In closing, I remind parents that all reports will be emailed to their respective email addresses on the 5th of August. Our third term parents evening will take place on Thursday the 15th of September. Booking sheets to see respective staff members at this parents evening will be placed in the college foyer at the start of the third term. Should your email address have changed recently, then we urge you to update your details on the parent portal.
Good luck for the exams.
24 June 2016
Now that the winter sports programme has drawn to a close, the boys have a good opportunity to dedicate some quality time to their academics and produce results of which they can be proud. It is my recommendation that your son begin studying for his examinations immediately. This will give him three weeks in which to do some thorough preparation. Below are 5 important tips to help ensure that your son manages his time and work load, copes with the stress of studying and achieves good results.
1. Establish a timetable
Schedule fixed study times, make sure they are realistic and then stick to them.
2. Organise his study area
Having a tidy desk or dedicated study area will eliminate wasting time and will ensure focus. I know this is difficult to accomplish with boys but it is worth trying.
3. Study in sessions and take study breaks
Study breaks are very important to maintain a high level of concentration. The recommendation is to study for a maximum of 45 minutes and then to take a short break. Preferably include some exercise during this time, making sure it is not only taken up by TV.
4. Separate facts and concepts
The amount of work to study for an exam can be overwhelming. Break it down into facts and concepts. Facts need to be learned, while concepts provide context and are the
reason he is studying. Once the concept is understood it sticks with you.
5. Study smart
Don’t waste hours studying at only half pace. It will end up taking him twice as long as needed too. Follow rules 1, 2 and 3 above.
15 June 2016
What Does The Future Hold For Our Children?
Gone are the days when television was the culprit for our boys being overexposed to a variety of social evils. These days, it’s social media. The arrival of mobile technology (cellphones, iPads, and so on) has meant that accessing the web through the mobile has overtaken fixed internet access.
As parents or guardians, we have traditionally depended on life’s lessons in order to guide us in raising our children. The parents of yesteryear invariably worked hard to make sure that their children turned out the way they wanted them to and did not have to contend with the influence of social media.
Often I hear adults complaining that children don’t listen or that they are lazy. Recently a blog in the rugby circles made reference to the fact that our boys don’t greet regularly. I have also heard members of the public complain that children of today are exposed to alcohol and drugs; that they have a low work ethic and are ungrateful for what they have or possibly that they are impatient and constantly looking for instant gratification.
If you are reading this article and agreeing with these sentiments, then we have a problem.
If we are going to empower our children, then we must help them find what they love and create learning experiences that encourage them to develop their strengths. Remember, success builds competence and competence improves confidence.
Author and human behavior researcher Tom Rath notes in his book “Strengths Finder 2.0” that “people who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general.” We only get better when we find those who truly elevate us.
In his book “The Innovator’s Mindset”, George Couros says that we need to continue to cultivate our professional character by:
• Being authentic
• Displaying a passion for your subject and communicate it to others
• Having a sense of honour, be humble and take risks
• Building relationships
Technology invites us to move from being engaged to being empowered. As parents, we need to buy into the life lessons that a new technologically advanced society offers. Only once we do this will we have a better understanding of how to raise our children; how to ensure that they become responsible global citizens in the 21st century. It is our responsibility as parents and adults to bring out the best in our children.
“We all must try to be the best person we can: by making the best choices, by making the most of the talents we've been given.” - Mary Lou Retton
Enjoy the long weekend.
10 June 2016
Do Not Judge
Do you judge a book by its cover, or do you give the person the time and space to impress you? While I was watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel, the presenter made the following comment: “You have less than 7 seconds to impress someone else” - once you have labelled that individual or group… is that it?
On Saturday, the RAPS cast performed “DIPUO” at the Market Theatre. What a performance! While driving there, I thought about the last couple of drama performances I have attended - and to be honest - I was not looking forward to it. I have found some of the previous plays from other schools weird, strange and nonsensical. I have found that often the performers used the opportunity to try and shock the audience. So I arrived at the theatre with a very negative perception. Leaving at the end of the evening, I realized that my initial perceptions could have prevented me from experiencing a really great play.
Having made it through the semi-finals on Friday evening, our RAPS play performed admirably against some tough opposition in the finals on Saturday evening. The cast stepped up in true Bennies style and certainly outperformed the other two plays.
Congratulations to Mrs McAnda, Miss Ntshangase, Miss Craze, the cast and the crew of “DIPUO” on winning this prestigious festival. In addition to winning RAPS, the one act play also won the following awards:
Best Original script
Most creative poster
Matthew Pepin and Jarred O’Reilly won the best Director award
The lesson I learned can be transferred to other areas of life. We need to find the greatness in each individual and not be blinded by their exterior or by our preconceptions; or by gossip spread in a car park or at book club. Make the time to get to know the person before you judge them. Judi James, author of The Body Language Bible, agrees: ‘Judging other people in the first few seconds of meeting them is part of our survival response. So, although we might understand that it’s a flawed and prejudiced way of evaluation, we can’t stop ourselves doing it and too often we are guided by what someone else has told us about that individual.
I believe that if you treat that person as if they are the most important person to you and give them time and space, they will surprise you. Changing your perception is not an easy task. The first step in changing your perception is imagining how you want to experience an event.
Here are some tips to help you start changing your perceptions.
• Decide to be in charge of your life.
• Set goals for yourself and make sure they’re attainable. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
• Change your inner voice from “I can’t” to “I can”
• Visualize where you want to be and write it out. Your imagination is powerful and using it is not a waste of time.
• Stop focusing on everything that is bad in your life and focus on the good even if it’s just that great cup of coffee in the morning - appreciate it.
3 June 2016
Barely a week goes by without various news media sources reporting the use and abuse of drugs in schools. The Star of March 16 read as follows, “Youth turn to drugs as sales at schools soar”. An increasing number of young people across the country are becoming drug users. In the past five years, there has been a rapid increase in the pattern of drug use in South Africa, and significantly more young patients are being admitted to treatment centres for drug-related problems. Statistics released by the Hospital Association of South Africa (Hasa) showed that there are a growing number of patients younger than 20 being admitted to treatment centres.
The Star in April went on to say that “… the Anti Drug Alliance South Africa’s 2016 annual survey, which gathered data from over 57 000 respondents, showed that among teenagers, 69% of the respondents said drugs were available to buy at their schools. About 34% of the teenage respondents admitted to having used drugs in the past six months while 32% said they had taken drugs over the past month. Some absolutely shocking and unacceptable statistics.
Recent articles in the Bedfordview Edenvale News relating to drug use in schools read as follows; “Edenvale school pupil hides drugs inside an apple” and “Three high schools in Edenvale have taken a proactive approach to tackling drugs in their schools” and “Schools march against drugs”.
The use of drugs in itself is obviously reason for concern. There are however other antisocial consequences. Many drug users engage in criminal activity such as theft and burglary. Drug use disrupts family life and creates destructive patterns of behaviour including fighting. Loss of friends, teenage pregnancy, loss of interest in sports and a decline in academic performance are also symptomatic of drug abuse.
The College’s drug and steroid policy is clear. It states that “St Benedict’s College has a zero-tolerance policy towards the misuse of drugs and steroids and towards the illegal possession or storage of such substances on its premises. Boys are expelled for contravening this policy. This prohibition applies to all College activities and includes the use of steroids and other performance enhancing substances. Drug testing takes place on a regular basis and testing for the use of steroids occurs on reasonable grounds of suspicion. As part of our responsibility for the welfare of our boys, the College believes it has a duty to educate and inform them of the consequences of drug use and the misuse thereof”.(http://www.stbenedicts.co.za/Policies/Boys/College_Code_of_Conduct.pdf) Further to this, part of the motivation for the policy is that the interests of the greater good are of paramount importance and must be guarded at all costs.
St Benedict's College commenced recreational drug testing in 2009. The format is that every two weeks ten boys are selected for testing. Staff are also invited to submit any names of boys whom they believe may be abusing drugs and these boys would then be added to the testing sample. The range of drugs being tested for includes marijuana, mandrax, opiates, morphine and meth. During the course of the year, 70 boys have been tested. 68 tests were returned as negative and two were positive for marijuana. Consistent with the policy, the boys who returned positive results were removed from the school.
The policy is clear and the boys are aware of the consequences. The tests are an effective deterrent and also serve as an effective means for the boys to be able to say “No, I do not do drugs” and not bow to peer and social pressure.
Is our policy working? A resounding “Yes!” Are we differentiating ourselves from national norms? “Yes!” Are the boys cognisant of their behaviour? “Yes and well done to them!”
Should you have any concerns in and around your son and potential or possible drug abuse, please feel free to contact Ms Tonia Lennox on email@example.com. Your query will be dealt with in the strictest confidence.
27 May 2016
Brothers In Arms
Following the draw between Kaiser Chiefs and Highlands Park in the Mainstay Cup Soccer Final played at the Rand Stadium on 24 November 1979, the replay was held at Orlando Stadium a week later. As an Under 12 soccer player playing for the Wanderers Club back in 1979, I was afforded the opportunity to play in the ‘curtain raiser’ for this replay. Playing in front of 40 000 screaming spectators is an exhilarating yet daunting experience. It is also a moment in my life that I will always treasure.
Why am I mentioning this you may be asking? On Saturday 14 May this year, our 1st Rugby Team were invited to play their fixture against Parktown Boys at the Emirates Stadium in a curtain raiser to the Lions/Blues Super Rugby match. Unfortunately the weather put paid to the boys’ opportunity of playing on this respected rugby ground. I must say that I was thoroughly looking forward to watching our boys battle it out in one of the most renowned rugby stadiums in the world. Unfortunately our boys were denied the opportunity to formulate some wonderful memories of their own.
Some swift organisation between the Heads of Sport from the two schools and the game was rescheduled to be played at Bennies on Wednesday 18 May. The match was played at home under lights in front of a crowd of about 600 spectators. While this was nowhere near the 30 000 potential spectators that may have turned out at the Emirates Stadium, it did highlight the value of playing at home in front of your own crowd.
What impressed me the most about this evening was how the fixture galvanised our boys. Each and every boy appeared to be enjoying themselves out there. A by-product of enjoyment is to sing in full voice. The more our boys cheered their team on, the better they played. The spirit displayed on the evening highlighted the importance of this Collegiality.
The first known use of the word ‘Collegiality’ can be traced back to the teachings of the Romans Catholics back in 1887. Collegiality is the relationship between colleagues. Colleagues are those explicitly united in a common purpose and respecting each other's abilities to work toward that purpose. Creating environments, such as these, where our boys can come together and share the same stage creates team spirit and ultimately highlights the pledge we make to our school.
As educators we need to create more of these opportunities where our boys can build and strengthen relationships with (and between) their peers so that every individual sees himself as an integral part of a larger whole. The picture in the insert sums up the title exquisitely. This is further ratified in the second verse of the song ‘Brothers in arms’ by Dire Straits “....I’ve witnessed your suffering as the battle raged high, and though they did hurt me so bad, in the fear and alarm, you did not desert me, my brothers in arms. “
Thanks for all the support you give on a regular basis. Your allegiance to your school is greatly appreciated.
20 May 2016
Can't Do It or Don't Want To Do It
This week I received another e-mail from my father-in-law, and normally it’s some random mail that he felt I needed to know about,, like the state of global warming, a cat playing the piano and, his favourite, a discussion about the rugby law interpretations. My first thought was to hit the DELETE button but fortunately I did not.
The video he sent me was about a boy who overcame adversity and it made me think about how many times we use the phrase.
“I CAN’T DO IT"
I came across this article a few months ago and it really made me re-assess statements like this.
When someone says, “I can’t do it” . . . I think to myself, “What do you mean, you can’t do it?” Maybe you don’t want to do it, but saying you “can’t” do it, is a completely different story.
With the right mind-set, positive attitude, and a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, the only thing holding you back, is yourself. "Can’t" is most people’s default setting. By saying you can’t do something, you are already expressing doubt, submitting to defeat and you’re making that barrier around your life tighter.
Your attitude is everything; it’s your reason, your why and how. It influences your facial expression, emotions, body language, and potentially the end result. How you approach an opportunity, and the result of it, is solely based on you, not the situation, not your boss or your co-worker or friend.
It’s much better to be known for your positive attitude, your poise, your energy. The reason why things go so well is because you are able to maintain such character. A negative attitude is easy. It’s easy to complain, it’s easy to be mad, and it’s even easier to do nothing to change it.
“Attitude is like a tattoo”, a bold statement. Thinking of a tattoo, it sounds permanent, but tattoos can be removed. Your attitude is like a tattoo because you wear it. People can see it and sometimes, they will judge you on it. If you maintain a negative attitude, then it is permanent until you decide to change it.
Change your attitude and I guarantee the results will change as well.
If you could find the time to have a look at the video, I am certain the problems you face will look like nothing in comparison to what Tommy faced.
To watch the video click here
13 May 2016
I recently had a conversation with my youngest son who is 12 years old in the Preparatory about doing his best. The conversation stemmed from inter-house cross country, which is not his sport of choice. He had placed a fairly mediocre 25 out of 90 competitors. He is probably capable of placing within the top 20. That was not my point. My point was that he had deliberately run more slowly so as to not be selected for the team which would then compete against other schools. Well, as Karma would have it, he made the cut and was subsequently selected for the team.
This got me thinking about our high school boys and areas where they “opt out”. Two areas come to mind, specifically the Grade 9 (and other individuals perhaps) boys “opting out” of subjects which they have not chosen and secondly boys “opting out” of certain extramural activities. Before I get into these two areas, let me state that I believe that a boy should always give of his best. Life does not let us “opt out” of areas of responsibility; university assignments need to be submitted, tasks from a person’s boss need completing, household chores have to be done and personal family responsibilities fulfilled. And so in failing to teach our sons and pupils these life lessons, surely we are failing them as parents and educators?
To the Grade 9 parents, please do not let your son neglect an area of study which he deems to be less important or irrelevant to his further academic growth. To do this is to confine broader education and development to a very strict set of boundaries. This in itself is limiting. Should your son be opting out of competitive sport or an extramural, then he is doing himself a disservice. Choosing to play C team hockey for example because his friends are in that team when he is capable of playing for the B team has no positives. Playing rugby for the 5th Team Falcons when he is capable of more detracts from the development of a competitive edge. Choosing not to play a Saturday sport because it impacts on his weekend freedom removes a key cornerstone to his education at St Benedict’s College.
“There is always competition. Whatever you do, there will be competition, and you have to decide how you’re going to play. For me, I had to be the very best. I had to be the very best. Because, if I was not the very best, I would end up being number two.” – Debbi Fields
6 May 2016
So Many Opportunities Lie Ahead
Welcome back to what should prove to be a busy yet exciting term. Let us not get ahead of ourselves though. With the winter sports season upon us, we need to remind ourselves that at the end of the 1st term our boys received their consolidated reports for the first cycle and, while the results were pleasing, there is still room for improvement. We also need to remind ourselves that at the end of the 2nd term we write our first full set of exams which serves as preparation for the end of year exams that count 75% of the year mark.
On the other hand, our matric boys have 22 school days left before they write their first formal final exam. The Life Orientation CAT part B written on Wednesday the 8th of June counts directly to their National Senior Certificate. Having said this, the Matrics only have 65 school days left until their Valedictory Service where we say farewell to the class of 2016. Thus we see that time isn’t on our side and if we take our fingers off the pulse for one minute, it could be to our own detriment. Time management will be key to our success this term.
The 2nd term, being the busiest sporting term of the year, is one where dreams can be made or shattered. Being selected for a provincial team could prove to be the icing on the cake for some but we must remember that it isn’t debilitating should you not make the team. We needs to appreciate that life works in mysterious ways and not all those sportsmen that are selected for the provincial teams go onto bigger things. In fact, many of these school boys stop playing sport when they leave school. What is important is that our boys continue to believe in themselves and continue to work hard in true Bennies spirit. If they are able to do this, then there is no reason as to why they will not become successful in their own right - well beyond their school days.
