From the Outgoing SGB Chairman, Mr Winston Owen

How do I start an article on the DHS Governing Body (SGB) in a way that catches your attention? And more importantly, how do I end?

Do I start off by giving the reasons that I have chosen to step down as Chairman, after 30 months in the seat? Being about me, would that subject not bore you? So do I start by congratulating and edifying my successor, Mr Paul Spooner, Old Boy from class of ’82, and previous Deputy Chairman of the SGB? As an Engineer, Elder, father of a previous DHS Dux (who was also Deputy Head Boy and played 1st Team Waterpolo, 2nd Team Rugby, acoustic guitar and a leading role in the RCL and SCA) Paul Spooner is very easy to edify. With a second son in Grade 9, and another still at DPHS, Mr Spooner has a vested interest in DHS continuing to rise as a giant from its slumber. Did I mention that he is a man of good character and integrity, with a courageous passion for this school and a clear vision of the important role it plays in the life of this city and nation?

Maybe I should coax your curiosity with the coincidence that the Chairman, Deputy Chair and Treasurer of the SGB all happen to be DHS Old Boys. Russell Hulett (Class of ‘85) has been elected as the Deputy Chairman, and yours truly, Winston Owen (Class of’89) has been elected as Treasurer. But, is it coincidence, or is it something to do with the culture of DHS, that School teaches us to embrace responsibility and give back to society as men?

Moving to the Body, should I mention the other parent representatives, all of whom are serving a second term, other than Mr Richard Smith and Mr Mboneni Bhekiswayo. The latter has a son in Grade 9 and the former has a son in Grade 8. How grateful are we for these two additions, as both of them will add value to the SGB by filling gaps in regard to certain skills and levels of experience! Mrs Debbie Green, Mr Noel Stapelfeldt, Mrs Chandira Maniram, Mr Barrie Knox-Davies are the “veteran” members. Who are the staff representatives? Mr Gavin Goodwin and Mr Barry Coskey are newly elected and Mrs Michelle Girodo and Mr Brian Green were re-elected as long-serving, faithful veterans. And what of the Learner Representatives? They are Zak Adams, Ethan Mack and Mohammed Shaikjee.

Should we not all extend a vote of thanks to all for being willing to serve on the Governing Body of this fine remarkable school? The responsibility is onerous and the tasks daunting. And for those that have served on the previous Body, including Mr PK Nagin (previous Treasurer), Mr Paul Bryan, Mr Ian Lewis and Mr Elphas Nxumalo.

If that is the body, then how do I end? For if I ended with a vote of thanks, would that not be too ordinary? But I learned whilst attending DHS the importance of articulating gratitude. And is it not fitting to thank various groupings for their support and partnership during my tenure in the Chair? For it is due to the likes of the DHS Finance Department and the vast majority of parents that pay their school fees that DHS is now on an increasingly strong and stable financial footing. This, coupled with the selfless activity and generosity of the DHS Foundation Trust and Trustees in our Capital Development and Bursary programmes, has helped the school to rise and rise in the last few years. And has the Victor Daitz Foundation not been laudably supportive with their contribution towards the Math and Science Centre as well as Bursaries? The DHS staff members have been incredible in their support of the initiatives to further differentiate the school as a provider of quality education, that is well rounded, but also cutting edge. And for this, I have to thank the Head Masters past and present, who courageously took the helm in stormy seas. Tony Pinheiro is a gift to the school as a visionary leader who is well respected in the education circles.

And the boys, the young men, particularly the learner leadership – past and present – that have been the inspiration that have kept us all working hard through difficult times to make the school a better place for generations to come.

So, how do I end the article? Perhaps I could tell you about my love for the school, but then how would I stop? For if the school gets into your heart, you cannot but love it with a joy and exuberance that should only be directed at living things. But then, is it the institution of the school, or is it the people we love? Is it not the passion and pride of the young men of character whom the school develops from rough and ready adolescents that captures our hearts? Is it the diligence and dedication demonstrated by the staff to fulfil the mission of the school? Is it the sublime support of the Old Boys, recent and past? Or is it that in our hearts, we see in Durban High School a picture of hope for our society? For is DHS not an emerging South African model of an increasingly integrated society, which is a centre of excellence? And maybe that is why we serve on the SGB.

So how do I conclude? For the bottom line is that I love this School fiercely, and I know that the other members of the SGB do too.  Most of you still reading this also do. And if you do not … yet … I challenge you – I dare you – to spend more time at the school. Let the lads get under your skin. It will change you. For this I know: Durban High is a school that is in the hands of God. And so I will end with the words of our School motto: Deo Fretus!

Winston Owen
Ex SGB Chairman


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