The Head Master’s Address from our Senior Speech Day & Prize-Giving Ceremony:
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, Mr Luvuyo Mandela. Welcome back to your old school, Mr Mandela.
This year was one of the most significant in the history of Durban High School. 2016 marked the 150th year of our existence. From humble beginnings in Mansion House in Smith Street on 1 June 1866 DHS grew to the institution of academic excellence that it is today. Today, DHS is a fully transformed, multi-cultural school that nurtures, prepares and equips boys to contribute significantly to the New South Africa. We are also providing the country with the type of leaders that will take this great country of ours to even greater heights. Our future lies in the hands of boys that come from schools like DHS and it is imperative that we, as a public school, continue to be a beacon of hope. 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 150 years. We will continue to evolve but we must also continue to develop young men of good character. Young men who will be passionate about DHS just like the older Old Boys who still remember what this great school has done for them. We also need to develop critical thinkers who will help this school evolve into a true South African school. The slogan for this year was “Honour the Tradition, Explore the Future”, which basically means that we will move forward but we will not forget what the past has taught us.
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 2016, under the tremendous leadership of Mvumeleni, Joshua and Libo, for their contribution this year. They got involved in many areas of the school and the tremendous spirit that existed was largely because of this group of Matrics. Congratulations to all the prize winners this morning. You deserve to be rewarded for your hard work.
We were extremely proud of the Class of 2015 with Nikyle Bisseru, who came 6th overall in the province and 1st in the Umlazi District, and Aravind Arunakirinather who came 1st in KZN in Mathematics and 3rd in Maths in SA. These were extraordinary achievements.
The Matric Class of 2015 had a 95% pass rate, with a Bachelor pass rate of 85% and 292 subject distinctions. 9 of our learners achieved 7 distinctions and 7 learners achieved 6 distinctions. I have no doubt that the class of 2016 will improve further on these results and I want to wish them well for the final examinations that start next week.
We had our Junior Speech Day in February where we recognise the boys who excelled academically last year. We renamed the Grade 9 Maths Prize to the Trevor Wadley prize. Our Guest speaker was Old Boy and past Head Boy, Athabile Jojo.
Improvement on IT infrastructure continued, thanks to an investment from Datatec and Sabvest, together with the assistance of the DHS Foundation, and Mr Justin Paul. It consisted of three phases. The IT upgrade initially saw the replacement of the School’s server with the second and third part of the upgrade the installation of new network points in the school, and the laptop deployment to register class teachers. The final phase of this upgrade was the implementation of the iPad “flip” classroom. This exciting project is now based in the Media Centre’s “reading room”. This enables teachers to use iPad technology to enhance their lessons by transforming them from normal lessons into interactive and exciting “flip lessons” where learner involvement is integral to its success.
The Grade 8 Bell Ringing Ceremony and Induction for 2016 was held on the first day of school as the excited Grade 8s were formally welcomed into the DHS brotherhood for the next five years. The ringing of the bell symbolises that each and every boy is now ready to become part of the DHS tradition and heritage of the School.
The 150th Celebrations got off to a great start early in January with a Cricket Festival which was attended by 21 top cricketing schools from around the country. We also opened a time capsule that dated back to 1968. In the old capsule, we found newspapers, brochures, coins and a plaque from that year. At a Special Assembly we also placed various items of interest into a new time capsule to be opened in 50 years from now.
In early March the 150th Corporate Breakfast was held followed by the 150th Banquet Dinner which was held in June, just before Founders Day, and was attended by over 800 Old Boys. We hosted a Rugby Celebration Day as part of the 150th Celebrations. This exciting day was attended by 14 local KZN 1st XV Rugby teams. All teams playing on the DHS Van Heerden Field, all on the same day. In the March holidays we hosted a Hockey and a Basketball tournament.
The boys also formed up to create and spell out a massive DHS 150 on the fields for aerial photographs to be taken. At the end of April we hosted the 150th Cultural week with plays, music and comedy shows. This year we also created an Archive Museum in the old reception area which attracted a lot of interest, especially from the Old Boys. We also produced a 150th Calendar, a special tie and Heritage Book. We had a banner on Tollgate Bridge, a logo at Mitchell Park and two supplements were published in the Mercury and Berea Mail. At the Founders Day Assembly we thanked and honoured various people including Old Boys Chris Seabrooke, Howard Buttery and Stephen Saad. Old Boys who have passionately supported the school over the years. At this assembly we received a mosaic of the DHS School badge from DPHS as a 150th gift and in recognition of the close relationship that exists between the two schools. At the start of the June/July Holidays we hosted the 150th Football tournament and after the break, we also hosted our U12 Rugby Sevens Tournament, as well as the National U17 Rugby Sevens Tournament. In our final 150th anniversary celebration of the year, we hosted the U16 Water Polo Tournament at the end of the September holidays.
