Annual Report

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Principal’s Report 2019

My Lord Bishop the Rt. Revd Dhiloraj Canagasabey  Bishop of Colombo, our Chief Guest Dr Asha de Vos, our Chaplain Reverend Melvin de Silva, Chairperson of the Governing Body Mrs Thanja Pieris, members of the Governing Body, our Manager Mrs Rajini de Zilva, former principal and vice principals of Ladies’ College, Heads of Schools, invitees, Prize Donors, members of staff, Old Girls, parents and dear students; it is with much pleasure that I welcome all of you to our annual prize giving. I do appreciate your presence here today despite the fact that we had to change the date due to unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances.

This year as our chief guest we are indeed honoured to have with us our very own Dr Asha de Vos, a young lady whose passion for the waters is two fold. Her love for science and sports is directly related to water. A gifted student at Ladies’ College she was the 1996 Swimming and  Water Polo Captain and a House Captain in 1996. Still a bundle of energy, this year she took part in the grueling triathlon international competition – the Iron Man contest held in Sri Lanka. Competing amongst 750 athletes, not only did she complete the entire course, (which involved swimming, running and cycling) she was the fastest Sri Lankan woman and qualified for the World Championships in France (which unfortunately she couldn’t take part in due to her work commitments.)

I believe from the age of 6, Asha’s passion for marine life never wavered. Combined with her adventurous spirit and curiosity, this had the makings of a child who set her sights far afield. Never one to shy away from a challenge, she inspires Sri Lankans and citizens across the world to continue to reach for their dreams – even when they may seem impossible. She once said, “Chal­lenges are things you can climb over or walk around. Life is all about the story, and it’s a better story if there are ups and downs.” She has a strong love for her country but she left Sri Lanka to study overseas as she found it difficult to get a degree in her specialized field here but (to use her own words) “my intention was to go away, learn, amass the knowledge I needed, so that I could come back and serve Sri Lanka.” A marine biologist, ocean educator and pioneer of blue whale research within the Indian Ocean, she holds a BSc honours degree in Marine and Environmental Biology from the University of St. Andrews and University of Western Australia, a MSc in Biology from Oxford University and the only Sri Lankan who holds a PhD in Marine Mammal research. She also had her executive education on Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard University. She was featured on the BBC 100 Women 2018 which is a list of inspiring and influential women from around the world and she is the first Sri Lankan to have her portrait unveiled at the 15th century hall in Lincoln College, Oxford University. A pride to our nation, she is the recipient of a galaxy of honours and awards. To mention a fraction of them: she was acknowledged as one of the twelve women change makers of our country, the Ada Derana & LMD Sri Lankan of the Year and a speaker at the ‘Ring the Bell for Gender Equality’ where she reminded us that empowerment of young girls begin at home. Internationally, she is the first Sri Lankan to be a National Geographic Explorer, first Sri Lankan Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, a Senior TED Fellow, a Duke Global Fellow in marine conservation, Asia’s Sustainability Superwoman 2018 and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. She is also on the list of the Royal Society of Globally Achieving Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

As a renowned scientist Dr de Vos has many journal publications and reports to her name. She is the founder of Oceanswell and the Sri Lanka Blue Whale Project, the country’s first marine conservation long term study in the Indian Ocean, where her work and research are referred, in order to dictate and implement policy at local and global levels. She also had the distinction to be invited by James Cameron, the celebrated film director and deep sea explorer for an upcoming expedition in the Indian Ocean. The plethora and weight of her appointments, awards and credentials are overwhelming and forgive me madam if I inadvertently left out anything of importance. Dr de Vos has addressed conferences and public talks locally and worldwide – having been in the audience of just a few, I can say that those assembled whatever the age, were captivated right through her addresses.

She is certainly a ‘glass ceiling breaker’, however, importantly, whatever position she holds or accolades she has received, she is a true Ladies’ College student as envisaged in our founder Ms Lillian Nixon’s vision, that a Ladies’ College girl should be “independent, upright without being pretentious.” Asha’s humility, sacrifice and sense of service to others is not only heartening and laudable but deserves applause. An inspiration to all on this planet, thank you Dr de Vos for accepting our invitation and for gracing us with your presence here today.

I thank their Lordships the Bishop of Colombo Bishop Dhiloraj Canagasabey and the Bishop of Kurunegala Bishop Keerthisiri Fernando for their ready advice and guidance. Traditionally the Lord Bishop of Colombo has always presided at our prize giving. It is with much sadness that we note his retirement early next year and that this will be his last prize giving with us. As Head of the Diocese he has been our Spiritual Father and we thank his Lordship very much for the hours he has spent deliberating over the affairs of all the CMS schools at Governing Body Meetings. The spiritual sustenance Bishop Dhilo (as he is affectionately known) has given our school, his assuring presence at our events despite his myriad of activities and confirming the faith of many of our school girls (this year 28 candidates,) as full members of the church at our annual confirmation services, cannot be forgotten. On a personal note I was blessed to have him induct me as principal of this school in our chapel and I value the trust he placed upon me. His Lordship’s leadership in evangelical matters and in bringing about peace and harmony in situations of ethnic strife, along with his concerned approach to educational matters are things we are most grateful for. We wish his Lordship and Mrs Harshini Canagasabey happiness and God’s blessing in his retirement.