While we are mentioning success, it would be pertinent to sing the praises of the under 16 rugby boys who have returned from New Zealand unbeaten. They played a wonderful brand of rugby against some tough opposition and therefore were full value for their victories. The first team on the other hand won two of their five matches on tour. The losses that the 1st team have suffered, both on tour and at the KES Easter Festival prior to their departure to New Zealand, have either been from good positions or alternatively in the dying minutes of their matches. This is concerning and is something that they will need to work on sooner rather than later. Having said this, the tour and the festival was an opportunity to try different boys in different positions and was an opportunity to give all the boys game time. Therefore some of the losses can be accounted for but it is still cause for concern that we don’t have the depth to call on when it may be required.
In his book ‘Change’, Richard Gerver mentions that; ”The pace of change is greater than ever. We all face new challenges every day in our jobs and in our personal lives. Those who can handle change are the most fulfilled. Those who fear change will find it hardest to thrive.”
High school is about being adaptable as well as being able to harness skills that will stand you in good stead for the future. No matter who you are, we all have aspirations for bigger things. However, achieving bigger things may mean that we need to go beyond the confines of the regimented routines of high school which may require an extreme amount of discipline and commitment. It is with this in mind that we commend some of our old boys who have excelled over the past few months. Mosolwa Mafuma(Class of 2015) picked up the ‘Player that Rocks’ award following his good performances in the varsity rugby cup for the Shimlas this season. His valuable contributions to his side’s success this year has earned him a call-up to the South African U/20 rugby trials.
Luvuyo Papuma (class of 2012) had an outstanding season with Wits rugby club. His valuable contributions ensured that Wits won the Varsity Shield and they will play in the main draw of the Varsity Cup in 2017. In terms of golf, Bryce McCabe (class of 2014) made the cut at the Zimbabwe Open. This was Bryce’s first tournament in the big league having come through the qualifying school. Bryce has always worked hard at his golf and it is pleasing to see that he is starting to reap the rewards for his labour. Keep up the good work gents.
Socrates sums it up nicely when he says” the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.”
Have a great term ahead.
8 April 2016
Yet Another Summer Season has Come and Gone
On Wednesday, we celebrated the achievements of the St Benedict’s College Sportsmen for the 2015/2016 season at the Summer Colours Awards assembly.
Having a Code of Conduct is extremely important if you want to become successful in anything in life. Becoming a champion is not just about talent, it takes more: more than your opponent; more than what you think you are capable of doing. Champions share many characteristics, none of which are determined by their talents. Here are some of the characteristics of Champions that will go a long way to put you on the correct path:
- A champion has the courage to risk failure, knowing that setbacks are lessons from which to learn.
- A champion uses an event to gain greater self-knowledge as well as feedback on physical improvement.
- A champion trains their thought processes as well as their body to produce a total approach to performance.
- A champion understands their athletic weaknesses and trains to strengthen them.
- A champion actively creates a life of balance, moderation and simplicity - values that help improve running and life.
- A champion views competitors as partners who provide challenge and the chance to improve.
- A champion understands performances are like a roller coaster, with many ups and downs, and that you have to accept both the good and the bad.
- A champion enjoys sport for the simple pleasures it provides.
- A champion has vision. A champion dreams of things that haven't been and believes they are possible. A champion says "I can."
How many of these statements also describe you and your life?
Every activity in life is governed by some sort of code or rules by which you can live. I found this online - maybe this could be yours?
CODE OF A TRUE CHAMPION
- Consistently, and without reservation, strive to reach my full potential.
- Be committed and disciplined in my approach in training and on game day.
- Take personal responsibility, and any action necessary, to achieve team and individual goals.
- Demonstrate a deep desire to succeed, applying passion and heart to any, and every, task at hand.
- Show an impeccable and relentless work ethic that only true dedication provides.
- Set priorities, and make the required sacrifices, that enhance the chances for athletic success.
- Persevere through adversity with a positive attitude and concentration that strives toward excellence and mastery.
- Establish a mind-set that highly encourages the belief and confidence that one can accomplish anything, if they are so willing.
- Apply a training and competitive focus that creates the opportunity to transform the impossible into the possible.
You are a champion - believe it.
Congratulations to following boys who received full colours.
Congratulations to the following boys who qualified for their Honours Blazer
Full Drama, Full Swimming and Full Academics and
Half Water polo
1 April 2016
On Thursday, 7 April, 49 boys and 6 masters will depart for New Zealand, the "home of rugby" (debatable!) for a 15 day travel and rugby adventure. Similarly 30 boys have just returned from a much-nearer Netherlands Hockey tour. I am simultaneously hugely excited and apprehensive about the tour: the new South African customs regulations are rather daunting, not to mention the 46 hours of travel (I struggle to sit still for 10 minutes) and the two days in Singapore, the second most densely populated city in the world. So whilst contemplating the list of things to pack, ranging from ball pumps and valves to barge bags, I stumbled across an article encouraging South Africans to travel abroad.
There are obvious benefits to international travel. Students who travel are immersed in foreign languages, become inspired by new and exciting experiences abroad and encounter world geography first-hand. Travel forces students to navigate their way through unexpected obstacles while adapting to culture shock. Such experiences have a huge impact on a student’s life by expanding their horizons and changing the way they see the world. Almost all students return from their time abroad with a much larger and in-depth understanding of the world and its many cultures. During their experience, they are able to grow as individuals and receive a global education that is increasingly more important in the connected and “flat” world of today. Specifically, here are five ways educational travel can improve a students’ life.
Sharpens self-awareness: Gathering first-hand information about the world provides a level of mindfulness that’s often tough to shake.
Enhances perspective: Exposure to the problems and perks of other lifestyles helps people break out of cultural-centric thinking.
Fosters independence: Visiting a culture that is different from home can help prepare students for life in ways more profound than any camp or holiday.
Strengthens leadership skill: A person who’s been there and done that simply has more credibility than those who rely on lip service.
Demonstrates courage: Travelling away from the comfort of friends, family and familiar surroundings is tough.
Wish us luck for the New Zealand tour! I know that the hockey players came home with an understanding and perspective broader than prior to departure.
18 March 2016
Excitement and Exhilaration
The other day I was scrolling through Facebook and I stumbled across a post by one of our staff members. In the post, the staff member was remarking on the forthcoming hockey tour to the Netherlands. He mentioned that he was so excited about the trip and was optimistic about the possibilities. After all, it isn’t everyday that one gets the opportunity to travel abroad, in particular to go on a sports tour with a group of young aspiring hockey players.
A tour of this nature takes a lot of organisation and for this we thank Mr Tennant who has done an outstanding job in both the organisation and the fund-raising departments. With the assistance of our committed parents; sufficient funds have been raised not only to send the boys over to Holland but they have been assisted with a little pocket money as well. A sterling effort all round.
As our hockey boys embark on their inaugural tour of the Netherlands, I have no doubt that they are feeling just as excited as the coaches. Under the watchful eye of Mr Edwards, the boys’ skills have been sharpened. The boys are in good shape and are raring to go. One can see from their swagger and spring in their footsteps that the time has come.
The Dutch are an outstanding hockey playing nation. They have won gold at the Olympics no fewer than five times and have also been crowned world champions on three occasions. Hockey is somewhat of a religion in the Netherlands where you could get over 20 000 people supporting a major tournament or a test match for that matter. Hockey in the Netherlands is the second most popular sport and is played predominantly on Astroturf. The history books reveal that the Netherlands were one of the first nations to start playing the game and their success can be attributed to their dedication and commitment to the sport.
A tour of this nature could be an emotional roller coaster ride for the boys. Excitement is just one of the emotions that the boys may experience on the tour. The euphoria of having landed in the country is short-lived. Following their arrival, excitement turns to stimulation as our boys have their first training session with the Dutch coaches. Stimulation turns to nervousness ahead of their first fixture and nervousness turns to relief at the conclusion of the festival. In between all of this there should be some time for socialising.
I am most certain that the rugby boys are feeling in a similar mood. With their tour to New Zealand beginning in just over three weeks time, there is still an opportunity to have some valuable training. Following our fixture against Jeppe on Wednesday, our boys will have a week to allow their bruises to heel before they participate in the Easter Festival at KES. Thereafter it will merely be some fine-tuning before they head to the best rugby playing country in the world.
I have no doubt that the trip for both groups will prove to be fruitful and rewarding.
Enjoy the week’s break and we wish the Bennies family a blessed Easter.
11 March 2016
Supporter or Instigator?
Another summer sports' season has come and gone. I would like to thank all the boys, their parents and coaches for the hard work and support throughout this season. We achieved some pleasing results across all the sports even although things may not always have gone according to plan. The highlight of the season was the way the 1st VIII fought back to win Gold at SA Champs despite a shaky start to the season. Our rowing club must also be congratulated on securing the SA Champions title for the 23rd consecutive year.
As we embark on a busy winter season, I would like to pose the question: Are you a supporter or an instigator?
As we enter the winter season, I would like to remind parents, coaches, staff and boys that our behaviour on and off the field determines whether we are successful or not. It is always a disappointment when the scoreboard is in our favour, but our behaviour leaves a sour taste in the mouths of other parents, competitors and the opposition.
There is a fine line between supporting and criticizing from the stands and on the field. If a referee or official gets it wrong at school level, what is the worst that could happen? The team loses the game? It might feel like the end of the world at that moment in time, but in the bigger scheme of things it’s another life lesson that we are called upon to learn.
This is schoolboy sport and coaches, parents, staff and boys need to be the positive example that all will learn to live by.
It is worth our while to revisit the St Benedict's Supporters' Code of Conduct:
Supporters are reminded that they are ambassadors of the participating schools.
Supporters are requested not to interfere with the decisions of the coaches and /or referees/umpires. Do not disrupt the practices/matches or cause a distraction to players. Support your son's coach and do not undermine him/her by coaching from the side-lines.
Understand that school sport is also about social interaction, fun and competition; it is never about winning at all costs. Encourage from the side of the field if you wish, but do NOT be critical, abusive or threatening to team members, the opposition players, coaches or match officials.
Applaud good efforts in both victory and defeat and enforce the positive aspects of the game. Never shout at or ridicule a boy for making a mistake or for losing a game.
Do not compromise or undermine – in any way – a medical professional's opinion regarding an injured player's health, injury or ability to continue playing.
Concerns about any decision or the behaviour of a coach or an official may be raised with the College Head of Sport via email on Monday morning (firstname.lastname@example.org). Your concern will be investigated and appropriate steps taken, if deemed necessary.
The consumption of alcohol during matches is strictly prohibited and any supporters found consuming alcohol may be requested to leave the property on the first occasion. If the aforementioned behaviour is repeated, the supporter will be prevented from attending future practices/matches for the season.
After-match drinks may, on occasion, be on sale upstairs at the Tony Dobson Pavilion. When in use, this facility will open after the 1st Team match and will shut an hour after the end of the game. Supporters are reminded that the facility is for over 18’s only. Drinks may not be removed from this facility.
Please note that St Benedict’s is a smoke free zone. This means that smoking is not permitted on any part of the grounds. Thank you for your understanding and co-operation.
Do not compromise or undermine – in any way – a medical professional's opinion regarding an injured player's health, injury or ability to continue playing.
Thank you for your understanding and co-operation.
Let’s go out there and - on and off the field - be an example that others will strive to emulate.
4 March 2016
Earth Hour is a global campaign that raises awareness about climate change on Saturday 19 March from 8.30 to 9.30pm. St Benedict’s will be participating on Friday 18 March by “flipping the switch” on the entire campus in a show of solidarity with the campaign and to raise awareness about the campaign and its aims and objectives.
Founded by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 2007, it encourages hundreds of millions of people in over 160 countries to voluntarily turn off their lights for an hour as a synchronised global gesture of concern about the devastating consequences of climate change, which are already affecting each and every one of us. Climate change is the biggest threat humanity has ever faced.
There is a solution to climate change. We need to convince ourselves and our global leaders to make smart decisions about our common future, which will include weaning ourselves very rapidly off burning fossil fuels for our energy requirements. Fortunately there are sustainable natural energy alternatives, like wind, solar, water and geothermal technologies, for generating electricity. These are also more sustainable ways of looking after our water supplies and food production.
This year world leaders will be gathering to make new global commitments towards reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. They need to know that the health of our ecosystems matters to us and we, ordinary citizens, need to understand that if we and our children want to survive climate change we need to change our lifestyles.
The global Earth Hour movement focuses on the positive things we can each do, by using the power of our individual voices and actions to stop climate change. Please join us in sending out a positive message to world leaders by joining the movement to change climate change.
We encourage each and every family to participate in Earth Hour on Saturday night. Don’t leave it up to somebody else. Don’t be complacent about the problem. Don’t put it off till next year. Do take a stand. Do support, donate and Join the Movement. Visit http://www.earthhour.org.za/ to see what other related initiatives you can become involved in.
26 February 2016
Does your character define you?
A while ago Miss Lennox came into my office and asked me to fill out the Myers Briggs personality test. Typical of my dry sense of humour, I asked her “Don’t you know me by now?”. She politely responded that “Knowing who you are can assist others in how they deal with you.” Her comments started me thinking. Life is all about perceptions: whether it is your perception of how you should live your life or possibly how others perceive you.
Perception involves all the ways one becomes aware of things, people, happenings, or ideas. Whereas judgment involves all the ways of coming to conclusions about what has been perceived. If people differ systematically in what they perceive and in how they reach conclusions, then it is only reasonable for them to differ correspondingly in their interests, reactions, values, motivations, and skills."
With this in mind, the College Academic Planning Team have been working on a specific St Benedict’s curriculum that will incorporate the sixteen habits of mind as well as the eight St Benedict’s maturities with which each boy should be equipped. The intention behind this line of thinking is to develop and harness life skills which will stand the boys in good stead for the future. The questions that we find ourselves asking are “how?”, “when?” and “where?” do we incorporate these values.
If truth be told, the answer lies quite literally in everything we do. Essentially, it is in the deeper emotional reasons where you discover a well of passion, dedication, perseverance and the willingness to fight to the bitter end for your victory. To unlock your greatness, you need to be clear on your values. Your values are the unconscious motivators which shape your future. It is your values which drive your actions and behaviours. It is an unwavering belief in your vision which leads to greatness. We need to be resolute in our outlook and must not take 'no' for an answer. We need to be courageous enough to go against the norm and rise to the occasion when faced with obstacles.
The only person who can stop your greatness is you. One needs to practice the art of failing and getting up again and again and again if necessary. This gives you the resilience that is required for creating a strong mind.
We all need to be committed to defying the odds; overcoming huge challenges and journeying the road less travelled. Instant gratification is not what brings happiness, greatness or success. Happiness comes from the pursuit of excellence. To reach your desired levels of greatness, develop the habits which promote your success and do what you can to rid yourself of habits that get in your way. Success and your ability to achieve it largely boil down to seeing and identifying yourself as the single most powerful influence on your future. Greatness is a virtue, a state of mind, or a habit you develop.
John Wooden sums it up nicely when he says; “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
18 February 2016
In my last newsletter, on the 29th 0f January I stated that it is ok to fail, and that one needs to learn and grow from that experience. “Failing at something shouldn’t necessarily be the end. It should be a learning experience.”
We have most certainly learnt many lessons so far this season,but looking at the past weekend’s results, it is clear that our boys DO have the ability to adapt and persevere.