The 150th Celebrations Committee worked extremely hard this year to ensure a most memorable year and I want to thank them sincerely for all their hard work. I would however like to single out the Chairman of this committee, Mr Alan Norton who ran the celebrations this year in a professional and very capable way. He was an absolute star and I want to thank him most sincerely for all he has done to make the year this successful. Thank you, Mr Norton.
The 1st Basketball team began the year on a high by winning the prestigious St John’s Tournament in Johannesburg. They kept up their domination in all National and Provincial competitions. Players like Archange Kalongi, Liam Reid, Samkelo Cele, Sicelo Dzingwa, Grace Luvungula and Latrell Beukes are giants in the sport in South Africa and will, I have no doubt, continue to excel in Basketball after school.
Our 1st Water Polo side made it through to the final of the Grey College Water Polo Tournament and Matthew Hamilton was selected to represent South Africa as a member of the SA U18 Water Polo team which participated in a tournament in Zimbabwe in February as well as the Junior World Championships which was held in Montenegro in August. Special mention must also be made of Matthew and Michael Paul who have both played over 200 matches for the 1st team.
In February, Durban High School hosted the Alan Burt Gala at Kings Park Swimming Pool as part of the 150th Celebrations. This year was the 50th year of this annual gala. I would also like to make special mention of open water swimmer, Regan Tait who, because of the open water swimming not being a school sport, does not always get the recognition that he deserves. Reagan is a phenomenal long distance swimmer, who has competed both nationally and internationally.
The 1st Rugby team beat Hilton, Westville, St Andrew’s and St Stithians, to name a few. We, unfortunately, narrowly lost by one point to our traditional rivals Glenwood in the Classic Clash match that was broadcasted on television. In the recent past we have struggled against these teams. It was also good to see 5 of our boys selected for the KZN Craven Week team. Sanele Nohamba went on to represent the SA B team later in the year. The Rugby Sevens team have dominated the provincial scene and won four tournaments in the process. Again, 5 of our boys made the provincial Rugby Sevens side. The Hockey teams struggled this year and a concerted effort has been started in both Cricket and Hockey to improve these two codes. Hlumelo Mekuto was selected for the SA U18B Hockey team. We are very proud of our Badminton Team that won the SA National Badminton Tournament. The team was unbeaten for the duration of the Tournament, and to top it all, our team will represent South Africa at the All Africa Badminton Tournament in December. Our Athletes retained the Northwood Quadrangular Athletics title by beating Glenwood, Northwood and Westville. The 1st XI Football team brought back the Natal Association Football Junior Challenge Cup, presented by George H Raw in 1889 when we beat Maritzburg College 1-0.
This year we again won the Durban & Districts Chess tournament and we hosted the first Rapid Chess Tournament.
Shivan Delomoney in Grade 11 won The Atrium “Design Your Future” art competition. Entrants were required to conceptualize a Christmas themed piece of artwork communicating the importance of going green. As the winner Shivan received a three year bursary valued at R135, 000 towards a National Diploma in Fine Art, Animation and Graphic Design at The Centre for Fine Art, Animation & Design (CFAD) after his matric year.
Joshua Arnold was the lead in the theatrical production of The Buddy Holly Story which was performed at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.
The brass band’s contribution to the school and what they did for us over the Founders Weekend was phenomenal. These young men were simply outstanding and played a very big part in the spirit that was evident this year and in particular over the Founders weekend. They practice extremely hard and we are grateful for what they have done for us. The Deo Fretus and Mambaso singers were again outstanding. The Zulu Cultural Evening was a major success and we were back at the ICC for our Matric Dance.
We also hosted the Youth Environmental Conference recently. The DHS Interact Club, together with the Durban Youth Council, invited learners from surrounding schools to this conference, the purpose of which was to bring together youth who have a passion for the environment.
