The Chess Club at St Columba’s was started in 1996 and since then has gone from strength to strength. 2008 saw our largest ever contingent of provincial players taking part in the South African Nationals. We proudly sent seven of our players.
The children are divided into junior and senior groups for chess coaching and meet on a Wednesday and Friday afternoon for an hour of coaching.
We have between twenty and forty players in each section, so there is a wide variety of different strengths giving the children plenty of competition when playing for the ladder.
We participate in a number of outside tournaments which all lead to the Provincial Trials. Supervision is provided by the school at all the tournaments where the children are entered through the school.
We also play competitive but friendly chess against other schools. The children play an interhouse chess tournament in the third term.
Teddy Choir and Senior Choir
St Columba’s is a school that loves to sing—this is borne out by the fact that almost half of the children in the school belong to one or other of the choirs!
The children begin their singing careers in the Teddy Choir, which has children from Grades 1, 2 and 3. Here the children learn the initial discipline of choral singing in a friendly and non-threatening way. They certainly enjoy their Monday afternoon rehearsals—sometimes the teachers from the nearby Pre-Primary classrooms come in and listen to their enthusiastic singing and the smiles on their faces tell the whole story.
Once in Grade 4, the children can then join the Senior Choir, whose members come from Grades 4 to 7. Their initial training now comes to the fore, as the Senior Choir is responsible for leading the singing at the weekly Friday masses, as well as the Easter and Advent Liturgies that are held during the year.
They also lend their lovely voices to the preparatory liturgies for First Holy Communion, as well as leading the singing at the First Holy Communion Mass in October each year. The parish of St Patrick’s Catholic Church makes use of the choir during their First Holy Communion mass, as well as at some of the funerals and weddings that take place during the year. The children are also trained in secular music and cope very well with modern tunes—many of which become firm favourites in the repertoire!
Open Day is another opportunity for the two choirs to exhibit their musical abilities and they really get into the swing of things, showing the assembled parents and visitors just how well they can adapt to virtually any genre, from sacred to secular and everything in between.
Being a choir member is an intensely personal experience for each child, with their individual talents being carefully nurtured and encouraged, so that they emerge at the end of Grade 7 with a wonderful choral capability and the potential to hold their own in any high school choir.
Altar Serving is offered as one of the cultural activities. Altar Servers have to be Catholic as they receive Holy Communion during the mass when they are serving on the altar.
The children may only become Altar Servers from Grade 5 onwards. They are all volunteers and take turns to serve at all class Masses on a Friday morning. The Altar Servers also serve at the Liturgies which the school holds during the year. Some of our children also serve in their own parishes on Sundays.
Training takes place during school on a Thursday morning and the children are taken up to St Patrick’s church to practice.
Our library monitors play an important role in keeping the Library tidy and organised. They are each assigned their own section in the library which they are to maintain.
Their training begins with them learning how to shelve the fiction books correctly. After they have worked for at least a term on the fiction section they are slowly introduced to the non-fiction section. Many find this quite challenging and so it takes a longer time to train library monitors to shelve non-fiction books.
Pupils volunteer to become library monitors and are required to assist in the library twice a week, maintaining the order of their shelves. Only Grade 4 – 7’s train to become library monitors, as shelving is very complicated and it is essential that monitors have a basic understanding of decimal places.
A Library Prefect is chosen each year, to assist the Librarian. This prefect is highly competent in shelving, having completed at least two years of duty in the library. He or she is responsible for the Multi Media in the library, shelving the books which have been recently returned to the library and issuing new books during breaks to the pupils.