HM Newsletter- 12 March
While greeting our elegantly attired seniors and their exquisitely dressed partners, I envisage that sitting at his desk in 1858 while adding the final touches to his book On the Origin of Species that Charles Darwin never gave a thought that 252 years later his life would be the theme for the Hilton College Matric Dance. Inspiration and creator behind the scene was Sonja Purdon, who together with Debbie Veenstra transformed the Memorial Hall into a fairytale setting depicting the life and times of one of the most influential figures in human history. It was a sophisticated evening of celebration and festivity enhanced by a wonderful setting, excellent food, and superb speeches – a photographic moment of memories that will last a lifetime.
"It hasn't quite set in yet" says the modest, lithe, six foot two and a half inch Kyle Schoonbee as we stroll along Circular Drive to Saturday breakfast. "I cannot remember the moment I started to pull away from the other single sculls" he adds as he tries to recall his three boat length U19 Gold Medal win at the South African Schools Rowing Regatta in Roodeplaat Dam six days ago. With us is Matthew Gearing who is simply all smiles as he partnered Kyle to a record breaking Gold Medal in the Double Scull event. These are talented and exceptional rowers who have the potential to be headline news in the world of rowing. Added to the winner's rostrum are Steyn van der Merwe and Dalton Wadey who won the Bronze Medal in the U19 Double Scull and Kyle Schoonbee, Matthew Gearing, Ben Johnson, Steyn van der Merwe and Daniel von Hoesslin who won the Silver Medal in the U19 Quad event. The driving force for this exceptional haul of medals is the passionate, committed and zealous coach, Ernie Steenkamp, together with the enthusiastic and ardent parents. Again, I am reminded of the lesson that there is great strength in the word "team" and the awesome contribution that both staff and parents make in inspiring our boys.
"This is a simple game – the aim is to score tries!" Ian McIntosh, the former Springbok Rugby Coach, is in full flow in front of an enthused Hilton Rugby Club as the Springbok Legends execute skills and drills to the amazement of the boys. Ian obviously still eats, sleeps, dreams and lives rugby – it oozes out of him just as it did in the 80's when I met and spent time with him at the then King's Park Stadium. Our boys are divided amongst the former greats and are inspired with tips to improve their skills levels. Old Boy heroes, Hentie Maartens and Wayne Fyvie, are firm favourites with the boys and in the touch rugby match Hentie shows why he was regarded as such an exceptional player in his day. Time will tell if our rugby players listened to the advice of Ian McIntosh.
It is never too late to start", tiny 10 year-old Daniel Petersen takes his place behind a drum set and pounds the most stunning drum solo I have ever heard – the Hilton boys rise to their feet and give him a standing ovation. This spectacle is part of a powerful motivational talk and drum café by the renowned Danny Petersen who highlights that "we have two choices" in every situation. Te message resounds in my head – we can choose to be positive or negative. As Clem Sunter explains; one decision leads to the high road the other to the low road – the decision is yours. I remember my school hockey coach, Bob Pretorius, saying "Success is not a short cut – it's hard work, time and effort!"
As I reflect on the events of the past week, there is a theme through the stories: keep it simple, it is never too late to start, success is founded on hard work, time and effort.
Sunday evening after Chapel is time to connect with the Head of School and Heads of Houses – it is a vibrant, cheerful gathering led by Chris de Beer during which the Heads of Houses, amidst the business of planning ahead, have an opportunity to write their views on the school as each week unfolds. This is what one of the Heads of Houses wrote: "Hilton is in a good place. There is a renewed sense amongst the boys of a brotherhood, pride for the school and a drive for excellence." Others added, "There is a positive energy and a very good vibe." "The boys are proud of their school!" "The school is a happy place and the winter sports season brings the best out in the boys." "A school where values and principles are stressed!"
I know that each day will have its trials and tribulations, but it is sometimes awesome to look at the world through the eyes of teenagers – there is such energy, optimism and enthusiasm from their perspective.
By using Howick Travel and Bundy Bashers, the school obtains a percentage of the commission earned from business which comes from people associated with Hilton. This money is allocated towards bursaries and this venture is the initiative of Old Boy, Craig Goodenough. Their contact details are:
Howick Travel Tel. 033 330 2193 or email
A reminder for upcoming events – next term we will be having a Parents Day for parents of boys in Grade 8 and 12 on 27 April. Grades 10 and 11 will have their Parents Day on 22 June and Grade 9 on 26 September. Also please note that Hiltonian Day has been changed from 09 June to 02 June because of the rugby fixtures. We will be playing DHS at home on 02 June.
Have a great week!