The 1st XI Cricket side have not had the best of seasons to date. However, they persevered, stuck to their game plan, put in all the training and the result was a good win against Parktown on Saturday. St Benedict's 1st XI - 102/2 (Jason Kwan 49*). Parktown 1st XI 100 all out (M. Lou 4/24). St Benedict's won by 8 wkts. 11 cricket matches were played against Parktown Boys; we were successful in 8 of these matches with all our ‘A’ teams recording resounding wins.
After a poor start to the year, the Basketball 1st team regained form this past weekend. Playing in the Inter-Catholic Schools Tournament Championship they had the opportunity to set the record straight, after losing to Dominican Convent in the final in 2015. They overcame hosts Marian College and Holy Family in the group stages, and then went on to beat St David 27-18 in the Semi Final to set up a rematch of last year’s tournament final. This year St Benedict’s managed to hold off Dominican Convent to claim a 22-21 Victory. These boys showed a whole heap of perseverance.
Our Water Polo boys had a full fixture against Parktown. The Bennies boys won 6 out of the 7 matches played, unfortunately the 1st team lost 4-8.
Our rowers showed what they are made of at Selborne Sprints. For the first time the first eight did not make the A final. However, they were given a life line: “if you win the B final, you can qualify for the A final.” The boys dug deep, won the B Final, turned around and rowed back to the start. They proceeded to out-row all the other participants in the ‘A’ final to win both finals in the matter of minutes. An excellent example of perseverance.
Here are some of the long term benefits of perseverance:
• It makes you trustworthy in other people’s eyes. They know you won’t quit when an obstacle comes along.
• It increases your sense of self-worth to take full ownership of the goal you set out to achieve. You accept that your destiny is in your own hands.
• Your commitment to your goal enhances its value for you and heightens your motivation.
• It leads you to unexpected discoveries and expands your knowledge, both about yourself and about the field of your endeavour.
Stay committed to your goal, and from believing in yourself you will achieve you goal.
12 February 2016
Disruptions and Lessons from Teachers
Yesterday evening I watched most (I fell asleep) of the State of the Nation Address. Which part you may ask? The first part of course. Was that not the entertaining section? It prompted me to compare what I was watching to the potential behaviour of 11A during the last hour of teaching during a long week. Here is some typically disruptive behaviour which may be exhibited by pupils (and parliamentarians) during this time.
Repeatedly leaving and entering the classroom (house of Parly) without authorization
Making loud or distracting noises (the Blue party took to this activity rather enthusiastically)
Persisting in speaking without being recognized (seems to me like the Red party took issue with not being allowed to engage in this activity)
Repeatedly using cell phone (well we are not sure if members were able to do this in 2016). Some teachers encourage it as the device is very powerful and can in fact be put to productive use.
Resorting to physical threats or personal insults (fortunately there were no brawls this year but there was some name calling. Something about ZUPTA?)
Any other activity the teacher may deem disruptive to the class (it seems the Speaker and Chair of Parly made up their own rules here when referring to points of privilege).
And yet Grade 11A never seems to get to the point where a walk out is contemplated. Yes, some difficult boys may be asked to sit in the corner or stand outside the door, but the business of the day continues, as it is their fundamental right to be educated. And so you see now the sterling work done by all of our teachers. They keep the classes engaged in meaningful and thought provoking activity. Constructive debate is encouraged and different points of view are accepted and vigorously debated. In other words difference of opinion is respected and respect for one another is mandated. A great job and well done to all our teachers, and teachers the world over. You are credit to our noble profession. What a shame that our MP’s have resorted to this sort of behaviour.
05 February 2016
The 25 hour day!
One of the things that has always astounded me about living in Gauteng is just how busy we are. From the moment we wake up until the time we go to bed, we seem to be on the go continuously. Often I feel like Sniff and Scurry, the two little mice characters in the book “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson. In essence, the book really is about change and how we adapt to this change. The cheese in the book is a metaphor which is used as a representation of happiness and success. Each of us has our own idea of what the “cheese” is, and we pursue it because we believe that it makes us happy. If we get it, we often become attached to it. If we lose it, or it's taken away from us, it can be traumatic.
Having been back at work for four weeks already, we have reached the shortest month of the year. On reflection, I can’t believe how busy we have been thus far. In the short time that we have been back we have had the Rowing camp at the Vaal, the grade 8 orientation camp out at Parnassus, the grade 8 Parents evening, the Academic awards evening and the grade 12 Parents evening. We have had three summer fixtures, a Waterpolo tour to Bloemfontein, Auditions for the One Act Plays and an U/16 basketball festival. The load does not lighten up either: next week the swimmers go to Midmar; the rowers go to the Eastern Cape in order to participate in the Buffalo Regatta; the U/16A basketball team go to the St John’s Festival while the 1st team Waterpolo boys participate in the Pretoria Boys tournament.
If we are going to keep our wits about ourselves then we need to keep our finger on the pulse. We need to make sure that we don’t drop the ball and that we ensure that we dedicate some time to ourselves and our families. We need to keep searching for our own piece of “cheese”.
If you came onto the school property during the course of the morning you would see two different types of boys. You would see the Hem and Hah type of boys similar to the mini-human beings in “Who Moved My Cheese?” while there are the other boys who you will find scurrying around the school fully active in the programs on offer.
At the College assembly yesterday, I spoke to the boys about happiness. As adults we have created a generation of thinkers who constantly question what is going on around us. This allows them the opportunity to understand fully their place in society. For me, it isn’t so much about the gathering of information but rather what they do with this knowledge. Too often you see boys passively wondering around the school just merely getting through the day. The questions I ask myself is “Are these boys happy? Are they gathering the necessary skills that will carry them through life? Do they have a piece of ‘cheese’ in their sights?”
There will be many challenges and difficulties in life. Getting anything you want requires some degree of effort. What I am saying is, is that if you work hard, and you give of your best, and you are passionate about something, and you continue with your endeavours, and you never give up; then life won’t let you down. You will find your piece of “cheese”.
In closing, we would like to thank everyone for the generous donations of water which we have received. The water will go a long way to assist the people and animals who find themselves in drought-affected regions across South Africa. St Benedict’s - a community that cares.
29 January 2016
As teachers and coaches we always set the bar high, we aim for those great results in the face of huge obstacles. Do we always get there? No, not always, but we know that to get to that awesome result or great average we need to allow boys to FAIL. Yes I said it. Allow boys to experience failure.
Someone needs to say this to our Boys:
It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to fall down every once in a while.
We all fall down at some stage. Some of us do that on a daily basis.
In my experience, what sets those that are ultimately successful apart is that they have the ability to fail and pick themselves back up. Failing at something shouldn’t necessarily be the end. It should be a learning experience. Part of our job as parents, teachers and coaches is to guide our boys through those tough times.
Your son’s failure is in no way an indictment on you as a person. Too often we want to protect our children from failure, in order to protect ourselves. It is obvious however, that common sense should prevail; you will not let your son run around the Kruger National Park with a steak strapped to his waist.
An old adage says: we learn more from our failures than from our successes. There’s much truth to that statement. We learn so much more from our mistakes – often times more than we learn from our successes. Being disappointed with a below average mark for a test or losing that rugby game gives the boys and all involved the opportunity to rectify those areas that are deemed unsuccessful. Failure creates opportunities to better one self. We have to take the time to acknowledge our failures and examine why we failed and how we can improve ourselves. Self-improvement only comes as a result of failure.
Many parents expect perfection from their children. How is that fair? Perfectionist parents are robbing their children of an important piece of their childhood. They’re stealing potentially life-changing learning experiences from them by not allowing them to fail. We live in an imperfect world. We should spend part of our time teaching boys that it’s okay to be imperfect.
We have all experienced colossal disappointments in our lives, if we don’t teach our boys how to cope with failure and how to fail gracefully and learn from their mistakes, we are not giving the next generation a fighting chance. Their world will come crashing down around them, the first time they experiences anything other than an “A” on a report card. I see them giving up opportunities to discover something they would really enjoy or genuinely be good at if they only took the time to work through those initial failures.
So, it is OK not to be perfect.
Give it your best and you should get the same reward for 10th place as 1st. No one is great at everything, but everyone is great at something. Yes, in a contest or game there’s always a defined winner, but each person should feel like a winner because he gave it his best shot. Just because he doesn’t walk away with the ribbon doesn’t mean he didn’t win.
Just as our boys should be allowed to fail, first and foremost, our boys should also be allowed to succeed and excel. Success should be acknowledged and rewarded.
I think it is our job as parents to help build our children’s self-esteem, while also maintaining the balance between “winners” and “losers”. We can’t always win and as parents we shouldn’t always gush approval, but rather, we should gush support, regardless of the result.
22 January 2016
How to make a fresh start
So here we are at the beginning of 2016. In order for you to make the most of 2016, some reflection on 2015 is of utmost importance. What went well during the year and what went badly? Perhaps you had a bad year in terms of your health. Maybe you were constantly in trouble with your boss/teacher/parents. Maybe you had relationship issues. Maybe you had trouble accomplishing your academic goals. Maybe your sporting goals were never quite achieved. Whatever the area of disappointment, realisation and acceptance thereof is key. Having done that, then and only then are we able to move forward with our lives. And so it is with this in mind, because no doubt the trials and tribulations apply to all of us, that I came across these gems of advice.
Learn your lessons
Try to see the experience not as a tragic end, but as a new beginning. The mistakes we make in life can make us stronger and ultimately shape our future.
Lose gracefully. When you're hurt, it can be tempting to lash out. But the best strategy is to maintain composure and avoid burning bridges. Instead of telling your ex-boss/wife/girlfriend or friend to take a hike, wish them well and move on.
Allow yourself time to wallow
Mope around the house, shout at the dog, call your friends. Write a letter and burn it. Get it all out. But put a time limit on how long you'll do this for because this behaviour gets pretty counterproductive after a while.
Leave the past behind
It's only natural to put emphasis on your negative experiences, but reliving the past is only torturing yourself because it's not where you're going. That energy is better spent investing in your future.
Forgive yourself and others
Holding a grudge or beating yourself up will ultimately only weigh you down. Forgiveness isn't about being weak or allowing anyone to "get away" with anything, it's about setting yourself free.
Focus on being happy
Regardless of what's happened, there are plenty of ways to find a little joy. Go for a walk, call your mum, sit in the sunshine or share a meal with a friend. And above all, take life one day at a time.
15 January 2016
“The college was founded in Late ‘58 “
Welcome back, I trust that you are well rested and ready to get back into the swing of things. As you can see from the title, we turn 58 years old this year. There is a story to be told about each and every year prior to this one. The question I ask is “What will the critics say about 2016?”
At the welcoming assembly on Tuesday, I shared with the boys the story about the experiment that was done on fleas. In short the experiment goes along the following lines: Fleas were placed in a jar with a lid on it and the researchers wanted to see how high these fleas would jump. Fleas are natural jumpers and it was noted that the fleas would jump up and hit the lid. After a while the researchers noted that the fleas no longer jumped high enough to hit the lid.
When the lid was taken off the jar; the fleas continued to jump, however, it was noted that the fleas didn't jump out of the jar. The reason is quite simple. They conditioned themselves to jump just so high. Once they have conditioned themselves to jump just so high, that's all they can do.
I pointed out to the boys that as a human being, we do a similar thing. We restrict ourselves and never allow ourselves the opportunity to reach our full potential. Just like the fleas, we fail to reach new heights, thinking that this is all we can do and that we have reached our ceiling.
2016 is the year where we break that mentality. We cannot allow ourselves to think negatively and in turn prevent ourselves from striving for excellence. There is a lot of untapped potential within each of us that I would like to see exploited this year. We cannot be contempt with mediocrity and, using our natural flair, we need to unleash this raw potential. Should we manage this then I have no doubt that our 58th year will be a year to remember.
The class of 2015 did themselves proud. The 127 Matrics amassed a total of 253 distinctions at an average of 2 distinctions per boy. The overall grade average was 70% while 24 boys obtained an overall average of 80 and above. 31 of our boys achieved 4 or more distinctions while Liam Oosthuysen and Matthew Cockroft made it onto the IEB Commendable achievers list. We not only congratulate these boys on their success but we also congratulate those boys who may have achieved way beyond their previous best. We wish the class of 2015 everything of the best in their future endeavours. For more information on the matric results please consult the website.
While we are singing the praises of people, Mr Lynch successfully completed his PGCE and is now a fully qualified teacher. Mr Lynch’s role at St Benedict’s will change somewhat this year. Mr Lynch will fulfil the role of sports psychologist and I am confident that this growth post in the college will go a long way in search of the excellence I spoke about earlier. Mr Rahme has also moved into a growth post, he takes on the role of junior marketing assistant. We also congratulate Mrs Sillman, Mr Tennant and Mr De Reuck on successfully improving their qualifications to a BED Honours degree.
We are pleased to have Mrs Lourens back following her illness which laid her low at the end of last year. Mrs De Reuck returns from accouchement leave on Monday and will continue in her role as grade 8 year head.
In conclusion we wish all our new parents everything of the best as they start their new journey with the college. We trust that your time at St Benedict’s will be filled with wonderful memories and that your son’s stay is a fruitful one. I leave you with a quote by Sarah Bombell who says that ”The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret”.
4 December 2015
Hockenbury and Hockenbury(2007) state that an emotion is a complex psychological state that involves three distinct components; a subjective experience, a physiological response, and a behavioural or expressive responsive. The question I ask is where do you fit in the equation?
As a College we have had a good year. Was it outstanding? The answer would probably be no. there is always room for improvement. If we had to give the school a mark out of 100 then I would say we would have achieved a result of about 75%. So I ask the question "How was your year? The answer to this question would be totally dependent of which side of the 75% you fell. This is where the emotion comes into the equation. As a parent, or boy for that matter, when things don't go our way then we tend to blame other people for the atrocity. One of the biggest challenges in life is to accept responsibility for our actions. When we are just starting out, this is a difficult skill to acquire. When our children fail, as parents, we tend to step in and protect the child.
While this may sound like a logical approach, unfortunately we are not teaching our children resolve. In life there will always be disappointments, it is our responsibility as adults to equip our children with the skills to deal with these disappointments. Take emotions out of the equation, let me ask the question again "how was your year?" A difficult question to answer!
As the year draws to a close I would like to thank all our staff, the boys and our parents for the support you gave us throughout the year. You need to understand that your contributions, no matter how big or small they were, certainly had a massive influence on the College.
Unfortunately at this time of the year we have to say farewell to outgoing staff. Today I would like to thank them for the good work they have done in the years which spent at the College. In order of years served: firstly we thank Mr Goodhead who spent a year in the RE department. Mr Goodhead is furthering his studies next year. Secondly Mrs Ehlers who worked in the RE department for the past two years. She will be taking up a post at St Theresa’s. Thirdly Mr Van Der Berg spent the last two years making his presence felt in the Accounting department. He leaves us for a promotional post at Yeshiva College. Fourthly, Mr Voigt spent the last 5 years contributing immensely to the sports and LO departments. He is leaving the teaching profession and moving into the private sector. Finally, Mr Gill will be taking up a post at St Johns in 2016. Mr Gill was Head boy of the College in 1999 and has been with us ever since. We thank him for the massive contributions he made in the Maths, It and sports departments. He was a true Bennies boy.
We wish these teachers everything of the best in their future endeavours.
They say one door closes and another one opens. In January we welcome the following staff members to the College and we wish them a long and fruitful stay at St Benedict’s. In the RE department we welcome Miss Bolton and Mr Braum. In the Accounting department we welcome Mrs Viljoen. In the Music department we welcome Mr Steenkamp.
Business Studies returns as a subject in 2016 at grade 10 level and we look forward to welcoming Mr September who will pick up the majority of the classes. In the Drama department we Welcome Miss Craze. Miss Walsh will be joining us in the IT and Maths departments. While Mrs Steyn will be joining the Maths and Geography departments.
