Principal’s Report 2018
My Lord Bishops the Rt. Revd Dhiloraj Canagasabey – Bishop of Colombo, the Rt. Revd Keerthisiri Fernando Bishop of Kurunegala and the Chief Guest this evening, Mrs Arlene Fernando, Archdeacon of Colombo the Venerable Perry Brohier, our Chaplain Reverend Melvin de Silva, the Chairperson of the Governing Body Mrs. Thanja Pieris, members of the Governing Body, our Manager Mrs Rajini de Zilwa, 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 you to our annual prize giving which marks the completion of our academic year and my fifth year as head of this school.
We consider it a great honour to have our Lord Bishop the Rt. Rev. Keerthisiri Fernando, the newly consecrated 6th Bishop of Kurunegala and Mrs Arlene Fernando as our Chief Guests. With his down to earth, affable manner, Bishop Keerthi as he is affectionately known, is eminently suited to be Christ’s shepherd to his sheep. His Lordship is well known for responding creatively to the challenges of our modern society, and for his care and concern in fostering peace and harmony among various ethnic groups, bringing together people of diverse faiths and views. His Lordship’s academic background is certainly impressive. As an astute student at Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa he may have been guided to be an engineer, so he read for a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. Yet as we now see God had greater plans for him and guided his path, so that a wider flock would benefit by his many gifts. Accordingly, he entered the Theological College of Lanka in Pilimathalawa and obtained his College Diploma in Theological Education and Formation. This was followed with a Bachelor of Theology, a Bachelor of Divinity and a post graduate study from the University of Serampore in India. He holds a double Masters of Philosophy in Theology and Sociology from the universities of Ruhuna in Sri Lanka and Kent in the United Kingdom, and currently is reading for a PhD in the Sociology of Religion with Theological Implications and Repercussions. Interestingly, I believe his interfaith vision, took him to study Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy, initially from a scholarly monk, which was followed with a post graduate course in Buddhism from the University of Calcutta. Fascinatingly thereafter he has also taught Buddhism. This knowledge and experience assisted him in the services he has rendered to remote and diverse communities in the island. Bishop Keerthi’s energies knows no bounds and his wide experience, knowledge and pastoral ministry has taken him to schools, homes, parishes, the Education Ministry and institutions throughout this island and overseas. He has served in many capacities as a caring compassionate priest, able director and administrator, principal, an engaging and involved teacher and writer. It is rare to have a Pavarotti in our midst let alone in a clergyman, but Bishop Keerthi is also a gifted musician with an engaging singing voice. So it’s not surprising that he has been a member of many choirs, toured overseas with fellow clergy and launched a CD. Importantly his Lordship’s background of spirituality and ecumenical study and dialogue, make him an ideal spiritual head in our beautiful yet politically torn country where reconciliation and breadth of vision is the greatest need in contemporary Sri Lanka. We are blessed that God has placed this humane bishop in our country and I look forward to learning from and working with him.
I don’t mean to steal the thunder from Bishop Keerthi but there is a silent yet strong, committed and hardworking lady behind this successful gentleman. I’m sure Bishop Keerthi will agree with me, that his dear wife, Mrs Arlene Fernando’s supportive role has been a boon to his mission, his life and their two children Sethlath and Sethsara. Mrs Fernando holds a Degree in Theology and a Diploma in counselling. Her Christian service as a teacher, resource person in schools, churches and the Department of Education were well received. Her experience and work in England in the field of nursing, interest in organic farming and Sri Lankan dance, clearly demonstrates God’s will, in using her talents to serve and organize programmes, bringing communities together through health, nutrition and culture. Thank you Your Lordship and Mrs Fernando for accepting our invitation and gracing us with your presence here this evening.
Today we are fortunate to have two bishops with us. Bishop Dhiloraj Canagasabey is no stranger to Ladies’ College. As the Bishop of Colombo, we all are part of his flock and we feel privileged to have a caring, hands on Bishop who readily responds when needed. We value the interest he takes in the affairs of the school and thank his Lordship for presiding at our Prize Giving.
We are also grateful to our Archdeacon Ven. Perry Brohier who is a dear friend, advisor and visiting preacher. We thank Father Perry sincerely for his close involvement with the school.
I believe the greatest compliment that could be paid to a Chaplain, is when students consider him an essential and integral part of their daily lives. Father Melvin has certainly achieved this at Ladies’ College and children of all faiths flock to him. His blessings and supporting attendance at every school event, the conducting of Bible study where this year he prepared 13 candidates for confirmation, and his pastoral care for our children and staff as counsellor – Father Melvin what can I say but a heartfelt thank you for your devoted service.
We are happy and honoured to be part of a Governing Body that includes five Church Missionary Society schools – St. John’s College and Chundikuli Girls’ College in Jaffna, Hillwood College and Mowbray College in Kandy, and us. Our Governing Body is a mix of spiritual leaders, principals, managers, advisors, educators and old girl representatives. For a year we meet quarterly in our different schools. It’s a friendly forum where we exchange views and ideas and support one another in our common endeavours. We also take stock of our schools in terms of service, performance, finances, facilities and the continuation of the Christian ethos and values upon which we are founded. As I express my appreciation to all the members of the Governing Body for their valuable contributions, I thank our Chairperson Mrs Thanja Pieris for ably being at the helm and administering our schools adroitly. We were humbled as we participated in a thanksgiving service in November to mark the 200th anniversary of the arrival of four young CMS Missionaries in British Ceylon in 1818 and touched to see a new CMS flag carried in the procession, of which the emblem was designed at Ladies’ College. On arrival in Galle the missionaries split up and established missions in Baddegama, Kandy, Jaffna and Kotte.
