala Debating, the ‘Vaagavi’ Inter School Sinhala Debating Competition also occurred online as did Tamil debating, where we hosted an Inter School Debating Competition with great success. Our Sinhala and Tamil debaters also took part in the Law Faculty Debates.
As part of the Commerce Society, eight of our girls took part in ‘INNOVA 2021 Idea Hunt’, which was an online event that was organized by Royal College this year. They were placed 1st in the competition. Later, four of our girls also took part in ‘Catalyst 2021’. This competition was hosted by the CIMA Students’ Society. Out of the thirty teams that participated, our LC team emerged 2nd making it a truly impressive feat.
Our girls were also able to take part in several online Model United Nations conferences throughout the year, namely TIMUN, FWWMUN, COMUN and IMUN, which were all organized by other institutions. As usual, our girls worked hard, leading to several of them receiving honorary mentions and commendations in almost all of these conferences, whilst Hesara Rodrigo won a Diplomacy Award in a conference titled ‘Future We Want (FWW)’.
In the Environmental Society, Sabira Sinan was awarded 1st place and Sasha Mahawanniarachi was awarded 3rd place at the Remano Competition organized by the Global Family of Royal College. Likewise, Jiana Wijesinghe was awarded 1st place and Tiyara Senanayake was awarded 3rd place in the 12-18 Years category at the 40th Anniversary Art Competition organized by the Environmental Foundation Ltd. Whilst in the Science Society, Treasa Adams was adjudged a National Finalist at the Science Film Festival Quiz 2021, which was an online international competition.
Moving onto the arts, members of our ‘Art and Design’ club carried out an online fashion, design and illustration workshop. This was open to all our girls from Grade 8 upwards and included a guest speaker, Ms. Ruwanthi Gajadeera, an Old Girl and an acclaimed designer, who kindly added much value to the event. Our girls also got the opportunity to participate in the 3rd International ‘Loving-Peace Art Competition 2021’ organized by the International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG) in which topics such as Healing, Coexistence of Mankind and Cessation of Global War were all ventured into through art. Thus, in Primary, Minuli Liyanarachchi, Teshaya Wijesinghe and Rehani Perera were placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively. In Middle School, Suhasha Wijesinghe, Namaya Abeyratne and Asma Hamid were placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively, whereas in Upper School, Theruni Alahakoon, Dishaya Wijesinghe and Anya De Silva came in 1st, 2nd and 3rd place respectively. Several students also got ‘recommendations’ for their entries. Finally, at the All Island and International Art Competition organized by the Buddhist Brotherhood of Royal College entitled, ‘Sankalpana 21’, Senali Bandusena emerged as 2nd Runner Up.
Another noteworthy programme that was held for the Hewisi Band and Dance Troupe was an online discussion titled, ‘Savundharya Chaarikaa’. This was conducted by the illustrious Kalakeerthi Ravibandu Vidyapathy making it an invaluable insight for our girls. Other creative, well-focused programmes were also held throughout the academic year for our choir, as well as both the Western and Eastern orchestras. Our Music Circle also held a successful virtual programme for the 2nd consecutive year, entitled ‘Amplified 2’ for our students from Grade 4 upwards. Here, our girls sang and performed on different instruments.
Spurred on by the success of the previous year’s virtual events, our Sinhala Literary Society hosted another event called ‘Yathra’. Open to students from Grade 4 onwards, there were competitions, quizzes on history, literature and cinema, along with traditional mask designing. The Tamil Literary Society had Tamil Day which revolved around the theme of the evolution of Tamil art and culture, featuring a play, songs and dances. The English Literary Society hosted an event called ‘It’s TriviOsah, not Triviosah’. This was an interactive online quiz on books and was open to students from Grade 10 onwards.
In other avenues, Kiara Abhayaratne, won 1st place in the Inter-School Photography Competition organised by Royal College. Likewise, Pragathisri Ramachandran was placed 1st in the essay competition at the Royal College Hindu Society Inter-School Online Competition. Also, Sarah Omar was placed 1st in the Qaseeda event (Junior Category) at the D. S. Senanayake College’s International Islamic Day Competitions.
Like with 2020, the Student Christian Movement (SCM) continued to hold interesting and relevant online programmes. Every Tuesday meant a Youth Alpha session where videos on day-to-day activities were discussed by posing three pertinent questions to the students. Junior and Senior online SCM sessions were conducted by myself, the Vice-Principal, in-house Guest Speakers and well-known personalities on a variety of inspirational topics.
Similarly, weekly online sessions were held by our Sports coaches in all sixteen of our sports. Here sessions involved land and physical trainings, discussions about the rules and regulations and presentations on various skills and techniques. Having been granted permission by the PHI, these sessions were combined with onsite practices in Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Chess, Karate, Rowing, Scrabble, Swimming, Table Tennis and Tennis.
Foreign representation in sports also continued where possible. Anaisha Choksy represented Sri Lanka in the U-17 Asian School (Online) Individual Chess Championship 2021 that was held in the Philippines. Similarly, Jovanna Fernando, Sareesha Mapagunaratne and Janani Jayasekara were selected to the national pool to represent the country at the FIBA U-3×3 U-18 Basketball Women World Championship in Hungary, where Jovanna was amongst the Top Six players and Sareesha qualified for the second set of standby players, although the tour was ultimately cancelled due to the prevailing pandemic conditions. Then at the 20th Asian Squash Team Championship and the 21st Asian Individual Squash Championship held in Malaysia, Shenaya Siriwardena played trials and got selected as a reserve. Anika and Alana Seneviratne were selected to the National Team to represent Sri Lanka in Tennis at the Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas 2021, although this tournament was also cancelled due to the pandemic. Finally, in table tennis, Ayla Chitty was selected as the 5th player to represent Sri Lanka at the 25th Asian Table Tennis Championship 2021 scheduled to take place in Qatar. She could not participate as the tournament dates coincided with her examinations. Similarly, Jithara Warnakulasuriya, Ayla Chitty and Minna Hassim were selected to participate at the World Table Tennis Youth Contender held in Muscat, Oman. However, all three students could not participate due to the constraints of preparing for their examinations and because of the current Covid-19 situation.
Carrying on with table tennis, Ayla Chitty emerged as Runner Up in the Under 18 at the Sri Lanka Junior National Table Tennis Championship, whilst Jithara Warnakulasuriya emerged as the runners up in the mixed doubles and women’s doubles at the National Table Tennis Championship. Jithara Warnakulasuriya, Ayla Chitty and Minna Hassim were also selected for the National Pool.
In squash, a racquet and ball sport whose origins are believed to trace back to 19th century England, our girls had an eventful year. At the 32nd Junior National Squash Championship conducted by the Squash Federation, Nethmi Wickremesinghe became the Champion in the Under 13 Girls’ category and Adithi Gunasekera became the Champion in the Under 15 Girls’ category. Shenaya Siriwardena came in at 3rd place at the Under 17 Girl’s category. Additionally, Adithi Gunasekera was also adjudged as The Most Promising Girl Player of the Year 2021.
Since there were no were opportunities for swimmers during the year, a new All-Island Tournament named ‘Back to the Pool’ was introduced by the relevant authorities in December. In the Open category, Rivinka De Silva came in 3rd place at 50m Freestyle event and similarly, Harshi Saparamadu came in 3rd place at the 50m Backstroke and in the 200m Backstroke events.
As taking talent, enthusiasm and skill to new heights is always an achievement, I congratulate all our girls and thank their trainers and coaches for always offering their expertise and guidance, despite the challenges that the pandemic brought forth, as well as the Co-Sectional Heads, Ms. Brenda Rajapakshe and Ms. Sonali Jayasekera for their steadfast dedication. We also say goodbye to Ms. Brenda, as she travels overseas for personal matters after having served us faithfully for just over two decades. An Old Girl, and a cheerful individual, she always gave her heart and soul to all her endeavours. We wish her well with all her future plans and we thus welcome Ms. Sobitha Mendis.
Upper School, also marks other pivotal points in the educational journeys of our girls. Although each of these journeys are unique and special, their commonalities lie in the pressures of deciding on complementary subject combinations, facing public examinations and making vital career choices. To alleviate the stress associated with these decisions, we strive to ensure that our students have advice, support and guidance at every turn, allowing them to continue to go from strength to strength. Moreover, it is imperative to us as a school, that when our girls are finally ready to step out of our red gates, that they do so as confident, accomplished individuals, rooted in humility, with a strong sense of service to others.
Though external examinations loom large in any school calendar, our focus on academic work, whilst continuing participation in sports and other extra-curricular commitments, has taught our girls to prioritise their time effectively thus allowing them to continue to gain very good results and a well-balanced grounding. We therefore congratulate all of our students for their hard work and dedication in these successes. At the GCE O Level Examinations held in December 2019 out of the 21 subjects offered 100% passes were obtained in 12 subjects, over 97% passes in 6 subjects and 93% passes in two subjects. Out of the 120 students who sat for the exam 20 students obtained 9 ‘A’s and 116 qualified for A Level. In the 2020 GCE Ordinary Level Examinations held in March 2021, out of the 21 subjects offered the results of 18 subjects were released as the practical component of the exam for the aesthetic subjects was postponed due to the lockdown imposed by the pandemic. Subsequently the practicals were held, however, the results are still pending. This impacted on the statistics of the 9 ‘A’ students who received 8 ‘A’s and the overall pass rate of the subjects. Accordingly, out of the 112 students who sat for these examinations, a total of 16% of them scored 9A grades and 18 students obtained 8’A’s. We had 100% passes in two subjects, over 95% passes in 8 subjects and over 92% passes in 6 subjects. Thus, 106 students qualified for the Advanced Level.