It is also with great sorrow that we bid farewell to our dear Chaplain, Rev. Melvin de Silva. Greeting everyone with his warm smile, Father Melvin is a fatherly figure to us all, treating all members of our student body and staff as one, regardless of their individual faiths. He is revered for his ability to truly understand the mindset of our students, putting them at ease and counselling them with much perceptiveness, even visiting us at home or hospital when we were unwell. He is also a reassuring presence at every school event and his prayers and blessings upon the school teams, as they embarked on their tournaments, did much to calm their nerves, bringing a positive spirit to their game. No task was too great for Father Melvin, whether it was a school service, wedding or thanksgiving service of an old girl, he would go beyond the call of duty, juggling his various commitments in order to ensure that he always gave his best to Ladies’ College, for which we as a school, will always be grateful for. “The righteous man walks in his integrity; His Children are blessed after him.” (Proverbs 20:7) Our heartfelt thanks Father Melvin and may God bless you.

The Chairperson of the Governing Body Mrs Thanja Peiris has been a source of strength and has provided stalwart support for which I am deeply appreciative of. As a member of the CMS Governing Body I express my thanks to my collegues for the friendly and solid working relationship we enjoy every year and to Mr Jayan Setukavalar, the Chairman of the Finance Committee, for his unstinted assistance and meticulous monitoring of our finances.

In concluding the celebrations of the 200th Anniversary of the arrival of CMS Missionaries in Ceylon, this year we hosted all CMS schools for a weekend of fun and fellowship at Ladies’ College. It was heartening to see students of our five schools, which include Chundikuli Girls’ College and St. John’s College from Jaffna, and Hillwood College and Mowbray College from Kandy, join our girls in obstacle course games, exchanging experiences under the stars on a bonfire night and compete in friendly chess and netball matches. They also participated in a combined performing arts concert culminating in a meaningful joint tri lingual thanksgiving service in our chapel the following morning. We felt God’s presence and remembered our school hymn as we gathered as “One family unbroken” joining “with one acclaim, one heart, one voice uplifting to glorify thy name.”

 This year we also remembered with deep gratitude, the yeoman service rendered by our former principal Ms Olive Hitchcock who passed away on Christmas eve 2018.  She was the last British principal of this school. Joining the staff of Ladies’ College as a teacher in 1946, her relatively short stewardship of two years is recorded in the ‘Ladies’ College Centennial narrative 1900 – 2000’ and in ‘A History of CMS Ladies’ College’ (a reference book she edited), in which its stated: “It was a subtle shift away from the colonial ethos. Ms. Hitchcock’s period as Principal is often seen as a period of transition … but filled so competently and effectively as to be noticed only as continuity not a space… She not only handed over an efficiently organized school to her successor, but had also laid the groundwork that enabled Mrs. Sirancee Gunawardana, as the first Sri Lankan head of the school, to further actively integrate the school into the larger social and cultural life of the country.” The school participated in a service of thanksgiving in our chapel in her remembrance.

We also record the passing away in August of a former vice principal Mrs Damaris Pannila whose funeral was attended by the current principal, staff and prefects. Her ten year service to her alma mater is recollected with appreciation.

This year we welcome on stage a new Old Girl Representative on the Governing Body, who is no stranger to us. Mrs Manisha Peiris is a former vice principal and a committed Christian whose loyalty to this school is unwavering. She will undoubtedly bring on board her vast experience and wise counsel. She takes the place of her classmate and our former principal Mrs Nirmali Wickremesinghe. Whether in an official or unofficial capacity I know Mrs Wickremesinghe will be always there for us and I thank her wholeheartedly for the valuable service she has rendered not only to the Governing Body but also to her alma mater.

There was also a changing – of – the – guard in the Old Girls’ Association and we are pleased to see on stage our new OGA President, Mrs Fathima Aziz, who I look forward to working with. Apart from being a past student, Mrs Aziz was also a former member of our staff. Importantly, I also want to place on record my personal thanks and that of the school to the outgoing OGA President Mrs Niloufer Vandergert. Her ever so obliging manner and cheerful disposition in any circumstance and her unshakeable support to the school in many ways, is more than commendable. My profound thanks Mrs Vandergert.

Similarly, for the committed and diligent management of our Sports Complex, we say a sincere thank you to Ms Pritiva Perera another old girl who retired this year. In her place, we now have an energetic and very efficient Manager, Mrs Dhananji Hewage, who very quickly got attached to the children and the school. She has certainly integrated well and we warmly welcome her into our fold.

Another old girl who I am deeply grateful to is our manager Mrs Rajini de Zilwa. Her engineering background and knowledge has been an asset and her regular visits to the school, and ready advice are much appreciated. She also chairs the School Advisory Committee who meet termly. I thank the members and Mrs de Zilwa for their valuable contributions.

There was a change in leadership in the Association of Former Staff of Ladies’ College. I thank the past President Mrs Surendrani de Alwis for her able direction in looking into and assisting our past staff members in diverse ways and we welcome the new President Mrs Malini Gunatillake who incidentally was my grade 2 teacher.

Whether it is in the sun or rain, teachers, Old Girls and members of the Parent Teacher Association have been outside of our gates assisting in the drop off and pickups of our children, ensuring the easy flow of traffic, at times withstanding the brunt of some not so understanding parents. I express my deep appreciation for their services and that of our Vice President, Mrs Maya Weerapura, who not only supports us with her presence at every event in the school calendar but regularly brings to my notice, suggestions and concerns, which give me the opportunity to implement or address them. She also takes back accurate information, calming parents who are at times, terribly misinformed particularly on feverish Whatsapp groups. As much as we endeavour to sincerely give of our heartfelt best to all our children, it is my fervent wish and prayer that parents understand this and look at things in its entirety. There is a bigger picture and certainly more to life than fierce ambition and achievement, where at times the road to their aspirations causes more harm than good to their daughters.