There are also a few operational changes that will take place from January. Mr Lynch will join the LO department and will become our resident sports psychologist at Bennies. We wish him well in his new position.
We also wish Mr Rahme everything of the best as he moves into the marketing department as a junior marketing assistant.
In closing I want to wish all our parents, boys and staff a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New year. I look forward to serving you again in 2016. If you are travelling then please do travel safely. Boys return to school on Tuesday the 12th of January.
26 November 2015
Teacher Holidays – November 2015
So one of the common statements made to teachers at this time of the year is, “Another holiday! You teachers get so many holidays. What do you do with yourself during the holidays?” And so it is time to put to bed the reasons why teachers need long (and frequent) holidays and how they occupy themselves during these holidays.
Some parents are in favour of shortening holidays and argue that their children forget some of what they have learnt during the course of the year. Incidentally there are some schools in Johannesburg which broke up last week Friday. Secondly they ask what they are to do to keep their children busy during the holidays. This is false logic and the two need not be connected. So why do teachers need long holidays?
• To allow teachers (and pupils) to gain proper rest and recuperation.
• Demands on teachers are so high during term time that the holiday is an essential factor in a teacher’s management of workload and stress.
• Teachers feed their creativity and reflect on what works in the classroom.
• It gives teachers time to regenerate, read books and visit galleries.
"In other words, it's the time we get to be creative and to reflect on what we might do with our pupils next year. Teachers aren't just deliverers of someone else's curriculum; they develop and shape experiences on what they believe to be in the best interests of pupils' learning. To do this successfully needs creative energy. When you're working a 50 hour week that's very difficult."
Now comes the question that has often mystified pupils, parents and society as a whole – just what do teachers do during those five weeks they are not at school? Well, in support of the above, some teachers would like you to believe that they spend all of their time planning for the year ahead. Some frustrated parents faced with childcare issues like to think that teachers are lying back relaxing on a beach laughing at their struggles. In reality, it’s actually somewhere in between.
• Sleep, sleep and more sleep. Controlling and nurturing classes of children is tiring work.
• Go on holiday. Yep, teachers are human too. Despite what many may argue, we are just as in need of a holiday away as everyone else.
• Watch TV. Some of us may binge watch the Series Channel whilst others surf the full bouquet from 201 to 207.
• Catch up on social media.
• Get served in a shop by a pupil (maybe if they are not on holiday).
• Panic over Matric Final results. It isn’t just the children who get into a bit of a state. We really want them to do well.
• Go into school. We head back into the school and get prepared.
• Make big plans. This is the year that we will get “that child” to hit one of his target grades.
• Get excited. We think of how many children we will inspire this year and how many futures we will be a part of.
20 November 2015
As we near the end of yet another successful season in both the cultural and sporting arena, I would like to take this opportunity to just say thank you to all. Without the support of parent’s, staff and boys we will not be able to achieve, again and again. Every year we raise the bar, and every year the boys deliver.
Thank You for …
• the long hours you spend sitting on the sidelines watching your boy at games or practices, setting aside your own work or personal interests (in the freezing cold or scorching heat).
• The long hours you spend driving your boy to rehearsals and play practices.
• the many kilometers you travel to games, plays, practices and tournaments to support your child.
• the hours you volunteer to help your child’s team or cast, whether its coaching, fund-raising or as a driver, statistician or selling Boeries on a Saturday.
• the hugs you give your children whether they win or lose.
• the support you show the whole team, crew and cast, not just your child.
• the way you support your child’s coach, even if you don’t agree with him or her.
• the way you understand that there is more to life than sports, cultural and stats and getting your child’s name in the paper.
• the sacrifices you make — whether its money or time or whatever you’ve given — so your child can play and perform. And thank you for not constantly reminding them that you are sacrificing. (Someday they will get it.)
• Thank you, thank you, parents for the unending positive support
• Thank you for seeing the value of sport and cultural participation and the valuable life-lessons learned from playing sports and taking part in cultural activities.
• Your contribution to the culture of our youth is invaluable — there would be no activities without your help and support — and it is appreciated by coaches, other parents, the team and, most of all, by your child.
Enjoy the holiday break; let’s come back refreshed in 2016, to do it all over again.
13 November 2015
Exam stress. How can parents help deal with it?
It’s that time of the year when both pupils and their parents start to feel the heat of exam pressure. While some competitive spirit may be healthy, sometimes the balance tips, leaving both parents and their sons anxious and stressed. Often these anxieties related to academic performance stem from parents who, consciously or unconsciously, offload it on their child. So how can you help your son during these exams without making him overly anxious or marring his self-confidence?
You should act as a facilitator for him during the exams by trying some of the following:
• Ensure he has created a study timetable
• Provide adequate and nutritious food to keep him healthy
• Encourage some physical activity such as a run or a gym session
• Monitor your son’s sleep patterns and make sure he gets adequate rest
• Provide the much needed assurance and emotional support for him to overcome his apprehensions
How will you know if your son is suffering from exam stress? As a parent, you will know how he reacts when he is anxious. Some of the anxieties expressed are that he has not adequately prepared, is unable to concentrate, may forget everything or is not able to grasp the concepts. Also he may tend to oversleep or sleep very little, while others may have an upset stomach or headache just before exams. All these are signs of stress and anxiety. Being available for your son and monitoring him becomes important to keep track of any changes in his behaviour. Reassure him that the focus is on learning and giving of his best and not solely on marks.
Through our experience, we have found that most of our boys do become responsible towards their studies during exams. Avoid trying to control him and give him the space to study by himself. What is important is making him feel responsible for his studies. Excessive monitoring and guiding will not help him to learn better. You may be asking what is sufficient time? Our junior boys have generally finished their exams by 10:00am. Assume he is home and has had a swim and a snack by 11:00am. He should probably be doing a further six 45 minute study sessions during the remainder of the day, spread over the morning, afternoon and evening. Do not expect him to study continuously for the entire day.
Then you need to talk to your son about success and failure. Help him to identify his strengths and reinforce his self-esteem are the most important and sensible ways of nurturing your son. This should be reflected in your everyday conversations with him. See that your day to day conversations do not indicate that you respect only success. Show the attitude of taking both success and failure even-handedly. Ask yourself, what is the content of your talk with your son most of the time? Is that making your son feel happy and confident? If not, change the content of your conversation so that he grows to be a healthy and happy individual.
You begin to achieve when you begin to believe.
Henry David Thoreau once said: ”One is not born into the world to do everything but to do something.” The question we need to ask ourselves; what is that something?
As we approach the end of a long, yet tiring, year and with exams almost upon us, you can almost feel a sense of nervousness in the air. With our last sports fixture for the year being played tomorrow, the boys know that the only thing that stands between them and a well-deserved break, are the exams. They aren’t just any exams, these are the final exams which carry a weighting of 75% of the year mark. As an adult, who has been through this process before, we can empathise with the boys. However, we do need to appreciate that, at this time of year, stress levels do increase and we do not need to add to these stresses through unrealistic expectations. The boys’ self-esteem levels tend to drop somewhat and there is a sense of disconnection with what is happening around them.
As parents, we need to play the supporting role in the studying process and err away from unnecessary pressure. I am in no way saying that we must not involve ourselves in the process. What I am saying is that we apply the right amount of pressure. However, you need to be able to read the situation and know when to take your foot off the pedal.
In her book ‘Your body is your subconscious mind’, Candace Pert demonstrates how our internal chemicals, the neuropeptides and their receptors, are the actual biological underpinnings of our awareness, manifesting themselves as our emotions, beliefs and expectations, and profoundly influencing how we respond to and experience our world. As parents we need to be able to read into our children’s behaviour traits and know when to apply the pressure and when to play the role of a guide, by their side, in the learning process. Having said this, we also need to understand that our emotions, beliefs and expectations may be different to those of the boys and this is why we are the parents.
This may all sound rather easy in principle but in reality it is far more complicated because we allow our own emotions to cloud our judgement. As parents we know how tough it is out there and feel this insatiable desire to insist that the boys get the grades. We are all concerned about the end product and not the process. As a school, we also want the boys to achieve these fantastic results. The reality is that each boy is different and each boy has a different skill set. With this in mind, we have always stressed that boys must achieve the best results that they possibly can. If a boy’s best result means getting a 60, then he must achieve it. However, if a boy is getting a 60 but has the ability to get a 75, then we certainly do need to apply the pressure.
In conclusion, it has been widely published that confident, happy kids will always produce better results irrespective of their background. Throughout this exam period, I ask that we all work together in motivating our boys and build their confidence over the next three weeks. If you are in doubt as to what to say to your boy over this time then I recommend you use the following principle; "If you don't have anything good to say then don't say it." Remember you begin to achieve when you begin to believe. Trust your boys.
Good luck and may God bless you over the exam period.
At the end of the year I find myself reflecting on 2015 and looking back on all the excellent results achieved in our four Pillars: Academic, Religion, Sporting and the Cultural fronts. The question that comes to mind is whether these results are the result of hours of hard work or are they because of our boys' God-given talents or is it a combination of the two?
If you have been following the world cup rugby it is evident that consistency leads to success. The All Blacks have been consistently the BEST team in the world over the last four years, and will most likely be the World Champs at the end of tomorrow’s game. They have been performing at the top level week in and week out. This success builds confidence, they know how to win. They have that winning mind set. Even if they are behind on the score board, they bank on their consistency to pull them through and get that win.
I read an article by Tim Noaks, in which he shared the following: “I grew up believing that talent was God-given and that the skills that produce special abilities in any activity, be it sporting, intellectual or artistic, are hard wired into our individual genetic codes”. By the end of the article, he had concluded that it is not only these God-given talents that produce stars. It is by constantly bettering yourself.
I do believe that God gifts us with certain talents. What we do with those Talents and how we develop them is our Gift to God.
In Outliers- The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell explains how those who have excelled in their field – the Beatles, Mozart or Bill Gates - are those who have practised much, much harder than the rest. He believes to fully master any skill requires 10 000 hours of practice. So the lesson here is to keep going, through the rough and tough patches – success will come.
Practice is not something you do once you’re good; it’s the thing you do, that makes you good.
The road to success is a combination of God-given talents, consistency, hard work and continually striving to find a perfect balance.
Talent + Hard Work + Consistency = Success
Mr M Nel
At our 1st assembly in May this year we were fortunate enough to have Emma Sadleir address our boys and staff about the do’s and don’ts of social media. In light of the two incidents that have recently surfaced in the newspapers across the country, we feel that it would be appropriate to remind our boys, and possibly our parents for that matter, about Social Media etiquette. The intention behind this newsletter is to refresh our boys’ memories as to what was said and educate the boys on good practice.
Just about every boy has a cellular phone. For people today, the technology has changed the way we work, play, communicate, learn, and socialize. Even the term “smartphone” is a bit of an understatement, with all their hundreds of thousands of applications. You don’t need me to tell you that they’ve become an indispensable part of our lives. The overwhelming majority of young people are using their phones responsibly, however we do need to ensure that as adults we help our children minimise the risks associated with these powerful devices.
Referring specifically to social media, the number of networking apps is not limited to the ones you might have heard of. It's all about sharing and socializing. The good news is, if they have cell phones, their use is mostly school life and the people they're interacting with are typically friends and peers they know from school. This is where the role of the school and the parent hasn't changed much. We still need to ask questions and set limits. So here is a guide of some important considerations which you need discuss with your son.
• Login details: Your son should know that his login information should always be kept secret.
• Resist peer pressure: Your son may come under peer pressure to bully or torment someone else. He should treat others online as he would treat them in person.
• Inappropriate language: He must not post anything that he wouldn't want you to read.
• Causing harm to another person: He must not participate in online fights or encourage others to behave badly.
• Posting photos and videos: He must not post media that could be embarrassing to him, his family members, friends or classmates.
• Bullying and harassment: He must keep you his parents informed if others are using social media to bully him.
There are countless websites offering advice to parents on how their children should behave in their social media spaces, how they should behave online and how to behave responsibly in terms of their cellular phone use. I encourage you to visit some of these sites and then open up a dialogue with your son. In this way you can help him to remain a responsible user and to stay safe.
Mr T Craig
Technology – Friend or Foe
Educational research is a long and continued process. However, a particular word has started to appear more regularly in international higher education and research circles. The word is “impact”. While the first numeric computer was produced way back in 1946, it was only when Microsoft developed the personal computer in the mid-1980s did the technological explosion begin. Since then, the production line of handheld devices has become complex and far more sophisticated. Who would have thought that a mobile phone would become the most valued piece of equipment in a household and have the greatest impact on our childrens’ lives. When I grew up, all telephone numbers were either stored in my brain or in a filofax. Today I struggle to remember my own password never alone someone else’s telephone number. The question I ask myself is “Why should I remember anything? The phone/computer does it all for me.”
In schools across South Africa, and the world for that matter, there is increasing pressure to go digital. Government and businesses in SA are investing in education and are providing learners with tablets to help transform their learning experience. With this in mind, the school must ensure that the teachers' skills are also enhanced to accommodate the new digital age. This all comes at a great cost to both the parents and the school.
In the midst of these trends and advancements, experts maintain that digital learning cannot replace the need for pen and paper learning. They also make mention of the fact that students who write out their notes on paper actually learn more.
Five years ago, the first tablet entered the market and had an instantaneous impact on education. While tablets enable students to do more, such as engage in online activities, they also allow students to collaborate with each other on papers and projects. Access to information from the internet has never been easier and the taking of notes has become quicker as students are able to type significantly faster than they can write.
However, taking notes by hand requires different types of cognitive processing skills and ultimately these different processes will have significant consequences for learning. Writing by hand is slower than typing and students cannot possibly write down every word that is said in a lesson. Instead, students must listen, digest and then summarise the content so that they can succinctly capture the essence of the information that is being taught. Taking notes by hand forces the brain to engage and these efforts foster comprehension and retention. (Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer, “The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard”)
More and more research reflects a need to stick to traditional reading methods. There is increasing evidence to show that information retention when reading and learning on screen simply doesn't measure up to paper. Reading words on a screen seems to encourage skim reading and digital distraction which leads to jumping around the screen in order to find information, instead of following linear word patterns. This, in turn, inhibits comprehension and the learning process.
Designers of tablets have listened carefully to research and have subsequently developed a tablet that users can write on. Will this alter the way we teach or is it yet another marketing ploy to get customers to buy their products? Personally I think it is far too early to pass judgement on whether traditional methods will outlast the technological revolution but preliminary research is certainly leaning towards it.
Whatever method your son chooses, as adults we need to be supportive of the learning process. When it comes to results, there is no substitution for hard work. Positive results will ultimately have a positive impact on the final outcome. With this in mind, the management and staff at St Benedict's wish the Matrics of 2015 everything of the best as they write their finals. Carpe Diem.
Mr D Jeffrey
Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.
As we near the end of another year we bid our 2015 Captains and Leaders farewell, and welcome the new 2016 Captains and Leaders into office.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who took on this role in 2015. If it was not for your leadership, we as a school would not have reaped the rewards and experienced the results we had during the season. You lead by example, whether it was on the stage, in the boat, on the court, the field or the pool. We are extremely proud of the work you did.
To the new Heads of Cultural activities, Captains and Vice-Captains, I would like to offer some advice. This is not just purely for this group but for the greater community out there, as we are all a captain or head of our own destiny.
• If you encounter a problem, stop, breath, think and react. This is something I was taught in my Scuba diving class. React calmly to the problem.
• Address the problem together; find a solution as a collective.
• Be a role model, other players and juniors look up to you for guidance and inspiration.
• Be the example that you want them to become.
• Don’t be shy, stand up and speak up. Give advice.