Similarly, our Advanced Level results were heartening. Out of the 67 students who sat for the 2019 GCE Advanced Level Examination 58 qualified to enter university. There were 96% passes in Chemistry, 91% passes in Combined Mathematics 87% passes in Biology and 86% passes in Physics. In the Commerce stream there were 100% passes in Business studies, 94% passes in Business Studies and Economics and 92% in Accounting. In the Arts Stream other than an 83% pass rate in Greek & Roman Civilisation, all other subjects secured a 100% pass rate. The 2020 GCE Advanced Level Examination results were most gratifying as despite the extenuating circumstances that the pandemic brought forth our results have improved. In the Science stream there were 100% passes in Combined Mathematics, 87% passes in Chemistry and 83% passes in Biology & Physics. The Commerce Stream gained 100% passes in Business Statistics, 95% passes in Business Studies and 94% passes in Economics and Accounting. There were 100% passes in all Arts subjects except an 90% pass in Geography. Out of the 66 students who sat for this examination, 13% scored 3A grades with Aneesha Fernando in the Bio Science stream, gaining a District ranking of 3rd place, Island ranking of 5th place and a Z-score of 2.99 which is the highest achieved by any of our girls to date. We congratulate her for her exceptional performance. As such, from our Local Advanced Level Section, 33% of our girls, entered university for medicine, with 25% entering for Physical Science, with others opting for Biological Science, the Arts, Management and Law.
In the British Advanced Level Section, out of the 60 students who opted to go for the Centre-Assessed Grades in May/June 2021, 7% scored 3A* and above and 26% scored at least 2A*s and above, with 100% of our students being eligible for university programmes. Additionally, some students sat for the October/November 2021 examination series for which the results are still pending. In the BTEC Professional Programmes, 08 of the 10 students within the Hospitality programme scored 3D*s (distinction grades) and in the Business programme, 01 out of the 04 students, scored 3D*s. As we are the only school to offer the BTEC programmes in Sri Lanka, our benchmark keeps rising with each consecutive year.
Indeed, the efforts of the teachers in each of these sections must be heartily noted, for alongside our students they put in the long hours and dedication required to achieve these feats, whether it was in school or remotely. Hence, I am inordinately grateful to our Co-Sectional Heads of the O-Level Section, Mrs Shalini Alawwa and Mrs Asirini Wijesuriya and their group of energetic teachers for their unwavering dedication. In our Local A-Level Section, I give my profound thanks to Ms. Ayesha Fernando, the Sectional Head and Mr. Indu Mallawarachchi, the Deputy Sectional Head and their team of keen teachers for their steadfast commitment. Similarly, in our British Qualifications Section, I greatly thank, Mr. Ayadurai Naguleswaran, the Sectional Head, Ms. Medonie Rajamoney the Deputy Sectional Head and Ms. Ashanti Ehelepola, who joined as another Deputy Sectional Head for the BTEC Division in 2020 and their group of diligent teachers for their determined commitment. Ms. Medonie stepped down from her position towards the end of 2021 due to personal and health reasons after serving in this position diligently for 5 years. I am relieved that she will continue to serve her Alma Mata as a dedicated teacher in this section. All in all, I thank each individual for their enthusiastic support and commitment, especially in the face of the difficulties that the pandemic gave rise to.
In October, to mark Children’s Day, an entertaining and fun filled programmed was held for the entire school via our online platform. This also included an interactive puppet show organised by renowned puppeteer Ms Sulochana Dissanayake for our youngsters in the Nursery, Kindergarten and Special Education Unit Sections. Moreover, these three sections continued to provide energetic, patient and child-focused educational stepping stones that are so vital in every student’s academic journey. Thus, I give my heartfelt gratitude to Ms. Lilamani de Sayrah, the Sectional Head of the Nursery Section and to her Deputy, Ms. Ishani Rekawa and their team of well-motivated teachers for their energetic care. Similarly, my immense thanks go out to Ms. Judiana Balraj and Ms. Dharshani Daluwatte Adhikari, the Sectional Head and Deputy Sectional Head respectively of the Kindergarten Section and their hardworking teachers for their committed dedication. In the Special Education Unit, my sincere gratitude goes to Ms. Shakuntala Senewiratne, the Sectional Head and Ms. Binu Salgado, who became the Deputy Sectional Head in 2021 and their group of compassionate teachers for their patient enthusiasm.
Due to the remote nature of our schooling year, we also implemented ‘interaction’ sessions which allowed our students to chat amongst each other informally with appropriate supervision for our girls’ social wellbeing. Likewise, we also ensured that parent-teacher interaction was maintained at all times. Thus, a virtual meeting was organized for the parents and students alike of Grade 11, in which post O-Level courses of study were explained in detail. Virtual open days were also conducted with Class Teachers speaking to parents. In higher grades, this also included Subject Teachers. It was consequently heartening to have received such positive feedback from our LC parents regarding how productive and comprehensive our online lessons and open days had been. Onsite meetings were held for parents and students of the British Advanced Level Section for subject selection, discussion and for matters regarding university admission.
