The Latest from the Head Master’s Desk : 23 October 2015 (Address at Speech Day)

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, my colleagues from other schools, parents, staff, Old Boys, Matrics, Gentlemen of DHS and our guest of honour and guest speaker, Dr Govender.  Welcome back to your old school Dr Govender.  Next year we will be celebrating our 150th birthday and a steering committee under the leadership of Mr Alan Norton is already hard at work for next year.  The slogan for our celebrations has been unveiled:    The slogan is:  “Honour the Tradition, Explore the Future”.
The theme for this year was again to “Get Involved” and a lot of our boys did exactly that. On top of that, a large number of our boys have excelled in a number of areas and have made us as a school extremely proud.  Having said that, it is important to also acknowledge the contributions of all our boys and not only those who achieved in various areas.  I want to use this opportunity to thank the Matrics of 2015 for their contribution.  They got involved in many areas of the school and the tremendous spirit that existed was largely because of them. 
Congratulations to all the prize winners this morning.  You deserve to be rewarded for your hard work.  Good luck to all of you for the exams and for whatever you have planned for next year and beyond.  I have no doubt that you will all make a success of your lives. 
In 2014, 197 boys were registered for the National Senior Certificate examinations. We achieved a 96% pass rate, with a 75% Bachelor pass rate.  Of the 1371 subject symbols that were awarded:  253 were A symbols, 274 were B symbols, 314 were C symbols and 209 were D symbols. 
Eight of our boys achieved 7 A’s: Yasir Sacoor, Nischay Chetty, Ahmad Mota, Jared Lakhani, Tshepo Ngidi, Kabir Jivan,Yushir Phalad, and Jared Pillay.  Six of our boys achieved 6 A’s and another six achieved 5 A’s.
The Junior Awards Ceremony and Prize-Giving was held in February this year to honour the learners who excelled in the internal examinations at the end of 2014.
Nikyle Bisseru made us proud by winning the UKZN Outstanding Achievement Award for Mathematics and Physical Sciences.
With a large investment from our donors, Datatec and Sabvest, and with the assistance of the DHS Foundation, and Mr Justin Paul, we were able to finally roll out our Information Technology (IT) Upgrade.  This enhanced our service delivery in the field of technology greatly.
A number of academic outings were undertaken with trips to Shakaland, as well as the Business Expo and the Twinstreams Environmental Education Centre to name a few.
Our Jazz and Blues bands continued to produce performances of the highest quality.  The Deo Fretus Choir, under the expert guidance of Dr David Smith, was phenomenal this year.  The Mambaso Singers, under the guidance of Ms Smith, continued to delight audiences and our Brass Band has gone from strength to strength.  HaydnHenning, together with the KZN Youth Choir, performed at the International Choir Competition in Poland over the June Holidays where they won their category.
URBAN DK took our annual Fashion Show held in April in the school Hall to a whole new level this year and the Eastern Evening as well as the Zulu evening were again popular events and showcased our diverse school.   
Matthew Hamilton was selected to represent the South African U17 Water Polo team and he, together with Jeandre Petersen, were recently selected for the SA U18 team that will compete in an International series in Cape Town in December.  Nathin Pillay, Rylan Naicker and Sridhar Chandraduth won Gold Medals at the SA Chess Championships in Kimberley and Reegan Tait continues to excel internationally in Open Water Swimming.  Ruben Coetzer was selected for the KZN U23 Golf Team. Sebastian Terblanche won the “Matchplay Champion” (A Division) at the Royal Durban Golf Club this year. He is the youngest winner to date as well as the Junior Champion for 2015.  Sicelo Dzingwa (Captain) and Latrell Beukes were both chosen for the SA U16 Basketball Team and Samkelo Cele for the U18 side. Our very own Mr Letha Zulu was selected as the Coach of the SA U16 Basketball Team.  Five of our boys were selected for the SA U16 Rugby Elite Squad.  They are Kamvelihle Fatyela, Phendulani Buthelezi, Sanele Nohamba, Sean Barnes and Cham Zondeki.  Tonderai Ndudzu was selected for the SA U19A Badminton team which participated in the SA Challenges Tournament in Pretoria earlier this year.
On top of this a large number of boys represented KZN in a multitude of sports.
The DHS Golf side was placed 2nd in the KZN schools challenge.  Our Basketball side represented KZN as the top team from the Province and swept all opposition before them to end 1st in SA.  We also won the U14 and the U19 sections of the Inter-Schools 5-a-side  Football tournament held at DHS.
Our Chess team was placed a credible 9th at the prestigious Grey Bloem Tournament.  Our Badminton team won the SA Schools Championships and our Sevens Rugby team won the Crawford La Lucia and the Pionier Tournaments. The 1st Water Polo team came 3rd at the prestigious SACS tournament.
Our sport teams attended a number of Tournaments and Festivals and we also hosted a number of Tournaments and Festivals.  These include the Football 5-a-side Tournament, the U16 National Water Polo Tournament, the DHS Easter Basket Ball Tournament and the U12 Sevens Tournament.  The 1st Water Polo team also travelled abroad to Serbia during the June/July Holidays.
As a school we need to stay ahead of the chasing pack.  Scott Mathie, our Rugby Coaching Co-Ordinator, has introduced a state of the art high performance conditioning programme to help develop our Rugby boys.
I want to thank the Prefect body and RCL under the leadership of Liam Whitfield, Justin Diedericks and Thandolwethu Hlongwane for all they have done for the school this year.  I also want to again congratulate and wish our incoming leaders, Head Prefect, Mvumeleni Mathenjwa, Deputy Head Prefects, Joshua Spooner and Libo Mngomezulu (who is also the RCL Chairman), as well as Lloyd Mtshali, the RCL Vice Chairman;  all the best for the rest of this year and 2016.  I am confident that, with their skills, they will make our 150th year a major success. 
