Home Headmaster HM Newsletter: 4 June

Dear Parents

HM 2011

I really was so irritated by being stopped at the Hilton Gate!” a Hilton mom related to her friends, “and I thought to myself it is now time to confront this practice and demand an explanation!”  As the guard approached the vehicle, her frustrations knew no bounds as she gave vent and in a pitched tone exclaimed, “Why do you stop every car coming into this school?”.

The guard, without a blink replied, “Simply because our Hilton boys are special and we are here to protect them!”   “That reply knocked  me senseless but made me feel so good that my son is at Hilton, and I entered the grounds with a sense of pride that I was a mom at this great school” she concluded.  This then prompted a number of similar stories from the moms enjoying their tea.

One commented that she saw a staff member directing a group of New Boys to the changerooms at College, and thought how incredible it is that Hilton staff members go the extra mile to provide the personal touch that is so much appreciated by the parents.  Another witnessed the calming impact and words of a young Hilton rugby coach when there was a scuffle that broke out between the two teams near the touchline – the Hilton boys simply moved away from the skirmish at his word which prompted a comment from those watching “This type of discipline is top-class!

It is quite incredible how positive accounts shared are uplifting and affirming regarding the Hilton College values and expectations.  We all need to take encouragement from this and broaden the base of “Good News” stories that occur amongst our boys, and throughout our community every day of the week.  Build and contribute a positive spiral of communication by engaging with your son’s tutor, subject teacher, coach and his friends’ parents on issues that are inspiring.

On the flip side is the “dinner party” communication of rumour, gossip and hearsay usually surrounding discipline issues where the full facts of the situation are not known and where unfair comparisons are made between previous disciplinary events. In the interests of confidentiality it is not appropriate to disclose the facts publically; however it is worth reminding ourselves that Hilton College has a most comprehensive school disciplinary policy and process that will withstand the most searching scrutiny and challenge. In the final analysis there is only one option that will dispel dinner party scandal and that is to dial me at 082-0902888 and get the facts. 

To complete the loop of positive communication, when you are uncertain regarding idle chatter and rumour, challenge the conveyor of that news as to their source and then follow-up with a call directly to me, your son’s tutor, coach or subject teacher – get the facts and ensure that there is a return call to the purveyor of the idle talk or better still, give them my number. As members of the Hilton community we all have a vital role to uphold the excellent image of Hilton College and put an end to damaging chit-chat wherever it may occur.   

Later this week there will be further communication highlighting our concerns surrounding social media and abuse of alcohol. This letter will be to put the facts on the table, clearly outline policy, to highlight activities that do not rest at all well with our values or ethos and to propose a clear way forward.

In an exciting development, many Old Boys will be familiar with the Jacaranda tree near the swimming pool that has now been felled to make way for the new aquatics centre.  Old Boy and Farm Manager, Saxon Solomon, had this to say; “The tree shows 69 annual growth rings indicating planting being in about 1943. Before the pool was re-located from the front lawn of the Centenary Centre, this area was known as “Top Hard” and many old boys will remember the Friday cadet parades which sometimes took place there – though mostly on “Bottom Hard” which is now the Weightman-Smith field.(More about this gentleman next week) Many of the cadets during that time probably, amidst the dust and gruff drill instructors, all looked longingly at the shade of that gracious tree.

Saxon added; “I was told by Ken Franklin (a long standing teacher of Science), that “Top Hard” was surfaced with mine dump material from the gold fields on the Reef, and because of the cyanide content of the soil, vegetation would generally struggle to grow vigorously. In support of this, one can see that the grass cover has remained poor in areas and there is a memorial tree which we established on the corner closest to the squash courts, in 1994/5, which has, despite a great deal of care, remained under 2m.

Responses received from my email regarding departure times for boys have been hugely gratifying and supportive.  Completing the positive loop of communication, the following dates are important when booking flights:

Our next half-term starts at 08:30 on Thursday 23 August so in terms of flight arrangements, the earliest domestic flights booked from Oribi should be at 10:30 and Durban at 11:30.  It will be impossible for out of country boys to be able to depart on Wednesday evening as boys will only return to the school from the Outward Bound exercise at 17:00.  Thus an early Thursday morning departure will be allowed for out of country boys.

Speech Day takes place on Wednesday 26 September, the last day of term, and no boy will be able to depart from the school before 12.00, including those travelling overseas or out of country.  The first domestic flight from Oribi should not be before 14:00 and from Durban not before 15:00.  Following the events of the morning is a lunch for Grade 9 pupils, parents and staff in the Dininghall.  At 13:00 this group of parents and pupils will attend a presentation in the Theatre.  This is followed by meetings with subject teachers starting at 13:30 to finalize their Grade 10 subject choices.  Once these meetings are completed, the Grade 9 pupils may leave with their parents.

Have a great week!

G Thomson