We also took the opportunity to ensure that our teachers were able to look at their individual CPD (Continuing Professional Development). Hence, our staff were given the opportunity to join a course of study that was organised by the Education Ministry and the Zonal Department for Primary School Educators (Grades 1 – 5) in the Sinhala and Tamil Mediums. Likewise, some of our staff also joined a Speed Reading Programme, which was conducted over several live sessions via Zoom. Similarly, our staff was also given the opportunity to join a mindfulness course geared to teach the art of focused relaxation, allowing the mind to refocus on the present moment. We also wanted to use these forums to reach out to the other members of our Ladies’ College family. Thus, online sessions were arranged with Mr. Hans Billimoria for the parents and students of Grades 7 upwards on the topic of online safety and age-appropriate relationship education for children entitled ‘Pandemic: Teen Cyber Challenges’.
As the academic year progressed and we all adjusted to this new norm, we looked forward to the intermittent moments during which our girls were back at school, whilst we prayed for the current situation to continue to improve. The world also saw an emergence of various possible vaccines to aid in our ongoing fight against this unpredictable virus. Thus, vaccinations were quickly organized for our staff, both the academic, non-academic and support staff along with the sports coaches and trainers. Students from Grade 11 upwards were also given the option to be vaccinated and a large number of students opted for this opportunity.
As a school, we also reached out to our staff and students’ families wherever possible to ensure that not only vaccinations were available, but so were provisions, medicines and emotional support. In fact, open lines of communication were maintained at all times as always, for all our students, parents and staff alike, as times were difficult to say the least. This was also why, all members of staff were given their full salaries throughout both academic years, as well as their bonuses. All of this was in addition to focusing as always into the wellbeing of our students. Hence stemmed the reason as to why school fees were not increased as per the annual practice, due to the sensitivity of the difficult times that some parents and guardians were facing. Apart from that, fee concessions were granted and some children were placed on bursaries according to their need.
Finally, in a quick turn of events, by November, schools were once again re-opened for onsite learning. Through maintaining stringent health and safety conditions, our girls were brought in and our school days were readjusted. With the joyous season of Christmas almost upon us, the Nursery and Kindergarten Sections were happy to have their Nativity in school. They also donated gifts, which were distributed amongst the less fortunate children in the island which truly captured their hearts during this otherwise difficult seasonal period. Similarly, our Primary students capitalized on being on campus by practicing in batches for their Nativity. Dressed in an assortment of costumes that they previously had, the Nativity was a colourful reminder of the birth of baby Jesus and the true meaning behind Christmas. Significant markers in a student’s learning growth, comes within the Primary and Middle School stage, where previously undiscovered talents emerge and skill sets are refined as students venture into various extracurricular activities. Hence, in the Primary Section, I greatly thank our Sectional Head, Ms. Kalum Hewage and Deputy Ms. Sandhya Wickremasinghe and their diligent teachers for their exuberant commitment. In the Middle School, I begin by giving my immense gratitude to Ms. Suvendrini Gnanaskandan for her well-committed service as the Sectional Head. She served the school meticulously for 21 years in different capacities and was well-loved by all. Due to her retirement at the end of 2020, she was then replaced by her Deputy at the time, the very approachable and understanding, Ms Ranmali Balasuriya who became the Sectional Head from 2021 and was joined by Ms. Supipi Samarakoon as her Deputy. My immense gratitude goes to them and to their group of vibrant teachers for their energetic dedication.
Meanwhile, the Upper school girls practiced in a short span of time and put together our very first Inter House Dance Competition. This featured dance items from across the globe, from both Western to Eastern, and was an exhilarating combination of music and fun. The judges were surprised and impressed by the high standard of all the performances considering the time frame. Finally, as done previously, an online carol service was held, themed uniquely, filling all our homes with the spirit of Christmas. It was with many smiles and tears that this particular academic year then came to a close.
It was also promising to note that our Library Research Projects, a stable of any LCite’s educational growth as it promotes the fundamental skills of research and analytical writing skills, led to the largest number of projects handed in during this academic year.
It has to be placed on record that the dedication and commitment of our teachers towards these many undertakings, despite personal difficulties were more than commendable. Although no words can truly express my gratitude, I once again thank all the academic staff in each of these sections for the many hours, dedication, loving care and patience that they have all given to ensure that these two academic years ran as smoothly as possible.
We are also extremely grateful to the marvellous support given to us by members of our Parent-Teacher Association. With online learning, so many helped ensure that their daughters logged in and out on time for lessons, whilst facilitating the entire experience. Additionally, the PTA and OGA, along with several other individuals were instrumental in assisting with the production of a point-based system that was based on the usual criteria that we have always used, in order to technologically streamline the selection of prefects and other leadership appointments leading to a successful endeavour.