• Remember the rule – for every one negative comment you will need at least three positive comments to help build your team mates back up again.
• Ask for input from your team mates, you are not put in charge because you know everything. A good leader takes others and their ideas and leads them with those ideas.
• Put trust in your team mates’ abilities.
• Try to avoid team cliques, it's a team made up of players, not a team made up of teams.
• Try and portray a positive demeanor, your team mates will feed off of what you portray.
Being named a team captain is an honour. The position of Captain is given to those who the rest of the team respect and trust to lead the team in the right direction. However, with this great honour also comes great responsibility. A captain must be accountable after a bad performance or practice. Captains are expected to perform in the clutch and lead the team or cast to a great performance. It is also expected that captains will maintain control in the most pressurized situations and be the model of excellence for their teammates.
Consider the best leader in your field, and then aspire to be 1% better.
Mr M Nel
My father always said to me “Manners maketh the man”. In fact this has become something I say to my own children, the boys in my boarding house and some boys may have heard me say it around the College. You would no doubt have received your own set of manners from your parents but you may wonder if and why some of these manners remain important.
Think of manners as traffic lights for life. On the road, traffic lights turn a world full of cars moving in different directions into an orderly system that allows everyone to get where they are going. The rules of good manners are the traffic lights of human interaction. They make it so that we don't crash into one another in everyday behaviour.
Manners are about more than using the right fork or not slurping when you drink. Those rules of etiquette might be expected in certain situations, but not doing those things isn't going to hurt anyone's feelings. Good manners are a way to show others that you care about them and they make it easier for everyone to feel comfortable in social situations.
Our distant ancestors developed behaviours to show others respect, fairness and kindness. Those have evolved into today's manners. These are more relaxed than they were 100 years ago, for example, when good manners for children meant never speaking unless an adult spoke to you first! Some manners are still used even though the original reason for them is largely gone. Have you ever wondered why you're told to keep your elbows off the table? The rule dates from the Middle Ages when tables often were just a big board placed on a stump. Leaning on the table with your elbows could easily tip the table and make everyone lose their food! Today, it's not good manners to text at the table, because it sends a message that you aren't interested in the people around you.
A child's rude isn't always intentional. Sometimes children just don't realize it's impolite to interrupt, pick their nose, or loudly observe that the lady walking in front of them has a large behind. And in the hustle and bustle of daily life, busy moms and dads (and teachers) don't always have the time to focus on etiquette. The manners below are a must and if you do, you'll raise a polite, kind and well-liked child.
1. When asking and receiving something, say "Please and Thank you”.
2. Do not interrupt people who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. Then say "excuse me".
3. Keep negative opinions to yourself and do not comment on other people's physical characteristics unless, of course, it's to compliment them, which is always welcome.
4. When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are.
5. When you have spent time at a friend's house, remember to thank your hosts for having you over and for the good time you had.
6. Knock on closed doors and wait to see if there's a response before entering.
7. When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling.
8. Never use foul language in front of people.
9. Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak.
10. Even if an event is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested.
11. If you bump into somebody, immediately say "Excuse me."
12. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don't pick your nose in public.
13. As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.
14. When someone asks you to do something, try to do it without grumbling and with a smile.
15. Use eating utensils properly, keep a serviette close to wipe your mouth, don't reach for things at the table and chew with your mouth closed.
I will be addressing the College on these manners at an appropriate time but it never hurts for us all to reinforce them to our boys.
Taken from and adapted from the following sources:
The Washington Post – Reasons for Good Manners - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/10/AR2011021005802.html
Parents.com - http://www.parents.com/children/development/social/25-manners-children-should-know/ Examiner.com - http://www.examiner.com/article/30-manners-everyone-should-know
Product or process
The end of term always brings with it a sense of excitement and anxiety, and last term was no different. The excitement was that we were about to embark on a period of restfulness and the anxiety was because reports were about to be released. When my daughters returned with their reports at the end of last term, the first thing I did was scrutinize their results. Once I had digested the marks, the next thought that filled my mind was 'Why did they not fair better?' Some other thoughts that crossed my mind were “They just didn't work hard enough” or “The teacher did not prepare them well enough for the exam”.
In Stephen Covey's book: “The 7 habits of Highly Effective People”, there is a chapter that discusses the idea of 'Seek first to understand, then to be understood'. Instead of going off on my usual tirade, I decided to apply this principle "seek first to understand, then to be understood". You see; I was more worried about the product and not the process. Children are not commodities and we cannot expect them to turn out these results at the end of the year like a machine. Humans have emotions and emotions impact on how we behave and how we react to certain circumstances. The exam period is a stressful time for all and we need to understand that education is not only about the final result - it is how we get there that is just as important.
On return to school this term the Year Heads and Subject Heads have been inundated with queries. These queries have varied from “Why was I not informed that my child was going to fail?” to “Why did my son receive a letter of concern?” We thank these parents for taking time out to raise these concerns but the questions I ask myself are "Are these parents worried about the product or are they worried about the process? Have they taken time out to analyse the results with their son or are they being judgmental about teachers? Have these parents taken time out to assess the situation and 'seek to understand”?
Allow me to try and shed some light on the situation.
The mid-year exams are the first full scale examinations that the boys write. The first term results are generally made up of classwork assignments, class tests and cycle tests and therefore the results at the end of the first term are generally higher. Added to this fact that the boys are only assessed on a small amount of work. As the mid-year exams approach, a greater volume of work is covered and therefore a greater effort is required to achieve a good result. The mid-years are also a trial run before the finals. At grade 8 level the term mark or SBA (School Based Assessment) counted 40% while the exam counted 60%. In grade 9-12 the balance is shifted slightly where the SBA counts 25% and the exam is weighted 75%. It is for this reason that when parents ask as to why they weren't informed that their son was performing poorly during the term that we can say that their son may have been coping fine with the classwork but possibly had a poor exam.
I am in no way making excuses on the teacher’s behalf as I do believe we all have a role to play in formulating the child’s result. However, there are times when the boy’s cognitive ability restricts him from getting a better mark in a certain subject and the mark he received is a reflection that he has worked to the best of his ability (remember: seek first to understand, then to be understood). The parents evening last Thursday gave our parents an opportunity to discuss their son's results with his individual teachers. Unfortunately only a small margin of our parents made use of the opportunity. Some parents indicated that 5 minutes with the teacher was insufficient to address their concerns. This is understandable, however, the conversation could have been started at parents evening and, should more time have been required, then a separate meeting could have been arranged. Should parents feel the need to discuss their child’s progress further then I ask that you e-mail the respective Year Heads and make the necessary arrangements to meet.
18 September 2015
Every four years the world’s best rugby players gather in splendour and slug it out to see who will wear the crown of being the BEST in the world for the next four years, and no matter if you lose a test match during those four years, you are still the World Champions.
Preparation for this World Cup started most probably three years ago. Some countries’ preparation would have involved asking the question, “How are we going to qualify for the world cup?” Other coaches would have sat down and planned how they were going to prepare for, and win, the final.
There is a lot to be learnt from this, especially for our boys. Your final exam is your World Cup. Every exam or test that you are writing is preparing and qualifying you for that final “TEST MATCH” – your matric final exam. Just like the rugby players, you need commitment, passion and perseverance to perform at your best and give of your best in that final.
There will be some injuries along the way (ask Jean De Villiers), a bad test or a bad term. However, if you keep your eyes fixed on the goal, it will work out in the end.
Being committed to your passion and working hard, putting in that extra practice, is what will carry you through the tough ‘GAMES’ and injuries.
Here are three tips to help you to commit to commitment:
Break your goal down into bite size pieces -The only way to win the CUP is to focus on one game at a time, or one section of work at a time. We live in a society where the ‘quick fix’ ideology is the norm; you have got to be patient. Celebrate the progress, not just the final outcome. The final will take care of itself if you have put in the hard yards.
Remove small barriers - Take care of the fundamentals, do the basics correctly. Even the All Blacks do basic handling drills. Surprisingly, it is often the little, fixable things that get in our way of achieving success. Make sure you keep up to date; don’t procrastinate, do your homework every day.
Stay focused - Write your goal on a piece of paper and paste it on your mirror so that you see it every day and it will keep you focused. By constantly reminding yourself of your goal, you renew your commitment to that “FINAL”. You need to see yourself achieving those marks at the end of the year, or scoring that winning try in the WORD CUP FINAL.
GO BOKKE - GO BENNIES!
11 September 2015
From 12 to 19 September it is National Clean-up and Recycle Week. It is also recycling day on 18 September. St Benedict’s College will be supporting these iniatives and we urge you to do so also.
During the course of next week, Enviroserv will be addressing the College at assembly on the virtues of recycling. The Leaders will be imploring boys to clean up after themselves and staff will also refer to the significance of the week during the course of the day. As you are no doubt aware, there are a number of recycling stations around the campus for the broader community to make use of. Enviroserv tracks our monthly recycling quantities and last month we recycled a total of 3 155kg. This placed us third school in our area.
But on closer inspection, this translates into 4.8kg of recycled matter per child (family) at the College for the month. Not very much is it? I know we all produce far more waste material than that. Of course there is the possibility that you recycle at another dump?
And so next week we are going to be targeting campus litter and waste management. Reduce, reuse and recycle are our key words. We urge you to do the same as well as to bring all recycled matter to one of the College drop off points. Along with this, we will be doing a “Paper Drive” where we will be setting aside all of our weekly paper used and then doing a mass paper weighing. That will truly tell us just how much paper we all use. Once again, you are invited to get involved in the used paper collection. Simply send to school with your son and tell him to place in a paper recycling bin in any class.
7 August 2015
Out with the old in with the new
At St Benedict's we have never been afraid to try something new. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we get it hopelessly wrong. This, at times, may cause a great amount of frustration to staff, boys and parents alike. However it is through this process that true learning takes place. In his book 'Failing Forward' John Maxwell talks about turning mistakes into stepping stones for success. With every mistake that is made, a lesson is to be learned. Failure to learn from your mistakes could prove to be a travesty.
With this in mind, during the course of today, the College will be sending out reports electronically for the first time in its history. This decision was made in light of one of the strategic imperatives to go green and adhere to a paperless society. What does this all mean for you the parent? No more traffic, no more queues and certainly no delay in receiving your son's report. Should you not receive your son's report then this can only be due to the fact that we have the incorrect e-mail address and the Parents Portal has not been updated. Having said this, if you haven't received your son's report then you probably haven't received this newsletter via e-mail either.
Here is the good part. You, as parents can help us by spreading the word that reports are going out electronically today. If you know of any parents who have not received their son's report electronically then please direct them to the parent portal on the school’s website (this portal links directly to PencilBox - the schools administrative system). Their information can be updated there and a report will be forwarded to them.
We have already had a trial run by sending out last year’s report to 3 classes of Matrics. We were pleased that there were no glitches. However sending out nearly a thousand reports on one day could prove to be a challenge. Should you receive the incorrect report or possibly not receive a report at all then you are requested to contact your son's Year Head.
Should this process of sending out reports via e-mail prove to be a success, then moving forward we will only print the final report at the end of the year. This will ensure that our parents have a hard copy of the year’s results for their records. We are excited by this new initiative and we trust that you, the parents, will also appreciate the strides we are making in this digital world of ours.
In closing, I would like to congratulate our Pipe Band on a fantastic season. At the final gathering of the year: the South African Championships held at Benoni High School; our Novice Juvenile Band were placed second in their category while our Juvenile Band were crowned the best in the land. This meant that our Band picked up the double this season having won the Gauteng Regional Champs earlier on in the month. A feat of this nature doesn't just happen. Many hours of hard work by our tutors and the boys, especially after hours, has culminated in this success. Well done to all - you can be extremely proud of your achievements.
As this is the last communique for the term, we would like to extend our best wishes to the U/15 and 1st cricket teams as they embark on their inaugural tour of Sri Lanka. This opportunity, coupled with the experience that our boys will gain, can only stand them in good stead for the future. Good luck to all. May you make lots of runs; take lots of wickets but above all this, remember to enjoy yourself and make new friends.
Happy holidays to the St Benedict's community. If you are travelling then please travel safely.
31 July 2015
Let your YES be YES
As most of you are aware or if you have seen me lately, you might have noticed that I have less hair than I usually had. To those that are not familiar with the story, in short I gave my word to the 1st team that if they were to be successful in the final two rugby fixtures, they could shave my head in front of the school, a “Bald” step you might say. Ultimately I stuck to my word and the result………
Simply put, this means that our word is sacred. I don’t think it is claiming too much to say that this premise is the foundation of Western society. Without it, our society begins to fall apart.
As I grew up, a promise and a hand-shake were all I needed to seal a transaction. Contracts were largely foreign and unnecessary. In fact, to insist on one would have been an insult.
Why? Because a man’s word was his bond.
No one was willing to risk their social capital or relational equity by breaking their word.
My, how times have changed.
Think about the last month or two, specifically about people blatantly dishonoring their own word. I can think of one, these people were under contract. The obligations were explicit. There was no ambiguity, but yet they went back on the contract.
This is tragic—especially for them.
Keeping your word is the essence of integrity. As Stephen Covey points out, “honesty is making your words conform to reality. Integrity is making reality conform to your words.”
It is essential to leadership and good citizenship. Without it, you cannot be an effective leader or trustworthy human.
I found the following, and this rings so true;
Integrity is required for trust. If people can’t trust your word, they won’t trust you.
Trust is necessary for influence. People choose those they let influence them, and this is based largely on trust.
Influence is essential for impact. You can’t make the impact you want to make unless you can influence others and shift their behavior.
Yes, keeping your word is sometimes difficult, expensive, and inconvenient. But the cost of not doing so is even more expensive. It will ultimately cost you…
James 5:12 “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.”
22 July 2015
Servant Leadership – Part 2
In my Newsletter of 12 June 2015 I spoke about the confusion that exists between achievement and leadership. I introduced the concept of Servant Leadership, its origins and some of its characteristics. In this weeks’ second part of the Newsletter, I give you the ten characteristics of the Servant Leader which are viewed as being of critical importance. These ten characteristics include:
- Listening - Leaders have traditionally been valued for their communication and decision making skills. Although these are important skills for the Servant Leader, they need to be reinforced by a deep commitment to listening intently to others. The Servant Leader seeks to identify the will of a group and helps to clarify that will. He or she listens receptively to what is being said. Listening also encompasses hearing one’s own inner voice.
- Empathy - The Servant Leader strives to understand and empathize with others. People need to be accepted and recognized for their special and unique spirits. One assumes the good intentions of others and does not reject them as people, even when one may be forced to refuse to accept certain behaviour.
- Healing - The healing of relationships is a powerful force for transformation and integration. One of the great strengths of Servant Leadership is the potential for healing one’s self and one’s relationship with others. Many people have broken spirits and have suffered from a variety of emotional hurts.
- Awareness - General awareness, and especially self-awareness, strengthens the servant-leader. Awareness helps one in understanding issues involving ethics, power, and values. It lends itself to being able to view most situations from a more integrated, holistic position.
- Persuasion - Another characteristic of Servant Leaders is reliance on persuasion, rather than on one’s positional authority. The Servant Leader seeks to convince others, rather than coerce compliance. This particular element offers one of the clearest distinctions between the traditional authoritarian model and that of servant leadership. The Servant Leader is effective at building consensus within groups.
- Conceptualization -Servant Leaders seek to nurture their abilities to dream great dreams. The ability to look at a problem from a conceptualizing perspective means that one must think beyond day-to-day realities. For many leaders, this is a characteristic that requires discipline and practice. The traditional leader is consumed by the need to achieve short-term goals.
- Foresight - Closely related to conceptualization, the ability to foresee the likely outcome of a situation is hard to define, but easier to identify. One knows foresight when one experiences it. Foresight is a characteristic that enables the servant leader to understand the lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely consequence of a decision for the future. It is also deeply rooted within the intuitive mind.