As Bishop Dhilo mentioned in his address to the Diocesan Council, the impact of the lives and work of these pioneers and those who followed them as our Founder Ms Lilian Nixon did; this was of vital importance not only to the Christian church but to our country as a whole. Apart from the fact that they looked into the welfare of the communities they dwelled in, the beginnings of countrywide modern education for the children in Sri Lanka can be traced back to them, for these missionaries brought learning and knowledge to thousands of young men and women, who then went on to serve their country in varied spheres of life and leadership. Subsequently and in time most of these schools were taken over by the state, one of which was the Colombo Academy later known as Royal College, our friendly neighbour, who we have had ties with since the early 20th century. We are grateful and relieved that a few of these schools are yet managed by our church. As much as we are proud to be part of this heritage, I thank God for sending courageous and faithful missionaries to this country and whenever we sing our school hymn, we acknowledge with gratitude the yeoman service and sacrifice they made for this nation, its people and children. “They reap not where they labored, we reap what they have sown.”
God has also placed people in the life of this school who contribute in numerous ways. We sincerely thank our Manager Mrs Rajini de Zilwa for the manifold tasks she undertakes whilst serving her alma mater faithfully. My predecessor Mrs Nirmali Wickremesinghe serves on many committees, boards and schools but we know her heart and priorities lie with us and we are immensely grateful for the continued service she provides as the OGA representative on the Governing Body.
We are indeed fortunate to have Mr Jayan Setukarvalar on our board who chairs the Finance Committee. He sweeps through our accounts with a fine-toothed comb and gives us exemplary direction for which we are very thankful.
I may have my dreams for our beloved school and at times I could get carried away with my vision but it is my very efficient Head of Accounts Mrs Sharika Wirasinha who financially balances the possible with the not so possible and expertly puts everything in its correct perspective. My deep and appreciative thanks go out to her and her team – Rangika, Yamuna, Akalanka and Geethani and to our Human Resource officer Mrs Rasika Wickremasinghe who with a ready smile handles all administrative matters relating to our staff effectively and with tact. Whenever needed the very experienced Ms Neela Shanmugam assists in statistics and is always there with a helping hand.
Due to necessity and upkeep, our beautiful campus evolves over the years. We are so fortunate that we have Mrs Vidyani Ratnayake as our facilities head who skillfully delivers to the needs of the school whilst maintaining the aesthetics and a heathy environment for our children. In thanking her very much I have to also acknowledge Anargi and Niranjini for their solid support in this division. Overseeing the support staff is not an easy function but we are grateful that Mr Kaviratne, who not only looks into their welfare but also ensures that the children and school are served well.
A ship’s bridge commands and coordinates the vessel’s entire operation. To ensure that no one is at sea, at Ladies’ College this command station is efficiently managed by a small group who handle innumerable duties of the principal’s office, professionally and benevolently. I express my profound thanks to my loyal and considerate PA Anuradha and our dedicated team Naomi, Champika and Chethini. Due to health issues Nimali had to leave us and we thank her for the cheerful and motherly manner her presence ensued. We were happy to welcome into our front office fellow old girls Aruni Wijeratne and Ruwani Wickramaratne who joined our full time staff and Lilanthi Jayatilaka and Delani Collure who work on a part time basis.
Almost daily the sports complex and its environs function continuously from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. It serves the students, old girls and parents and at times it comes to the rescue of bother and sister schools when in need. This whole operation is expertly run by Ms Prithiva Perera and I express my appreciative thanks to her.
The hostel is a second home to both our boarders and day scholars who make use of our popular daycare facility. In addition whenever requested we are able to provide accommodation to students in outstation sister schools who visit Colombo for sports or other events. All of them come under the welcome embrace of our matrons and staff Tania, Stella, Kala and Bernadine and I thank them for the faithful care they render to the children.
Throughout this year our Head Girl Shahini Liyanagama has effectively and efficiently led the student body. With her unerring assessment of the students’ needs and feelings she astutely guided me when necessary. The demanding responsibilities that come with this position can rarely be balanced against personal needs and achievement. Shahini has not only found this balance but has always placed the school above all. I applaud and commend her and the prefects for handling student related matters with understanding and discernment.
Most of us maybe unaware of the role the House Captains play in school. They each lead almost a quarter of the school population and every term there is a plethora of Inter House events and competitions which demand scouting talent, encouraging participation, training and fair selection, not forgetting unwarrantedly having to handle demanding and anxious parents. These tasks can be time consuming and stressful yet year in and year out these leaders along with their committees carry out their responsibilities admirably whilst juggling their own school activities and schedules. In recognition of their service to the students and the school, and at the behest of a benevolent old girl donor, this year we introduced a leadership award for the House Captains for their efficient management and administrative skills.
The Ladies’ College Institute of Professional Studies continues to progress well. Overseeing the many different courses and programmes offered to children and adults and tackling & balancing the needs of the staff and students is no mean task. The Chief Operating officer Mr Sunimal Fernando has been coping with and handling these matters admirably and I thank him and his Deputy Ms Lahari Kurian for their commitment to the institution.
It is indeed touching and heartwarming when the whole school community comes together for the benefit of our college. This year students, old girls, staff and parents all participated in a walk called ‘Route 66’, a term coined by our school’s prime location, the pivotal role of Route 66 as a highway in the States and the famous musical. Therefore, this seemed to perfectly fit the purpose of our walk, which was to raise funds for a new performing arts complex. Apart from the aesthetic and cultural benefits, from grade 6 upwards our students study western and eastern dance, drama and music as an academic subject culminating in a public exam for their O level, with theory and practical components. The syllabi are extensive and facilities in terms of specialized learning spaces, sound proof rooms, permanent display enclosures, make up art rooms, drama, music and sound equipment would be housed in this new building. It would also provide extra class rooms, wash rooms and storage for sports equipment. We are truly grateful to the Old Girls’ Association and the Parent Teacher Association who joined hands to organize this walk and carnival. It was also a time of fellowship and enjoyment for both young and old, where the route was a cheering sea of red and white, culminating in our grounds; even the Vice principal and I enjoyed a ride on the merry – go – round amidst the many new fun games, entertainment and varied food stalls provided. I wish to place on record my profound and grateful thanks to the OGA President Mrs Niloufer Vandergert and PTA Vice President Mrs Maya Weerapura and their teams, for their mammoth efforts in organizing this event. I also take this opportunity to thank our old girls and parents who unhesitatingly came forward with their assistance in numerous ways.