This year our auditors gave us a faultless report on the work of our accounts division. Those in the field or in any organization would know that this is a very rare review to obtain from any audit firm. Without a doubt, this is due to the diligence and expertise of our accountant Mrs Sharika Wirasinha. I thank her and her very efficient team: Akalanka, Aloka, Geethani and Yamuna, very much, for a job so well done. Our Human Resource officer Mrs Rasika Wickramasinghe’s quiet disposition belies her effectiveness and sensitivity, as she single handedly handles the administrative matters of the staff. The volume of work necessitated assistance and we welcomed Ms Thilini Perera to our midst. Apart from being an experienced teacher, Ms Neela Shanmugam’s trilingual ability and methodical approach to anything, has proved to be beneficial in the office. We thank them all for their efforts.

The logistics in physically running a school can be baffling and the important role the Facilities Division plays in this regard often goes unnoticed. We are most grateful to have Mrs Vidyani Ratnayake at the helm whose conscientiousness is second to none. My profound thanks go out to her and her committed team Anargi and Niranjini. We certainly haven’t forgotten Mr Kaviratne who has served the school faithfully and we wish him God’s blessings as he retires this year. We welcome Mrs Gayani Bodaragama whose fifteen year service in the army will bring in useful and new exposure to the institution.

A hostel becomes your home away from home and ours plays a huge role in the lives of most of our children. Whether it’s providing a comfortable and safe abode for our hostellers (for both students and teachers) or a day care facility for the rest, I’m most grateful to our matrons and carers Tania, Stella, Kala and Bernadine for the loving care they provide. As Tania retires this year we thank her for her motherly service and wish her God’s blessings.

The coordination of operations of any organization necessitates an excellent control centre. I am so fortunate that I have a few trusted lieutenants who carry out the demanding work involved in the Principal’s office, with meticulous tact and expertise. My grateful thanks go to my devoted PA Anuradha and our very committed team Naomi, Champika, Chethini and Aruni not forgetting the kind part time services of Lilanthi and Delani whose plates always seem to be full.

Our Head Girl Sahani has at all times, placed the school before her own personal needs and never sought or focused attention on herself. In addition to her very demanding role she was a captain of a sport and held office as president of societies, organizing and giving attention to each event with meticulous care and responsibility. She addressed concerns of students sensitively and confidentially, earning the respect of the whole school community. I valued the meetings and time I spent with her and I truly thank her and our very efficient prefects for carrying out their duties tirelessly whilst juggling their academic work and activities.

Twenty five years of service in any organization is a milestone and we congratulate Mrs Dharshini Daluwatte Adhikari for her resilient dedication and unwavering service as a member of staff, initially in the nursery and presently as Deputy Sectional Head of the Kindergarten, not forgetting her role as the Teacher-in-Charge of the active Sri Lanka Unites Club.

The Ladies’ College Institute of Professional Studies serves both the young and old in the varied courses it offers and it functions very well. The name and the locality attracts organizations to partner with us. The British Council holds its examinations there and recently a local agent, Prospects Academy introduced a pathway programme for a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education from Deakin University, Australia. In addition, the LCIPS conducts programmes for a Bachelor of Education and Master of Education. Though run separately the LCIPS comes under the Ladies’ College umbrella and from school I liaise often with the management, whilst Mr Naguleswaran intermittently offers advice. The Chief Operating Officer Mr Sunimal Fernando diplomatically and efficiently manages this establishment and its personnel. I thank him and his supportive Deputy Ms Lahari Kurian very much for their valuable services.

The day and night toil provided by our support staff is immeasurable. Some of them even stay overnight in conditions that could be more desirable. I felt there was a dire need for proper facilities for them and my dream came true this year, when, with the blessings of our chaplain we were able to open the Support Staff quarters, a fully functional facility, with comfortable bedrooms, changing rooms with individual lockers, wash rooms, dining area and kitchenette with all amenities.

Most of you may not be aware of the deep commitment provided by our Vice Principal Mrs Deepika Dassanaike, both to the institution and to me. Whether it is in a classroom or directing operations of a school production her creativity and enthusiasm are boundless.  I greatly value her support and friendship.

Another Prize Giving, marks yet another end to a successful year, to which we are immensely grateful for. This year by no means has been smooth. We as a nation were shocked and deeply saddened by the Easter Sunday attacks. Whilst our Ladies’ College family was mercifully spared, we still shared in the collective grief that certainly was not fleeting. Emotionally shaken and being acutely sensitive to the lives lost and to the hundreds whose lives had been irrevocably altered, the school class and teachers’ trips were cancelled and other events curtailed. Instead we reached out to those affected, assisting them in numerous ways. Similarly as a school, we felt that our girls’ safety both emotionally and physically should take first priority. This is why several safety measures were put into place. To name a few, these included daily bag checks, a well-monitored drop off and pick-up process and the installment of a sophisticated CCTV,  not forgetting training of staff for hostile attacks and the participation of students and staff in mock emergency evacuation drills. Despite these changes, we were able to keep our school running smoothly and with no further disruption to our normal routine.

As I go on to reflect upon the various highlights of our schooling year, I do so with thanksgiving to God and his many blessings in mind.

NURSERY

Boxford, with its warm and welcoming atmosphere, marks the beginning of our little ones’ educational journeys. Here is where they are instilled with the initial life skills of sharing, of team-work and learning through various play-based activities.

This year’s Activity Day, ‘Carebear Land’ was an inspirational initiative where our youngsters understood the concept of sharing and caring for each other.

Project Day, ‘Amazing Sri Lanka’, had our children explore the various corners of our island explaining in their innocent yet confident ways, the historical, geographical and cultural aspects that make up our homeland. We were all entertained to have our children quiz us on the significance of our national flag and whether we too knew what the national bird was!

