Ladies’ College Principal’s Report 2016
Venerable Archdeacon Revd. Perry Brohier, our chaplain Revd. Melvin de Silva, our Chief Guest Dr Jayantha Dhanapala & Mrs Dhanapala, Chairman of the Governing Body Dr Dan Seevaratnam, Members of the Governing Body, our Manager Dr Deepthi Attygalle, former principal of Ladies’ College, heads of schools, prize donors, members of staff, old girls, parents and dear students,
As the world watched with bated breath the outcome of the US Presidential election, which has a ripple effect on other nations and the potential to influence humanity at large; perhaps most members of our gender (not taking into account any political affiliations), were disappointed that Hillary Clinton did not break the glass ceiling but for a woman to come that close to the most powerful seat in the world, it says something. At his keynote address in 2002 at the Annual Women Waging Peace Policy Day at the John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, our chief guest said, “When women move forward and when disarmament moves forward, the world moves forward.” What a powerful and meaningful statement.
We are indeed privileged to have with us Dr Jayantha Dhanapala a highly respected and eminent diplomat in the international community. He was educated at Trinity College in Kandy where as a school boy he gained a reputation as an all rounder and in 1956 he was awarded the prestigious Ryde Gold Medal, the highest honour that the school can bestow. Dr Dhanapala has had a distinguished career spanning the government, private sector, international arena and academia. He ranked first in seeking entry into the Ceylon Foreign Service in 1965 and served thereafter in many diplomatic postings culminating in ambassadorial appointments in Geneva accredited to the UN and in Washington D.C. On a personal note my father who was during that period, a senior member of our foreign service worked with Dr Dhanapala at our mission in London and immediately noted the potential of this bright and energetic young diplomat. He followed his career with admiration and respect. As a four year old at that time would I have ever imagined that Dr Dhanapala and I would be on this same stage addressing you? I feel so humbled and honoured.
Dr Dhanapala has had a solid liberal education obtaining a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from the University of Peradeniya and a Master of Arts degree in International Studies from the University of Washington D.C. He also studied Chinese at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. In addition Dr Dhanapala has also received several honorary degrees including Doctor of Letters by the University of Peradeniya and the Sabaragamuwa University, Doctor of Science in the Social Sciences by the University of Southampton, U.K. and Doctor of Humane Letters by the Monterey Institute of International Studies USA. He has published four books and numerous articles in international journals. As an effective and eloquent communicator Dr Dhanapala has been invited to deliver several keynote lectures at institutes and universities of repute worldwide and held significant positions of leadership internationally. He was widely acclaimed for his presidency of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference, a landmark event in disarmament history. He functioned as Secretary General of the Secretariat for Co-ordinating the Peace Process in Sri Lanka till 2005, unanimously elected President of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs in 2007, Chairman of the United Nations University Council 2008, and was handpicked by Kofi Annan to take on the challenging job of Under Secretary General to re-establish the Department of Disarmament. He was Sri Lanka’s official candidate for the post of Secretary-General of the United Nations, from which he withdrew to facilitate a consensus decision in favour of another Asian candidate. My apologies to Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon but I believe this is one decision where the nations got it wrong.
The plethora and weight of his appointments, credentials and accolades are overwhelming and forgive me sir if I inadvertently left out anything of importance.
It is said that behind every successful man stands a great woman. In this case this is so true. Behind this successful gentleman stands a strong, wise and understanding lady. I’m sure to this day, Dr Dhanapala would appreciate the quiet yet solid support Mrs Dhanapala rendered to him throughout his career.
Mrs Maurine Dhanapala is no stranger to Ladies’ College. She was a much loved and respected member of our staff in the 1970s. She was the secretary of the PTA and a gifted teacher. I can certainly vouch for that, as she was my A/Level English teacher who imbibed in us a passion for literature. She made us live and feel a text not just study it. She also encouraged drama and the students gained considerably from the many musicals and Shakespearean productions she handled. We remember her for her gentle charm, simplicity and her sympathetic understanding of children. I feel privileged that I finally got the opportunity to say a public and heartfelt thank you to you Mrs Dhanapala for the yeoman service you rendered to Ladies’ College. The Dhanapala family’s connection to Ladies’ didn’t stop there. Their daughter Kiran is an old girl of this school and we are so pleased and grateful that the three of them are present here today.
It would be an understatement to say that it has been a hectic year for our Bishop. His Lordship the Rt. Revd Dhiloraj Canagasabey has had to oversee not only his diocese but also that of Kurunegala. In addition he had to continue with his other commitments and engagements both here and overseas. Regrettably he is unable to be here today as at this present moment he is delivering the key note address to the plenary assembly at the Federation of Asian Bishop’s Conference. Nevertheless I am grateful that he found time to be with us on other occasions during the course of this year and I thank him for his love and guidance. As he takes on his added responsibilities we are reminded of the words from the Bible as mentioned in Corinthians Chapter 1 verse 11 and pray that Bishop Dhilo would be ‘strengthened with all the power according to God’s glorious might so that he may have great endurance and patience’. We are happy and thankful to have with us our archdeacon the Venerable Perry Brohier who at intervals takes our morning prayers and on this occasion would preside and represent the Bishop.