Apart from this fundraiser, I have to add that it has been a pleasure to work with Niloufer whose amiable, unruffled and accommodating manner has been a breadth of fresh air not only to the school but to the old girls as well. Many would not realize that behind the petite frame there is a quiet strength in Maya. She regularly visits the school and communicates to me the appreciations, concerns and suggestions of parents and works with me for the betterment of our students. A sincere thank you to you both.
The School Advisory Committee meet every term or as needed, as does the trustees of the OGA and Chapel Trust Funds. We are immensely grateful for all their deliberations, advice and expertise rendered in their different fields, for the benefit of the school, past teachers, our children both past and present and our beloved chapel.
Generations of Ladies’ College students have been blessed with staff and teachers of different strengths and abilities and as they retire or leave us we are sad to lose touch with them. However, with the formation of the Association of Former Staff of Ladies’ College, this has been averted and I express my sincere appreciation and thanks to its president Mrs Surendrani de Alwis and her team for the valuable service they provide in numerous ways for our former colleagues.
We are fortunate in having staff who have devoted a lifetime of service to the school. With thankful hearts we congratulate five members of the staff who have completed 25 years of solid service to Ladies’ College. Mrs Vathani Senadhirajah is a skilled mathematics teacher with the ability to teach both in Tamil and English languages, which enables her to also teach Link Language. Unbeknown to many she is also a gifted dancer. We thank her for her good work.
Like bees to a flower our little ones swarm around the attractive Mrs Ishani Rekawa at the Nursery, of which she is the deputy head. However, it is her devotion to the children and her inner beauty in the delicate handling and imparting of knowledge to this fragile group, that has enhanced our preschool. She is also the energetic President of our Staff Guild and serves this body responsibly and efficiently. Thank you Ishani. The evergreen Mrs Kamala Kulathilaka began her career at Ladies’ as a Netball coach and now heads our Sports Division. With our insane sports calendar she is anywhere and everywhere almost 24/7. We thank her for her undying commitment to our girls and this school.
We are grateful to have two members of our support staff Chandra Malini and Kulasiri Silva who have served this institution faithfully for quarter of a century. Chandra works in the hostel taking care of every need of our children whilst the hardworking Kulasiri tends meticulously to the front garden and doubles up as an extra hand for any occasion. Due to health issues he left us this term. We greatly appreciate their quiet yet invaluable service. All these special members of staff were felicitated and honoured at an assembly on Friday (November 30).
Apart from being an exemplary teacher, her resourcefulness, creativity and tenacity in her organizational skills are prevalent in all she does. I use this platform to express my deep appreciation and thanks to our Vice Principal Mrs Deepika Dassenaike for her commitment and support provided to both this institution and me. Together we are blessed to have been given the sacred duty by God, to serve and lead our alma mater.
Today marks the end to yet another highly successful year and it is with humble gratitude that I stand here today, to say that we at Ladies’ College have carried on with our quest to empower our girls and offer them the best holistic educational experience possible. As I go onto highlight some of the events that have encompassed this year, I do so, with much appreciation to God and his many blessings. We “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise.” And “bless His name.” – Psalm 100:4
Every strong educational experience can be traced back to a strong foundation. Part of this is due to the presence of the warmth offered at Boxford. As our young toddlers take their first steps, they are immediately made to feel comfortable and taught that learning is enjoyable and something that they will look forward to each day.
This year’s Activity Day was “Bugs and Butterflies”. Here our young learners explored the lifecycles and usefulness, along with the potential dangers of different insects through hands on activities, stories and films. Their interests were kindled to such an extent that some even brought live bugs to school for observation and explanation.
To enhance these learning objectives, their Sports Meet also incorporated this theme, where for example, our students were seen to run as larvae, change to their butterfly t-shirts and ‘fly’ to collect nectar at the end of a race thereby re-enacting the lifecycle of a butterfly.
Project Day this year was called ‘Earth Day’ as our little ones were shown how the different aspects of our planet has its importance. Elements such as recycling and taking care of our Mother Earth were highlighted. On a visit to the Nursery when I attempted to throw a piece of paper into the garbage, a toddler authoritatively told me that I was doing a good thing, then instructed me and ensured that I put it into the correct bin. Both themes were reinforced in their trilingual concert where they danced and sang to relevant and meaningful songs.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Sectional Head Mrs Lilamani de Sayrah, Deputy Mrs Ishani Rekawa and their team of caring and well-motivated teachers, for creating such a homely and nurturing atmosphere for our youngsters.
With the blessings of Bishop Dhilo, our keen young learners entered the first part of their formal education. They are also motivated to think creatively through their Activity Day which this year, was called ‘Parades Go By’ focusing on the different parades in Sri Lanka and throughout the world, with their various cultural significances, history and traditions.
Their Science Exhibition revolved around ‘Mini Beasts’ where our students delved into a range of invertebrates, making models, carrying out experiments to test out the significance of camouflage and painting relevant t-shirts. They were also taking the first tentative steps towards building their confidence, as they quizzed both parents and teachers on the information they had learnt and rewarded us with a sweet if we got it right.
With this theme in mind, their Book Day was called ‘Animal Heroes’. Here our youngsters researched into real-life stories and dug up interesting heroic feats that featured various animals from dogs and cats to tortoises, hippos and ponies.
In order to facilitate the importance of transactions, our little learners were taken to the Narahenpita Pola where they observed an everyday example of how buyers and sellers communicate and they got their first insight into aviation when they visited the Air Force museum.
The importance of physical activity and healthy competition are inculcated and the children get their first taste of swimming and sports meets. It is encouraging to see their enthusiasm and level of achievements.
This solid educational programme would not be possible without the Sectional Head Mrs Judiana Balraj, Deputy Mrs Dharshini Adhikari and the dedicated teachers, to whom I applaud and thank wholeheartedly.
SPECIAL EDUCATION UNIT
This section is divided into two units; the Special Needs Unit and the Learning Support Unit.