Stemming from this theme, was their Sports Meet and Concert, where each race and item were depicted after a significant aspect of their understandings of Sri Lanka, serving as a fun reinforcement.

Creating a warm, comfortable and safe environment for our little ones to engage actively is by no means an easy feat, which is why I would like to wholeheartedly thank the Sectional Head Mrs Lilamani de Sayrah, Deputy Mrs Ishani Rekawa and their team of well-dedicated teachers for making this possible.

KINDERGARTEN

With the blessings of our Bishop, here is where our young learners enter the first leg of their formal educational journeys.

Activity Day this year was based on “Waterfalls and their Stories”. This had our young inquisitive learners delving into the origins of the various waterfalls both locally and across the globe. Through song, dance and cleverly written skits, these talented youngsters explained how various waterfalls gained their names, who their discoverers were and the importance of these bodies of water. This theme was incorporated into their action-packed sports meet, where the children keenly participated in cleverly planned out races.

Book Day had them exploring the concept of ‘Strength in Unity’. Here, they not only acted out various stories with potent morals, but also wrote their own stories on unity with illustrations. It was also a treat when Mrs Sybil Wettasinghe visited the KG kids and related her stories and experiences to the enthralled audience.

‘Into the Body’ their Science Exhibition, was where our mini scientists, unravelled the complexities of the human body. Adorned in their painted t-shirts that featured one of the many bodily systems, they created models of the respiratory systems with straws and plastic bags, built outlines of the human heart through kidney beans and sculpted diagrams of the digestive system with plasticine.

This year due to security concerns instead of bringing produce for the Easter and Harvest services, the children including the nursery and special education students, brought voluntary monetary contributions, from which families affected by the Easter tragedy were assisted, along with 30 welfare centres.

 This interactive, creative and well-balanced curriculum would not be possible without the tireless efforts of their Sectional Head Mrs Judiana Balraj, Deputy Mrs Dharshini Daluwatte Adhikari and a group of efficient and committed teachers, to whom I am very grateful for.

SPECIAL EDUCATION UNIT

This section comprises of two divisions. Firstly, is the Learning Support Unit, which aims to give students who require separate one-on-one attention or in – class assistance, an extra boost so that they can stay on par with the rest of their mainstream class. This has proved to beneficial to many.

Secondly, is the Special Needs Unit. As often said, differently-abled children inspire a special kind of love, one that is warm and compassionate. This is exactly what the twelve students who are a part of this unit, remind us of.

To ensure that they always interact with the main stream body, these students take part in the art and photographic exhibitions, partake in an integrated event at the Sports Meet with the Primary and Middle School children and they displayed their skills in a wondrous synchronized swimming presentation at the Swimming Meet. They also staged a meaningful skit on the importance of recognizing that every student has a skill and ability and that no child should be left behind. Their strong performance sent a thought provoking message to both teachers and students at a main assembly.

We were extremely proud of Gagani Kumarasinghe who was selected to participate at the Special Olympic World Games held in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. She was placed 4th in the 25m Free Style event in swimming, out of 7000 special children from 196 countries. We congratulate her for her exceptional performance, which was an inspiration to us all.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank very much the patient and compassionate teachers Binu, Tania and Minoli and the Head of both divisions Ms Shakunthala Senewiratne who are the driving forces behind this section.

PRIMARY

Having now had a taste of formal education, our students now face new challenges as they enter the Primary Section, for here is where they find themselves sorted into one of the four houses, face internal examinations, delve into independent work in the form of the Library Research Project and are given positions of responsibilities such as the roles of Class Captain and Vice-Captain.

For their Project Day our primary students dived into the mysteries of the ‘Lost Cities’. Whilst the Middle School enacted this theme enthusiastically in their class rooms, the Old Hall was transformed by the primary students into a parallel universe, as we were treated to poems about Atlantis, sparkling treasure troves from El Dorado, clay models of the ash figurines from Pompeii, archways depicting the ruins of Gedi and so much more.

Book Day featured stories ‘that bring us together’. In order to inspire unity amongst us all, our students wrote their own uplifting stories, acted out little skits, sang songs and choreographed dances that featured both Western and Eastern elements.

At the end of the year, our Primary students also participated in their annual Nativity. Their playlet which highlighted the story of The Wise Kings, coupled with inspiring songs and hymns, did much to warm our hearts, as they reminded us of the significance of the birth of Christ.

Needless to say, this well-rounded academic year is only possible due the continuous focused efforts of the Sectional Head Mrs Kalum Hewage, Deputy Mrs Sandya Wickremesinghe and a team of highly devoted teachers.

MIDDLE SCHOOL

This is a pivotal point in any student’s life, for much of their unique personality traits rise to the surface which could be a challenge both to the student and teacher. In a classroom, a curious mind needs more action than rhetoric. In addition to the curriculum based experiments, our middle schoolers banded together to launch a water rocket designed by our physics teacher Sisira. Thrilled, these science enthusiasts learnt how water pressure can be used according to Newton’s 3rd law. Our grade nine’s visited the Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology. Here they learnt for example how kidney diseases were prevented by the introduction of nano material into fertilizers. A culinary collaborative project between the students of Garden High School Kolkatta and Ladies’ College proved to be fruitful when they exchanged and prepared each other’s recipes.

This year, along with the Grade sixers, our Grade 7 and 8 students took us on an underwater journey, complete with sailors, merfolk, royalty, gulls and various other unique sea creatures, with a swirl of colour, dance and song. It lead to a memorable musical production ‘Under the Sea’, which brought rave reviews.