Reverend Melvin de Silva has provided assistance beyond his calling as chaplain of Ladies’ College. Despite the many hats he wears on behalf of the Diocese, he makes our school his priority, spending time here as a counsellor, conducting Bible study, attending, blessing and supporting every school event and activity. This year he prepared 30 candidates for confirmation who were admitted as full members of the church by our Bishop. Thank you very much Father Melvin for your devoted service. As he changes parishes from Galle Face to Mount Lavinia we were relieved and grateful that he is to continue as our dear father.
On a sombre note at a thanksgiving service in our chapel we commemorated with love and gratitude, the 10th death anniversary of our past principal Mrs Sirancee Gunawardana, and as we sang our school hymn we were reminded that “They reap not what they laboured we reap what they have sown”.
We have on stage another distinguished old boy and Ryde Gold medallist of Trinity College, Dr Dan Seevaratnam who is the Chairman of the Governing Body. As he comes to the end of his term of office, on behalf of Ladies’ College I want to place on record our most grateful and profound thanks for his able leadership. Whilst he brought in a high level of professionalism to the board, he adapted and tailor made his management skills to cater to each and every school under his purview. He never sat loftily on his seat but continually made us, (to use his own words) “challenge the status quo.” All five CMS schools prospered under his stewardship and good governance. On a personal note I value the trust he placed in me and the solid support and advice he always rendered. Thank you very much Dr Seevaratnam.
At this point I would also like to acknowledge and thank the members of the Governing Body for sharing their knowledge and experiences with us. Particular mention must be made of our representative on this board, my predecessor and dear friend Mrs Nirmali Wickremesinghe who continues to contribute her expertise and experience in the field of education. I thank her for the advice, friendship and love she wholeheartedly extends.
We are also fortunate to have as Chairman of the Finance Committee on the Governing Body an adviser of Mr Jayan Setukarvala’s repute who we can always bank on. We thank him for scrutinizing our accounts and making sound recommendations.
This year regrettably we have to say adieu to our Manager Dr Deepthi Attygalle. Her youthful energy belies her years. She frequently visits the school and the invaluable service she has rendered to her alma mater is innumerable yet greatly appreciated. She gives practical advice on restoration and construction of buildings to finances to finding resource persons and staff members, she even manages our website. I have known her since childhood and I feel touched when she constantly shows concern for my wellbeing even when she admonishes me for carrying a heavy handbag knowing the long term effects it would have on my shoulder. On an official and personal level I can’t thank her enough.
Another old girl and stalwart of this school who retires this year after 25 years of devoted service is Mrs Rajini de Zilwa. An engineer by profession she was the ideal person to head our Facilities Division. She was everywhere and anywhere looking after every want and need of our staff and school. She overlooked the upkeep of this beautiful campus and its growing facilities. Replacing her is almost an impossibility. Whilst I thank her very much indeed it is my hope that she would be able to serve this school in another capacity in the future. She couldn’t have done it all without the assistance of others. Accordingly I also thank Niranjini, Prabha and Sherina. This year we welcome Mr Kaviratne to this section. In this short time we notice and commend his prompt and effective service.
I wish to pay my tribute to another member of staff Mrs Sohani Perera who joins us on stage today having served the school for 25 years. Actually from childhood to date she never left school. After completing her education at Ladies’ College, she followed the preschool course at the DVS and immediately thereafter served her alma mater as a teacher in our nursery.
Our hostel provides a home away from home for our boarders and day care children. We thank Mrs Taniya Perera and Mrs Savithri Jayawardene who head these divisions with loving care. Regrettably Savithri retires this year and I wish her well. I appreciate the services of Sushila and Bernadine who continue to be with us.
I am indeed fortunate to have the professional expertise and ready advice of the head of our accounts division Mrs Sharika Wirasinha. She has managed our finances admirably and left no stone unturned when it came to providing funds for school projects when needed. It is to her credit that this year the auditor’s report is not only very favourable but there has been a tremendous improvement in the implementation of financial processes. I thank her and her team – Rangika, Yamuna, Bodhika and Akalanka immensely for their valuable service and commitment. Whilst we have been advised by the Finance Committee and we are on the look out to appoint a full time permanent Human Resource Officer we express our deep appreciation and thanks to Ms Neela Shanmugam for juggling her teaching time tables and duties related to HR.
Our sports complex continues to draw present and past students. The upkeep and management of this superb facility falls on the very able hands of Ms Prithiva Perera who deserves our grateful thanks.
We appreciate the quiet yet good work of Mrs Indira de Silva who overlooks our oriental ensemble and science laboratories with equal dexterity.
The epicentre of the school is the office. It is run with refinement and calm efficiency. The multi-tasking abilities and time management of the office staff is more than commendable. I place on record my grateful thanks to my loyal and caring PA Anuradha and a dedicated team – Naomi, Champika, Mangalika, Susu and Radhika whose valued services at most times go unnoticed.
Throughout this year with the prefects, our Head Girl Thissakhya Jayakody has effectively and efficiently led the student body. A multi-talented individual, she has balanced her demanding responsibilities and dizzying after school schedules with amazing skill. Our founder Miss Nixon would have been proud of her, as I am, for Thisaakhya is a true Ladies’ College girl, ‘independent, upright, without being pretentious’. I’m certain she will make a difference in tomorrow’s world.