The Special Needs Unit focuses on fourteen differently-abled children. Various strategies such as a visual timetable, magnetic darts or outdoor games are used to improve their hand-to-eye coordination. The key focus is to try and integrate these students within the mainstream sections. Accordingly they join the general art, singing and dance classes and take part in combined relays at the Sports Meet. They also join the Practical Technical Subjects where they are taught important life skills. In addition, they partake in the Harvest festival and Nativity service with the Nursery and Kindergarten students.
Lessons also incorporate yoga sessions, sewing and team-building skills. They are also given valuable insights into business ventures, as they are encouraged to hold an internal sale, by selling items that they have made themselves. Additionally, the girls also take a bimonthly excursion to the tuck shop, where armed with a calculator they are taught the basics of addition and subtraction through a practical task of making a small purchase.
This year, the girls were also taken on a trip to the Thewatta Church in Ragama. The day ended with an outdoor picnic, making it a memorable event.
The Learning Support Unit by contrast works with students who require remedial mathematics and language sessions in a one-to-one setting or if needed the teacher will go in, to assist the student in the main class. This has proved to be a boon to many, as reflected in their termly and public examinations.
I would like to thank all the teachers and their Head Ms Shakuntala Seneviratne for their incredible patience, devotion and use of innovative skills in showing these students that nothing is beyond one’s reach and that every student is unique in their individual way.
Having now had a strong foot-holding within their educational journeys, our students then enter the Primary Section in which the classes run from Grades 4 to 6. Here is where our young learners truly understand the meaning of responsibility, time management and the concept of facing new challenges, all of which are encompassed when they sit for the internal examinations for the very first time. They are also assigned to Houses where, through House competitions they learn of community spirit and team work.
The students also partake in the Wallpaper competitions. The topics vary each term, with our primary students looking at ‘The Independence of Sri Lanka’, then ‘Stamps around the World’ and lastly ‘The History of Cartoons’. The main focus here, is to not only enhance their general knowledge, but to foster a sense of unity and to emphasise the importance of peer-sharing, for the students collectively group their individual posters or editorials into one big unit. They also have a science corner where the children are given topics such as ‘Plants’, ‘Habitats’ and ‘Light & Vision’. They then produced charts and various models that not only incorporates the material from their curriculum but also has information from various sources. This helps reinforce lessons learnt in class.
The primary students looked at ‘Myths and Legends’ for their Book Day, along with the Middle School. Here the students visited diverse folklore and reproduced their understanding of them through presentations and creative outlets, such as creating their own songs, poetry or short playlets.
My humblest gratitude goes to our hands on Sectional Head Mrs Kelum Hewage, Deputy Mrs Sandya Wickramasinghe and the group of committed teachers that have worked tirelessly in order to ensure that this section continues to be a success.
This is the point at which our students face a transition in their educational journeys. For they discover untapped talents, and grow in confidence as they partake in assemblies, giving rise to important presentation skills and public speaking.
A good example of one such assembly, would be the Grade 7’s presentation of ‘Animal Heroes’. They had meticulously researched into the topic, thus explaining how a hippo prevented a wildebeest and zebra from drowning, how pigeons were instrumental in the war effort and the important role that the raja elephant played right here in our country. The Grade 8’s gave us another insightful presentation entitled ‘2018 Milestone Celebration of 4 Great Characters’. They reminded us that this year marks the death or birth anniversaries Martin Luther King Jr, Hellen Keller, Nelson Mandela and Karl Marx and made interesting presentations. Bringing to life, a series of “Famous Battles in History” were the Grade 9s. Parents observed the class projects titled ‘Space Odyssey’ as our Middle School students along with the Primary children delved into the various frontiers of space.
In collaboration with a Japanese firm, Robotics was introduced to the curriculum of Grades 7 and 8, along with Primary Grades 4 and 5. Through building models such as gear racers and trundle wheels, in weekly sessions, our students not only learn the mechanics of machines but they are also developing necessary problem-solving skills and critical analytical mindsets. This ultimately serves to boost our focus on STEM education.
I convey my appreciative thanks to the Sectional Head Mrs Suvendrini Gnanaskandan, Deputy Mrs Ranmali Balasooriya and their unit of exceptional teachers, that always ensure that not only is this section well run in all aspects of their curriculum but that they faithfully handle the challenges which come with the onset of teenage years.
This is where our students find themselves at a very pivotal point in their education. Tension plays a role, for the girls now face external examinations and are forced to make crucial decisions as they choose subject courses, suitable universities and career paths to embark upon. This is why, here at Ladies’ College we aim to ensure that we alleviate this stressful stage by carefully advising and monitoring our girls at each of these moments, ensuring that our students are able to focus on work, balance their activities to the best of their abilities and step out of our gates confidently in to the real world. I am immensely grateful and express my sincere thanks to the O/Level Sectional Heads Mrs Shalini Alawwa & Mrs Asirini Wijesuriya, Local A/Level Sectional Head Mrs. Ayesha Fernando & Deputy Mr. Indu Mallawarachchi and British A/Level & BTEC Sectional Head Mr. Ayadurai Naguleswaran and Deputy Ms Medonie Rajamoney and their team of exceptional teachers who always strive to give of their best in order to ensure that our girls become members who contribute to the betterment of our society.
Our focus on academic work has continued to bring, most gratifying results, and standards remain very high particularly in this instance, when for the first time in the same year two students received high island rankings in both the O/Level and A/Level Examination results. Out of the 21 subjects offered at the GCE Ordinary Level Examination in 2017, 100% passes were obtained in 14 subjects and over 95% passes in 6 subjects. From the 110 students who sat the exam, 20 students obtained 9’A’s and 108 students qualified for the A/Level. I am delighted to announce that out of 688,573 students who sat for the O/Level exam in the country, our Aneesha Fernando was placed 1st in the district and 2nd in the island and I congratulate her for her amazing performance. Every student is precious to us and we endeavour to bring out the best in each child which is why with equal pride I say that two students with acute learning and physical difficulties attempted and passed this competitive exam, which was a huge hurdle for them and the teachers.