The Middle Schoolers, reminded us all of the very important message, that: “charity begins at home”, as the money they raised from food sales were used to buy clothing and other vital items for our own support staff, in a token of gratitude for their invaluable services to us all.

I would like to sincerely thank the Head Mrs Suvendrini Gnanaskandan, Deputy Mrs Ranmali Balasuriya and a group of gifted teachers who ensure that this section continues to run smoothly.

UPPER SCHOOL 

Important life skills and vital decision-making play an immense segment at this point of a student’s educational journey; for here is where they face the pressures of choosing suitable subject combinations, sitting for external examinations and deciding on what career paths to embark on. This is why each student is given an ample amount of support in order to assuage their various stress points, allowing them to focus on applying themselves to the fullest. It has to be mentioned that there are a fair number of students, who continue their sports and other activities right up to their public examinations, juggling both disciplines admirably.

Our exam results have been most encouraging and gratifying. Statistics never tell the whole story, but it does indicate something of the work that is being done. At the GCE Ordinary Level Examination held in December 2018, out of the 21 subjects offered, 100% passes were obtained in 12 subjects and over 97% passes in 7 subjects. From the 113 students who sat the exam, 18 students obtained 9 ‘A’s and 110 qualified for A Level. I take this opportunity to thank the motherly Sectional Heads Mrs Shalini Alawwa and Mrs Asirini Wijesuriya and their group of passionate teachers, for ensuring that this section grows from strength-to-strength, whilst looking into the emotional wellbeing of the students, diffusing stress and anxiety.

Post O level, our students have a choice of 3 courses of study. The Local and British Advanced Levels and the Pearson Edexcel BTEC Diploma, the professional vocational programme that is equivalent to the Advanced Level. I’m very pleased that not only have our students flourished in all three courses but there is a steady demand for these programmes from external applicants.

Our Local Advanced Level students fared very well. 59 students sat the exam and 93% qualified to enter university. In the Science stream there were 92% passes in Physics & Chemistry, 88% passes in Biology and 100% passes in Combined Mathematics. The Commerce Stream gained 95% passes in Accounting and 100% passes in Economics, Business Studies and Business Statistics. There were 100 % passes in all Arts subjects except an 86% pass in Geography and a 93% pass in Political Science. We congratulate Githmi Rabel who was placed 9th in the district in the Arts Stream.

The results of the British Advanced Level Pearson Edexcel & Cambridge International Examinations held in May and June were outstanding with 96% of our students completing the exams successfully. We are very pleased to record that over the past years, more than 4/5th of the students have consistently been maintaining an overall percentage of over 70% and thereby gaining admission to reputed universities overseas. At the Cambridge AS Level examination held in June 2019 Sheriah Peries received a High Achiever award coming first in Sri Lanka in History and Global Perspectives, whilst Tehani Rassool achieved the same award for English Literature and Sociology. Similarly, at the A2 level Shanya Sadanandan and Dulani Hannadige were placed first in Sri Lanka in History and Psychology respectively receiving High Achiever awards. Zainab Hamid won the World Prize for Sociology. We congratulate them for their marvelous performances.

All BTEC students completed their courses gaining star distinctions – an impressive feat by any standard. Special mention must be made of Dinara Abeysekara and Arrenga Nadarajah who came first in Sri Lanka in Business and Hospitality respectively. Our congratulations go out to them. We are grateful for the practical training provided for our students by leading organizations in the country. This year we signed an MOU with Ernst & Young and we continue to partner with Cinnamon Group Hotels. Apart from the many scholarships our Advanced Level students are offered every year, this year it was noteworthy that Tokyo International University offered a full scholarship for a BTEC Business student. We greatly appreciate this commendable offer.

To strengthen their class room lessons subject based seminars are organized and students venture outside our campus for research and field work exercises, for example on Coastal Land Reform Development. The students following Greek & Roman Civilization visited Rome where their lessons came alive. They returned enthused and invigorated.  For their course work the Travel & Tourism students single handedly and commendably organized and managed ‘Hype 19’ – a Coachella themed Carnival and talent contest, generating a revenue of over Rs.3.5 million.

I would like to express my utmost gratitude to the Head of the Local Advanced Level Division Mrs Ayesha Fernando & Deputy Mr Indu Mallawarachchi and British Advanced Level and BTEC Head Mr Ayadurai Naguleswaran and Deputy Ms Medonie Rajamoney and their incredibly talented teachers, for ensuring that these sections keep excelling.

SPORTS

As the former World No. 1 professional tennis player, Billie Jean King once said, “Sports teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the rules, it teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose. It teaches you about life.” This is highly reflective of the aims that we encourage our girls to abide by and we implore the parents to follow suit. Our students have a selection of sixteen sports to choose from, ensuring that they are able to harness and strengthen their various and unique skills.

In this cutthroat world of fierce and unhealthy competition, it is always heartening that we have competitions based on friendship and fellowship. We value the social gatherings and the ties we have built with our sister schools, Bishops College, Musaeus College and Visakha Vidyalaya in our friendly encounters, which each school hosts in alternate years.

In hockey with Bishops, we tied in the junior match but lost the senior match. Yet at the end of the tournament it was touching to see the teams of both schools come together with smiles for a fun, joint group photograph. In Waterpolo we lost the junior match but in a nail biting finish won the acclaimed senior trophy against Visakha. The Ladies’ College / Musaeus College Regatta was a white wash where we brought home the overall Trophy with a 52 nil finish.