At the Parent Teacher Association Annual General Meeting this year, we were able to felicitate and thank the outgoing vice president and parent Dr Enoka Corea who served the association with dedication and distinction. We welcome her successor and fellow old girl Mrs Maya Weerapura to our fold and I look forward to working with her in my capacity as its President. There are parent and staff representatives for each section of the school who meet twice a month. This is an ideal forum to exchange ideas and suggestions, get valuable feedback, dispel rumours and confirm facts. This year we had useful workshops and seminars for teachers, parents and students, on forging healthy relationships within the school and home. This was conducted by Relationship Educationalist Mr Hans Billimoria of the Grassrooted Trust and Dr Natasha Balendra Chairperson of the National Child Protection Authority. On this topic, we also had qualified volunteer parents who conducted fun interactive sessions with nursery and KG students and I had friendly dialogues at grade level with the primary students. As always my door is open to all my children. Day or night they have access to me and I feel touched that they talk to and confide in me.
Mrs Preethi Adihetty the President of the Old Girls’ Association (OGA) has brought a new energy to our alumni. In addition it is gratifying to note that her team has been a continuous ‘hands on support’ to the students and the school. We thank her very much indeed for her leadership and sound service. We are also grateful to the OGA Chapel trustees and the individual contributions of the old girls who generously donated funds for the restoration of the chapel which is the cornerstone of our school. In addition we are pleased when our young past pupils make waves overseas. This year Nushelle de Silva who is currently completing her PhD in architectural history was a recipient of the Queen’s Young Leaders Award and astronomer Dr Nipunika Palliyaguru was one, of an international team of 7 scientists to detect gravitational waves finally confirming Albert Einstein’s century old theory of General Relativity. We congratulate them on their achievements.
The School Advisory Committee meets every term and deliberates on all matters pertaining to the welfare of the College. Chaired by our manager, it comprises a mix of experts in varied fields, from the PTA and OGA. Their input has been valuable and I thank them for their sound advice.
Another educational arm of Ladies’ College is the Department of Vocational Studies. Moving with the times and needs of the modern student we felt that this department needed to change gears in its curriculum and upgrade its facilities. Whilst appreciating the value of our long established courses, we were of the view that they needed official endorsement and affiliation to higher educational bodies. With it a change of name seemed appropriate and accordingly it was renamed the Ladies’ College Institute of Professional Studies (LC IPS). We have modernized our lecture hall and are in the midst of joining hands with Edlocate; thereby getting university
affiliation for our Early Childhood Course making a pathway for students to pursue university degrees. Under the aegis of the British Council the LC IPS is now an examination centre for both Edexcel and Cambridge Boards, generating much needed income. We thank Mrs Swarna Goonetilleke for her short but very effective term of office. She had to leave the institute due to health and family commitments. In his capacity as the present Chief Operating Officer Mr Sunimal Fernando took over the reins in smooth transition. Mr Fernando holds a degree in Science and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business and Finance. He also has wide administrative experience in post secondary and higher education. His enthusiasm and sincere commitment is greatly appreciated.
My Vice Principal Mrs Deepika Dassanaike continues to teach in the Primary and temporarily took over as head of the section, as Mrs Triveni Mahadeva resigned at the end of the first term this year, to leave our shores to be with her daughter in England. Deepika and I are now a team and we have built a close relationship of mutual trust and respect. I thank her for her loyalty and commitment to our college.
It is with pleasure that I review the activities of the school and I thank God for another very good year.
The long and unforgettable journey that is school life begins in the nursery, where toddlers are made to feel at home among swing sets and matslides within the colourful walls of Boxford. Their curriculum is based on play, visual teaching and interaction, whilst tracing letters in sand, finger painting numbers and making clay models of animals. They learn new things through their first ever experiences of fun and friendship.
The theme for Activity Day was ‘Circus Land’ where children learnt of travelling families and engaged in different skills of balance, throws and rhythmic dance. For the first time they formed a percussion band and learnt to play instruments to a beat and a tune. This topic was recreated in a delightful manner as fancy races in their sports meet.
The students also had their project day ‘Off we go’ where they explored many habitats. Their journey of learning took some of them to the garden, seaside, jungles and rainforests, whilst others blasted into space. They presented their new found knowledge in their annual concert.
The nursery and kindergarten students together participated in the Harvest Festival, Easter and Nativity services where vegetables, eggs and gifts offered at our chapel altar were distributed amongst the underprivileged.
At the beginning of the year Mrs Kshama Kapukotuwa brought with her new ideas to this section as joint head but had to leave suddenly due to family commitments. We are indeed grateful to Mrs Lilamani de Sayrah who continues to be the Sectional Head, ably assisted by her new Deputy Mrs Ishani Rekawa who has served the school in the nursery for 23 years. I thank them and their team of caring and committed teachers for creating a rich and engaging learning environment for our children.
Having received the blessings of the Bishop in our chapel, the KG students commence their first steps on the path of well-rounded, holistic education, Ladies’ College strives to provide. Their initial introduction to focused learning, leading up to fully fledged subject based education, spans across this time period of rapid development in a child’s life. For the undertaking and faultless carrying out of this immense responsibility, I express my deep appreciation and thanks to our Sectional Head Mrs. Diedre Theogarajah, Deputy Dharshini Daluwatte and the patient and dedicated KG staff for a job so well done.