There are numerous opportunities for boys to develop their leadership skills at DHS.  These include the RCL, Prefects, Mentors, Captains for Sport and Culture as well as Class Captains to name a few. 
We again had the Cobham Leadership Experience for our Grade 10s as well as the trip to Shongweni for the Grade 9s.  The annual Grade 8 Campout, another highlight in the leadership activities at DHS, was held in January on the school fields. 
It is important that we take our boys out of their comfort zones and expose them to the challenges that these kind of trips have to offer. 
I attended my third Headmaster’s Conference for the 24 traditional state boys’ schools and found it again to be a very rewarding and enriching experience.  We were also privileged to host the dynamic Rector and Vice Chancellor of the University of the Free State, Professor Jonathan Jansen.
The Matric dance was once again a major success and I am sure a night that will always be remembered by our Matrics.  It was held at the Sibaya Casino this year.
Blackmore House: 
Mr and Mrs Hellenberg took over the running of the BE this year and I am delighted that they have been able to make a significant impact in such a short space of time. This year the families of the boarders of Blackmore House attended the inaugural Boarders’ Family Picnic on the grounds of the School.  This event proved to be a great success and I am sure will become a yearly event. The BE is a very important component of the school and as I said before it is something we need to nurture and cherish.
Community Outreach: 
On Thursday 6 August, the Representative Council of Learners (RCL) hosted a Women’s Day assembly and we held our annual walk in support of Women’s Day.  We held “The Saving Race” this year for the first time.  This was an initiative by Sizwe Malinga and a group of Grade 11 boys to create awareness and to cut our dependency on fossil fuels here at DHS.  
Old Boys: 
DHS Old Boy, Hashim Amla, was made Test Cricketer of the Year at the Cricket South Africa Awards and Richard Curtis, was selected as the Goal Keeper for the SA Men’s Indoor Hockey team which competed in the Indoor Hockey World Cup in Germany.  Old Boy Sibonelo Makhanya was again selected as the captain of the SA U19 Cricket team that toured Bangladesh in April.  On Wednesday 6 May a special Memorial Service was held at the school in honour of Major Edwin Swales, DHS Old Boy and War Hero.  The Memorial Service was held to commemorate 100 years since his birth, 70 years since his death and the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day in 1945. We also had the privilege to meet the Portuguese Ambassador to South Africa, His Excellency Dr Antonio Ricoca Freire, and the Honorary Consul for Portugal, Mr Elias de Sousa, when they joined us in laying a wreath at the statue of one of our greatest Old Boys, Fernando Pessoa.  The Foundation continued to support the school financially with capital projects like the Blackmore House Refurbishment, Change Room Facility Upgrade and Staff Accommodation to name a few.  For this we are grateful to them. 
Staff Matters:
During the December holiday period we were shocked to hear of the death of two of our educators. 
Mr Justin Ward and Mr Patrick Collyer were two educators who have left large and very deep footprints here at DHS.  They often went well beyond what was expected of them and they will be greatly missed by the DHS family.  We also heard of the passing of two of our ex teachers, Ms Jean McBean and Mr David Robinson.  
We welcomed a number of new educators and they found their feet quicker than expected.  We welcomed our new Deputy Head Master, Mr Roy Hellenberg, and the new Business Manager, Mr Chris Green. Mr Hellenberg attended the Summer School on Education for Sustainable Peace Conference at the Georg Eckert institute in Braunschweig, Germany where he presented a paper to post doctoral students on:  What is necessary to build a just society in South Africa?  .
We also learnt of allegations of sexual misconduct against a past educator and another one against a resent past educator who was subsequently sentenced. This led to much introspection and a full review of related employment policies and practices which address the safety of learners and educators at DHS. 
150th Celebrations: 
We held the launch for our 150th celebrations at the end of the 3rd term and I am sure you are as excited as I am for next year.
In 2016 we will be hosting various Festivals, Tournaments and other Functions, but I am most excited about the new developments that will include a new Maths and Science Centre and a new Music Centre.  This is again made possible because of the generosity of Old Boys.  We owe it to all those who have come before us and those who will be here long after we have passed to continue with the legacy and the important traditions that have been formed and built up over the last 149 years.  We will continue to evolve but we must also continue to develop young men of good character.
In conclusion, I want to once again thank my staff, and here I include the teaching staff, admin and Finance staff under Mr Green and the members of the estate, the SGB under the leadership of Mr Paul and now Mr Winston Owen, the DHS Foundation under the leadership of Mr Fennell, our Circuit Manager Mr TT Mthembu, the parents and young men of DHS for the support they have given me this last 12 months and their involvement in their beloved SCHOOL.
Lastly, I want to thank my deputies, Mrs Vermaak, Mr Norton and Mr Hellenberg.  Without them my task here at DHS would be impossible.  Thank you Lady and Gentlemen!
To the young men here this morning remember the following:
There will always be mistakes
There will always be people who doubt you
You will fail many times
But with hard work and determination, anything is possible.
Thank you.

Leon Erasmus

14th Head Master

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