Our Advanced Level results have also been noteworthy. 67 students sat the 2017 examination. 100% passes were obtained in Combined Mathematics and over 90% passes in Chemistry and Biology with a 74% pass in Physics. In the Commerce stream there were 100% passes in all subjects and an 89% pass in Accounting. Similarly in the Arts stream other than Political Science and Geography, which had a pass rate of over 85% all other subjects secured a 100% pass rate. 85% qualified to enter university. Ladies College was ranked 5th in the island in the Commerce & Arts streams. Students gained admission to Medical, Biological & Physical Science, Law, Management, Commerce and Arts faculties. I am honoured to announce that Saheli Wickramanayake was ranked 1st in the District and 2nd in the island in this very demanding and exacting exam. We congratulate her for her outstanding performance.
As in the past the results of the British Advanced AS and A2 Level Examinations were very impressive with 97% of our students completing them successfully. As a result our students have gained admission to several prestigious universities in various parts of the world, with a vast majority of them being awarded either full or part scholarships. At the Cambridge AS Level Examinations, Soraya Gunasekera, Leah Ramchandan and Zainab Hamid obtained High Achiever’s awards for History, Psychology, Sociology (AS Level) respectively and Rahadhya Abayakoon obtained the High Achiever’s Award for Psychology (A2 level). Similarly, at the Pearson Edexcel A/Level Examination, Ayona Croos obtained a High Achievement Award for overall performance, ranking all of these students first in the island in the said fields.
Adding to this list of achievements, was the fact that all three of the students who finished the Pearson Business and Technological Education (BTech) Extended Diploma – Level 3 in Hospitality this year, Tatiana Falaldeen, Dhaneshi Chandrasekera, and Kavya Seneviratne, got High Achiever’s Awards making them part of the top 1% in the world for receiving a plethora of D*s – distinctions (an equivalent to an A* in an advanced level exam.) Our BTech programme, now also includes a course of study in Business Management and currently has its first batch of students who will be completing it in 2019. It gladdens me that this professional vocational programme has proved to be very successful, which not only gives Ladies’ College students a wider post O level study option but equips them with an internationally recognised professional qualification to pursue a university education or notable employment.
In order to enhance and strengthen their learning, all our upper school students are exposed to subject based focused seminars, field trips and projects. ‘Euphoria’ was a child centred BTEC project, where our students together with the British A/Level students, independently organized a talent competition. Marshalling their different skills, they sought and convinced sponsors to come on board, planned, managed and executed this open event to such a professional extent that many believed it was handled by seasoned event planners.
My appreciative thanks go out to Mr Naguleswaran who not only overseas the British Advanced Level & BTEC programmes but he also got approval and registration for Ladies’ College to conduct Sri Lankan Tertiary and Vocational Educational Commission (TVEC) programmes, by compiling comprehensive syllabi, thus laying the foundation to conduct future TVEC studies within the school curriculum. These professional courses are recognized by universities overseas and institutes of higher learning in the island. In addition, Mr Naguleswaran obligingly prepares the timetables for the entire school and serves on the Management Committee of the Ladies’ College Institute of Professional Studies (IPS).
Sporting activities play an important part of the life of a Ladies’ College student, for we strongly believe that our children should maintain a well-rounded lifestyle. Hence, our students have the privilege of choosing from sixteen sports and I’m very pleased to announce that our girls have excelled in most of them.
This year our athletes continued to shine and it’s heartening to see achievements in both the individual and team events. Ladies’ College won the Girls’ Overall Championship at the Circuit Meet and Soraya Guneratne and Maithri Peiris were Champions in the under 14 and under 16 age groups respectively. At the Sir John Tarbat Junior Athletic Meet 5 athletes were conferred merit awards and at the Senior Tarbat meet our girls were placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd in their respective events. It’s indeed commendable when our girls make great strides in this highly competitive sport. Kiyasha Kurukulasuriya and Sarisha Gunasekera were placed 1st in the under 14 and under 18 Shot Putt events respectively, both establishing new meet records at the Western Province Athletic Meet. Rheanna David was placed 2nd in this same event; her throw surpassed the original record. Kiasha and Sarisha continued this record breaking streak establishing records in the same event at the All Island Schools Games Athletic Meet, whilst Rheeana was placed 2nd, again with a throw that exceeded the previous record. In addition, she was placed 2nd in the under 18 Discus event. Sarisha & Rheeana were awarded All Island Colours. Equally our under 16 sprinters were placed first, breaking the record in the 4 x 200 m relay at the All Island Athletic Relay Championship. At international level the athletes also performed well at the South Asian Junior Athletic Championships. Sarisha was awarded a bronze medal in the under 20 Shot Putt event and Rheeana came 5th in the same event.
Great advancements were seen in Netball. At the Sri Lanka Schools Milo Netball Championship our under 17 team emerged runner up and the under 19 team emerged 2nd runner up in the Colombo District. The under 20 team was placed 3rd and the under 18 team emerged Champions at the Circuit Netball Tournament. The latter was placed 2nd at the Zonal Netball Tournament, where they qualified to participate in the Western Province meet where we were placed 3rd. Moving up, never before achieved and amidst very stiff competition the under 18 team were placed 2nd in the National Schools All Island Netball Tournament. Ganya Senanayake, Anika Seneviratne and Bimanya Ratnayake played for the under 17 Sri Lanka National Development Pool Squad against the Singapore national team and an English Club which represented England.
This was the year for our cagers. The under 15 team was placed first at the 3 on 3 Achievers Kobe Junior Cup and Jovanna Fernando was adjudged the Most Valuable Player whilst in the 3 Point Shooting Challenge Ashika Ambawatte was the under 15 winner. This team emerged Champions at the Sri Lanka Schools ‘B’ Division Basketball Championship where Jovanna and Sareesha Mapagunaratne were awarded the ‘Most Valuable Player’ and the ‘Best Defensive Player’ awards respectively. This winning streak continued in the sport as the under 17 team emerged Champions at the Sri Lanka Schools ‘B’ Division Basketball Championship. Diya Aluwihare was awarded the ‘Best Defensive Player’ and Jovanna was again awarded the ‘Most Valuable Player’ of the Tournament. Both of them were selected to the under 16 Sri Lanka Squad whilst in addition Diya was selected for the under 18 Sri Lanka squad.