This entails teaching a comprehensive syllabi with hands on activities in many disciplines. The KG Activity Day this year was themed ‘Palaces & Castles and their stories’. Many classroom activities were centered on this topic. The children so frequently exposed to stories of Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty in relation to castles, were made aware of their realistic roles; that in a country’s civilization people evolved alongside these buildings. They discussed the glorious days of ancient kingdoms, geography and landscape, architectural features, art & design and much more. Furthermore whilst their Sports Meet encompassed the basic athletics they learned, there were also creative races based on the ancient societies revolving around these edifices.
Their science exhibition was themed ‘Mammals’ and the students were extremely keen in discovering new things about the animals. They embarked on a journey around the varying environments and habitats occupied by these animals and learned about the countless adaptations and characteristics they possess. Their models, pop up booklets and classroom designed costumes displayed their amazing creative talents.
To commemorate her 150th birth anniversary, Book Day was themed ‘Beatrix Potter’ and the students entered the world of Peter Rabbit and Jemimah Puddleduck with much enthusiasm, by reading, acting, quizzing us with riddles and presenting the wonderful stories and art created by this renowned author.
We were pleased when 8 year old Nilavili Sivanesarajah won the Best Female Child Singer in the Tamil category at the State Music Awards 2016.
Having a pool in our own backyard is an advantage as we are able to include swimming as part of our curricula, from a young age. Their prowess in the water was witnessed at their swimming meet and many students excelled in their ability to swim lengths in all four strokes.
Special Education Unit
The special needs unit in this division caters to children with varying cognitive and physical disabilities. Whilst each of our 12 students works according to a carefully designed educational plan, they also integrate with the mainstream students for art, music and dancing.
Inclusive education is encouraged at Ladies’ College. Our special children participated in an integrated event at the sports meet. They took part in Bakthi Gee where they led the school in a 5 minute meditation. They also presented a meaningful skit on the importance of sharing at a general assembly. The London A Level students treated them to a day out at the Vihara Maha Devi park for the unit’s annual class trip and they enjoyed being part of the Nursery and KG Harvest and Easter services and the Primary Nativity service.
We are so proud and say well done to Narmika Suganthan and Gagani Kumarasinghe who were placed 2nd and 3rd respectively for their entries in the Special Needs category at the All Island School Children’s Art Competition. Apart from swimming the children continue to enjoy their tennis camp.
The Learning Support unit continues to provide compensatory and corrective assistance to needy students from grades 1 to 11 in language and mathematics. According to the need, individual attention and support within the mainstream classes are provided.
I express my deep appreciation and thanks to the dedicated and caring team of teachers in both units and to Ms Shakunthala Seneviratne for overseeing these two divisions with such commitment.
The primary school marks a significant change in the curricula and extra-curricular activities alike. The students of Grades 4 to 6 are placed in different houses, join sports teams and are able to participate in different events representing their house and school. Term exams are introduced, thus increasing the seriousness of their now formal education. However teachers strive to incorporate learning through experience and media, to spice up lessons; field trips and class trips are introduced and encouraged.
In this light at the beginning of the year the students were taken to the planetarium. Each grade was also uprooted from their sheltered classrooms to travel to places such as Negombo, Matara, Galle and Koggala where they visited the Maritime and Martin Wickremesinghe museums, explored forts, learnt the history behind the temples of Weherahena and Angurukaramulla and were introduced to aviation when they surveyed the Sri Lankan Airlines Aircraft Hangar. The primary children joined the middle school students and were delighted to view the movie ‘Ho gana pokuna’ at the Liberty Cinema.
This year Book Day was celebrated in remembrance of local and foreign writers of acclaim. Thereby to commemorate the 20th death anniversary of Professor Ediriweera Sarachchandra, the 100th birth anniversary of Roald Dahl and the bicentenary of the birth of Charlotte Brontë, the primary students joined their middle school counterparts in an exhibition. They brought to life the works of these literary giants, through recitations, play-lets, quizzes, art and even architectural models of their abodes.
I thank our Deputy Sectional Mrs Rajitha Wijesinghe and her team of teachers for not only cushioning the transition of the Grade 3s into their fold but for making the learning experience in the Primary, interesting and challenging.
Learning becomes more in-depth and apart from maintaining a commendable standard in classroom studies, the children’s eagerness to learn is cultivated through their presentations during school assemblies and class projects. The Grade 7 students presented ‘Olympics’ from its historical beginnings in Greece to the modern day Rio Olympic Games. The Grade 8 students embraced their inner musical artistes in presenting ‘Broadway’ tracing the history and the theatrical productions over the years and the Grade 9 students interestingly taught us the rarely discussed topic of ‘Famous Mistakes in History’ which included medical misadventures, military blunders and architectural mishaps.
The students embarked on their annual class trips: visiting and interacting with elephants at Pinnawela, receiving first-hand experience at making pottery in Molagoda, learning the escapades of the notorious local ‘Robinhood’ at the Saradiel Gammanaya in Uthuwankanda. They also witnessed the beautiful Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya with its wonderful variety of fauna and flora and ‘never before seen’ specimens connected with the science of botany. In addition they entered the interesting world of tea at the Tea Museum in Hantana.
Class projects were enthusiastically carried out by the students from grades of both the Primary and Middle Schools. In the first term ‘The World of Fabric’ was introduced and students displayed the evolution of fabric and presented research on the diverse types of fabric and raw materials used. Furthermore, they delved into the future by teaching us about the use of nano technology in this production process. Yesterday they made presentations on ‘Water Conservation’. Not only did they convincingly drive home the message of the value of this precious commodity, they also introduced innovative ideas to conserve this invaluable liquid.
