Good evening to our parents and our St George’s Family

I have been asked to say a few words of thanks tonight, so with my heart overflowing with gratitude and 9 years of thank-you’s, I suggest you sit back and get yourselves comfortable.

I would like to start by thanking our parents, who’ve set the foundation of our values and beliefs. You are the force that constantly influences and shapes our lives. Thank you for encouraging us, believing in us and guiding us. Thank you for all the opportunities you provide, such as sending us to this wonderful school, St Georges. Thank you for your support through our ups and downs (even when our marks were way, way down), for cheering us on at the sidelines (almost as eager as Mrs van Wyk) and transporting us to all 74 Bayworld visits. 

Over the past 9 years, St George’s has been our school-family where our friends have been our brothers and sisters and our teachers have parented us. In any family, your parents and siblings help shape who you become. So Grade 7’s, think about this: Today we sit here, as a product of each other’s influence. 

Our St George’s Family has shown us how to care for others. Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on or someone to turn to when things get tough, so we’ve learned how to rely on and support each other. 

We’ve spent so much time together that we’ve seen one another at our best and our worst, which has helped us to understand human emotions and taught us empathy. We’ve been lifted by encouragement from one another and in abundance from our teachers. Somehow, Mr Peltenburg, has an endless supply. And so, we’ve learned the value in encouraging others. 

From all this time together, we have even picked up each other’s mannerisms and adopted some great quirks and sayings. Is this correct Ms Clarke? “I know!” However, some of those words made our parents reach for the pepper shaker; demanding to know WHO taught us to say that!

We’ve been each other’s role models; which aspired us to be like someone; and influenced our goals, ambition and behavior. Honestly, how many of us wanted to be a celebrity singer just like Mr Carter and Mr Glover.

Together we have learned the essential skill of conflict resolution. Brothers and sisters fight quite a lot. It seems especially so in Grade 7! Our dear sweet, Miss Seamie; who now has an honorary doctorate in psychology and conflict management; has a classroom cupboard that has seen more water flowing from our tears, than all the farmers in the Karoo.

We have taught each other patience. Siblings have differences in maturity and they poke, irritate and annoy each other. Having to deal with your pet peeves being prodded, has taught us an important lesson in patience. All our teachers, particularly calm Juffrou Scholtz, has refined patience to an artform. Well on most days anyway, or unless it’s the 11th time I’m asking the same question. In assembly,  Mr Hall just has to patiently stare at us through the top of his glasses and the whole school goes quiet. 

We have learned healthy competition. Fighting for attention can get contentious. We’ve been competitive about everything, from school marks and playing sports to seeing who can wear the most deodorant at once. But we seem to have learnt how to compete fairly and civilly — for the most part, at least. But definitely not at 4-square.

We’ve also learnt how to share the spotlight.  Sure, it’s cool to hoard all the love and attention, but that’s just not how things worked.  Sometimes it was all about you and sometimes it just wasn’t. The boys are still learning that we can’t always be in charge or the boss – only Mr Stamper can.

We’ve helped each other develop a sense of humor. For one, we’ve had to learn to take a joke at our own expense, especially on days after mom fed us baked beans for supper. But we’ve also shared some really good times joking about other things.  All the giggling and raucous laughter in the classroom and Teacher Lakazi’s witty disses, have contributed to our (obviously great) sense of humor today.

Although it’s been tough, we’ve learnt to take criticism constructively. Some of us still need to work on how to tactfully deliver brutally honest feedback. Such as when a fashion fad is just NOT a good look on someone.

We’ve helped each other learn to stand up for ourselves. We weren’t going to let someone tease us and get away with it, or take our stuff. And there was no way anyone was going to get first dibs on picking Diya every time for group projects. We now speak up and assert ourselves.

We’ve learned that sometimes we need to compromise, especially when making joint decisions and we learned early that things don’t always go 100 percent our way. Actually, we hardly ever got 100%.

So on behalf of all us Grade 7’s, I say to every single parent, teacher, coach and fellow pupil; THANK YOU for shaping us into the people that we are today. 

I am so privileged and grateful to have had every one of you in my St George’s Family and will take all these lessons I’ve learned from you with me; and use them to succeed, for the rest of my life. 

Thank you.

– Alexa Koumbarakis