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The grasslands of the Natal Midlands can be a dry and baron place during the winter months. Brown is the colour that dominates as the frost and dry air suck the remaining moisture from the grasses – the plant that dominates the high altitude regions of the midlands. Fires are common and the smoke filled air is only broken by the cold crisp mornings of a cold front as it passes through. Cold winter mornings are often silent, almost lifeless. The silence only broken by rustling leaves, the clattering of dry leafless branches or the gentle whoosh of the wind through the needle like leaves of the fur trees. Yet, despite the dry sullenness of winter, birds are still to be found on our beautiful campus. Below is a description of the some of the birds photographed during the winter months of 2020 on the Treverton campus.

WHITE-THROATED SWALLOW

This little bird has a blue back and white underparts and a complete blue-black neck band. It has a rufous coloured frontal section of the head (frons) and broad tail streamers. The white throated swallow is an intra-African migrant and has only recently returned to the campus for the start of spring. It generally makes nests out of mud pellets under an overhang. These photographs were taken at the College dam.

STEPPE BUZZARD

This is the most common brown buzzard in Southern Africa. It is distinguished from small eagles by its pale yellow legs. The plumage is highly variable ranging from pale brown (like the specimen below) to dark brown almost black. These are migratory birds and are commonly found in open grasslands or bushveld. It usually avoids arid regions and forests. It feeds on small mammals and reptiles and lays its eggs in trees. These photographs were taken on the Treverton Wildlife Area and the bird was perched on the dead branches of a gum tree.  

AFRICAN SPOONBILL

This tall slender wading bird has a characteristic spoon-shaped bill and is closely related to the ibis family. It has a pink face, pale eyes, a grey bill and pink legs. It breeds colonially in reeds or trees. It feeds on small aquatic invertebrates and fish with a characteristic side-to-side motion of the bill. These photographs were taken at the small dam on the western side of the airstrip.

MALACHITE KINGFISHER

This small aquatic kingfisher is beautifully decorated. It has a rufous face, shiny purple and turquoise body and a turquoise and black barred crown. It is commonly found around lakes, dams, lagoons and estuaries. These photographs were taken as the small dam on the western side of the airstrip. This bird is a challenge to photograph because it is so small.

RED-THROATED WRYNECK

A woodpecker-like bird with mottled feathers, a wedge-shaped bill and a rufous throat and chest region. The Wryneck is often heard before it is seen and frequents the tree tops around the College. It feeds mainly feeds on ants on the ground with jerky woodpecker-like movements but also feeds on branches of trees.

WHITE STORK

 This is a large mostly white stork with black primary and secondary feathers. The bill and legs are red. The White stork is a migrant species commonly found in open grasslands and fields. It feeds on insects predominantly, though it also eats small mammals and reptiles. This bird was photographed on a firebreak on the TWA.

#thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za

Mr Shaun Robertson (Physical Science – College)

Thinking Back to the Mafadi Summit Hike – 2018 

Mafadi- The highest point in South Africa (3450m)

February 2018, summer time, long days and warmth meant a weekend of adventure in the Drakensberg Mountains. We left Treverton directly after school on Friday and headed off to Injisuthi. This was the starting point for our Mafadi summit hike, which included three staff members (Mr Derek Brown, Mr Craig Robinson and I) and 5 students.

Leaving the Injisuthi camp at around 4pm meant that we had about 3 hours of light to cover as much distance as we could. We headed up the valley meandering along the Little Tugela River. The river was flowing steadily from all the recent summer rain, before we knew it we could see another afternoon storm brewing in the mountains.

After about 3 hours of walking we found ourselves slightly damp and needing a place to spend the night. We found ourselves an overhanging rock which was not marked on the map, it did the job and we had a pleasant nights rest without getting wet and having to erect our tents. The evening turned out pleasant and we could fall asleep while enjoying some splendid views of the Milky Way.