The Outdoor Leadership programme offered by our school is indeed what sets us apart from other schools in our country. The enjoyment and value of outdoor learning cannot be underestimated. This started with the Grade 8 Camp Out and their trip to Spirit of Adventure later in the year. The Grade 10 boys were hosted by Khotso Trails and our Grade 11 boys did their week of Work Experience.
Blackmore House is flourishing and they have contributed widely to the various areas of the school.
We welcomed a number of guests on the campus this year, notably Prof John Volmink and Prof Dennis Goldberg. We have also embarked on a journey to begin an honest reflection on the environments we have created for young people to learn in. A workshop is being held here at DHS and a number of schools have accepted our invitation.
It was very sad to hear that Nikhil Maharaj, our RCL Chairman of 2014, passed away at Rhodes University last term. We planted a tree in memory of Mr Patrick Collyer who passed away last year and we unveiled a plaque in memory of a special boy Madadondile Mavaleliso, affectionately known as Madoda, who passed away a few years ago and who would have been in Matric this year.
Educators Seema Rabilall, Kerry-Lynne Sprunt, Evan Thomas and Leandi van der Walt as well as Estate Manager, Mike Maree, Denise Dicks in the Finance Department and our Music Director Natalie Rungan joined us this year. We said goodbye to Moira Rattray, a long serving and well-loved member of staff.
Earlier this year, I also presented a 150th DHS tie to our longest serving member of staff, Mr Tony Human. Mr Human is a legend at DHS and he has been on the teaching staff for more than 50 years. This must surely be a record at any school.
Building started on the Chris Seabrooke Music Centre and the Victor Diatz Maths and Science Centre earlier this year. We will be having the official opening of the music centre next week and the planned completion of the Maths and Science Centre is the end of November. These two additions will be tremendous assets for our school and I want to again thank Mr Chris Seabrooke for his very generous donation to make the Music Centre possible and the Victor Diatz Foundation for their donation to make the Maths and Science Centre possible. Ladies and Gentlemen, it goes further, the value of the prizes awarded today has been increased significantly. Mr Seabrooke has donated the full R70 000 that will be awarded at this prize giving today. The Dux alone will receive a cash amount of R25 000. Mr Seabrooke has also committed to donating the full amount annually for the next 10 years. A more generous person I have yet to encounter.
By now most of you would have heard that I will be leaving Durban High School at the end of the year. I have accepted the post of Principal of a School in Cape Town and will be relocating at the end of the year. The almost four years I have spent at DHS have been some of the most enjoyable and rewarding years of my life. In a very short time, DHS has crept into my heart and it has been an extremely difficult decision to make. I was indeed fortunate to be trusted to lead this fine school. While there were difficult times, the good times and progress we have made in many areas have far outweighed the challenges we had to face. DHS is a beacon of hope for all Government schools in South Africa and a bright future lies ahead for it. I have had tremendous support from all involved in DHS and I have no doubt that, with this kind of support, the new Head will continue with the momentum that we have created for this great school.
I am indebted to all the DHS boys, staff, parents, SGB and Old Boys who have made it possible for me to be the best Head I could possibly be. I must extend a special word of thanks to the Trustees of the DHS Foundation, under the leadership of Chris Seabrooke, for backing me all the way and for the support they have given me.
In conclusion I want to once again thank my staff, and here I include the teaching staff, admin staff (and in particular my right hand lady Caroline Harrison), Finance staff under Mr Green, the members of the estate staff, the SGB under the leadership of Mr Winston Owen, the DHS Foundation under the leadership of Mr Fennell, our Managers at the Education Department, Mr TT Mthembu, Mr Mthethwa and Mr Ntuli, the parents and young men of DHS for the support they have given me over the last few years and for their involvement in their beloved SCHOOL.
A special thank you to my Executive Committee; Deputies, Mrs Marie Vermaak, Mr Alan Norton and Mr Roy Hellenberg and our Business Manager, Mr Chris Green. Without them my task here at DHS would have been impossible. Thank you Lady and Gentlemen!
Then lastly, a sincere thank you to my wife, Elmarie. Thank you for all your support and strength over the years.
I will follow DHS’ progress with keen interest next year and I have no doubt that School will continue to play a significant role in education in KZN and the country as a whole.
Deo Fretus: In God we trust!
14th Head Master
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The Head Master’s Address from our Senior Speech Day & Prize-Giving Ceremony: