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Welcome From Mrs. Penney

Posted on: 30th October 2012 | Category: Principal's Blog

I can scarcely believe that I have been at Surval for only a month, and that we are about to embark on half term! What has happened in this short month?  We have welcomed a new group of students, inviting their parents to join us for brunch when they arrived. I hope this welcome has established the relationship between home and school, which will be supported by our introduction after half term of three- weekly emails from each girl’s mentor to her parents. We also warmly invite parents to our end of term Christmas lunch on December 13, to share our Christmas festivities before they take their girls home for the holidays.

Our students this year are a bright, lively, international group who have quickly made friends across the nationalities and have enjoyed activities together. A picnic at the Rochers de Naye, a day on the Chocolate Train with a visit both to the cheese factory and the historic town of Gruyeres before the treat of a visit to the Cailler chocolate factory (with substantial sampling of produce), the circus, the international jazz weekends in Montreux Riviera and a host of other activities have filled their weekends. Next week girls set off with their sketch books for an art trip to Rome, supplemented by a little light shopping!

Our newly formed student council is ready for action after half term, while the Common Room Committee has been given the task of choosing decorations, furnishings and furniture for their new room, which has a stunning view across the lake. The former Common Room will become the Library and Learning Lounge and should be completed by the time girls return next term after their Andermatt experience.  Importantly too the girls have taken the message that we are all foreigners in Switzerland, and we must give back to our local community for all that we receive: the wonderful views, the friendly welcome, the support of so many people.  We are now deeply involved in Cartons du Coeur, a local charity where girls help to collect and pack food weekly for those in real need, and help to distribute this discreetly and with sensitivity.

Last week I enjoyed my first visit to the fascinating city of Moscow, to explain to agents and parents about the new courses on offer at Surval from next September. All those I spoke to were very excited by the new offers, and we are already signing up candidates for the unique Liberal Arts course, and for the Foundation Year, as well as the more traditional High School, IGCSE and A Level programmes.
This excitement was shared by our visiting journalist from the Daily Telegraph, whose article we understand will be the cover feature in the Weekend supplement on Saturday 3 November.

Our new Director of Enrichment, Dr Stoker, has begun a programme of exciting and varied activities for girls to enjoy in the evenings and at weekends, as well as the sports programme which will vary from season to season. We are also working on a new range of summer camps from June through to the end of August.

So what is my most vivid impression of this month? Above all it is the laughter and enjoyment of the girls, their support of each other and the way they interact across language and nation. I love the chatter at mealtimes, the girls playing piano in the evenings, the noise and energy of the aerobics classes, the delight in walking along the lakeside in the early evening, and of course the joys of what they produce in the cookery classes!

This year is one of transition, as we have made several changes to the school, particularly with regard to our academic programme. Change can be difficult for some, while for others it can be immensely exciting. For me, as I look forward to the coming year, it is a time of challenge, of opportunities for imagination and initiative, and above all of inspiration.  It is summed up in the wonderful words of the late United Nations Secretary, Dag Hammerskjöld:

For all that has been, thanks: to all that is to be, yes!


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