The middle school teachers headed by Mrs Suvendrini Gnanaskandan and Deputy Mrs Ranmali Balasooriya adroitly handle the implementation of motivational academic work and skillfully manage the onset of teenage attitudes and habitudes for which I express my appreciation and grateful thanks.
As our students mature and grow closer to adulthood, the numerous physical and emotional changes and developments are carefully addressed and understood in the haven that is Ladies’ College. We also strive to encourage and support their steps in assuming leadership roles and responsibility in school, thus preparing them for the outside world. In addition it is here that they get their first taste of public exams.
New syllabi were introduced for the O/Level examination and though the vast content required for both the O/Level and A/Level were a challenge, the teachers readily took this on with efficiency and dedication. Extra classes were conducted intermittently after school or during weekends. The teachers took it upon themselves to even repeat difficult lessons, and do consistent revision. It is my duty to thank them very much indeed and the O/Level Sectional Heads, Mrs. Shalini Alawwa and Mrs. Asirini Wijesuriya, Local A/Level Sectional Head, Mrs. Ayesha Fernando and Deputy Mr. Indu Mallawarachchi and London A/Level Sectional Head Mr. Ayadurai Naguleswaran and Deputy Ms. Indira Ratwatte for their tireless efforts and hard work.
At Ladies’ College we have three streams – Sinhala, Tamil and bi lingual where we are permitted to teach certain subjects in English. At the O/Level examination, though International Schools do not come under the purview of the Education Ministry, they are given the privilege to teach the entire Local O Level syllabi in English and permit their students to sit the public examination accordingly. Since this is not afforded to our children, we have been addressing this matter with the relevant authorities as and when there was a change of government. Our efforts were rewarded and this year apart from Buddhism and Hinduism we obtained approval for our students to sit for the O level exam in English. This has been a relief for both the students and parents.
Students receive the opportunity to venture outside the classroom and experience their respective fields of study first-hand. The students of Grade 11 attended numerous subject based seminars. Advanced Level students following Law were taken to the High Court of Colombo and the Travel and Tourism students participated in the Annual Youth Forum organized by the Hilton Hotel. In addition we had an in house interactive creative workshop conducted by NAFA University from Singapore for the Art & Design students. The Commerce students delved into the history and the operation & control of money at the Money Museum and Central Bank. A field trip was organized to observe the production process at Stretchline Holdings in Biyagama.
As always good public exam results are tangible evidence of academic excellence and it is gratifying that our students continue to perform very well. Out of the 21 subjects offered at the GCE O-Level Examination in December 2015, 100% passes were obtained in 12 subjects and over 93% passes were obtained in 7 subjects.102 students sat the exam and 100 qualified for the Advanced Level.
Our Advanced Level results have also been more than commendable. 69 students sat the 2015 Advanced Level examination and 88% qualified to enter universities. 100% passes were obtained in in Physics, Biology and Combined Mathematics and above 94% passes in Chemistry, Economics and Business Studies. We had 100% passes in all arts subjects. Students gained admission to medical, biological, engineering, management, commerce, law and arts faculties in Sri Lankan universities. We congratulate Amra Ismail who came first in the district and 3rd in the island in the Arts stream, for her outstanding performance. According to the performance index released by the Department of Examinations, Ladies’ College was placed 10th in the island in Arts and Commerce. Amongst the schools that entered 20 candidates for the science stream we were ranked 2nd in the island. This was a first for Ladies’ College.
Our results in the London Advanced Level examinations AS and A2 levels held in November 2015 & June 2016 were excellent and students have gained admission to universities of repute worldwide. Four students received high achievement awards obtaining ‘Top in the Island’ prizes in the Cambridge exams. Hayati Rassool for Sociology and Ishara Abbey for History at AS Level and Awanee Mendis for Literature in English and Keshana Ratnasingham for Psychology at A2 level. At the Edexcel A2 level examination Randhitha Nanayakkara, Shenella Dewaraja and Ashwini Premashankar received High Achievement Awards for being placed in the top 5% in the world overall. We congratulate them for their marvellous performances.
The diversity of our academic curriculum enables students to study a wide range of disciplines. I am pleased to report that the Pearson Business and Technological Education (BTech) Diploma programme in Hospitality, introduced last year as a new avenue for O/Level students, who wish to obtain a professional qualification with job experience, has been fruitful and we are able to award prizes in this field today. We also hope to introduce Business in BTech in January 2017. As they pursue higher studies the students who follow BTech courses at Ladies’ are given a 1 to 2 year exemption from universities in Australia and Malaysia.
We feel humbled that our college has gained repute and recognition in higher educational establishments overseas which is evident in the increased scholarships and bursaries offered to Ladies’ College students from tier 1 and tier 2 universities around the world.
Our goal is to produce flexible independent learners who will lead and work with others to achieve progress and advancement, both with courage and sensitivity. Perhaps we have achieved this to some degree for I receive calls from heads of numerous blue chip companies and state institutions in the country, offering employment to our students even before they have embarked on higher education.
