A SUMMARY OF THE PRINCIPAL’S COUNTER STRIKE TEAM
Despite the fact that we are very proud of our school’s academic results, currently only 4% of learners in our school qualify to be members of the current TAC or Top Achievers Club. Top learners are shadowed by a group that are just below the requirements for being on the TAC, formerly known as the “Benchers”. These learners have no motivation to achieve and no stimulus to help them achieve even better results.
We have to ensure that this is remedied not only in the 2015 Senior Certificate Examination but also in the next 5 years.
A number of initiatives aimed at increasing and enhancing results in addition to this will be introduced. These include:
Assisting Policy Passes and weak learners
Our Mathfanatics Programme
The new Science initiative
An initiative to improve ANA results in Grade 8 and 9 aimed at increasing the number of learners taking Mathematics as a subject in Grade 10
Principal’s Counter Strike Team
Due to time constraints we often do not have the time and inclination to assist learners who already are achieving well, but with encouragement can become the new top achiever group.
The project will be called “COUNTER STRIKE the academic offensive” named after a well-known
first-person-shooter game that has become a cult phenomenon.
The objective of this initiative:
Each strike team member will receive a target and then eliminate the “enemy”- the enemy being the specific term’s top achievers. The aim would be to identify a subject per term where your academic results must “take out” those of a top achiever.
The Programme also consists of a number of “smaller” targets and challenges to ensure healthy competition. Learners will receive “lifelines” and “immunity” for achieving these which in turn will have academic benefits.
We hope to see movement from our TAC learners too, to ensure that they do not become targets and are not taken out of their current positions on the TAC. The project will commence in term 3 2015 as a pilot project. We will meet with the parents and learners and explain targets, aims and strategies with them. The project will be managed by the Principal and Mr J van Rensburg. Every grade will also have their own Strike Team Commander.
The basis of the programme however is accountability. We will ensure that learners are well looked after and receive all the support they need, we however will not work for them or be responsible for their academic wellbeing. A learner will be provided with goals. Failure to comply with any of the non-negotiables will result in the immediate removal of the learner should a weekly, daily or any other directive not be met.
You have been selected to be a part of this very exciting pilot project which will ensure that the top 100 academic achievers in Randfontein High School can indeed, when measured against top learners from other schools, compete for internships, bursaries, scholarships and admission to top universities based on excellent academic achievement at the end of Grade 12.
Good matric results are not an isolated event, but rather a journey that starts in Grade 8 when you enter our gates. Currently only 4% of learners in our school qualify to become members of TAC (which is our Top Achievers Club). This is a shocking statistic considering the fact that only ONE learner in the entire school currently achieves distinctions in all subjects.
Traditional teaching methods often also do not encourage learners to achieve well. They are rigid in their application resulting in a perception that children enjoy school while enjoying school is a myth only teachers believe to be true.
We have been conditioned to believe that learning and achieving top results are very difficult and only attainable by a very small group of children. We seldom tell children that school is easy and school is fun – as a result education has become a tiresome, unpleasant experience for many children.
For this reason the prestigious Academic Laureate Blazer is therefore only worn by 3 learners in our school! Taking into account that our core duty is education, this does not reflect well on our school as an academic institution, particularly in light of our 100% NSC pass rate over the last 7 years. A number of you have been members on TAC, but for some reason you have never really valued the importance of this. I am convinced that you would have held on for dear life had you been aware of the doors that this could open for you.
As the newly selected Counter Strike Team your main mission is to eliminate the top TAC learner and gain their position. You are now in direct competition with the Top 10 achievers in your grade. Your aim is to eliminate a TAC member in as many subjects as possible and also to bring your current subject average on par with the TAC teams’. You also have to improve your current position in the grade. Your ultimate aim is to become the next TAC group and wear the coveted black blazer in 2016.
This programme is ideal for the learner who:
likes to think outside the box
does not work well within traditional boundaries,
thrives on change and challenges
likes new and other alternative creative learning styles
does not have a real motive to achieve.
READY, SET… GO!
This project will officially commence on Monday 27 July 2015. In our first week we will ensure that all learners have the necessary information and details and that they all understand the non-negotiables as well as the rules of engagement.
Our first order of business is to ensure that all learners’ tablets are uploaded with the details, Identification Cards and other necessities. Be available on Thursday afternoon from 14:00 to 16:00 for a dry run with your Team leader to ensure that you are operational. All tablets must be given to Mr J. v Rensburg by 7.30 Wednesday 22 July, who will load the Counter Strike game on your tablets. It is compulsory to play this game for a minimum of 45 minutes per day.