Immense gratitude is also extended to our administrative, facilities and support staff, as they continued to work onsite on a roster basis right throughout to ensure the smooth functioning and maintenance of our college and campus. As always, time and effort were put into the maintenance of our campus and this year was no exception. Therefore, the Dibbon Block corridors were renovated, the Hostel store reorganised and partitioned, and particular areas and buildings were colour washed. The Squash court floor within the Sports Complex was relayed, the school’s main driveway was tarred, and the area near the Principal’s Office and behind the Security Office was paved. Landscaping and the ball-rooting of a flamboyant tree was done near the Hostel, as did the re-plastering of the Simon Block and lastly a sturdy, solid throwing-wall was built for sports.
In consequence, even though the happenings of the past two years were arduous, the overall efforts were worth it and it gave us all great pleasure to witness, and, together with the staff and students of the Ladies’ College family be a part of the wondrous evolution that education has now taken.
Nonetheless, the memories and recollections of these past two academic years bring forth two-fold feelings. We are deeply saddened by how three of our students lost valued loved ones due to the unexpected nature of this pandemic. It is also with incredible sadness that we record the demise of Ms. Kamala Kulathilaka who had served our school with much commitment for almost three decades. She was a much loved, devoted and hardworking, Sectional Head of Sports. Working long hours, weekends and holidays, she always ensured that our girls came before any other priority. We are also deeply saddened to record the passing away of another long standing staff member, who had served for 27 years, and was a dedicated, hardworking mathematics teacher, Ms. Poornavathani Senathirajah. They will always be remembered with much fondness.
Hellen Keller once said, “Alone, we can do so little, together, we can do so much.”
A quote which resonates with the Ladies’ College family, for as always, there are so many individuals that must be thanked profoundly for their continuous support and dedication. I begin by giving my heartfelt appreciation to the Right Reverends, Bishop Diloraj Canagasabey, for his kind concern for our school and for his continued encouragement and guidance and Bishop Keethisiri Fernando, for his unwavering support and constant advice rendered in many matters. Bishop Dhilo as he is affectionately known, retired in May 2020, and was appointed Metropolitan’s Commissary by the Archbishop of Canterbury to overlook the Diocese of Colombo until the new Bishop was appointed. I was delighted and humbled to attend the Episcopal Ordination and Installation Service of the 16th Bishop of Colombo the Right Reverend Dushantha Rodrigo in October 2020. Apart from his vast experience and many qualifications Bishop Dushantha is a hands-on servant of God who has served his flock in many capacities particularly in the field of education. He was the Acting Warden of St. Thomas’ College Mt. Lavinia and Head Master of St. Thomas’ Preparatory School, Colombo. Notably at one time he also taught Christianity to the O-Level and A-Level students at Ladies’ College. He is lovingly referred to as Father and now Bishop Dushy. He has always made time for us despite his numerous engagements and his practical advice and his easy-going nature makes him very approachable. We are immensely grateful as he confirmed 17 candidates in our chapel on 23rd November 2021. We wish his Lordship, God’s blessings as he journeys in this new stage in his ministry.
Our Archdeacon Venerable Perry Brohier is a dear friend and I deeply value his advice and involvement in the school over the years. I greatly thank our Chaplains. Reverend Niroshan de Mel has been a constant source of Christian love and spirituality, being very much involved in all our SCM activities and preparing our students for confirmation amidst the difficulties brought about by the pandemic. We are very grateful for his fatherly service and wish him God’s blessing as he moved on as Chaplain of our sister school Bishop’s College. Reverend Christie Joseph, took over our chaplaincy in 2021. He has been a constant source of support and strength, readily making himself available to us amidst his busy schedule and guiding us astutely in church matters and protocol. We are grateful for their counsel, prayers and blessings.
In her dedicated service of over a quarter of a century to her alma mater Mrs Rajini de Zilwa has worn many hats. She first served in the office overlooking accounts, stepping into the role of Facilities Head with ease and efficiency, culminating in her faithful service as Manager of our school. Her steadfast loyalty and unfailing support rendered cannot be forgotten. Our profound and grateful thanks go out to her as her term of office came to a close in 2020. Filling Rajini’s shoes was not easy but as always God provided and we were immensely relieved and delighted to welcome as Manager Mrs Leonie Seneviratne. An Old Girl with an impeccable record in the private sector of our country and a wealth of knowledge and experience in finance spanning over four decades, Mrs Seneviratne entered our fold bringing in her own brand of efficiency, brightening any room with her engaging smile and style. I greatly appreciate her regular visits to the school, her sincere and forthright advice and solid support. In addition, her reliable availability to the Ladies’ College community is much appreciated not forgetting as Manager her role in the School Advisory Committee which she effectively chairs. At this point I have to express my sincere gratitude to its members who meet us termly and advise us in their varied fields.
Overlooking the needs and welfare of five schools and their many branches particularly during challenging times is no easy task. I place on record my grateful and appreciative thanks to the Chairperson of the Governing Body Mrs Thanja Peiris for her staunch support and making herself available despite her innumerable undertakings. I am privileged to be on a Governing Body where we meet as colleagues to share and discuss matters pertaining to our schools. I greatly value the knowledge gained from these discourses and treasure the friendships fostered. Within this Body I am also immensely thankful to the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Mr Jeyan Setukavalar for his excellent direction of our finances and to Ms Manisha Peiris, a former Vice Principal and the OGA representative on the Governing Body for sharing her wealth of knowledge, experience and for her loyal and unwavering support.