We continually strive to develop a well-rounded, socially skilled, and healthy student in both mind and body and we are pleased that our children take part in the many sports and extra-curricular activities on offer, achieving milestones along the way.
This year though there were individual achievements, we lost the overall trophies in all three ‘Encounters’. Here the focus is more on friendship than competition and we engage in friendly matches in Rowing, Hockey and Water Polo with Musaeus College, Bishop’s College and Visakha Vidyalaya respectively. Yet in the national and international arena our girls’ participation deserves applause. In true Olympic spirit as embodied in its motto ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’ our athletes competed faster, higher and stronger and I believe it is only fair that I mention some of their accomplishments.
At the beginning of the year amongst 62 competitors, Hiruni Siriwardena was placed 7th in the open category at the two mile sea swim held in Mount Lavinia, where she competed with the armed forces. Our under 19 team Shenara David, Sashi Weerawarana, Amrita Perera and Dileka Gunawardana established a new record in the 4 x 100 mtrs Free Style relay at the Sri Lanka Schools Swimming Meet. At the South Asian Aquatic Championship Dilekha Goonewardene represented Sri Lanka and was placed 2nd in the 200 mtrs Back Stroke and 3rd in the 200 mtrs Indivudual Medley events. For the same meet seven of our water polo players Ashmitha Cooray, Shenara David, Sashi Weerawarana, Anieka Varia, Nimashi de Silva, Rheanna David and Dunyasha Hewagama were selected to the Sri Lanka team which was placed 2nd. Locally, due to two water polo tournaments being suddenly scheduled in the middle of our 3rd term examination and two weeks prior to the public O/Level examination, we were unable to participate in the Public Schools and National Meets this year. At the National Age Group Synchronized Swimming Competition our swimmers were placed 1st and 2nd in all events. We were fortunate to have the services of a foreign coach from Indonesia, Ms Tri Eka Sandiri for a short period where our students gained valuable training and insight into this sport.
In Badminton 10 shuttlers performed well at the Junior Nationals Zonal Level to qualify for the All Island Tournament. The under 14 & 19 teams were placed 3rd at the All Island Inter School Tournament.
Our under 19 Hockey players were placed 3rd at the Western Province Schools Games and five players representing the Colombo team won silver medals at the Sri Lanka Schools Hockey Nationals.
In Netball the under 15 team was placed 2nd at the Western Province Tournament organized by the Western Province Netball Association. At the Colombo District Milo Tournament the under 13 & under 16 A teams and the under 18 team qualified for the All Island Championships where the Under 16 team reached the semi-finals.
Whilst most of the Basketball tournaments were postponed, our under 15 cagers made a breakthrough when they were placed 3rd at the Colombo Zone Basketball Tournament qualifying them to be upgraded to the ‘A’ Division.
In a highly competitive sport Ladies’ College were champions at the Circuit Athletic Meet and runner up at the Zonal Athletic meet where Raenella Cooray and Siyana Wickremasinghe were adjudged the under 21 and under 15 champions respectively. At the Samastha Lanka All Island Athletic meet in both the under 15 putt shot and discus events Serisha Gunasekera and Rheana David were placed 1st and 2nd respectively while Siyana Wickremesinghe was placed third in the under 15 Long Jump event. The crowning glory was the team’s brilliant performance at the Sir John Tarbot All Island Junior Athletic Meet in Embilipitiya where in competition with over 7500 athletes from more than 450 schools Ladies’ College emerged the overall winners. We bagged the under 15 championship and Serisha Gunasekera established a new meet record in the putt shot event.
At the Karate District and Provincial Tournaments, in every age category in the kumite and kata events our girls secured 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. Five of our students hold black belts. Amanah Faaiz represented Sri Lanka at the (Shotokan Karate International Federation (SKIF) World Karate Championship in Indonesia.
Our table tennis players made great strides this year. The under 18 team were the ‘B’ Division winners of the All Island Inter School Team Championship thus entering the ‘A’ Division. After 16 years the under 15 team comprising Ayala Chitty, Anoushka de Silva, Manesha Siriwardene and Jithara Warnakulasuriya were adjudged overall champions of both the Western Province School Games and the All Island National Schools Table Tennis Championship.
In squash, our players were the runner up in the open category at the Sri Lanka Schools Squash Championships. Kiara Guruge represented Sri Lanka at the Asian Junior Individual Squash Championship held in Malaysia and was the semi finalist in the under 17 Plate event. Shenaya Siriwardene was also a participant in the under 13 category in this tournament.
Thirandi de Silva and Hayati Rasool represented the country and were members of the winning team where Sri Lanka was placed first at the World Youth Scrabble Championship held in France.
Our oarswomen won the Ranfer Sprints Regatta held at the Colombo Rowing Club and were runners up in the under 18 category at the Rowing Nationals at Diyawanna where Ishara Abbey was adjudged the ‘School Girl Sculler’. Competing with the armed forces she also won the open scull event at this meet. At the Sri Lanka Schools Association Regatta we were the overall winners of the under 16 and under 18 categories. Overseas Ladies’ College was placed first in the scull and fours events at the Association of Schools Rowing in Asia (ASRA) tournament in Singapore. Ishara Abbey was the winner of the Open Women’s Scull and Coxless Four at the Amateur Rowing Association of the East Regatta held in Pune, India. This year Davina Koch, Nihara Warawita and Ishara Abbey were selected to the National pool.