- Stewardship - is defined as “holding something in trust for another”. Robert Greenleaf’s view of all institutions was one in which CEO’s, staff, and trustees all played significant roles in holding their institutions in trust for the greater good of society.
- Commitment to the Growth of People - Servant Leaders believe that people have an intrinsic value beyond their tangible contributions. As such, the Servant Leader is deeply committed to the growth of each and every individual. The Servant Leader recognizes the tremendous responsibility to do everything in his power to nurture the growth of fellow human beings.
- Building Community - The Servant Leader senses that much has been lost in recent human history as a result of the shift from local communities to large institutions. This awareness causes the servant leader to seek to identify some means for building community.
These ten characteristics of Servant Leadership are by no means exhaustive. However, they do serve to communicate the power and promise that this concept offers to those who are open to its invitation and challenge. How does this fit into our framework at school you might ask? It is these views and ideals that we wish to inculcate in the boys. Leadership therefore does not involve winning the popularity contest as a result of being the best sportsman, best actor, or having the most friends on Facebook. It is also not about wearing a blue shirt and sporting the braiding on a new blazer. Rather, leadership involves the willingness to serve and work for the betterment of others and for the school community. Thus, as the roll out for the leaders of 2016 commences, I urge the boys to remember these ideals and embrace them.
Newsletter - 17 July 2015
A lot to be thankful for
On Saturday the 11th of July 1957, the Education Department at the time, granted the license for a private school to be opened on the East Rand. The traditional feast day Mass of St Benedict's was thus born and has been celebrated on this day ever since.
This past Saturday was no different. While the feast day was not celebrated with a Mass (this occurred on Monday the 13th of July), we had the privilege of hosting the St Benedict's Pipe Band Highland Gathering. This was the final regional gathering of the season and this year’s competition has been a tight affair between Jeppe, Pretoria Boys, and St Benedict's. With a slender two point lead going into Saturday's event, it was going to be tough for our boys to maintain our lead.
The rest, they say, is history. When the going gets tough; the tough get going. I am sure those of you who came through to watch on Saturday will agree with me that our boys played superbly. Our boys were rewarded with the following results: the Novice Juvenile Band came second overall while the Juvenile Band were crowned regional champions winning all categories. Well done to Mr Evans and the Pipe Band tutors on your fine achievement. The result is proof that hard work does pay dividends.
An event of this nature doesn't just happen. A lot of time and effort goes into the preparation to ensure that everything on the day goes smoothly. At this point I would like to thank our dedicated and supportive parents who manned the gates, sold tea and cake, ensured that there was sufficient liquid refreshments for everyone to consume and generally did a fantastic job in raising funds on the day. The money raised will go towards sending our boys to the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland in August 2016.
While we are talking about parents, it would be remiss of me not to thank our wonderful parents in the rugby and hockey clubs. The 2015 winter sport season was a particularly good one. At every home fixture this year, our dads and moms would light up the fires and braai Boeries that, in turn, would be sold to raise valuable funds. Two projects have been identified in order to put the funds to good use. The income generated from the sale of the Boerie rolls by the rugby parents will go towards the building of a Headmasters hut behind the rugby poles on the South side of the main rugby field. While any income that was generated through fundraising in the hockey club will go towards building a videoing tower behind the goals on the Eastern side of the astro-turf. Once these projects have been completed, the parents involved in the fund raising will be invited to an opening ceremony.
While we are talking about goodwill gestures, in a study on the Golden Rule principle conducted by Bernard Rimland, the director of the Institute for Child Behavior Research says, 'the happiest people are those who help others.' If this is indeed true then we are blessed to have such wonderful, happy parents at St Benedict's.
Rimland goes on to say that "each person involved in the study was asked to list ten people he knew best and to label them as happy or not happy. Then they were to go through the list again and label each one as selfish or unselfish, using the following definition of selfishness: a stable tendency to devote one's time and resources to one's own interests and welfare—an unwillingness to inconvenience one's self for others."
"In categorizing the results, Rimland found that all of the people labeled happy were also labeled unselfish. He wrote that those 'whose activities are devoted to bringing themselves happiness are far less likely to be happy than those whose efforts are devoted to making others happy.' Rimland concluded: 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'"
In conclusion we hope that the exams are going well and we thank our parents for the great contributions you make on an ongoing basis. We are blessed to have the caliber of parents that we have at St Benedict’s.
The picture in the insert is a clipping from a newspaper article about our first Pipe Band team that toured the South Coast in 1988, the year St Benedict's introduced Pipe Band to its bouquet of activities offered at the school.
|Please click on the picture to read the full article from the
"Bedfordview and Edenvale News" on 26 May1988.
Newsletter - 10 July 2015
Sitting at a conference I always find myself thinking, ok so I am here, this speaker had better blow me away otherwise I am catching up on my emails. Wow.... was I blown away - by our keynote speaker and the second speaker and the third...... No catching up on emails here.
The IBSC (International Boys' Schools' Conference) was held this week at Bishops in Cape Town. Our keynote speaker was Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. What a privilege and great opportunity it was to listen to this man. His talk tied in with the conference theme, "Lessons from Madiba".
Three things stood out for me that I would like to encourage our St Benedict's community to think about and achieve.
"Together we can make the impossible possible." We, as humans, are so used to stepping on other people to reach our own goals that we leave bodies of hurt in our wake. We should rather take hands and work together using others' strengths to achieve a common goal. In this way, we as a community, will grow and achieve more.
"There are are NO limitations, but the ones we impose on ourselves." This is the second point that stayed with me. Whether you say "I can" or "I Can't", you are probably correct. Let us reach for the stars. Do not put limitations on your growth and well being. Do not put yourself in a box. Rather use the box, stand on it in order to reach that greater height and that next level.
And the third aspect that has rung true for me? Tutu told the following story which most of us have probably heard before, but bears repeating:
A man was standing on a beach watching a boy walking along and throwing starfish back into the ocean, that were washed up by high tide. He thought to himself, there are thousands washed up, I will go talk to the boy and tell him it is a futile job. He approached the boy and said, "You know, you are not going to make a difference as there are thousands of starfish washed up, you will not manage to save all of them." The boy paused for a second, picked up another starfish and threw it back into the ocean. He turned around slowly and said, "I made a difference to that ONE didn't I?"
We are not going to change the whole world, but each one of us can change the situation for one person. My challenge to us, as a St Benedict's community - let us work together to reach for those higher set goals, and change people's lives, one at a time.
Be the change that you want to see in other people.
Newsletter - 26 June 2015
A Fitting end to a good season
My, my, where has the year gone? Six down and six to go. Last Sunday I am sure that our dads were treated to a special meal or possibly given a small gift as a token of appreciation on Father’s Day. Having said that, the 21st of June also signified the Winter Solstice in the southern hemisphere. This means that the sun is on its way back south and therefore days will become longer and the nights will become shorter, albeit marginally over the next few months.
Last Saturday also brought down the curtain on our winter fixtures. It was never going to be an easy day with a full strength Pretoria Boys team making the trip to the East Rand. In a pulsating 1st team hockey match, the game ebbed and flowed from one end of the park to the other. However on the day our boys were deserved winners. A goal in each half was enough to seal the victory for the Bennies team. The 1st hockey team have had an exceptional season only losing one full game. Which meant they finished the season with a win ratio of 95%.
The 1st team rugby match was just as exciting. Having never beaten Pretoria boys at 1st team level before, our boys were determined to get one over their opponents. At 17-5 things were looking good for the Bennies outfit but before we knew it the scores were level. In the second half the Bennies boys showed their class by running in 4 tries to the opponents 3 to record an emphatic victory. Just like their hockey counterparts: the 1st team rugby boys have also enjoyed a good season ending the year with a 75% win ratio.
Special mention needs to go to the U/15A rugby team who have played some of the most attractive, structured and disciplined rugby of all our teams. In hindsight - it was the loss to Jeppe that stood between them and an unbeaten season. Our second team had a similar experience losing their match against Pretoria boys on Saturday which was their first loss against an opposing 2nd team. It must be said that they did claim a couple of 1st team scalps along the way. All in all it was a good winter season for both our hockey and rugby boys.
"Off with your head" or should we rather say hair! At line-up on Monday, the boys were treated to a rare sight. Mr Nel had made a bet with the 1st team rugby boys that if they beat St Stithians and Pretoria boys, which incidentally were the last two games of the season, he would allow the boys to shave off his hair in front of the school. The 1st team smashed Saints 61-0 and the rest is history. To Mr Nel's credit he was true to his word. So if you see him wandering around the school with a Beanie on then you know why.
On behalf of the management team I would like to thank all our parents for your support throughout the season. Your time spent cooking, braaing or selling coldrinks certainly did not go unnoticed and was definitely appreciated.
Our Pipe Band are halfway through their season. In all the events in which we have participated thus far, both the Juvenile Novice Band as well as the Novice Band have ended up second in their respective sections. These noteworthy performances should stand them in good stead the closer we get to the National champs which takes place in Benoni towards the end of July. On the 11th of July St Benedict's will be hosting their annual Pipe Band Gathering. I highly recommend your support at this wonderful event especially for the mass bands which take place at the end of the day.
Exams are just around the corner and I ask that parents ensure that structures are in place to ensure that quality studying takes place. A study programme is always advisable at this time of the year. Below are a few tips that will help our boys achieve a decent set of results for the mid-year exams:
Parents must encourage their boys to do their best but must also have realistic expectations of their son.
Provide your children with words of encouragement.
The boys must get a good night’s sleep.
Parents must ensure that their boys are fed a healthy breakfast.
Parents must also ensure that their child gets to school well ahead of their exam. This reduces stress levels and allows boys time to settle their nerves. Arriving late increases anxiety which could lead to poor results.
The boys must ensure that they arrive at the exam venue 20 minutes before the exam is due to start.
All stationary must be stored in a see-through plastic bag/container.
Boys must bring their own rulers, pencils, protractors…etc. No borrowing of equipment during the exam is permissible.
Calculators may be used in some examinations however this information will be found on the front page under the instructions.
Boys must read these instructions carefully as this sets the tone for the exam.
Cell phones may not be used as calculators and must be turned off during the examination.
No smart watches will be permitted into the exam venue.
Have an enjoyable break and good luck with the mid-year exams.
Newsletter - 19 June 2015
One of the traditions of the 1st XV rugby team is to have an OLD BOY handing the jerseys to the starting line up for the Saturday fixture on the Friday evening. The tradition has over the years expanded to boys hosting a get together on the Friday before the game to “bond” and get a bit of “gees” for the next day’s battle. A long standing tradition that has seen some memorable speeches made by old boys. One that I still often use, is a phrase introduced by Luther Obi – R. T. A. His speech was all about Return to Action: you are no good to the team if you are on the grass while the rest of the team is either attacking or defending. The quicker you can get back in to action the better the team will be able to perform as a unit under pressure.
This past Friday we had the privilege of listening to Stan Andrews. Stan is a 35 year old Amputee. He was born with a deformed right foot and an under-developed leg. At age seven, doctors recommended that his foot be amputated in order to reduce the possibility of future restrictions. He recovered from the operation and took part in all sports. He said that he wasn’t the quickest but definitely the most determined. After school he became inactive and drifted away from sport. Towards the end of 2011 he felt inspired to get physically fit and active again, and decided to set himself some goals for 2012, each one bigger than the last. In 2012 he would attempt to do the following, in this order:
- Swim the Midmar Mile
- Cycle the 94.7 Cycle Challenge
- Climb the world’s highest free-standing mountain – Mt Kilimanjaro
He completed all Three.
He told the boys about his last triathlon in England and how he psyched himself up before the start of the race by looking at the other 19 competitors at the starting line, and deeming himself not good enough. His swim was disastrous, his worst time ever, all due to what his mind told him. During the cycle stage he was constantly fighting with his thoughts. Eventually he realised he is the master of his own destiny, so he recommitted to the race and ran his best time to date after the cycle stage finished.
The point he tried to make to the boys is that your mind and thoughts determine your outlook and eventually determine the outcome of a task. Although he did not achieve what he set out to do in that race, he learnt so much from that day. One thing that stayed with me: he said, “You never lose... you either win or you learn!”
Let us learn from every situation that we find ourselves in, regardless of the outcome.
Newsletter - 12 June 2015
Servant Leadership – Part 1
This is a two part newsletter. I have structured it in this manner as I feel the content is very worthwhile and bears reading. The first part of the letter deals with the concept Servant Leadership whilst the second provides ten characteristics of the Servant Leader. I chose this topic as the “rollout” of the 2016 leaders has commenced. This leadership rollout creates much anxiety in the boys’ lives due to the weight of expectation. However, this expectation is misinformed.
Many boys confuse achievement with leadership. Achievement is the act of completing a particular task or meeting an objective. It may take the form of first team representation, academic excellence or a leading role in a cultural performance. The (incorrect) assumption is that these forms of achievement now qualify an individual for a leadership position therefore equating leadership with reward.
St Benedict’s has made a leadership style shift away from the more traditional autocratic and hierarchical models of leadership toward that of Servant Leadership. Robert Greenleaf, retired AT&T executive, was the originator of the term. Servant Leadership is a way of being in relationship with others. It seeks to involve others in decision making, is strongly based on ethical and caring behaviour, enhances the growth of individuals while improving the quality of organizational life.
The characteristic of the Servant Leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The best test is to ask the following; do those served grow as people? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived?
With that definition in mind, he coined the term Servant Leadership and launched a quiet revolution in the way in which we view and practise leadership. Three decades later the concept of Servant Leadership is increasingly viewed as an ideal leadership form to which untold numbers of people aspire. There is an unparalleled explosion of interest in Servant Leadership.
Newsletter - 5 June 2015
At Wednesdays' assembly I spoke to the College about the concept of “The Leadership of I”. What this is about essentially is that boys need to make decisions based on a better understanding of who they are. Knowing what they want in life and how they go about achieving their dreams can only be accomplished if they have a life plan. The “Leadership of I” means leading by example; being an exemplary role model, and doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do.
No matter who you are or what position you hold in society, you are a leader and all leaders need to draw inspiration from somewhere. I told the boys that inspiration is a stimulating feeling that we seek to motivate us; to continue pressing forward through hardships and to find meaning amidst all the chaos. What inspires us is sometimes found in the rarest of forms. It is sometimes in plain sight. It may be stumbled upon without intention, and it is sometimes graciously handed to us in the form of wise words spoken by experienced and influential minds.
In our busy lives, we all need a little upliftment here and there. Every Monday I send out a weekly planner to the College staff called the 'What's up - the week ahead'. This document, in a nutshell, highlights what activities are on the calendar for the week ahead. I start the document off with an inspirational quote hoping that it will give the staff a bit of a boost and inspiration for the tough week ahead.
I find that quotes, books, articles, audio programs etc. are just tools and they’re only as effective as you make them. Every now and then, one will come across a quote that will positively affect you in some way. It may just be the tonic that you need to inspire you to persevere in what you are doing or it may remind you to be grateful for what you have.
In my experience, reading quotes is a lot more effective when you’re actually trying to motivate yourself rather than just reading them for the sake of reading them. However I am a firm believer that quotes are the perfect medicine for any occasion and can be a source from which to draw inspiration.
In conclusion I leave you with one of my favourite quotes by John Wooden: "Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books - especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day."
Have a great weekend.
Newsletter - 29 May 2015
A sense of Entitlement
In a recent study, a question was posed to corporate executives: “What single word best describes the recent college and university graduates entering your workplace?”
After some deliberation they came back, and the word they selected?
