Building a new legacy at Immaculata

Veritas Women, are pictured from left, Yolanda Haupt, principal; Shireen Van der Rheede, Anneen Abels, Bernice Abels and Carmelita Africa. Absent are Chauntal Noble, deputy principal and Cecile-Ann Pearce.

An alumni group called Veritas Women has been launched to build Immaculata Senior Secondary’s School’s legacy by connecting the past and the present.

The idea of the alumni to instil the old value system of the past came after the shocking behaviour of a former pupil was raised. Serious intervention was implemented by the staff and former pupils after a few girls were found drunk on the pavement close to Immaculata Senior Secondary on Saturday May 19 (“Source of alcohol at school disco being investigated”, Southern Mail, May 23).

One of the girls was a former pupil of Immaculata.

The spokesperson for Wynberg Police, Captain Ntomoboxolo Nqunqeko, said, at the time, six girls were found in a taxi and one girl was lying drunk on the pavement. The girls were picked up by the police and alcohol was confiscated.

Bronagh Hammond, spokesperson for the Western Cape Education Department, said, the girls had attended a food fair that afternoon at Immaculata. It was revealed that alcohol was allegedly distributed by a group of taxis outside the school.

The alumni was launched at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Wittebome, on August 9 (Women’s Day).

The deputy principal Chauntal Noble told Southern Mail that action was taken and an emergency meeting was called and later a parents’ meeting was held.

“We worked hard to form the alumni and when it was eventually launched we could say that we now rose from this situation as this incident does not define us.”

She said they are working on forming bridges with surrounding neighbourhood watches,
and they have the support of the Dominican School for the Deaf opposite the school. “Many times children behave a certain way due to the challenges they face at home and we have asked the parents to get involved as well.”

At the launch the principal Yolanda Haupt spoke about discipline and behaviour. She compared the time when she grew up as a child to what’s happening today. “For a while ‘we’ have all commented on how ‘we’ were when we were at school. How we behaved, what we did. We compared the girls to ourselves all the time. We never saw them, accepted them for who they were. We judged them. But an incident which occurred at our school last term made me sit up and reflect on their reality and instead of judging them the question that came up was how can I help them? Our critics were brutal, but I realised this is a moment that defines us. We could either give in to the negative or we could use it as an opportunity to make a difference and to give to our pupils what we had growing up.”

Ms Haupt said in those days parents were able to be involved in their children’s lives. “We had role models with values which were drilled at home: daily-greet, please, thank you. Children entered school with values already a part of their life – it was not a strange phenomenon Children were able to be children. We were all encouraged to do the right thing no matter the consequence – speak the truth no matter what.”

Ms Haupt said that today society has changed and our children face many challenges.

“For example, social media tells children to do whatever it takes for their advantage – no matter who gets hurt in the process. Living a life of values, being truthful, honest, having integrity, respect, is strange – it is not the norm – in some cases it is seen as being weak.”

Ms Haupt said the youth’s circumstances differ today and that many of them are expected to run a household after a full day at school.

“ I realised we need to change how we relate to young people for the outcome to be different. We need to build a relationship with them.”

Ms Haupt advised parents to tell the children how special they are. “Encourage them to be proud of themselves, they have an important role in society.”

Shireen van der Rheede (nee Cole), also the sister of Ms Haupt, said she matriculated in 1981. “My sister and I reminisced about our school days remembering the dramas, eisteddfods, quizzes and debates.

“Our parents served on the parent committee (long before the days of governing bodies).”

She remembered how her father got involved in their school years. “For my matric dance my father, who served on the parent committee, was asked by the school if he would act as security on the night. He gladly said yes. He took my partner and I to the matric dance and brought us back home at the end of the dance (no after party).”

The Veritas Women aimed to bring back the old values and
they recorded some of their pledges before they joined the alumni.

One of the aspirations is to allow Christian morals and values to be the core to all that you do, to remain true to the motto of the school, Veritas, which means Truth, in high school and beyond (for the rest of your life).

“Never allow your ambitions to be thwarted. You have a right to success that no one can deny. Assert yourself through effort and character and with your grounding in faith and equipped through education and training, you will be a force to be recognised and respected as you proudly take your place in society, as a worthy Veritas Woman.”

For more information, contact the school on immaculataveritas