At the Inter School Tennis Tournament whilst the under 19 team was runner up, the under 15 & 17 teams emerged champions and Ladies’ College was adjudged joint overall champions. Our under 19 team was placed 2nd at the All Island School Tennis tournament. Medira Samarasinghe won the girls under 18 singles and Alana Seneviratne won the girls under 15 doubles at the National Junior Tennis Championship. At the Senior Championship Medira won the doubles and Anika Seneviratne won the mixed doubles. Medira went on to represent Sri Lanka at the Fed Cup in Bangkok and at the South Asian Games held in India she won a bronze medal in the Women’s Doubles event. Anika Seneviratne captained the Sri Lanka Junior team at the World Juniors qualifying rounds in Colombo and Bangkok. She also represented Sri Lanka as the no.1 seed in the Junior Fed Cup pre-qualifying round beating the top seeded Singaporean in the semi final which enabled Sri Lanka to continue in the qualifying round in Delhi.
A grade 8 student Kayla Perera was the winner of the Pin Fernando Trophy at the Sri Lanka Amateur Golf Championship and she represented Sri Lanka at the British Junior Open in Scotland. 10 year old Tarini de Silva represented Sri Lanka and was the youngest sailor amongst 100 competitors in the open category at the IODA Tournament.
Archery was introduced this year to the sports curriculum and the response was overwhelming. A ‘once a week practice’ at the Colombo Archery Centre conducted by head coach Mr Samantha Rajapakse had to be extended to thrice a week to accommodate the numbers and still there were others who wanted to join. In this short period of time I was pleasantly surprised to note their progress. We entered a six member team for the Junior Nationals and our archers were ranked in the top 20 in their relevant age groups. Rehana Tayabally who had in the past taken part in tournaments in a private capacity, represented her school this year and was placed 3rd both in the under 20 Girls event and in the under 20 mixed team event at the Senior Nationals. She also represented Sri Lanka at the South Asian Games held in India.
Our students participate in 16 sports at Ladies’ and whilst I applaud and congratulate our sportswomen on their outstanding performances, I thank all our committed coaches very much indeed for continuing to uphold high standards in their respective sports and for inculcating an interest in their games amongst our girls.
As much as we take part in competitions we also organize sports events at Ladies’ College for the upliftment of a game and healthy interaction amongst fellow sportsmen of other schools. We arranged a successful meet in a triangular chess tournament between S. Thomas’ College, Bishop’s College and us. ‘Scrabble Day’ proved to be fruitful with 200 students from 26 schools participating. A friendly netball match was arranged with visiting players of the Robert Gordon School in UK, at the Reid Avenue courts in Colombo.
Clubs, Societies and the Arts
We, at Ladies’ College, have a diverse range of extra-curricular activities and assign as much prominence to them as the pursuit of academic excellence. Through these the students experience teamwork and camaraderie and receive exposure to new avenues of learning, harnessing their talents.
Drama has always been our forte and this year was a variety experience. The students were placed second in the Interact Drama Competition organized by Royal College, performing an original play titled ‘The E Word’. Kesara Gunawardena was adjudged the Best Supporting Actress and Ladies’ College won the awards for the Best Backstage Crew. The students from grade 12 upwards presented ‘Dear Chuck’, a play featuring naturalistic acting and humour, to bring out the underlying search for oneself whilst addressing social issues. With a cast of 80 students, most of whom had never acted previously, along with a style of theatre totally different to what Sri Lanka is used to; it was not an easy task. However the children were adamant and persistent to introduce this new concept on stage whatever the reviews. Should we have curbed this enthusiasm and courage? At Ladies College we encourage new concepts, ideas and trends of thought. Accordingly ‘Dear Chuck’ went on the boards and was well received. I sincerely thank our old girl director Dinoo Wickramage for her ceaseless efforts and sound direction. This year the Sinhala and Tamil Inter House Drama Competitions featured original scripts. The former brought to light social issues through street drama whilst the latter brought on stage different aspects of Kanaki’s story in the great epic Cilapathikaram. From traditional to modern, ‘Legacy’ portrayed a fusion of our cultures in the performing arts by students aged 8 to 18.Tamil Day and Sinhala Day were held as usual on interesting topics such as the importance of numerals in literature and the portrayal of early village farming communities whose issues are still relevant to the 21st century.
The English debating team has fared well this year reaching the octo-finals of the Sri Lanka Schools Debating Championship organised by the University of Colombo Law Faculty. They also participated in the Asian World Schools Debating Championship held in Thailand, where the ‘A’ Team emerged octo-finalists and the ‘B’ team were novice runners up.
The Lilian Nixon Debating tournament organized by Ladies’ College is now a looked forward to event in the school’s debating circuit and we were pleased that 20 schools participated. I am grateful to the energetic and tiring efforts of Mrs Vyvette Uyangoda for ensuring continuous high standards in debating. We also revived a tradition when we invited the young gentleman from Trinity for a debate and we were happy that the new principal of Trinity College Mr Andrew Fowler-Watt and his charming wife Vivian (who had served as a voluntary teacher at Ladies’ in the past) were present. We were particularly pleased that Dr Dan Seevaratnam endorsed this event by presenting a Chairman’s Trophy which we hope would strengthen the continuity of this friendly tournament and cement the bonds between our two schools. The Sinhala & Tamil debating teams participated in different debating tournaments during the year.
