Home Headmaster HM Newsletter: 14 May

Dear ParentsHM 2011

Somewhere in our minds lurks a picture of a waif-like child "desperate with hunger and reckless with misery" who "advancing on the fat healthy master" asks "Please, sir, I want some more." This famous line penned by Charles Dickens and spoken by character Oliver Twist in the novel by the same name, most certainly does not apply to the well-fed gentlemen of Hilton College.

The term "well-fed" will have a variety of interpretations depending on whom you engage in conversation. For instance, an oil sheik from Dubai will have a vastly different opinion on "well-fed" as opposed to a resident of the Favelas or slums on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. For years at Hilton "well-fed" meant to many an overdose of meat and potatoes for supper followed by enough pudding to energize a platoon of soldiers. Having unsupervised self-service also played into the stomachs of our carnivore kings who seemed intent on decimating every herd of cattle in the area.

Besides the increasingly important environmental lesson of sustainability in all we engage, there is our holistic approach to providing a healthy lifestyle of exercise of both mind and body for our boys. With this in mind, it has become essential to take a look at what we put in the "fuel tanks" of the boys where meat, potatoes and pudding might bulk a couple of prop-forwards but it does nothing for pace out wide.

Together with the caterers' dietician, a committee of our sporting staff has compiled a balanced diet with all the protein, minerals and carbohydrates that a highly active teenager requires to be at the top of his game. With healthy balanced eating being the aim, the boys are being served their meat/protein portion at supper. Once having eaten their plate of food, they may return for another helping. This approach has significantly reduced wastage and highlighted the need to include a serving of vegetables, salads and carbohydrates on which there is no limit. For those with a sweet tooth, there remains a variety of pudding available throughout the week.

The slight change in culture of being served the protein portion is geared to optimize our boy's food intake, send an environmental message and provide a balanced dietary intake to grow strong and healthy young men. There is certainly no need for additional protein shakes and the like if one is eating what is on offer in the Hilton Dininghall.

The two boys in my office are apprehensive and their nervous grins fail to hide the anxiety in being summoned to see the Headmaster. Their minds are in overdrive, replaying every moment of the past week, scanning for any situation where a small detail could have been leaked to the Head, and they gear mentally for the "dressing down". Their disquiet vanishes in a split second as I relay a message of commendation that I had earlier received from a member of the public who had been impressed with their behaviour and conduct over the past weekend. We chat briefly and then they leave, a touch taller. I am left thinking how Headmaster offices around the world seem to have retained an image of doom and gloom despite the removal of the dreaded collection of canes used on those schooled in a previous era of command and control.

The teenage social culture of being generally anti-establishment and testing the limits of their "bullet-proof" understanding of the world, for the most part leaves us as exasperated and frustrated adults, particularly when this involves experimentation with alcohol, recreational drugs and sex. Following much discussion and debate on the after-match Red Black Party, it is important to emphasize that as a school, we constantly educate, inform and warn of the dangers involved. Our school values and traditions clearly mark the moral road of expectations we have of our boys, and our disciplinary document clearly outlines the consequences of wayward behaviour. We are entrusted to provide every support that we can for our parents and boys. This includes discussing, debating and highlighting the potential consequences for themselves and the school. We have an exceptional brand and standing in education, and it is the duty of every Hiltonian and staff member to protect and care for our boys and our image in the broader community.

The Centenary Centre resonated to the excited chatter of almost two hundred English teachers from across KwaZulu-Natal as the annual English Conference inspired by Kathleen Schroeder reached its conclusion on Friday afternoon. The continued growth of this forum has highlighted the inspirational and educational impact it has for the teaching of English in the province. Well done to our English Department.

I have previously made mention of the mid-week Chapel Services that the boys are entrusted to deliver, and I make particular reference to the prayer to end the Falcon House service this past week.

"Help us to give of our best in everything we do, to carry on through the hard times and to push ourselves to the limit. Grant us not leadership, but the opportunity to lead. Grant us not humility, but the opportunity to be humble. Help us to help our brothers, to see the solutions in predicaments and to stand firm for what is right for if we do not stand for something, we will fall for anything".

Some food for thought and again there is reference to our values of faith, critical thinking, relationships, integrity, responsibility and respect.

Have a great week!

G Thomson