“They reap not where they laboured, we reap what they have sown;” the words of our school hymn resonates and I am indebted to my predecessors whom I had the privilege to work with in different capacities and circumstances. I humbly and respectfully thank the Late Mrs Sirancee Gunawardana, Dr Sriyanie Miththapala and Mrs Nirmali Wickremesinghe for their sharing their stories, experiences and advice.
We lean on each other throughout the years as heads of schools and my sincere appreciation and gratitude go out to all my colleagues (Principals) across our private schools for their solicitous support and comradeship.
I am very grateful to our Chief Operating Officer of the Ladies’ College Institute of Professional Studies (LCIPS), Mr Sunimal Fernando and his Deputy Ms Lahiru Kurian for ensuring that most of the onsite courses were continued online, wherever possible and for carefully monitoring the day-to-day workings of this institute, amidst the challenges faced with the onslaught of the Covid-19 virus. It is noteworthy that after a successful completion of an audit conducted by the Tertiary Vocational & Education Commission (TVEC), the LCIPS’ registration was renewed and a Quality Management System Certificate of Conformity was awarded, including an approval to register a new course, namely the Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language. Apart from the professional courses on offer an IELTS course was commenced with the aim of affording this course of study within our campus particularly (amongst others) to our Ladies’ College students who wish to pursue further studies overseas and hence need this qualification. The LCIPS hopes to give priority to develop more courses pertaining to the current needs of the society.
Sometimes the importance of the administrative workings of a school go unnoticed. Our dedicated administrative staff was not deterred with the constraints brought about by the pandemic and I deeply appreciate their continuous service particularly during the periods of lockdown. Accordingly, I am immensely grateful to the Head of our Financial Division, Ms. Sharika Wirasinha. In addition to keeping meticulous accounts on a day-to-day basis, she expertly maintained the financial stability of our school as we had to allot funds to provide for the additional concessions and other necessities the school funded due to the economic difficulties faced by the LC family in the last two years. I truly thank her and her able team; Akalanka, Aloka, Geethani and Yamuna for their commitment. I am also very thankful to our HR Head Ms. Rasika Wickramasinghe, who always carries out her administrative functions with quiet efficiency, as well as her Assistant, Thilini.
Additionally, I am also profoundly thankful to Ms. Vidyani Ratnayake, our Head of Facilities, who was consistently and conscientiously here throughout the pandemic to ensure that all health & safety regulations were carried out and in place and kept our campus and all its facilities so well maintained. This appreciation is extended to Anargi, Nirangini, Gayani and Marina for running our facilities division so smoothly and for overseeing the support staff. I take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to members of our support staff. Their dedication knew no bounds, as they stayed all hours to ensure that all necessary tasks were complete. In short, their support was immeasurable.
My heartfelt thanks as always, to my dear PA, Anuradha, the anchor of the Principal’s office, for always being truly supportive and available at all times of the day. Her care, concern and loyalty are special. The control centre as it were, would not be complete without the resolute support of Naomi and Champika, not forgetting the valued services of Chethani, Aruni and Lilanthi in the front office. My appreciative thanks to them for their staunch service to this institution.
I am also truly thankful to, Ms. Samantha Perera, an Old Girl and the new Manager of the Sports Complex for 2021, for energetically looking into the smooth running of this division. Her bubbly personality and keep fit culture are a source of encouragement to the members. She took over from Ms. Dhananji Hewage, who fitted in seamlessly and served the school loyally and efficiently but had to retired a little over a year due to personal commitments.
Our hostel and day-care can be described as one of the many sources of comfort and warmth we have at our school. However, health regulations did not permit us to provide these facilities from the onset of the pandemic. Nevertheless, I must thank Manjula our new Hostel Matron who took over from Tania (who retired at the end of 2020), for looking into its upkeep, as well as Kala and Bernadine who eagerly assisted her in this.
My immense gratitude must also be given to our Head Girls, Devindie Ranaraja for 2020 and Devni Jayaweera for 2021 for having been in touch with our girls to the best of their abilities during these trying times. My profound thanks also go to our body of prefects and our various House Captains. I was very much aware that the current situation prevented our girls from implementing many of the plans that they had, which is why the Inter-House Dance Competition was initiated. Hence, I applaud them all for their perseverance.
A special mention must also be given to the Editors and members of our Magazine Committee. Through their intense dedication, a magazine was produced for these two academic years. Despite the various obstacles they had to juggle, as always, they planned the content, collected and collated the information, edited, designed and laid out the magazine submitting to the printer pages ready for immediate printing – a truly student-centred activity. Their valuable work was ably supervised by their Teacher-in-Charge, Ms Shani Almeida.
