Home Headmaster HM Newsletter: 30 April

Dear ParentsHM 2011

The breeze is bitter and the pews are cold as the pupils shuffle quietly into the Chapel to take their places for the early morning mid-week service to be conducted by the boys of Churchill House. The big screen and strategically placed large TV screens capture our attention with a video of determination and passion to succeed despite the seemingly insurmountable odds. The commentary by Sabelo Xulu is appropriate; "We are all weak at some point in our lives, where we have failed at something, maybe not had the courage to do what is right, or where everything seemed against you, there will always be human or mechanical failure at the most inappropriate time - life does not always go the way you planned."

There is much food for thought in the message and we are reminded that it is easy to judge the faults in others while conveniently forgetting our own shortcomings, but it really is about how we stand up after defeat that truly is of importance. Since inception, the Chapel has been an important gathering place for the staff and pupils and that legacy continues today as we are challenged spiritually and morally by a variety of preachers, none more important than our own pupils. In the coming weeks, Rev Wyngaard will be expounding on our six core values of faith, responsibility, respect, integrity, critical thinking and relationships.

The Senior and Junior Debating teams with John McMichael rush out of the Dininghall after supper with a shout of "Good luck!" as they head for their inter-schools event at College. In the Centenary Centre there is pandemonium on stage as 'wannabee' pirates, wildly swinging wooden swords are moved expertly backwards, forwards and across the stage by the diminutive energizer bunny, Cal Bray, who is captain-in-charge of moulding this motley crew into an organized troupe of dancers and singers for the "Pirates of Penzance" production in early May. The energy and enthusiasm is extraordinary, and I am in awe of "Captain Cal" as she barks out instructions. My only personal recollection of a wooden sword was the one I swung at my sixth birthday party resulting in my cousin receiving half a dozen stitches to a wounded arm - the smack I received from my father ensured that was the first and last time I swung a sword. Perhaps I should put the San on standby and donate a pint of blood in the event that the pirates get a touch over enthusiastic!

On a more sedate stage in the Memorial Hall, another cast is being put through their paces by Graeme Roberts and Kathleen Schroeder in a final practice for the "The Inspector Calls". I watch with interest as the actors polish their lines and movements - again these are staff and boys expending enormous energy beyond the normal day in cultural activities that enhance the educational offering we provide at Hilton College. This follows closely on the Choir performance together with Affies and Epworth girls on the previous Saturday evening. These are all phenomenal productions featuring highly talented pupils and worthy of full houses. All indications are that cultural activities are alive and well and as we develop our cultural vision, attendance at shows like this will become a priority as it is with our sport and academic attendance.

The Sports Centre is abuzz with conversation as the Grade 8 and 12 parents quiz their son's teachers about his progress in academics. One of my staff fills me in on what he has just been told by a father: "After hearing your side of the story sir, I agree that 11/30 is a totally unacceptable mark, and on Monday morning you will have an apology from my son and his project will be redone and worthy of 100%". What a response. This is academic teamwork of the highest order and underpins our values that boys, parents and staff have a responsibility to coax the best from each other in the classroom and to build relationships that enhance and encourage the educational standard of each pupil. As we are all on this journey of discovery, there is a need to increase respect for each other, to raise integrity and belief in each other to a level beyond question, to be critical in thought and debate in each subject and to be grounded firmly in our Christian faith and principles at all times.

After a memorable day of competitive sport against Kearsney, the smiles on the faces of our supporters seem to be broader, the step more confident and the sense of team more relevant as we head towards "the big one". In his talk to the First Rugby team on Friday evening, Mark Fyvie, an Old Boy from 1962, in handing out the jerseys to the players simply said, "Play for the player next to you." No fanfare, no song and dance - a simple message, simply executed and reflective of our core values - run onto the playing field in faith that you have the ability, respect the opposition, play with integrity for the rules and the referee, apply critical thought and decision-making in the heat of battle and define your relationship by playing for the player next to you. All our hockey and rugby teams are striving for this and the impact is uplifting.

Gatherings of the clan were great events in my childhood and on Saturday we celebrate the first winter season sports clash with Michaelhouse with a monumental family day and reunion. This is a not only an immense sporting tradition but reaffirms the strong ties and friendship we share with this great school. It is time to don the "black and white" and be part of one of the greatest school sporting traditions in South Africa. Just a reminder that the "Red and Black" party that takes place afterwards is an unofficial event, and the school distances itself from the function and any consequences that may arise.

Have a great week!

G Thomson


Following the SA Champs Rowing Regatta held in East London over the weekend, Kyle Schoonbee and Matt Gearing are now not only SA's junior double champs, but also the senior champions. They destroyed their toughest competition, the National U23 double, by 19.7 seconds! Well done to Kyle and Matt.