Interestingly, the graduates were asked the question, “What descriptive word did these executives choose to describe you that begins with the letter ‘e’”? They guessed: exciting, enterprising, entrepreneurial, energetic and extremely good-looking.
None of them guessed how they were being perceived by the executives.
• High on Entitlement
• Low on Self-awareness
If someone has a sense of entitlement that person believes he deserves certain privileges— and he's arrogant about it. The term "culture of entitlement" suggests that many people now have highly unreasonable expectations about what they are entitled to.
More and more of us are worried about this sinister attitude creeping into the classrooms, teams and society.
Entitlement can be spotted by these emotions:
Anger: We are all aware that we live in an angry age. It takes very little to spark road rage, violence, and all sorts of aggression. Young people are angry today, perhaps for many reasons; not the least of which is their sense of entitlement. Think about it: if you feel entitled to something that you didn’t receive, anger raises its ugly head. If the referee does not award that P- flick or penalty, you are outraged; this includes players and supporters.
Impatience: We are an impatient generation because we expect things quickly, NOW! Fast food, and instant gratification is the norm and entitlement only compounds the issue. When I feel entitled to something, I am far less patient with other people and their inability to satisfy my needs quickly. I’m driven to get what I want —now—because I deserve it.
Cynicism: A sense of entitlement is often followed by mild forms of cynicism. Again, not getting some benefit I feel I deserve can and will create a negative, jaded attitude.
Resentment: This one’s obvious. When I’m conscious of something out there that I don’t own but feel I deserve, it can cause severe resentment. This destructive attitude can sour any group of people or team, and it will lead to negative behaviour.
Criticism: When I feel entitled to something but don't get it, I can become disgruntled and often criticize those who did get what they wanted as a coping mechanism.
Ingratitude: Gratitude and entitlement are polar-opposite emotions. When I’m grateful, I feel pleased and relieved at receiving something I wanted badly but remain aware of what it felt like without it. However, when I feel entitled and don’t get it, all I feel is ungrateful.
Disappointment: If I feel entitled to something but fail to get it, I begin to experience chronic disappointment. I’m sad or despondent over the perks I’ve missed out on and can become depressed, especially if I assume others’ Facebook, twitter or Instagram posts are accurate.
How do we work on this and get rid of this sense of Entitlement
• Nothing in life comes easy; you will not get anything without hard work.
• Figure out what you want, and then decide on what actions you need to perform to achieve success.
• Be grateful for the things you have; there are millions of people who are not as privileged as you.
• Stay hopeful and optimistic.
• Don’t expect that instant gratification. Your time will come.
• See the big picture; do not be so consumed in your own little world that you do not see the needs and wants of other people.
• GIVE – Give your time and effort to someone who is in a less fortunate position than you.
We, at St Benedict’s can raise the bar, and while we will not change the world right away, how does one consume an elephant? One spoon at a time.
A sense of entitlement is an enemy of happiness and healthy thinking.
Newsletter – 22 May 2015
“Manners maketh the man” (or the essence thereof) is no doubt a common theme in every culture throughout the world. Manners form the basis for every person's name and status within society. They are something which adults take note of and within the school community, people form judgements on the worth and merit of that particular school based on the manners displayed in their pupil body. Therefore, good manners are at the forefront of our daily discussions with the boys. And so too should they be in the home.
Manners do not only refer to the respect one gives elders but also respect towards people of similar and younger ages. They should be inculcated from early childhood. This helps children respect others throughout their lives, regardless of age, gender or race. (idea in this sentence has been included earlier) Many sectors of society today have seen the demise of common courtesies. Courtesies such as a greeting, politeness, giving up a seat, doffing a hat or waiting for a lady to enter a room first are deemed to be less and less important and even old-fashioned in our personal lives. What seems to be more valued in our seemingly modern and ‘sophisticated’ world is: speaking as loudly and rudely as possible; mocking and belittling others; course language; and giving a half-hearted condescending nod to a stranger walking by or the teller at the bank. Surely, these forms of behaviour are to be discouraged in our schools and in our homes if we are to raise well-rounded young men of integrity.
Manners and respect are essential if someone wants to get ahead in his life. When properly followed, manners help a person to gain respect and trust in society. Manners are a critical step in the ladder to success. They also bring with them a sense of gratitude and well-being within an individual. Good manners help to build cordial relationships and creates healthy environments.
In addressing somebody by using the appropriate title such as Sir, Madam, Mr or Mrs, makes an enormous difference. Saying “thank you” might go a long way in building relationships, as does a smile. Being courteous to others earns respect and courtesy in return. It shows that a person has had a good upbringing and helps to identify an individual as a person of class.
According to Usain Bolt, “Manners is the key thing. Say, for instance, when you're growing up, you're walking down the street, you've got to tell everybody good morning. Everybody. You can't pass one person”.
And so, in our pursuit of excellence at St Benedict’s, we will excel in this too – St Benedict’s boys are well mannered, courteous and respectful. We will be relentless in reminding boys of this and thus the term "manners maketh the man" is apt in every sense.
Newsletter 15 May 2015
Communication, or a lack of it, has implications on how all operations work. Whether it is in the workplace or whether it is at home: without effective communication, people within those environments are not able to operate to their full potential. Parents often raise their concerns around poor communication between the school and themselves and, while we have become a whole lot better at it, there is still room for improvement. Communication is key to success in any situation or environment.
I remember when I was growing up - communication between the school and the parents was totally dependent on two methods: either a written document or telephonically. Both methods were dependant on the quality of the service provider. As most of us are aware, the postal services in those days was probably worse than it is today. And if we think Eskom are poor in their service delivery currently, just remember how bad Telkom was in those days.
Today the world has become a lot smaller: the advancements in technology have allowed us to communicate far faster and more efficiently. But these advancements in technology have created a few grey hairs - when cell phones first made their way into schools towards the end of the 90s, the simple philosophy was to ban them from school. That was a mind-set typical of the time and instead of educating the children on best practices: we simply closed the loophole.
We have, however, come a long way since then. Communication has become so much easier and there are many platforms which one can use. The 21st Century has brought us Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to name a few. To think that these new platforms are barely ten years old is staggering. The question we need to ask ourselves is “what next?” We are definitely at a “point of no return”. However with these new methods of communication we need to understand that we are accountable for what we post online. With new technology comes new responsibilities and we need to be mature in the way we use these platforms.
Two years ago I wrote an article for the College newsletter on social media and the inspiration behind this newsletter was a talk I had heard by Emma Sadleir. Our boys had the privilege of hearing Emma talk at last weeks’ assembly. Her message was a simple yet rather scary one. She pointed out numerous examples of the many people who have either lost their jobs or have been unsuccessful in acquiring work due to what they had posted online in the past. The example that sticks to mind is the tweet by Justine Sacco. While I won’t repeat the tweet, this is just one of the many examples that have cost people their jobs for what was posted online without due thought and care to the audience it may affect.
As a parent, I urge you to be friends with your son on his social media platform that he has joined so that you are in a position to educate your son on the best practices for social media. I always maintain that forewarned is forearmed.
Think before you ink!
Newsletter 08 May 2015
What is on your Bucket list?
Driving back from our holiday, I almost became part of the Road Death Toll statistics in South Africa. I can honestly say that if it was not for God’s protection, the whole situation could have been so different.
A close encounter or near death experience puts everything into perspective. Problems and situations in your life that seemed so important, move to the back burner, and lose their importance.
One thing that you realize straight away is that life is unpredictable, you never knows what tomorrow brings. So don't waste time, make time for family and friends. Make time to laugh more, smile more, and live more.....
We have all heard of a "Bucket List" and most of us have written down some things that we would like to do, but then live happens.
Have you forgotten about yours? Maybe you should dust it off and complete some of those things. Perhaps add a few new ones, and remember to be honest - don't list ‘world peace’ or ‘climbing Mount Everest’. Be realistic, a bucket list item does not have to cost an arm and a leg, it has to be real.
Here are some of the items that I have added to my bucket list:
- Get through a day without falling victim to road rage,
- Do something kind for a total stranger.
- Drive the coast line of Southern Africa in an RV with my lovely wife,
- Eat a Cannoli from Buddy Valastro’s bakery in New York,
- Dive the Great Barrier Reef.
Some of the items that I have ticked off:
- Shark cage diving and swimming with a Whale Shark,
- Watched the Soccer Cricket and Rugby World Cup Live,
- Rescued a pet from the SPCA,
- Drove a Chev Camaro on a drag strip,
- Married a woman who gives me the same feeling that you get when your favourite food arrives in a fancy restaurant.
Live your life as if today is your last.
Inspire someone today!
Newsletter 17 April 2015
A Word from the Deputy Headmaster - Mr T Craig
It was brought to the attention of the College that a group of boys on Friday of last week had a house party. The parents had gone away for the weekend and the teenage son was left in the care of an older sibling. Sound familiar? The ensuing drinking and behaviour was completely unacceptable to the College primarily because it places all of our boys in precarious situations. It is at events such as these where boys may engage in binge drinking. This refers to the heavy consumption of alcohol over a short period of time. Today the generally accepted definition of binge drinking is the consumption of five or more drinks in a row.
Why do people binge drink? Liquor stores, bars, and alcoholic beverage companies make drinking seem attractive and fun. It's easy for a high school student to get caught up in a social scene with lots of peer pressure. Celebrating finishing a school term is often linked to episodes of very high levels of single-session drinking or deliberately drinking to intoxication. So why do teens engage in this form of behaviour and why drink to the point of intoxication?
•They believe that it will make them feel good
•They may look at alcohol as a way to reduce stress
•They want to feel older
Many people don't think about the negative side of drinking. Although they think about the possibility of getting drunk, they may not give much consideration to being hung-over or throwing up. Other effects of excessive drinking are difficulty in concentrating, memory lapses, mood changes, and other problems that affect your day-to-day life. But binge drinking carries more serious and longer-lasting risks.
Alcohol Poisoning is the most life-threatening consequence of binge drinking. When someone drinks too much and gets alcohol poisoning, it affects the body's involuntary reflexes, including breathing and the gag reflex. If the gag reflex isn't working properly, a person can choke to death on his vomit. Other signs someone may have alcohol poisoning include:
•inability to be awakened
•slow or irregular breathing
•bluish or pale skin
Binge drinking impairs judgment so drinkers are more likely to take risks they might not take when they're sober. They may drive drunk and injure themselves or others. However a great deal of underage drinking related deaths or injuries are not traffic related. Instead, they are due to other accidents including burns, falls, being assaulted or getting into a fight or drowning. In 2008 in the USA almost 40,000 youth ages 15-20 were admitted to hospitals due to alcohol problems. In most cases, the primary or secondary diagnosis was acute intoxication. One quarter of the patients had also had experienced a physical injury. Another consequence of impaired judgment is that people may engage in sex, putting them at risk in so many other scenarios.
Drinking disrupts sleep patterns which makes it harder to stay awake and concentrate during the day. This leads to struggles with studying and poor academic performance. People who binge-drink may find that their friends drift away. Drinking can affect personality as people might become angry or moody while drinking.
The human brain continues to develop into a person's early 20's. There is concerning evidence from small-scale human brain imaging studies that underage drinking can harm the developing brain, specifically the frontal lobe and hippocampus. In the long term, heavy alcohol use by teens can alter the trajectory of brain development and cause lingering cognitive defects. Whether these defects are permanent is not known.
Studies have shown that the most influential role models for children are their parents. Children learn by imitation, so it is important that parents demonstrate sensible drinking behaviours. Suggestions include drinking moderately or not at all, not drinking every time you socialise and not drinking and driving. Most of all, teaching our boys to behave responsibly. As well as this, please carefully monitor the behaviour and whereabouts of your sons.
Newsletter 10 April 2015
Unleashing the Champion within us
With just over a week of the term remaining, we can reflect on the possibilities that have slipped through our grasp and all the ‘what ifs’ had things gone our way. It has been an extremely long and grueling term where every boy in the College has given generously of his time; for which we are grateful. We have had a measure of success in the summer sports and the winter season has begun with a flying start. With the holiday period soon upon us; we are afforded some time to do some soul-searching and an opportunity to put structures in place for the new term that is fast approaching.
This past weekend, I spent my time commuting between the two Easter festivals hosted by St Dunstan’s in Benoni and St John’s in Houghton. The quality of the competition at St John’s surpassed that of St Dunstan’s. Having said this: I was extremely pleased with the way our boys conducted themselves at all the festivals and the energy they displayed both on and off the field. After watching some of the teams on show, I found myself asking a simple question: "What makes a school like Paarl Boys or Monument, for that matter, far better than any other team on display?" Each and every one of us has a champion mentality but sometimes we find it difficult to unleash or are unable to tap into these resources. So what is it that they have that we don't?
A champion mentality is one which has qualities such as, but not limited to, being victorious; having extreme wealth; having independence, or having something in abundance. Every person is different and one cannot develop a champion mentality in one event. Creating a champion mentality requires a mindset shift and is a learnt behaviour based on experience.
Living your life to the fullest requires commitment. It also requires a paradigm shift where the decision that needs to be made is one of excellence, and immense energy needs to be dispersed. We all learn through a process of feedback loops which can be achieved by talking to a champion or learning from the advice of an older person. It could even be achieved through watching a series of sports videos or YouTube clips where we develop our skills through positive affirmations.
To be a champion you need to study the attributes of what makes a champion. We need to understand that a champion has nerves of steel and an attitude that doesn't waver. A champion builds up his memory bank so that he has the knowledge that will equip him to deal with a similar circumstance in the future.
Moving ahead, our lives can be shaped by reflecting on what we have achieved thus far and by having a better understanding of the past. Knowing where you come from can liberate you in your search to be the ultimate champion. Spend your time wisely this holiday and reflect on the good and how we can make the ‘not-so-good’ better.
Good luck to all our boys that are touring KwaZulu-Natal over the holiday. It is an opportunity to build the memory bank with positive affirmations so that when you return in the second term you will return equipped with an increased knowledge and a greater awareness of your own capabilities. Remember to think like a champion, always.
Newsletter 27 March 2015
Earth Hour is a global campaign that raises awareness about climate change on the last Saturday of March every year, from 8.30 to 9.30pm. St Benedict’s participated today in joining the Earth Hour campaign by “flipping the switch” on the entire campus in a show of solidarity with the campaign and to raise awareness about the campaign and its aims and objectives.
Founded by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 2007, it encourages hundreds of millions of people in over 160 countries to voluntarily turn off their lights for an hour as a synchronised global gesture of concern about the devastating consequences of climate change, which are already affecting each and every one of us. Climate change is the biggest threat humanity has ever faced.
There is a solution to climate change. We need to convince ourselves and our global leaders to make smart decisions about our common future, which will include weaning ourselves very rapidly off burning fossil fuels for our energy requirements. Fortunately there are sustainable natural energy alternatives, like wind, solar, water and geothermal technologies, for generating electricity. These are also more sustainable ways of looking after our water supplies and food production.
This year world leaders will be gathering in Paris to make new global commitments towards reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. They need to know that the health of our ecosystems matters to us and we, ordinary citizens, need to understand that if we and our children want to survive climate change we need to change our lifestyles.
The global Earth Hour movement focuses on the positive things we can each do, by using the power of our individual voices and actions to stop climate change. Please join us in sending out a positive message to world leaders by joining the movement to change climate change.
We encourage each and every family to participate in Earth Hour on Saturday night. Don’t leave it up to somebody else. Don’t be complacent about the problem. Don’t put it off till next year. Do take a stand. Do support, donate and Join the Movement. Visit http://www.earthhour.org.za/ to see what other related initiatives you can become involved in.
Newsletter 20 march 2015
A little Mindfulness
It is widely written that a boy’s mind is wired differently to that of a girl. It is also documented that boys tend to be a little forgetful and that they tend to procrastinate a great deal. As we make our way into the winter sports season, it is also a good time to take stock of things and not allow our minds to be side-tracked over the euphoria of winter sport.