Our College is blessed with extended family who play vital roles in our “one family unbroken” community. The Old Girls’ Association (OGA) has been a solid support and generous benefactors in numerous ways for over a century and successive Presidents have worked tirelessly towards its growth. I have had the privilege of working with five of them. I place on record my deep gratitude and thanks to them for their unique contributions. Mrs Fathima Aziz completed her term of office as President of the OGA in October 2021. She too had a challenging term. Yet the pandemic did not deter her and her team from organising varied interesting online programmes, activities and community outreach programmes which kept the membership engaged, particularly bringing for the first time, all members both here and overseas on one platform. This certainly brought the alumni closer. My profound gratitude and thanks go out to Mrs Aziz, for her stalwart support and commitment not forgetting the OGA’s magnanimous donations towards the school Covid Fund and the Performing Arts Building, the progress of which had to be abruptly paused due to the severe restrictions imposed by the authorities due to the pandemic. It is with great pleasure that I welcome the new OGA President and my dear fellow classmate Mrs Roshanara Page. Her abilities know no bounds and I know that she will lead and steer the OGA to great heights with deep commitment, purpose and understanding, with God as her guide.
There was also a transition in the Parent Teacher Association (PTA). I greatly thank, Ms. Maya Weerapura, our former Vice President of the PTA who served the school with steadfast dedication for 12 years (which included her role as the PTA Treasurer) and the active committee and members for the marvellous support extended in aiding students as they adjusted to the ‘new normal’ lessons both from school and at home. Particular mention must be made of the tech savvy PTA secretary Mrs Shyamala Fonseka and our efficient Education Consultant Mrs Madhavi Amarasinghe for her enthusiastic support and expertise with all the online initiatives. They willingly worked day and night assisting with online learning, catering to every parent’s and student’s trivial and significant requests with much patience and understanding, facilitating the entire experience As Mrs Weerapura completes her term of office, I welcome in to the fold Ms. Sumudu Coilpillai. Her motherly disposition and sound experience in the private sector make a marvellous combination as she takes on the role as the current PTA Vice President.
Due to health restrictions the Association of Former Staff of Ladies’ College could not hold any events. However, I am thankful to its president Mrs Malini Gunathillake and the committee for constantly keeping in touch with the members, providing much needed emotional solace and support.
As always, we take great pride in acknowledging the long, stalwart service of the members of our staff who have completed 25 years of service. Thus, we appreciate and thank Ms. Rajitha Wijesinghe, a dedicated teacher in the Primary Section, our O Level Sectional Head Ms Asirini Wijesuriya and our support staff members Letchchimi and Meenachchi for completing this milestone in 2020, and Ms. Rathini Gnanapragasam, a committed teacher in the Kindergarten Section who completed it in 2021.
Likewise, we also say goodbye to 29 members of staff collectively at the end of 2020 and 2021 due to retirement, spousal career changes, migration and medical necessity. Some of them had longstanding tenures with us. I begin by giving my gratitude and a huge thank you to Ms. Neela Shanmugam for her 40 years of solid service. Her dedication knows no bounds, from teaching to overseeing the various extra-curricular commitments and as a Sectional Head in preparing statistics at a moment’s notice and much more. We also bid farewell to, Mr. Ayadurai Naguleswaran, the Sectional Head of the British Qualifications Section and I thank him immensely for over two decades of unwavering dedication in ensuring that the section continued to blossom whilst preparing the time tables for the whole school. Two other long-standing member of staff who left us are Ms. Marina Hettiaarachchi (a Sinhala and History teacher) and mathematics teacher Ms Sharmi Kariyawasam. Both served Middle Section faithfully for 36 and 35 years respectively years. They shall be missed by all. Having taught Sinhala in the O Level Section and English in the Primary Section and in various other capacities, with much dedication for 21 years respectively were Ms. Leela Kumaragamage and Ms Ruani Gomez who retired. Having served the school intermittently as an excellent English teacher since the 1970s and whom I am privileged to call my teacher is Ms Chithra Rodrigo who sadly leaves us with a depth and wealth of knowledge so rare to find these days. We say adieu to our A Level Psychology teacher Ms Saroja Alwis and Kindergarten teacher Ms. Wasana Karananda; both served the school faithfully for over a decade. A former Deputy Sectional Head we would surely miss is Ms. Ashanti Ehelepola. She taught in the British Advanced Level, BTEC and Primary sections; an exceptional teacher and a loving mentor to children of all ages. Lastly, in the Support Staff we bid farewell to Ratnayake, who has selflessly served the college for 29 years maintaining the pool with care and innovation, additionally looking after the welfare of our children when needed. Meenachi and Sujatha looked to the needs of our little ones in the KG with much commitment for 25 years and 13 years respectively. A person who could drive any vehicle and safely take our children to any destination in the island was Jayantha. In addition, he served three principals and their families including myself with unwavering devotion and dedication. I heartily wish all these individuals the very best in the next chapters of their lives.