CREATURES OF HABIT
The programme will last for a minimum of 40 school days. Why 40 days? This is not a trick question. According to scientists there is no magic number – Aristotle claimed that ‘we are what we repeatedly do’. So we simply have 40 days in this term to use and will ‘repeatedly do’ until we reach our targets. However, just like any “rehabilitation programme” this one comes with penalties too. Therefore you may not be absent from school on any given day. If you are absent only an official Dr.’s note/clinic note/funeral letter would suffice. You must inform your team leader if you are missing any deadline or if you will not be at school.
We are not in the staying-away-from-school-business. Also remember that missed deadlines will result in a 0% obtained by you which, in turn, will negatively impact on your team’s performance, which is unacceptable. With this initiative we are going to follow a very strict academic approach, but nonetheless an approach free of traditional boundaries and beliefs about education.
BACK TO BASICS
It has been discovered that learners often cope well with advanced work but seem to find generally expected knowledge difficult. For example, I asked learners from grade 8 to 12 to explain ‘solve for x’ to me in laymen’s terms. I still do not know and neither do those who tried to explain this to me. So how on earth can we explain this in mathematical terms without knowing what it means in simple language?! Albert Einstein said if you can’t explain it simply enough you do not understand it well enough. We will therefore again teach you basic language rules, you will learn theorems off by heart and learn certain facts like parrots. Rote learning is a memorization technique based on repetition. The idea is that one will be able to quickly recall the meaning of the material the more one repeats it. Some of the alternatives to rote learning include meaningful learning, associative learning, and active learning - only after we understand the content.
Considering that all subjects consist of 40% learning work, this might not be such a bad STEP. In ‘learning subjects’ such as EMS or Business Studies this component consists of up to 80% straight forward learning work – but we are so busy wasting time on trying to answer higher order questions that we lose valuable marks on obvious answers or answers we could have learned.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
While a good night’s rest is essential, l believe that life is simply too short to waste on inactivity. Therefore your day must include some form of physical activity that you must record. Please remember that this is an alternative method being productive. You may on a particular day record total inactivity while on others you work 18 of the possible 24 hours. As long as you reach your targets and achieve results you may use your day any way you see fit.
The programme is based on individual academic challenges, team or grade challenges and then a number of exciting ‘open to all’ challenges. These challenges will be rewarded.
No CS member may achieve less than 60% in any individual subject. If you are not there yet – get there! A red report mark in any subject at the end of the term will get you eliminated and none of your contributions throughout the term may count towards your group’s success either. E.g. if your group wins the team challenge for public speaking but one of you gets a red for any subject, you will forfeit these points. This applies to all challenges.
Grade 10 - 12 learners must remember that the final end of the year examination counts 75% of the final mark. In practical subjects PAT= 25% and SBA= 25% year mark 50 and final exam 50%. This term is therefore crucial. Make sure that your smaller assignments and portfolio work is better in every possible way to build up a better year mark. Grade 10 and 11 learners use their final report marks as these must be submitted in the middle of your Grade 12 year for provisional acceptance. Almost every matric will tell you that the midyear examination often is the most difficult one and not a report card which you can submit.
In grade 8 and 9 it is even more crucial that you work hard as your year mark in most subjects count as much as 70 %. It is therefore very important to attain good marks in all work during the term as achieving well in the final examination may be too little too late. Also bear in mind that Universities are looking for learners who consistently do well throughout their high school career and not just in Grade 12.
You will receive 1 lifeline. These may be used to get you individual specialized assistance. Communicate your request to your Team leader who will meet with the rest of the team to ensure that you get the best possible assistance. Use your lifelines with the utmost care. Your Team Leader will not know when you need help. If you do not communicate this to them, you will not get value for your lifeline.
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST
Learners who fail to meet objectives and targets will be removed from the programme once they have used their life lines. Disqualifying you from the programme is not beneficial for the team as the team challenges will be compromised and the rest of the members will have to make up in their efforts to win grade or team challenges- and just like in true war games we leave nobody behind. I expect teams to make creative STEPs to ensure that all their members stay in the game because we are only as strong as our weakest link – and all you do is to make sure you are not the weakest link. Failure to comply with the conditions of this term will result in being kicked out of the Counter Strike team at the end of the term and open your space for a learner currently behind you.
PERKS AND PRIVILEGES
CS members do not have to go to substitution / not writing a particular test – instead you may have coffee/tea in Syba’s coffee shop or go to the media centre however, you have to read from the wide variety of materials available, listen to news, and work on challenges.
You will have full internet access while on the premises. This will enable you to follow the news on a number of channels, do research and submit assignments via email.
Strike team members will have access to individual tutoring, access to the best teachers in and outside the school to assist with sections of the work you previously could not master, assistance with presentation of assignments/ tasks and other documents needing finishing touches, Exemplar tests to practice before examinations and official tests as well as power-teaching sessions to ensure compliance.