Saturday morning arrived, the sun was up and we had a big day ahead of us. We departed around 7am and continued up the valley, climbing consistently up heartbreak hill left some students searching for their lungs. After a quick snack break at the derelict Centenary Hut, we headed towards Corner Pass which was where we were going to climb up to the top of the escarpment. Corner Pass is a rather steep gully that requires some serious concentration and even some rock climbing. There were three points where we had to pull our bags up with a rope before climbing up the rope to make headway. After some slow and safe climbing we found ourselves on the escarpment where we had to traverse along the beautiful Trojan Wall towards Mafadi. By this stage we had a group member who was struggling, Mr Brown had to accompany him to a nearby valley where they would spend the night; otherwise we would not make the summit before nightfall. We marched on to Injisuthi summit cave (highest cave in the Drakensberg) where we left our belongings. A few group members were too tired to continue with the remaining 1.5km to the summit, so they started cooking dinner and settling into the cave. Four of us departed for the summit and moved at a rapid rate as nightfall was not far off. We managed to all get to the top and enjoy the setting sun over the Lesotho highlands. At this point in time, there was nobody in South Africa that was situated higher than us, this was a unique feeling that felt rewarding. I carried a Treverton flag and planted it on the summit; a few days later I was educated that it was an old first team rugby flag. However, I managed to get the original manufacturer to design a new one which was used at the first match of the season. The four of us hurried back down to the cave and enjoyed a good night’s rest after an 11 hour day.

Sunday morning embarked on us and we were privileged with a magnificent sunrise peeping over the early morning low lying cloud. Coffee was brewed while some sore bodies exited their sleeping bags. We left the cave at around 7am and backtracked down towards the escarpment and the Trojan Wall. We reunited with the other 2 group members and continued on our descent down Judge Pass. The descent went smoothly and we made some good headway. However, mist rolled in and before we knew it we had missed the contour path and found ourselves a few hundred metres down into the Mtshezana Valley. After our student leader gathered our bearing, we were back on track and soon found ourselves back at the Injisuthi camp at approximately 4pm.

The expedition was approximately 58km with many memories made along the way. This was the first Treverton group that has knowingly summited Mafadi. Well done to Luke McCubbin, Oscar Hapgood, Connor Nicolson, Kieran Roediger and Leighton Hancock for joining the hike. A special mention goes to Oscar Hapgood and Kieran Roediger for summiting Mafadi.

#thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za

Mr Travers Pellew (College Sports Co-ordinator)

The Treverton Equestrian Centre together with generous sponsorships from Mooi River Spar, Westville Spar, the Liebenberg and Allawoodeen families, held a full weekend of riding recently. Saturday focused on a coaching clinic with professional Heidi Caine, followed by show-jumping on Sunday. This is just a short clip of highlights.

#thetrevertonexperience #equestrianlife www.treverton.co.za 

 

Celebrating over 15 years with Eco Schools as Treverton receives the International Flag Decade Award.

#thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za #youthclimatesave

 

I attended the 5th Annual International Youth Leadership Summit from Thursday to Saturday which was hosted by Earth Eco.

The summit was mainly focused on the conservation of our oceans and to how to save 30% of our oceans by 2030. There were over 400 people who attended from 44 countries. There were many sessions on different topics such as Environmental Advocacy, Science Communication and Leadership and Skill Building which were lead by some amazing speakers, one of them being the National Geographic explorer, Paul Rose.

I  am at a loss for words to try describe how much of an impact this summit was on me, I have never felt so supported and motivated to help save our Earth. I have learnt so much more than just conservation of our ocean, I have learnt how to be a better leader for the Treverton EarthCare group and how to communicate and raise awareness about the Climate crisis more effectively.

This was such an honor for me to attend and I felt quite emotional when it ended to be honest. I would like to thank Mrs Snow and Mrs Beddy for giving me this opportunity and their support.

#thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za #youthclimatesave

Phoolan Rankin (Grade 11)

Six little girls from age 4 to 10 joined us at the Equestrian Centre to learn about ponies.  The aim of these mornings is to create an interest in ponies and to showcase the Equestrian Centre.  With the help of two horsey moms, college riders and a teacher, great fun was had by all.  We focused on safety around ponies, learning parts of the pony (sticky labels were used to label the pony body parts), basic brushing and how to feed treats. We coloured in horsey pictures and ended with a ride around the stable yard.  Scrumptious muffins and juice were provided to fill hungry tummies and a super fun morning sent tired out children home filled with excitement.  Moms and Dads got to chat amongst themselves over a cuppa and start new friendships.  We hope to draw parents in to assist with running the fun days, be it pouring coffee, holding a pony to be labelled or leading a pony around the Yard.  Next month we will add further activities, such as grooming and tack so that the littlies can learn more about loving ponies and what riding is all about.  We welcome preschool and prep children to join in the fun and hope to gear them up towards learning riding skills and being able to take part in the Treverton Pony Theory modules on offer on a Wednesday afternoon.

Miss K’li Scott (Head of Equestrian)

#thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za

 

Treverton, the place where I made the memories that will last a life time.

My 5 years at Treverton were honestly some of the best years of my life so far. Trew House is where my friends became my sisters. I was able to take my horses to school with me and that was plus. I played in the 1st hockey team from grade 9-12 and was part of the athletics team since grade 8, the school gave me the opportunity and the independence to grow as a person and step out of my comfort zone.

I remember the grade 10 hike where all my group did was laugh and cry, at one stage we all thought we were about to get blown off the mountain. And to this day my friends and I still laugh about the hike. I’m just so grateful for the experience that the school gave me, it’s a huge part of who I have become and what I have achieved up until today.

Kylee Mcloughlin (Matric 2013)

#thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za

After 3.5 years here, I am still loving my time at Treverton. After the strong Christian ethos and values, the Equestrian Centre was definitely the deciding factor when choosing a high school. I was so excited to have equestrian right here on the property, and to be able to go down any day to ride and spend time with the horses.

The best thing to do after a long, stressful day at school is to go down to the stables to have a lesson or to go on an outride. To spend time with horses and friends in a beautiful setting is relaxing. It is a fun and supportive environment where everyone feels free to be themselves and have a laugh. We do have our fair share of tough times, but they have taught me that the sport isn’t only about results and shows, and that I am also responsible for my horse, it’s well-being and I need to do the dirty work too.

I consider Treverton to be a family, especially in boarding where we learn to live together with both our similarities and our differences, and where we see each other at our best and at our worst. This applies to the Equestrian Centre too, which is like a little family within the bigger one, where we’ve seen each other crying, covered in dirt after getting bucked off, or while we’ve cheered each other on during a lap of honour after winning at a show. We have learned valuable lessons, to take the good with the bad, because that is what real life is about. To me, the Equestrian Centre is another part of Treverton that really makes it a special and unique place.

#thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za

Cassidy Hudson (Grade 11 – College)

We are very proud of Phoolan Rankin who heads, and was instrumental in the re-establishment, of the EarthCare group at the College. She has been elected as the South African lead organiser for the new chapter of Youth Climate Save Movement in South Africa – Janet Snow, Environmental Officer

The movement was founded by Genesis Butler, an environmental activist, who is also followed by Greta Thunberg.  This is such an honor for me, to be able to be in contact with her. Genesis is teaching me so much about leading, being a better leader as well as giving me this opportunity.

The Youth Climate Save Movement is based in Los Angeles and it has spread across 21 countries. Our motto is to give youth a platform for our voices to be heard. We spread awareness about climate change and helping animals as we have a vegan ethos. We take part in summits with people in high places.  Last week, one such summit was held in the US with Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey to ban factory farming in New Jersey.