Due to circumstances beyond our control some inter school sports tournaments scheduled for 2018 were postponed and held this year. In Basketball the 2018 under 15 team won all their group matches and qualified to play ‘A’ Division. Sareesha Mapaguneratne was selected to represent the Sri Lanka Schools under 19 team for the 52nd Senior Nationals Basketball Championship and she was awarded Sri Lanka School colours for 2018. This year amidst tough competition the under 17 team was placed 2nd in the ‘A’ Division All Island Inter School Basketball Tournament. Jovanna Fernando was awarded the ‘Best Offensive Player’.

In a very competitive sport, our athletes continued their winning streak in the Circuit Athletic meet winning the overall trophy. Ladies’ College won the senior championship and the overall championship in the Zonal Athletic Meet. At the Western Province Athletic Meet and the Sir John Tarbot Senior Athletic Meet our athletes were placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd in both track and field events amongst fierce competition. At the Sir John Tarbot Junior Athletic Meet held two days ago whilst most of our athletes were awarded merit certificates Pranali Britto was placed 2nd in the under 13 Shot Put event and Kiasha Kurukulasuriya was placed 1st in the under 15 Discus event. At the All Island School Games whilst Kiasha was placed 3rd in the under 16 Shot Put and Discus events, in the same events in the under 18 category Sarisha Gunasekera was placed 2nd, breaking her previous Shot Put All Island Games record.

In Hockey the under 20 team were the group champions at the Sri Lanka Schools Hockey Tournament. Four of our players were selected for the Colombo District under 21 women’s team and were placed 3rd at the inaugural Junior National Championship.

Our girls fared well in Karate being placed 3rd in the team Kata at the Western Province School Games where this contact sport is fought fiercely in the arena. Presently we have 21 students who have earned black belts and Upeja Dharmapala, Raeha Varia, Kiara Warnasuriya and Amanah Faaiz were awarded ‘upcoming players’ at the Black belt awarding ceremony conducted by the Shotokan Karate Do International Federation.

Hand – eye coordination is of utmost importance in this disciplined sport. At the 4th All Island Archery Championship Wayamba, Anishka Kanag-Isvaran and Tharuni Samarakkody were awarded bronze medals in the under 12 and under 14 events respectively. In the under 17 category, Nadeesha Fernando was awarded the silver medal in the 30mtr event and a gold medal in the Cadet girls 60m event. She is also in the National Junior Archery pool.

Tia Latif represented Sri Lanka at the International Air Gun Competition in Germany.

A team of six girls took part in the 2nd NDB Schools Golf Open Tournament where over 120 children from 20 school participated. Kaya Daluwatte won the under 12 event and Arika Wickramasinghe was placed 2nd in the over 12 category. In the under 18 category Kayla Perera was placed 2nd at the Kids Golf World Championship in December 2018 and was placed 6th at the European Championship in Scotland this year. Kaya also represented Sri Lanka in these two tournaments.

In aquatic sports, our swimmers fared very well at the Sri Lanka Schools Aquatic Swimming Championship, and the Senior and Junior Nationals. They progressed from the Western Province Meet to qualify for the All Island National School Games. At the National Age Group Aquatic Championships, Dinasha Hewagama established three new meet records in the under 20, 50m, 100m and 200m Back Stroke events. What may be deemed the tough and rough aquatic sport, our unbeaten Water Polo team tied with Visakha at the finals in the Nationals.

Creativity, strength and precision find its way to this graceful yet arduous sport, now known as Artistic Swimming. This specialized sport demands qualified judges and coaches and despite its dearth, our children perform very well under difficult and challenging circumstances. Seven of our aquatic athletes represented Sri Lanka at the Asian Age Group Aquatic Championship in India. Dinasha Hewagama in Swimming; Rheanna David, Sulani de Silva, Talisha Yogendranathan and Shanessa Shanmugalingam in Water polo; and Anika Ratnayake and Renata Melvani in Artistic Swimming. Presently Dinasha is representing Sri Lanka in swimming at the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal.

In rowing, Ladies’ College emerged overall champions in the Junior category at the Junior and Intermediate National Rowing Regatta winning gold medals in 5 events. Our rowers continued their dominance by winning all significant regattas conducted by the Colombo Rowing Club including all senior events. They also won the League Regatta. Chiara Wijetilleke and Nihara Chandrasena were selected to represent the Colombo Rowing Club at the annual ARAE Championship in India winning the bronze medal in their event. Anya Devapura was selected to represent the Bolgoda Lake Rowing Club for the same regatta. Five rowers were selected to the National pool for the forthcoming Asian Junior Rowing Championship in Thailand.

In sailing Tarini de Silva, Lara Gunawardana and Taalya Tranchel represented Sri Lanka at the IODA Asian & Oceanian International Sailing Championship held in Oman.

Whilst our players have participated in all the recognized chess tournaments in all age groups Anaisha Choksey’s performance has been noteworthy. She won a gold medal at the ‘Battle of Kings’ a rated tournament organized by Royal College. She was placed first at the Sri Lanka Schools Individual Chess Tournament and she represented the country at the Asian Youth Chess Championship held in Sri Lanka and World School Chess Championship in Turkey.

Moving on to racquet sports, in Badminton from the zonal competition our shuttlers were selected to participate at the All Island Junior National Badminton Championship to be held in January 2020. For the first time our under 19 badminton team progressed to the ‘A” division and reached the quarter finals.

The under 14, under 18 & under 20 squash players were placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd in their respective events at the Sri Lanka Schools Squash Championship. An up and coming Grade 3 student, Navya Ganegoda was placed 3rd in the under 9 Junior National Squash Championship. This year the Squash players celebrated World Squash Day at the sports complex according to the directives of the World Squash Federation. Shenaya Siriwardane represented the national team at the 26th Asian Junior Individual Squash Championship in Macau, China.