It has been an eventful year for Guiding. Nishka Abeygunasekera, Samadhi Dissanayake and Romasha Purijjala were selected to participate in the New Zealand Guide Jamboree held in the Canterbury Agriculture Park, Christchurch. Shanaya Weerasekera and Devinka de Silva were selected by the Sri Lanka Girl Guides Association to represent Sri Lanka at the Girl Guiding Mosaic 2016 in Canada and the Girl Guides Centenary Camp in Malaysia respectively. Four senior guides participated in a national programme commemorating ‘World Day Against Child Labour’ and eight senior guides participated in the programme ‘Donkey Management and Welfare’ in Mannar.
Set up in a typical master chef style setting, the youngest competitor amongst 100 applicants our grade 14 student Anya de Silva was adjudged the winner of the ‘Cook Off’ competition judged by the Michellin 3 star British chef Marco Pierre White.
Ten students took part in ‘Marketing Roks’, a Business Studies competition organized by SLIM and were placed first, winning Rs.100,000. In addition we organized an ICT Day for the first time. It was well represented by many schools who participated in interesting competitions, games and quizzes.
Nishnika Gomes represented school at the Light of the World Speech contest organized by the Ceylon Bible Society and was placed first.
Shania Dedigama was awarded a certificate of Higher Commendation Award in the International Press Corps at the Model United Nations Conference.
This year the boys from the hills seem to have a special interest to visit us. The Trinitians will join our girls of the Sri Lanka Unites Club, to organize a charity run ‘Stride to Ride’ and mini fair this month, in order to raise funds to donate educational requirements and bicycles to children and youth in reconciliation centres in Mullativu, Kalmunai and Monaragala.
Every faith is upheld here at Ladies’ College and our religious societies and teachers organized events and visits to places of importance in their respective religions, for all students. Throughout the year every grade partook in community outreach programmes and felt blessed that they were able to contribute and be of service to others.
At Ladies’ College the production of the school magazine is truly a child centred activity. At any given moment the magazine committee is buzzing. Whether it’s research, interviews, content acquisition, photography, art work, design, graphics, the lay out, proof reading or editing, … the girls do it all and the printer is both astonished and relieved to be handed over the complete magazine on a pen drive. I thank our teacher and the director of operations Ms Shani Almeida the mother hen and guide who at times is exasperated yet emboldened by the girls’ talents.
Many visitors enter our gates and all are welcome. We were particularly pleased when the mayor of Isernhagen from Germany visited Ladies’ College in July and formalized our student exchange programme signing a document between Gymnasium Isernhagen and our school. This exchange has been in operation since 2007 and has been a fruitful experience for students of both schools.
As part of our efforts to strengthen high academic standards we felt there was a need, as teachers, to strengthen our present skills and if necessary to acquire new ones. Our staff has attended seminars and workshops on different topics, yet I felt we needed a more focused training programme. In this light we are grateful that Mrs Madavi Amarasinghe an educational consultant joined us this term in this effort and will set a definitive plan of action accordingly. So far what a group of us used to do after school, getting together taking a mock class, sharing lesson plans and material is now implemented officially and professionally as collaborative learning or micro teaching which has benefitted those of us who attended these workshops.
I have found that all the academic, administrative and service staff to be loyal, hardworking and committed to the school. It is with a deep sense of gratitude that I thank each and every one of them for their dedicated service and for the genuine love they afford our children in carrying out their duties. I truly feel honoured to be part of their team. When the Governing Body understandably informed me that I would have to find replacements within a year for members of staff over 65 years of age, I froze.
Amongst our staff family we have many gifted, experienced, hardworking teachers and personnel who fall into that category and to replace them is close to impossible. I communicated that fact to the said authorities with the understanding that they would understand. Consequently this year due to retirement, migration, medical necessity, matrimony and spousal career changes we were intermittently faced with filling positions of 24 staff members. Whilst making suitable changes from within, we welcomed 21 new staff to our fold.
It is now long accepted that IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is no longer the important measurement in the appraisal of human competencies. In 1983 Harvard University professor Howard Gardner proposed that there are at least eight human intelligences – musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinaesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. He later suggested that existential and moral intelligence may also be worthy of inclusion. At Ladies’ College we nurture, celebrate and reward all intelligences and it is indeed heartening, that in today’s world, this theory is not only upheld but due recognition and awards of repute are given to the multiple intelligences. In this light it was meaningful that the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to writer, singer and artist Bob Dylan whose thought provoking lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power brought to light many social issues.
Ladies’ College is a microcosm of people and as adults we, teachers, administrators, old girls and parents have an enormous responsibility in the manner in which we nurture and mould our children to face the many challenges in the world. Collectively we have the opportunities and capabilities to guide our children and in that endeavour we shouldn’t shun what is around us but keep an open and understanding mind so that we are the anchor to our children in our revolving environment. As Bob Dylan says in one of his haunting songs, “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.
Today begins the month of the birth of our Saviour and it seems fitting that we end our eventful school year tomorrow, with our annual carol service, singing to the glory of God, in thanksgiving for yet another blessed year. Our meaningful school hymn brings us all together in union, with pride and humility when …
We join, with one acclaim,
One heart one voice uplifting,
To glorify Thy name.
(Mrs) Eesha Speldewinde
1st December 2016