If you do not wish to wear school uniform you will be allowed at school in the attire of your choice. Simply flash your Strike Action Identification card and voila! You are home free. Be very careful not to use this indiscriminately as we often think that special favours are benefits when in fact they are not.
You are expected to listen to or read the news every single day. This is available on most radio and TV stations like SABC 1-3, E-NEWS, and CHANNEL 400-408 on DSTV to name a few. You may also read either printed copies or digital newspapers on News 24. This is a very important component of the programme. Top achievers should be well informed about the world around them and up to date with current affairs. You should also learn to discern between populism, real threats, exciting opportunities, what is happening internationally and how these events affect South Africa e.g. How will the so-called GREXIT affect us? What will happen if we have a similar situation as in Marikana if mines in Randfontein decide not to adhere to minimum wage expectations –will we face the same fate as many people and stores in Rustenburg and how will we cope? Also be well informed about political events in our country – we have elections coming up next year and many of you will vote – ensure that you can make an informed decision. Your general knowledge will be evaluated by unannounced tests and you should start your own blog or vlog where you others be expected to comment?
We are looking for learners who think creatively about their education and future and at the end of the project your teams will nominate the top Strike Team member who will compete against the rest of the grades for the top prizes.
You may not believe it now, but following news is an extremely addictive activity which at the same time makes you appear smart and knowledgeable and people listen when you speak because you are well - informed. This also has a positive spin-off academically – you learn to read attentively, improve your spelling, learn new expressions and become more articulate.
CS programmes, information and details may not be shared with the rest of the school. The element of surprise is a wonderful tool. This will compromise your achievements and have an adverse effect on your academic progress.
None of the privileges are available to your friends outside the CS group- misuse will have negative consequences.
We are looking for balanced all-rounders.
You are expected to participate in at least one item at RACA – You are required to achieve nothing less than a Diamond for the item of your choice. However, note that the number of items you participate in is crucial. Learners who only enter one put unnecessary strain on the rest of your grade as they must carry you to make up for the number of entries your grade present. Select items which you know you are good at or categories where there are not a lot of entries. It is recommended that members who have never participated in RACA consider one of the reading categories.
You also have to enter one digital entry and get enough likes to be in the top 10 .Here the whole group must find as many people to like each other’s entries to ensure that we have the largest number of likes compared to those of the TAC members. This will form part of the team challenges. We will also compete against the TAC learners per grade to determine who achieves the most diamond awards per grade and also TAC VS CS. You may ask any of the cultural staff to help you; Mr van Rensburg however, is our expert. If he cannot help you to achieve the Diamond, he can help you to find the right person to ensure that you achieve your Diamond award. All entries must be done via Mr van Rensburg. Above all, your go-to person will always be your Team leader.
Should a particular TAC team not participate in a challenge it is their choice. The Counter Strike team will then win by default.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS COUNT
Presentation of information is a direct reflection of you and is often the first impression strangers get of you. It is therefore crucial that all books (including your daily homework, SBA tasks), be checked for quality With immediate effect. All school books must be covered and re-covered if necessary to be ready on Friday when your Team Leader will do their first book check. Always remember that all other book control exercises in our school will carry on as normal and your work will constantly be under the spotlight. Mr van Rensburg is the senior Design expert in our school. Do not hand in a single document for assessment without running your final product by him – especially in LO where presentation is important. You may also make use of any other expert of your choice or your Strike Team Leader. Take note of deadlines to enable them to make suggestions and allow you to hand this in within the expected timeframes.
The grade with most lifelines left at the end of the project will win this particular team challenge. You may however voluntary give one of your lifelines to a team member who used all his/hers. This however will put the team in a precarious position when challenges are measured.
Note that for every challenge there will be a reward – some small, some large, some really special and sometimes no reward will be considered a reward – rewards are allocated at the discretion of the CS educator members. These however are merely spin-offs as your real reward will be you in the Laureate Blazer.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
The Team Leader reserves the right to change the programme at short notice, late at night or early in the morning. Sometimes you will have to sacrifice your break, week-end or Friday afternoon. You may be woken up at 3 am to start watching the news or complete an assignment that will be due at 7.30 when you arrive at school. Be prepared. We are also not interested in whiners – not only is it most unappealing it also leads to infectivity which in turn negatively impacts on your results – so just do what is expected without whining, moaning or groaning.
You will be flagged with every assessment. You are expected to only receive green flags. Orange represents danger and ANY red flag means termination from the project/team penalties. No activity is more or less important than another and it would be a pity if an uncovered book or untidy homework or a deadline not met gets you terminated from the project.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Team leaders will set up Strike Team grade WhatsApp groups per grade. All team members will be able to communicate with each other through the CS Grade WhatsApp. We will on this forum keep you informed of challenges and achievements. You are expected to check in at least once per day to communicate with your Team Leader and members of your team.