In table tennis, the under 20 team were runners up in the Western Province School games. Whilst the under 19 team was placed 3rd in the ‘A” division, the under 18 team emerged champions in the ‘A” division All Island Inter School Table Tennis Team Championship and the under 17 team won the All Island National School Games Table Tennis Championship.  Jithara Warnakulasuriya was the under 15 singles and the under 18 doubles Champion and adjudged the Most Outstanding Female Player at the Junior National Table Tennis Championship 2018 held this year. For the same year she was also the Women’s Open Doubles Champion at the Senior Nationals. She went on to represented Sri Lanka at the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championship held in India and the SSP 24th ITTF Asian Table Tennis Championship in Indonesia. As a result of their performances in these tournaments, this National team which included Jithara, qualified for the World Table Tennis Championship 2020. Minna Hassim also represented the country at the ITTF World Junior Circuit, Oman Junior & Cadet Open Table Tennis Championship in Muscat. Ayala Chitty was placed 3rd in the under 15 singles at the Junior Nationals and is presently representing Sri Lanka at the South Asian Games in Nepal.

The winning streak continued in tennis, where our players emerged champions in under 17 and under 19 All Island Public Schools Tennis Tournament 2018 played this year. At the 2019 All Island National School Games and the All Island Inter School matches the under 17 team were placed second and for the latter tournament the under 15 and under 19 teams were placed third.

Anika Seneviratne was the Women’s Open Singles and Doubles Champion at the Sri Lanka Nationals (Clay Courts) and was awarded the ‘Most Outstanding Player’ of the tournament. She was also the Girls under 18 Doubles and the Women’s Open Doubles Champion at the Sri Lanka Nationals (Hard Courts). She was partnered with her sister Alana for both these tournaments. They represented Sri Lanka at the ITF World Tennis Junior Tournament in Doha, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. They also represent the country at the Yunnan Kunming Tennis Open Tournament in China and they are presently representing the country at the South Asian Games in Nepal.

In Netball, our under 18 team steadily qualified from the circuit, zonal and provincial meets. They played hard and with heart amidst the participation of over 450 schools. They created history by winning the All Island National Schools Net Ball Championship in Kurunegala. Some of them even had to rush to and from this event, to represent the school in other inter school sports tournaments, in different parts of the island. The under 19 team were runners up at the Sri Lanka Schools Colombo District Netball Tournament. Sareesha Gunasekera and Bimanya Rathnayake represented the Sri Lanka Schools Netball team at the Waverly International Schools Netball Tournament in Australia. Ganya Senanayake represented Sri Lanka at the Youth Asian Netball Championship held in Japan and the team was placed third.

In the competitive sporting arena, where the bar is raised at different levels of competition in the varied sports, unfortunately we are unable to enter all our athletes. However we are happy that they get exposure to compete within school at Inter House level in 14 sports. This year we were pleased to add Artistic Swimming as an Inter House Competition. Maximum participation is ensured at our main annual events, the Sports Meet and the Swimming Meet where we were pleased to have old girls as Chief Guests for these events –  Principal of Carey College Mrs Hemamali Bibile and former swimming captain Mrs Saoujathbee Palandy Salim who flew in from India, respectively.

All of our children’s accomplishments would not be possible if we didn’t have a team of trainers and coaches who give of their skill and expertise selflessly and I thank them very much. Juggling lessons, family responsibilities and afterschool duties even on weekends and holidays are by no means an easy feat.  This is what our teachers in charge of our sports and extra curricular activities do on a daily basis and I am indeed thankful and ever so grateful to them and our Sports Sectional Head Mrs Kamala Kulathilaka for the sacrificial time and service they render to our girls and this institute. Mrs Kulathilaka retires this year after serving this school faithfully for 26 years. She will be certainly missed and our heartfelt thanks and blessings go out to her.

CLUBS, SOCIETIES & OTHER ACTIVITIES

Every Ladies’ College girl is expected to fastidiously maintain a well-rounded extra-curricular life thus ensuring that they discover hidden talents and passion. With a selection of 19 clubs and carefully planned community outreach programmes, our girls are encouraged to explore the various performing arts along with our local heritage, religion, the sciences & environment, literature, debating and the newly introduced Animal Welfare Society.

Founders Day is an important date in our school calendar where we remember with immense gratitude the stewardship of our past, in a service of thanksgiving and assembly. The celebrations moved on to classrooms, halls and a friendly Netball match between staff and prefects.

All religious societies maintain the upliftment of their faiths, celebrating significant religious days, visiting places of religious interest, partaking in religious activities with other schools and organizing outreach programmes separately and collectively. Apart from our school SCM weekend camp, our girls organized inter school SCM day and overnight programmes. The whole school donated funds and over 100 students took part in the tree planting project named ‘Plant Tree – Plant Life’, in Kegalle organized by the Colombo Diocese Council.

Children’s Day was celebrated with much enthusiasm. It was a fun filled day with a variety of activities ably organized by the prefects, which included an interesting treasure hunt put together by the Heritage Club.

The International Women’s Peace Group headquartered in Korea invited our students to participate in an International Art Competition themed on peace and two of them Vinudi de Silva (Gr 3) and Melissa Araggala (Gr 11) won prizes for their paintings.

An interactive puppet show was staged in the hall by Ms Sulochana Dissanaike and her company “Power of Play’ entitled ‘Why Saama the little girl?” catering to students from primary to upper school on the theme ‘Gender Equality’. Interesting ideas were exchanged and questions posed. We were happy to invite the boys from St. Thomas’ Preparatory School for this thought provoking event which culminated in an exciting encounter with a 14 foot puppet, in the front lawn.