In the last two years we also welcomed 42 members to our academic, administrative and support staff, which included Ms. Yashodha Hettiaarachchi who will be the new Sectional Head for the British Qualifications Section and a former Head Girl, Ms. Taanya Tranchel, will take on the role as Guidance Counsellor for the British Qualifications Section. Within our staff Ms. Damithri Gunasekara has also been appointed as the new BTEC Section Co-ordinator for 2022.
Lastly, but in no way the least, I give my heartfelt gratitude to our Vice Principal, Ms. Deepika Dassenaike. Her immense commitment to all these endeavours ensured that the transition to online teaching was easily facilitated. She is also a very enthusiastic teacher, with much creative talents, making me profoundly happy to have served our school with her. I know as I hand over the baton to her that she will ensure that our beloved school is always in good hands. I wish her all the very best for the upcoming academic year.
As I come to the end of my tenure at Ladies’ College, I thank God for the many opportunities that He has given me to serve my school. My love for my school was the driving force behind my service and I am immensely grateful, in a way that words cannot truly express, for all that it entailed. At this point, I would like to profoundly thank all the endless stream of well-wishers from students, parents, Old Girls and staff, who all took the immense trouble of sending me handmade cards and baked goods, letters, poems, emails, messages, all expressing their very kind sentiments. The meticulous care and tremendous effort taken by the OGA, PTA and the School in putting together such special farewell receptions and online farewell events was overwhelming and so incredibly moving. I am truly thankful for the wonderful Morning Service of Thanksgiving that was held in our School Chapel and was presided by the Bishops of Colombo and Kurunegala as well as the lovely Online Thanksgiving Service that was held for the students and teachers to participate in. It was all absolutely touching. I take this opportunity to also thank my family, as I cannot forget their silent understanding and steady support. They have always stood by me and Ladies’ College, unobtrusively assisting me and the institution in numerous ways when needed but never interfering in my work. I know that as I leave, I shall carry forth these wondrous memories, as my faith, my love for my school and my family, three of the main pillars in my life, shall always persist. If I may humbly quote from the Good Book,
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
2 Timothy 4:7
When reflecting upon these past two years, there is no doubt that many a lesson can be learnt. Nature itself continued to undergo many changes, as climate change reached alarming heights. To quote the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, “The climate crisis is a code red for humanity”. The 2019 – 2020 period of bushfires that took place in many parts of Australia, colloquially known as the ‘Black Summer’ exposed millions of people to air pollution, burning down approximately 24 million hectares of woodland, destroying more than 3000 homes, causing the loss of thirty-three people and killing and injuring around three billion animals. In short, it was one of the most devastating bushfire seasons in Australia’s history. In other parts of the world, unusual heat as all-time temperature peaks were registered from the Antarctic to the Arctic, drought, storms and record floods in places such as Indonesia, Kenya and Uganda occurred. All this added to the numerous warning signs which surround us, as greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil-fuel burning and deforestation continues to harm our planet, causing irreversible changes. The world was once again shocked and appalled by the reminder that racial discrimination is very much alive, when a Caucasian police officer, killed an African-American called George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for almost ten minutes. The 46-year-old father of five, had been arrested upon suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store and had been pinned to the ground. His gasps for breath were ignored until he finally uttered his dying words, “I can’t breathe,” which became a rallying cry. Therein lies our lesson – for we are global citizens – and as such, have a duty to our wondrous planet. This starts with appreciating and acting responsibly, starting with our own communities. Whether it is in our homes to our school, the smallest step we take, makes all the difference; from planting a seed, recycling to being considerate of everyone and every living creature, it all counts. This lesson certainly echoes through the actions of our different religious leaders, who provide us with good examples and a source of immense inspiration. In a historic meeting, Pope Francis met with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in order to deliver a message of peaceful coexistence. The visit was carried live on Iraqi television, and residents cheered the meeting of these two respected faith leaders.
The pandemic too although immeasurably difficult, brought forth a feeling of community. With stories of tens of thousands of volunteers from across the globe offering to buy groceries and deliver medicines to the more vulnerable citizens, to those who offered a listening ear – the list is endless. It also proved what pinnacles can be achieved, if we join hands as one. An example of which was the hunt for a Covid-19 vaccine. Although it may yet be years before we truly understand the nature of this particular virus, in what was one of the quickest turn of events, several vaccines were generated with various efficacies, with some as high as 90%. It was certainly encouraging to note that contributing to these developments was Dr Maheshi Ramasamy, a Sri Lankan born scientist and physician and a Principal Investigator at the Oxford Vaccine Group, where she leads on adult clinical vaccine trials including for the Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. It certainly reiterates how the steps we take, when done with solidarity and positivity, can truly contribute to many remarkable achievements.
Most importantly, these trying times, reminded us to continue to turn to our various faiths for solace and comfort. It teaches us how to endure and move forward, spurred on by hope and goodwill.
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.” 1 John 5:4
For this is the victory, even our faith. Haec Victoria Nostra Fides.
Mrs. Eesha Speldewinde