As the SA representative, I focus on helping South Africa reverse the effects of climate change and raise awareness through an Instagram page called @youthclimatesavesouthafrica. Through our Instagram accounts we try to raise awareness about current events and effects of climate change or any environmental issues that are current.

I’m still very new to this so I’m still learning, I had my first zoom meeting with the team on Sunday, and it was just amazing how much I learnt from these amazing people who are part of our team.

#thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za

Phoolan Rankin (Grade 11)

If you had asked me in grade 8, where I would be in 5 years. I would never have imagined being the person I am today. Having developed in every aspect possible, going Treverton has been one of the best decisions of my life.

#thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za

Matthew Haberl (Deputy Head Boy – College)

I never thought … I would live my dream.

A few years ago I had to break away from city life to just be able to breathe again. I found this cute guest house in the Midlands. I was scared to drive all the way to the coast by myself, so I thought half way will do. A drive 2 or 3 hours out the city will work. In the end it was about a 4-hour drive.

I woke up to the braying of a donkey and I thought: this is where I want to be. Not in a city, noise of cars, pollution, people not caring. I went horse riding that day close to Giants Castle. The mist was so thick; I was scared I would miss the road. But there was also so much beauty. I actually wanted to take photos, but with the mist so thick, another car might drive into me.

When I had to go back, I was sad leaving the tranquility behind. I got back to the rat race of the city. Still enjoying my work, visiting my friends taking up more and more because something was missing.

A few years later I came back. I saw a vacant post at a school in the Midlands, Treverton College. I thought: It is the Midlands, I can stay and work in the Midlands. I stayed at a guesthouse a few kilometres from the school. The first view I had in the mornings, horses. I thought: This is where I want to be. Timing was not right. I went back to the city, the rat race, taking up more and more to do because something was missing. I prayed because I was confused, my heart longed to the country side.

A few years later, my best friend sent me a screenshot of an available post again at Treverton. I asked God what He wanted me to do. Should I apply, should I stay where I was? The answer was: Apply. So I did and yes there I went again, back to the Midlands. They say 3rd time lucky. I just believe God made it possible this time. I packed everything and I left the rat race of the city. I knew God had a plan, I just did not know what yet.

What did I find at Treverton? Amazing people. Learners who are eager to learn. Friends that became family. Friends and learners that accept you the way you are, that will sometimes unknowingly lift your spirits, by just saying something in class that will make you laugh out loud, friends popping in for coffee asking if everything is okay. I can walk to both passions I have. Class and horses. I can take horse riding lessons. I can be with my favourite animals. I never thought that I would make hot dogs to learners who felt devastated by the results of trial exams, I did. Rewarding learners with brownies because the class average was above 70% for an assessment. I never thought I would think about inviting learners to come for coffee. It is so different, Treverton is a family.

I never thought that I would teach with a mask on my face and that masks would become a fashion trend. Yes, I do have my Hufflepuff, Batman and Horse masks. I did know that God sent me here so I can be safe. Like He lifted me from a horse, so that I did not get hurt, He brought me to the safest place I know. Treverton.

I know now: Treverton is the place to be. Treverton is a place of happiness, family.

#thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za

Ms Carin van der Merwe (Afrikaans – College)

Throughout this lockdown period, we have all had to live with the uncertainty of not knowing when our lives will start again. Although living in lockdown and not being able to leave the farm, unless necessary, has been a challenge but it has also been the greatest blessing. I have been lucky enough to spend lockdown with my parents, my husband and my two children and I thank God for this blessing every day. I have had to do a lot of things that I never would have seen myself doing and it has been incredibly challenging, without my amazing fellow staff members I would not have coped. I’ve had to work on the farm every day and I’ve had to change my teaching style to suit online school. I have missed the children in my class dearly, and although I have enjoyed our weekly meetings, I can’t wait for schools to re-open so that we may reconnect in person. I would like to thank my grade 4s and their parents for helping me through this challenging time and for doing so well with their online school. #thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za

Mrs Gail Palmer (Grade 4 Teacher)