Our culinary talents are annually put to the test as our students vie for the popularly known, Pineapple Trophy where they cook on a given theme. It is indeed encouraging when judges are astonished and comment on the five-star restaurant quality dishes that are presented.

The Inter House General Knowledge competition is an encouraging learning platform. This year we inaugurated ‘Quizérable’ organizing an Inter School Competition which was well attended. We were very pleased when in December last year, Sahani de Silva competed in the SLIIT Quiz Programme, where, from over 1000 competitors island wide, she emerged the winner.

At the Sri Lanka Schools Debating Championship the ‘A’ team comprising Shanya Sadanandan, Mithsandi Seneviratne, Sheriah Peiris and Serika Siriwardhana were the finalists. With the exception of Serika, they were also the finalists at the Dr. N. M. Perera Memorial Debating Tournament. Erandi de Silva was part of the national team at the World Schools Debating Championship held in Thailand. Reiha Wimalasekera represented Sri Lanka at the 1st Asian Schools British Parliamentary Debate, late last December.

Despite adverse weather conditions the MUN club bravely and efficiently organized a fundraising event themed ‘Battle of the Bands’ to provide schools in Galle and Mullaitivu with computer equipment. Additionally, the Sri Lanka Unites Club together with Trinity College will kick off ‘Revive’ a charity run to provide a water supply to a school in Ratnapura and to support the SLU rehabilitating centre for abused children in Jaffna.

The Performing Arts has had a long standing tradition at Ladies’ College. Inter house competitions or events are held in eastern and Western Music, Singing, Dance and Drama. This year the Inter House English Drama Competition was based on short stories by Asian authors. Writing their own scripts the students adapted and directed their plays, expertly interpreting the different themes.

Sinhala and Tamil Days are held on different topics with relevant competitions.

We were honoured when our eastern band and dancers were invited to escort and perform the welcome dance for the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Revd Justin Welby, on his Grace’s recent visit to the island.

A milestone in music was achieved when seven students won numerous and special awards at the ABRSM prize giving. In particular Anagi Gunasekera swept the boards winning 9 awards including the Indrani Hapugalle Memorial award for the highest overall mark.

Guiding contributes to the development of young peoples’ intellectual, emotional and social potentials molding them to be responsible citizens. We are happy that we have on our role many Little Friends, Guides and Rangers. Anaiah Elias, Asheala Rasiah and Nishala Rasiah from the 5th Colombo (B Pack) were selected by the Sri Lanka Girl Guide Association to participate in the ‘Brownies Lead International Pack Holiday in Malaysia and we congratulate Januli Welgama for being awarded the Presidents Guide.

As we move further along the 21st century, it is important for us all, to stay abreast of the latest developments in education so that we ensure that our lessons are interactive, effective and cater to learners of all types. Hence, this year, some of our teachers were sent to two CMS Workshops, one that was here in Colombo that looked at ‘Psychosocial Support Skills’ along with one called ‘Facilitating Facilitators’ that took place in Kandy.

In return they conducted an INSET (In-Service Education and Training) programme, where they delivered the information that they had learnt to the rest of the staff. This was then related to how it can be applicable to our students. The third segment of this workshop will be held in Jaffna this week. Next, as part of the Head Start training programme, another INSET was conducted where members of staff were guided on how to set up an online portal for our students to access in the near future. It was endearing to watch as our staff supported each other in understanding the necessary steps, bridging all levels of age and technological skills. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Educational Consultant, Madhavi Amarasinghe for ensuring that we stay up to date with observations and micro-teaching sessions that she organizes.

Due to family concerns, retirement, medical necessity and career changes 35 staff and support staff members departed and we welcomed 34 new staff to our fold.

Undoubtedly our children are our treasures but I should also add that our teachers and staff are the wealth of our college. The academic excellence and achievements of the school rests largely on the manner in which they impart knowledge and on their effective teaching methods. My sincerest and deepest thanks go out to each of them for their silent and staunch service.

This year bared witness to scientists reaching unforeseen pinnacles, as they obtained the first ever image of a black hole. This was done using Event Horizon Telescope observations of the centre of the M87 galaxy, which provided the strongest evidence to date, for the existence of supermassive black holes and opens a new window onto its study, their horizons, and gravity. This spectacular feat, is rather humbling, for it reminds us that there is so much that we have yet to discover and learn. It also serves as a cold reminder, that whilst delving into the wonders of space is amazing, we have yet to find ways to preserve our own microscopic little world. British primatologist, Dame Jane Goodall questioned, “Here we are the most clever species ever to have lived. So how is it we can destroy, the only planet we have?” It is ironic that it took a child not an adult to take on this predicament and address it effectively on a global scale.

Greta Thunberg, a young, 16 year old Swedish climate activist made a large sign that read ‘School Strike for Climate’, and calmly sat down outside the Swedish parliament with the intent of forcing them to pay attention and deal with the issue of global warming. Little did she know that her actions would spark a worldwide climate revolution, as tens of thousands of students from around the world soon joined her. Eventually in March of this year, climate campaigners across the world, inspired by what in now termed as ‘The Greta Effect’, came together to co-ordinate the first Global Strike for Climate, with over 1.6 million participants from 125 countries. Now, a Nobel peace prize nominee, she is an inspiration to all of us alike, for she reminds us that age is no barrier to positive difference.

While it is true that action is pivotal in the preservation of our Mother Earth, we could start by humbling ourselves to first listen and learn from nature and remind ourselves that nothing would be possible without spirituality to ground us and uplift us. As it is said in our holy book :

Job 12:7-10
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”

Thank you.
Mrs. Eesha Speldewinde
2nd December, 2019

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