Every team member should have an email address – Should you not have one, see Mr van Rensburg to assist you. He is also responsible for setting up the general Strike Team WhatsApp group. Ensure that he/they have all your details.
We will establish a CS information hub on your tablets. Simply log onto TYB for full details of the whole project. Your status in challenges, elimination of TAC members and enrichment reading will be uploaded here. Team leaders will post a wide variety of interesting information on TYB; it is your duty to download this information. We will also load details of targets as well as possible ways to solve problems and eliminate targets. If you do not know something it is your problem.
It is most important to note that while we will do everything in our power to ensure that you have expert assistance and support, you will ultimately be responsible for your own achievements. No reason for noncompliance, even a valid one, will be considered.
NONCOMPLIANCE = NONE- ACHIEVEMENT = ELIMINATION
PROBLEM VS SOLUTION
If you have a problem, use your support structure to find assistance. Do not make your problem our problem – MAKE A STEP. Be accountable for your own success. We value the important role parents play in the education of their children. Your parents however, are not part of this project and phone calls from parents with good reasons for your noncompliance will be of no assistance to you.
It is further important to note that while this is an academic enrichment programme, your day to day work and academic responsibilities may in no way be neglected. Failure to comply with any expectation in any class will lead to immediate elimination and no lifeline will be able to save you. Stay under the radar, work hard, work smart and achieve.
No other school project may be neglected due to your participation in the CS Project; here we refer to sporting or cultural activities or any other activity where you are involved. If you have a clash of interest – MAKE A STEP – neglecting one is not an option. School uniform, behaviour in class, attendance and late coming are other non-negotiables.
Results for all challenges will be published for all CS members to see as you do not only aim to eliminate TAC members you also have to improve your own position in your current group, so make sure that your results are worth looking at.
EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES… (YAWN)
I do not want to hear about tired children who cannot take the stress and pressure anymore or that this project is too much for you to handle. Nothing in life is easy: it takes hard work, dedication and commitment, and the sooner you learn this the sooner you will start achieving. You are often going to be so tired that you do not want to carry on. This is when you work harder, longer and smarter.
Being a digital school implies that you are au fait with the use of the digital device and that you have all the skills to optimally use all information available to you. We will embark on a programme to teach you how to improve your reading speed and comprehension. Mr. Senoamadi will host a digital series on how to become an expert in writing open tab tests by using advanced search skills.
Then you will be expected to participate in the digital challenge which is open to all grades, CS members as well as TAC members. There is also not differentiation between juniors and seniors for this particular challenge. This is a team challenge and once given to you, you will receive no further assistance.
Mr. Fisher will present a workshop on the rules for group public speaking. The workshop may be attended by both ST and TAC members. He will give tips and good advice. Remember that we do not aim for mediocre achievements. Our target is the sought-after Diamond award and more importantly, to out-perform the TAC group in your grade.
Our next challenge is to compete in the group public speaking at RACA. Although the group participating may have limitations with regard to numbers and your best public speakers must participate, the whole group is responsible for researching and writing the speech.
Note however, that your team leader is the only constant in this challenge and you may at any stage work with this staff member or whatever help they can get you. There are no limitations outside the guidelines given. Therefore you may not get any other guidelines from us accept those given. How you manage the project is up to you. Do not continue to ask whether you may do this or that – listen the first time it is given to you or explained to you. Always remember: your real strength lies in your team – find assistance there.
The sooner you learn to solve your own problems the better for you. Do not rely on assistance all the time and listen and read with the intent of hearing and understanding when something is explained to you.
Another exciting benefit will be the 24 hour a day help line available to all CS members. This will be managed via the general group WhatsApp. Note that any CS team member – learners and educators can participate in this helpline. You may receive a wide variety of responses, some may actually benefit you and some not. Decide which source you believe is most reliable. Be very careful when deciding between conflicting responses. The intention again is not to do any work for you, but to widen your horizons and allow you to make informed decisions.
RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS
RHS RAK has become an integral part of who we are at RHS. This will be a grade challenge. Your group must come up with a concept that will make a real impact and difference. You will be given the opportunity to explain your concept to the staff of the school who will vote for the most meritorious concept. Always remember the first rule of RAK – it has nothing to do with money but everything to do with making a difference.
Lastly, I think you are bright and smart and able to take down the whole TAC structure. Always remember Billy Guy Mbembe’s story: How desperately do you want it. If you want it as much as breathing - nothing is impossible! Enjoy the ride, have fun and remember to laugh every day!