Chase Mielke, who is a learning junky that happens to have a love affair with teaching, says that what we need, perhaps more than a shot of espresso in the morning is a habit of mindfulness. He says “we need to give ourselves permission to just be present in the moment, to be conscious of the life we are living, and not worry about the thirty thousand things that must be done today.”
In our situation it would be very easy for our boys to get lost in the moment and accept that playing rugby or hockey for that matter is the be end of it all and that the academics needs to take a back seat for the next 4 months. Our boys need to be mindful of the fact that at the end of the winter sports season we write a full on examination session which ultimately contributes to the final result at the end of the year. Our boys need to be mindful that by not doing homework or delaying a portfolio task only increases the stress levels and complicates matters further.
Our boys need to be mindful that playing a winter sport means that you are part of a team and that the team is bigger than the individual. We need to be mindful that the referee or umpire is always right and that when we backchat the official it only infuriates them and does not remedy the situation. In all the years that I have been playing sport or watching it for that matter, I have very seldom seen an official change his decision.
Our boys need to be mindful that we play sport for the love of it and that each game that we play is a lesson in itself. We must be mindful that when we train that everything is done in moderation and there needs to be a balance between work and play.
If you have been following the world of psychology of late, you will have recognized this idea as the booming concept of mindfulness. According to Mielke, mounds of research show that mindfulness practice and interventions help reduce stress, increase focus, improve self-regulation, and even build relationship satisfaction.
Therefore, in our busy lives or schedules, let us take time out to be mindful that we need to be mindful. As Louis L'Amour once wrote "Few of us live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone."
Newsletter 13 March 2015
Thinking of specialising in a single sport
The greatest difference between our children’s sporting experience and our own is the rise of year round, sport specific activity. The pressure to have your child specialize in a single sport at a young age has never been stronger. A common statement which I hear more and more from children is that “I am going to specialize in one sport.”
Further pressure comes from the perception that ”If my child does not specialize early he will be left out, not make the touring squad or not be selected for the first team.” Parents and children tell me about coaches who have told them they need 10,000 hours of organized, structured practice and their fear that other children will be getting a leg up on theirs if they do not specialize.
This fear has forced children into sports that often are not of their own choosing, and in many cases compels them to remain in activities that are not enjoyable, not intrinsically motivating, nor are congruent with their actual athletic abilities. This path fails to consider many of the physical, emotional and social costs to children who only play a single sport. There is a different path. It is the one based in science, psychology and best practices of athletic development. It is one that serves the needs of children for a lifetime, reduces injuries and burnout, increases enjoyment and motivation, and produces better athletes. Sound appealing? It is the path of multiple sport participation and less structured play.
Below are some eye popping facts and statistics that should make every parent think twice about early sport specialization where athletes peak in their 20’s. First, here are three research excerpts that demonstrate how early specialization may negatively affect your child:
- Children who specialize in a single sport account for 50% of overuse injuries in young athletes according to pediatric orthopedic specialists
- A study by Ohio State University found that children who specialized early in a single sport led to higher rates of adult physical inactivity. Those who commit to one sport at a young age are often the first to quit.
- Children who specialize early are at a far greater risk for burnout due to stress, decreased motivation and lack of enjoyment
If that is not enough for you, here are six research based reasons for multi-sport participation:
- Better Overall Skills and Ability: Research shows that early participation in multiple sports leads to better overall motor and athletic development, longer playing careers, increased ability to transfer sports skills and increased motivation and confidence.
- Smarter, More Creative Players: Multi-sport participation at the youngest ages yields better decision making and pattern recognition, as well as increased creativity.
- Most Provincial Athletes Come From a Multi-Sport Background: Look no further than our favourite sporting son, AB de Villiers
- 10,000 Hours is not a Rule: In his survey of the scientific literature regarding sport specific practice in The Sports Gene, author David Epstein finds that most elite competitors require far less than 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. Even Anders Ericsson, the researcher credited with discovering the 10,000 hour rule, says the misrepresentation of his work, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers, ignores many of the elements that go into high-performance (genetics, coaching, opportunity, luck) and focuses on only one, deliberate practice. That, he says, is wrong.
- Free Play Equals More Play: Early specialization ignores the importance of deliberate play/free play. Researches found that activities which are intrinsically motivating, maximize fun and provide enjoyment are incredibly important.
Taken from Changing the Game Project - http://changingthegameproject.com/is-it-wise-to-specialize/
Thoughts of the Deputy Head Mr Craig
Newsletter 6 March 2015
How often have your children come home during the course of their school career and told you that they are unable to locate an item of clothing, stationery or sports equipment? Upon closer interrogation, perhaps they may even say “I think someone stole it”. The phrase “I lost it” seems to have disappeared from a child’s vocabulary.
There is no doubt in my mind that dishonesty is all too prevalent in our modern day society. Politicians, policemen, business men and some sportsmen do not set a very good example in terms of their morality. Motivated by material greed, some of the aforementioned people will lie, cheat and steal in an effort to enrich themselves. Respect for other people’s property is not what it ought to be. I am saddened to admit that this element has also begun to infect our school.
So what are we to do to counter this problem? The solution is twofold. When we become aware of people being dishonest in any way, it is our responsibility as members of a community to discourage them from acting dishonestly. Should this fail, then surely we are bound by our conscience to report wrongdoing to the appropriate authorities. But secondly, we are all responsible for the safety of our belongings.
Often when boys come to me to report something missing, part of the blame lies with them. Yes, in an ideal world, we should be able to leave cars unlocked, bikes on the front lawn and front doors to our homes unlocked. But this is not the world we live in. Boys are too careless with their belongings. Lockers are left unlocked in the hostel, cell phones are left lying around, sports bags are not left in secure areas monitored by cameras and school bags are haphazardly dumped with those of other boys. Easy pickings for dishonest individuals. Boys do not take sufficient responsibility for their property.
The College is doing its part to alleviate this problem. More and more security cameras are being added to the network and lockers are in the process of being rolled out. Within the year, each boy will have access to a locker. Currently grade 12 and 11 boys are able to make use of newly purchased lockers.
But I encourage you as parents to ensure that your boys take greater responsibility for their possessions. They therefore remove the temptation for other people to be dishonest. Surely prevention in this regard is better than the cure.
Newsletter 26 February 2015
The title of Seth Godin's blog "Measure what you care about", which he posted on the 14th of February 2015, started me thinking about St Benedict's College and what we do on a daily basis. In his blog, he makes mention of the following: "It's not always easy to measure what matters. Sometimes, the thing that matters doesn't make it easy for you to measure it. The easiest path is to find a stand-in for what you care about and measure that instead.”
In order to illustrate this point, I refer to the very thing that I am writing - the newsletter. According to our stats, the average parent spends about 3 minutes going through the newsletter. This means that either parents are reading my article only (wishful thinking), which incidentally takes longer than three minutes to read, or they are spending the three minutes scanning the newsletter looking for what it is they are after. Therefore it is difficult for us to measure whether what is being said in our weekly newsletters is actually hitting home. You may have noticed that we have modified our newsletter slightly. We have made it more user friendly so that you, the parents, can spend more time on the information you want to read as opposed to going through the whole newsletter. Should you choose to read the Headmasters/ Deputy Headmasters article right to the end then I have no doubt you will be enriched for it.
Getting back to the main point: how do you measure success? Well - in academics it is quite simple, you either achieve the marks or you don't. In sport and, possibly in life, it isn't that simple. To illustrate my point I give you two examples; one from the winter sports and the other from a summer sport.
Firstly, if we look at last year’s rugby statistics - we played 142 games but only won 46. Were we successful? I think we can agree that according to the stats we were unsuccessful as we only won a third of the games. However when you look at the bigger picture you get a better appreciation of our humble beginnings and how quickly we have grown. What those stats don't tell you is that we beat some of the top rugby playing schools in Gauteng. The inroads we have made over such a short period of time is astounding bearing in mind that as a school we have only been playing rugby for 16 years now.
The second example to which I refer is the cricket club. While we may have been playing cricket at St Benedict's College a lot longer than our rugby counterparts, we have only been playing against the more renowned cricket playing schools for 7 years now. The cricketers have played 91 matches thus far this season but have only won 15 matches amongst them. A dismal effort you might say but once again these stats don't reveal the bigger picture. Some of our teams that were being bowled out for under 30 runs in the past are now making it past the 100 run mark. We have more boys scoring hundreds on their own while individual bowlers are picking up 5 wicket hauls. While these boys may have been on the losing end, they have displayed personal success and minor triumphs.
At the first assembly of the year; I asked the boys to give of their best and to walk away having had their most successful year yet at St Benedict's. Will we be successful at the end of the year? This remains to be seen. In the interim we need to have a stand-in to measure our success. We need to take a look at ourselves and assess what we do on a daily basis. We need to be true to ourselves and ensure that we are giving of our best always. We need to be honest in our approach and we need to remain humble. We need to be courteous and display true integrity constantly. These are attributes that will always stand us in good stead whether we are successful or not.
It has often been said that we are unashamedly ambitious at St Benedict's. However, to be successful you need to practice being successful. It is well documented that success breeds success. Having said this success may mean something completely different for each individual therefore it is important to measure what you care about.
Newsletter 20 February 2015
Growth VS. Safety
Abraham Maslow said, “In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.”
Confucius said the following, "People's lives are the result of the choices they make-or fail to make. Choices and their consequences determine the course of every person's life. All people, whatever their circumstances make the choices on which their lives depend. “
They are absolutely right. It is well-known facts that if you make the wrong choice in life, you will end up in a wrong place – a fact that we, as men, have denied for ages when we do not ask for directions. It worked for Christopher Columbus…
It is just human nature, that when a person ends up in a bad place, they blame others and most of the times never take responsibility for it. When something bad happens you have 3 choices:
- You can let it define you
- You can let it destroy you
- Or you can learn from it and this will strengthen your character.
I had an interesting meeting with a parent this week about a big choice they had to make regarding his son’s future. A scary thought: the choice made now, will affect the rest of the family for life. My advice was that opportunities like this one come once in a lifetime and that they should never look back with regrets. “Step forward into growth or step back into safety.”
How many times in our lives do we look back at those defining moments and think, “If only I made a different choice,” my life could have been so different.
Nobody in this world is perfect. We will make mistakes and we will fail in certain areas, but don't let it define you as a loser, learn and grow from these mistakes. Don't blame others if you know that you had the majority stake in that failure. Own the mistake, take responsibility, apologize and make an effort not to repeat the mistake. Life is too short to learn from your own mistakes ,learn from others’ mistakes too; don't criticize and ridicule them rather learn from them and help them.
Life will be full of difficult choices. Will you make the choice to step out of your comfort zone and grow or step back into safety?
Newsletter 13 February 2015
St Benedict’s College has joined hands with a conservation group called EcoSolutions http://ecosolutions.co.za. They have been involved in urban ecological planning and urban ecology for the last 15 years. They consult on areas relating to integrated pest management and environmentally responsible land management. EcoSolutions is involved in a number of educational programmes, including owl releases at schools. The two projects at the College are the installation of bat boxes (hotels) and an owl box project.
Bats are fast and agile animals with an insatiable hunger for insects, and can consume hundreds of bugs and mosquitoes in a single night. Perhaps it’s the unknown and secret world of these amazing animals that make people uneasy; and it is this lack of knowledge that perpetuates imaginative myths, negative perceptions and makes them feared, hated and eradicated. Bat boxes (or bat houses) are a cost-effective initiative that increases the likelihood of attracting bats to your property, and thereby decreasing the number of insects in your area. Urban residents can all benefit greatly from having inhabited bat houses on their properties. It is a cheaper and a more environmentally friendly way of helping to keep insect populations under control as opposed to the continual use of poisonous chemicals that do not provide an effective long-term solution. Our bat hotels are on the grass hockey fields and in the khoi pond garden.
Owls are both fascinating and beautiful animals. Their presence in your garden offers hours of intriguing viewing. Furthermore they provide an efficient means of pest control. If you do happen to be using poison as a means of pest control, please stop. Poisons are extremely harmful to the environment and will ultimately lead to the death of our owls. The two most common species in Gauteng are the Barn Owl and the Spotted-eagle Owl. The owls are tagged and monitored by the University of Cape Town and the process is strictly governed as they need to be monitored and fed in such a way that they can then become free creatures again with minimum risk inflicted on them. We have installed four owl boxes around the grass hockey fields and gym as well as outside the Chapel. The owl release pen is located at the corner of Harcus and Dean Roads. Please be quiet when visiting these areas – owls sleeping!! Our first owls arrive on Monday and we have decided to name this mating pair Naan and Rydi. Follow their progress and release on our Facebook page. My thanks to Mr de Reuck for his involvement and enthusiasm in implementing this wonderful initiative.
We encourage all of our parents and community members to become more environmentally conscious. It is all very well having an owl release programme but is it not a bit defeatist if we do not recycle, litter, waste electricity and water or pollute unnecessarily. “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.”
― Mahatma Gandhi.
Academic Prize Giving 2014
Last week Thursday we celebrated the Academic Prize Giving for 2014. Why in January 2015 you may be asking? The reason is a rather simple one. The College uses the full spectrum of marks across the calendar year. At grade 8 level the School Based Assessment, commonly referred to the SBA, makes up 40% of the mark while the remainder of year mark (60%) is derived from the final exam. In grades 9 to 12 a similar format is followed except the SBA makes up 25% of the year mark while the final exams make up 75% of the final mark achieved.
While the final grade 12 exams are set and marked externally, the matric teachers get a good indication of how the boys will perform at the end of the year through the marks achieved by the SBA. Therefore it is imperative that our boys apply themselves throughout the year and do not leave it all to do in their final exams. The final matric academic awards are handed out at their Valediction in the year they matriculate and therefore do not form part of the annual prize giving ceremony. As a College we were pleased with the outstanding results the class of 2014 achieved at the end of last year and they are widely publicised on our website.
So what lies ahead?
The class of 2018(the grade 8 group from 2014) collectively achieved 573 distinctions amongst them. At the prize giving, 30 boys received awards for achieving four distinctions or more. Christopher Roberts walked away with the top prize. In grade 9, our boys accumulated 507 distinctions in 2014. Twenty five boys received awards for achieving 4 or more distinctions. Diago Alves walked away as the top student. In grade 10, 34 boys received certificates for achieving 4 or more distinctions. Accumulatively, the grade 10's picked up 285 distinctions amongst them. Shawn Ingle was our top student in grade 10 in 2014. Our grade 11's, who are our current grade 12's and have now stepped into the limelight, achieved 247 distinctions amongst them while 23 boys received certificates for achieving 4 or more distinctions over the course of 2014. Matthew Cockcroft walked away with the top award.
Why are the number of distinctions lower in grade 10 and 11 in comparison to grade 8 and 9 you may be asking? In grade 10 and 11, the number of subjects are halved. At grade 8 and 9 level, the boys write 14 subjects while in grade 10 and 11 they only write 7 subjects. What was pleasing to note that in 2013 there were only 19 boys in grade 8 that received academic awards but in 2014 that number grew to 25 boys. A vast improvement.
Forty boys in grade 8 and 9 received a Junior Certificate for academics while 69 boys in grade 10 and 11 received their half colours. We commend the 38 boys in grade 11 who deservedly were awarded their full colours for academics.
The honours blazer is the highest award that is given to boys who have excelled in Academics, Sport and Culturals. We are pleased to announce that J.Barry, A.Haddow, G.Holden and T.Whitehead have achieved this wonderful feat.
We congratulate all our boys on the awards they received in 2014 and we know that each and every one of them will be striving to attain even better marks in 2015.