In Squash at the Sri Lanka Inter School Squash Tournament the ‘B’ team was placed 3rd and Shenaya Siriwardena was placed third overall in the under 15 age group. Kiara Guruge and Shenaya represented the country at the 25th Asian Junior Individual Squash Championship held in Chennai.
A break through was made in Badminton when the under 19 team was placed 4th in the Western Province Public School Badminton Tournament and for the first time, went on to be crowned the ‘B’ Division champions at the All Island Inter School Badminton Championship. It is indeed an achievement and encouragement that within 5 years our shuttlers from E Division have steadfastly and commendably now reached A Division.
We continued to shine in racquet sports. The under 19 & under 15 teams emerged Champions at the All Island Inter School Tennis Tournament 2017, played this year, and Ladies’ College won the overall Championship at the tournament. In 2018 both the under 17 and under 20 teams emerged Champions at the National Schools Games and Sathi Silva was adjudged the ‘Best Player’ of the Tournament. We know there is a future in the sport when the under 11 team was placed 2nd at the Inter School Cool Tennis Tournament. Anika Seneviratne represented Sri Lanka at many international tournaments, notably at the Asian Games in Indonesia and the Federation Cup BNP Paribas Asia Oceania Group II. She was joined by her sister Alana to participate in the KLITF International Junior Championship in Malaysia. Together they won the 103rd Colombo Championship & Sri Lanka National Open Women’s Tennis Doubles – the first time a sister duo has won this event.
It was also an incredible year for Table Tennis. The under 20 team were placed 2nd and the under 17 team emerged Champions at the Western Province Schools Games. At the National School Games Table Tennis Championship the under 17 team emerged Champions. Victories continued when our girls won every game and became the unbeaten Champions at the under 18 B & C Divisions and under 16 A & B Divisions at All Island Inter School Table Tennis Team Championships. Jithara Warnakulasuriya and Ayla Chitty represented Sri Lanka at the South Asian Cadet & Junior Table Tennis Championships in Maldives. Jithara was awarded a Bronze medal for the under 15 individual event and was also awarded a Silver medal for the under 15 team event where she captained the team. Ayla won a Silver medal in the under 18 Girls team event. They also represented Sri Lanka at the Asian Cadet & Junior Table Tennis Championship in Myanmar. Jithara represented the country as a member of the National Table Tennis team at the World Table Tennis Championship in Sweden.
At this point I have to make special mention of Mr N. H. Perera who has a place in the history of Ladies’ College as he has served our school loyally as our table tennis coach for 45 years. I thank him for his dedicated service and for the expertise & vast experience he has shared with generations of students.
A relatively new sport to the school our archers faired very well. Nadeesha Fernando and Amrita Dumbukola in the under 17 & under 20 categories won Gold and Silver medals respectively and in the under 14 event Tharuni Samarakkody won a Bronze medal at the Wayamba All Island Open Archery Championship. At Sri Lanka Archery Association 1st Open Archery Championship in the under 20 age group Amrita and Leah Ramchandani won Gold and Silver medals respectively whilst Nadeesha won Gold in the under 17 category. Ana Latiff was ranked 4th in the under 12 category a commendable feat considering the fact that she began the sport this year.
Tia Latiff was placed second at the Sri Lanka Schools Shooting Sport Association Tournament and Nileka de Silva was selected to represent Sri Lanka at the “H & N Cup” International Air Gun Competition in Germany. Both Tia and Nileka were awarded colours by the Association.
A team of six girls took part in the Inaugural 2018 NDB School Golf Open where approximately 100 children from over 20 schools participated. Kaya Daluwatte won the under 12 Girls’ and Kayla Perera was placed 2nd in the Over 12 Girls’ categories. Kayla represented Sri Lanka at the 33rd Bangladesh Amateur Open Golf Championships in Dhaka and the 84th Singha Thailand Amateur Open Championships in Thailand. In the under 13 -15 age group she was placed 2nd at the 12th Sabah Junior International Masters – a World Amateur Golf Ranking Tournament in Malaysia.
At the Colombo District and Western Province Karate Championships, according to the age, belt and weight categories, our students were placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Kata and Kumite events. The juniors were placed similarly at the Sub Junior under 13 Sri Lanka National Karate Championship. At the District and Provincial Level Amanah Faaiz and Kiara Warnasuriya were placed 1st and 3rd respectively at the Sri Lanka National Karate Championship. Presently 23 Ladies’ College students hold black belts in Sho Dan and Ni Dan.
Our oarswomen performed very well winning the under 18 Championship at the Rowing Nationals. The rowers had an unbroken series of wins at the Sri Lanka Schools Regatta where the under 16 team were winners and the under 14 and under 18 teams were joint winners with Bishop’s College and Musaues College respectively. Ashvini Subasinghe, Kiara Kumaranayagam, Anithra Fernando, Gabriella Senanayake and Janindri Fernando were the only school girls selected to represent the Colombo Rowing Club at the Colombo Madras Regatta and the team was placed first.
Sailing among school children is a new up and coming sport in Sri Lanka. The International Sailing Federation has established a Sailing Class called the Optimist for sailors below the age of 15 which has become the most popular sailing class worldwide with more than 200,000 active participants from more than 40 countries. Tarini de Silva of Ladies’ College is the only international level female sailor in the Optimist class in Sri Lanka. She was selected by the Yachting Association of Sri Lanka onto a team of six sailors to represent the county at the Asian and Oceanian Sailing Optimist Championship 2018 in Myanmar to compete against 21 countries around the world. Tarini was well placed in the preliminary rounds amidst high level of competition.
In aquatic sports the under 10 team emerged Champions at the Intermediate Age Group Swimming Championships. Our swimmers were placed 1st, 2nd & 3rd in their respective events at the All Island School Games Swimming Meet and the under 20 team was placed 1st in the 4 x 50 Medley Relay. Tricia De Rose, Dinasha Hewagama and Asini Molligoda represented Sri Lanka at the 54th Milo/PRAM Malaysia Invitational Age Group Swimming Championships.
It is disheartening when no tournaments were held for Synchronized Swimming this year and even more so when there is continuous controversy surrounding judging and selections which deeply affect our girls. Yet I’m proud of them as they stand resolute and continue in the sport. We were very pleased that Renata Melvani and Anika Ratnayake were selected to represent Sri Lanka at the FINA World Junior Artistic Swimming Championships in Hungary.
Over the year our Water Polo team showed great progress. They were placed 3rd at the Ellawala League Championship yet went on to win the Sri Lanka Schools Water Polo Championships. Kanchana Swaminathan, Rheanna David, Anieka Varia, Dunyasha Hewagama, Asini Molligoda, Talisha Yogendranathan, Sulani de Silva and Dinasha Hewagama are selected to the national team.
It’s a relief when sports are not always about fierce competition but of fostering friendship and fellowship. Our friendly encounters provide the platform for just that. Whether it is Water Polo, Hockey or Rowing, the teams from Visakha Vidyalaya, Bishop’s College and Musaeus College respectively enjoyed pre or post encounter dinners with our girls which engender a spirit of fraternity.
For purposes of record, we won two and lost one. Our senior Water Polo team played a brilliant game to win the Edussuriya Trophy and our Hockey team clinched the overall shield. However, the Marie Musaeus Higgins Trophy was won by Musaues College at the regatta.
We continued to organize the Annual Inter School Scrabble Tournament and was encouraged to have the participation of over 34 schools island wide. Our Scrabble team emerged Champions at the Royal College Spellmaster 2018. Thirandhi de Silva was selected to represent Sri Lanka at the WESPA Youth Cup to be held in Dubai in December.
At the Sri Lanka Schools Western Province Team Chess Tournament from the under 11, under 13 and under 15 categories Nillavili Sivanesarajah, Minara Nanayakkara and Anaisha Choksy won Board Prizes respectively. Anaisha represented the country at the 14th Asian School Chess Championship held in Sri Lanka and won a Gold medal in the Blitz category.
Besides playing in inter schools competitions there is a busy internal sports programme which necessitates House competitions in 12 sports, the major events being the athletics and swimming meets where maximum participation in varied events is ensured. We were pleased to invite our neighbouring school Principal Mrs Hiranya Fernando of Methodist College and former Swimming Captain and Water Polo Captain Tania Trenchal as Chief Guests for these meets.
Over the years it has been brought to my attention that there have been occasions where junior children have performed exceedingly well but were too young to be awarded colours. This year was no exception and accordingly we decided to award them special merit certificates within well defined criteria, in recognition of their achievements. Undeniably this proved to be a positive encouragement and was well received by students and parents.
In every sphere of sports we are very fortunate to have committed and experienced coaches and I thank them wholeheartedly for the training and expertise extended to our athletes. I certainly haven’t forgotten our teachers who despite their busy schedules both within the school and within their homes serve our girls selflessly as teachers in charge of our many sports and extra curricular activities. My profound thanks go out to them and our Sports Sectional Head Mrs Kamala Kulatilaka for their unwavering support.
CLUBS AND SOCIETIES
Maintaining a solid extra-curricular life is another element that we emphasize for each of our students, as it allows our girls to reach a pivotal balance in their educational journeys.
At our school, all religions are treated with much respect, which is why our religious societies have our students visiting various important holy sites and participating in diverse lectures and programmes to keep them immersed in learning and upholding the principles of their faith of choice.
Founders Day was marked with a thanksgiving service, assembly and festivities where the whole school remembered the life work of our founders with gratitude and celebration.
For the first time the Student Christian Movement organised an overnight stay in the hostel inviting students from Methodist College and Bishop’s College for a Christian mindfulness programme entitled “The Mind Awakens”. A special team from the Colombo Diocese also conducted a candlelit session of prayer in the back garden. Suashi Tissaaratchy was selected to represent the Diocese of Colombo at the Taize Pilgrimage of Trust and Reconciliation – International Meeting of Young Adults held in Hong Kong. We also hosted a youth alpha training session in school with their regional head Carol Pang conducting the sessions for us and invited schools.
Mother Theresa said, “Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love.” Each section organizes for its grade, community outreach programmes where children learn and appreciate the value, to be of service to others.
Societies that deal with our heritage, the environment, science, GRC, commerce, photography and literacy in English, Sinhala and Tamil ensures that our students are constantly encouraged into trying out and harnessing their various interests. Each have their different ‘Days’ inviting other schools to participate where our girls organise informative, interactive programmes and competitions and at some events affording students the opportunity to have one on one sessions with famous Sri Lankan authors.
The Model United Nations Club is another favourite amongst our students. For the first time we organised a fun filled interactive UN Day with the participation of many schools. Their year’s activities culminated with a successful joint musical fundraiser with Royal College named “Back Street” for the benefit of Keerigala Maha Vidyalaya, to build classrooms and sanitation facilities. In an intense, yet thrilling Model United Nations Conference that was held at the Hilton Residence, four of our students – Devni Jayaweera, Amisha de Alwis, Thisumi Herath and Raaya de Silva won special awards particularly Devni who won the Best Delegate Award. Ladies’ College was also represented by Shihara Ferdinando, Indeevari De Silva and Raaya De Silva at the Harvard Model United Nations Conference that took place in Hyderabad.
Debating is another intellectually stimulating activity, that many of our girls are fond of partaking in, be it in English, Sinhala or Tamil. There was a marked improvement in our Tamil debating team. They were the quarter finalists at the Law Faculty debates and the overall Champions at the Hindu College Debate Competition. The English Debating Teams performed well at inter school level. Our A team were finalists at the Law Faculty debates. Githmi Rabel and Shanya Sadanandan represented Ladies’ College at the Cambridge Union British Parlimentary Debating Championship. It is heartening to note that the Lilian Nixon Debating Championship hosted by us, has grown in popularity and has become the largest school run tournament in the island. This year, in the Worlds School Debate Tournament held in Croatia, two of our students – Avvayar de Mel and Shanya Sadanandan were chosen to be part of the team that represented Sri Lanka and were ranked 17th overall in the world. At the Lassallian Debating Tournament held in Singapore Shanya Sadanandan, Tiasha Kamalgoda, Erandi de Silva, Mithsandi Seneviratne, Serika Siriwardhana, Devni Jayaweera, Keshia Varia, Dayadi Seneviratne and Thisumi Herath took part, with the ‘A’ team emerging as octo-finalists.
In other activities that test our students’ general knowledge and world affairs, amongst over 1000 contestants island wide, Sahani de Silva is among the three finalist to compete at the finals of the SLIIT Quiz Programme, next week. Our good wishes go with her.
The students at Ladies’ College are also aware of their civic duty, which are not only enhanced during their various social outreach programmes throughout the grades, but also through their work as Girl Guides and the Little Friends programme. This year, in a feat not achieved before at Ladies’ College, we have five President Guides in one year and we congratulate Nishnika Gomes, Shayala Jayawardena, Anjali Rodrigo Anjela Foreman and Vinoka Pedris.
We were privileged to have been chosen by the International Women’s Peace Group to host a special peace event in Sri Lanka. As such, our students gave an emotionally uplifting performance called “Lighting up for Peace” which was witnessed by the special invitee Mr Julien Seo, the Secretary General of IWPG Sri Lanka.
Many of our students are also part of our Eastern and Western Music School Choirs that are represented in all three languages. Our Senior English Choir had the special opportunity to sing with the internationally renowned opera singer, Danielle Denise, to mark our 70th year of independence this year.
We were all highly exhilarated by the Upper School’s stellar performance of the musical ‘Prince of Egypt’. With the perfect harmony of song, dance, colour, costume, backdrop, and potent dialogue, we were all captivated by the heart-warming story that was brought to life. Whilst Jessica Jayasuriya’s performance of Moses was truly inspirational, the audience rose to their feet with emotion as every actress and back stage crew did their part to bring this to a high theatre standard, which contributed to the rave reviews.
It is always rewarding when we have combined performances with other schools where we appreciate the talents and skills of others and learn from one another. This year ‘Ridma Gathika’, a Hewisi Band and Dance Troupe concert was a wonderful collaborative effort of students who joined us from Royal College, S. Thomas’ College, S. Thomas’ Preparatory School, Methodist College, Visakha Vidyalaya, Bishop’s College, Hillwood College and Musaeus College. Similarly we had a Western Orchestra concert with Ananda College and Gateway College.
Providing good facilities and its maintenance is a duty we take seriously. This year refurbishments and repairs were carried out in the primary, middle and upper school buildings. A fully fledged and equipped Archery range was constructed and new play equipment was installed for the KG section. A foundation stone was laid for a much needed support staff quarters.
As part of our effort to maintain high academic standards we continue with focused teacher training. Whilst in-house teacher training, assistance and monitoring continue under the guidance of our educational consultant, Mrs Madhavi Amarasinhghe, our teachers regularly attend seminars and workshops conducted by the Ministry of Education particularly on the new syllabi. Along with conventional teaching techniques, the use of SMART boards has become an integrated part of the teaching and learning experience and both students and teachers have reveled in and benefitted by its use. Overall, the feedback from the teachers, students and parents alike, have been incredibly positive. Whilst our teachers were trained on smart board use in batches by professionals, eight teachers followed the Headstart E-learning programme, an authorized Microsoft educator partner, to further enhance digital education. All eight enthused of its benefits.
Social media and its many challenges have influenced our children both positively and negatively. This year, we were grateful to have had Mr. Brad Huddleston an IT Specialist studying Neuro Science, who gave us a truly enlightening talk, separately to our children and parents, entitled “Digital Cocaine”. He pointed out how a child who is constantly exposed to social media, digital and technological games for extended periods of time, produces a brain scan that is almost identical to a brain scan of a child who is addicted to cocaine. A shocking eye-opener as this was, he also pointed out that this damage could be counter-acted by a healthy dose of outdoor and hands-on activities. Therefore, at Ladies’, although we aim to make sure that our girls are on-par with today’s technological enhanced environment, we still encourage and stress the importance of achieving a balance, in order for them to gain a holistic educational experience.
To use an African dialect “Omwana ni wa bhone,” which encompasses in whole the African proverb – It takes a village to raise a child signifies that it takes an entire community of different people interacting with children in order for a child to experience and grow in a safe environment. This rings so true of our homely village at Ladies’ College where I am immensely grateful and place on record my wholehearted thanks to a tribe of gifted, skilled and dedicated teachers, administrators, trainers, matrons, carers, clergy and support staff members all of whom carry out their duties with love and a deep sense of responsibility and commitment to our children – my appreciative thanks once again. As we bid good bye to 26 members of staff we welcome 35 academic, non academic and support staff members.
The 14th of March this year marked the death of one of the most brilliant minds of our time; that of world-renowned theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author -Stephen Hawking whose immense contribution to science in terms of his work and theories have been accepted and some of his findings have been established and referred to as ‘Hawking Radiation’. Sadly, Hawking suffered from a rare motor-neurone disease which gradually left him paralysed over the years. However, he refused to let this slow him down and even after he lost the use of his speech, he communicated through a speech-generating device, that was initially controlled by a hand but as he completely deteriorated physically the machine was eventually upgraded to be controlled via a mere cheek muscle. He didn’t give up as he wanted to share his knowledge with others despite his severe disability.
Hawking remains a role model to all of us and for many generations to come, not only because of his sheer intelligence, but because of his selfless sense of service and his never give up attitude. He once said, “However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do AND succeed at.” Determination and strength can be found in many ways. For Hawking it was due to his thirst for knowledge and service. For many of us it is because of our faith and our love for God.
As mentioned in our holy book, Isaiah chapter 40, verse: 29-31
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
In all our endeavours at Ladies’ College, at times we do stumble and fall, yet we have the confidence to get up and give of our best and with humility rise to soar like eagles to great heights because with God by our side nothing is impossible.
(Mrs) Eesha Speldewinde
3rd December 2018