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Head's Desk - Weekly Report

Head's Desk

12 April 2017

No need to hit the panic button! 

It is hard to believe that the end of term has sprung upon us so soon. It has been a rather busy, yet rewarding term in many aspects. However, as human beings we tend to focus too much on the negative and allow it to cloud our minds. Secondary Education isn’t about one result or a single achievement, it is a collection of all the lessons learnt along the way. Understanding the bigger picture and seeing the wood from the trees is really what Secondary Education is about.

A lot of lessons are learnt through our victories but many more lessons are learnt through our losses. I, for one, hate losing. I have always been fiercely competitive and always tried to play to the best of my ability. I have had many successes along the way but I honestly believe that I am in the position I am today because of the lessons I learnt from the losses I endured. Each time I performed poorly as an individual or when the team lost as a collective unit, I would go home and reflect on the match. The saying “You are only as good as your last game” rings true in many situations. Let me elaborate on this point. When I was still playing competitive sport and I had a poor game the week before, I knew I had to approach the next one with a greater sense of energy and purpose.  However, if I had a great game the week before then I would approach the next game with a greater sense of confidence. Self-confidence and trust in one’s own abilities is critical to any success. 

How does this all apply to the college and our current situation? Our winter sports teams have been under immense pressure thus far. Many of our results haven’t gone our way, particularly at 1st team level. Both the 1st team hockey and rugby teams have lost their three opening encounters. Pundits would be writing us off by now and I have already heard some murmurings by our supporters. Both teams have new coaches and both coaches are highly qualified. It takes a while for the boys to understand the pattern which the coach is currently employing. However, if the boys don’t buy into this game plan then the team will be doomed to failure. The one thing that I have learnt through my playing and coaching days and that is when things aren’t going too well, then one must always revert back to the basics. Those game-breaker moments or ‘hallelujah’ passes need to be put back into the cupboard and only brought out when the team is in control of their performances.  Until then, let’s keep things simple; do the basics right, and then things will take a turn for the better.
Despite the losses on the hockey field, I am encouraged by the style and pattern I have seen thus far. We have placed ourselves into good positions to win matches but unfortunately tend to panic when we are in the opponent’s circle. On the rugby field there has been patches of brilliance and then, at times, it looks like we are just starting out. Our boys need to trust in each other’s abilities and they need to dig deep. Should they be able to do this then there can be no doubt that they will improve as the season continues. Good luck to both of these teams at the various Easter Festivals in which they are competing.
At this time of the term we tend to say goodbye to one or two of our staff members.  At the end of March we said farewell to Mr Tennant who has decided to take time out from the teaching profession in order to work and travel abroad. Today we say farewell to Mr De Reuck who leaves us for St John’s.  Mr De Reuck has grown as a teacher under our care and it is now time for him to spread his wings. Mr De Reuck is an old boy of St Benedict’s and did his internship at the school before qualifying as a teacher and taking up a teaching job at the school. Technically Mr De Reuck has not left the school and it will be a wonderful experience for him to teach in a different environment. Mr De Reuck will be replaced by Mrs Wendy Gates in the English department. 
On a sad note Mr Dean Marshall, our groundsman who has been with us for the past five years, has tendered his resignation. Mr Marshall and his family will be emigrating to Australia in June. Mr Marshall has been instrumental in getting our facilities into the top shape that we find them in and he will be sorely missed in the future. We wish him and his family everything of the best in their new venture. 

Please note that school starts on Wednesday the 3rd of May. The boys need to follow week two’s timetable.

In closing, I would like to wish the Bennies Community a blessed Easter and a restful April holiday. If you are travelling then please do so safely. We look forward to an improved set of results in the second term.

D.Jeffrey


31 March 2017

What Will You Sacrifice Today For Your Future Tomorrow?

What are you willing to sacrifice to achieve your goals or to become successful? Many of us sit and wait for success to land in our laps or nicely packaged with a bow on top without doing an iota of work! How is that possible? Many of us may be doing what we call work and putting time and effort into activities that we feel will bring us success, but it isn't happening fast enough. Who or what really determines how soon you realise success?

When I think of sacrifice, I think of giving up something for the greater good, larger benefit, long-term gain or a better result for all.

Depending on the size and depth of your goals or dreams, some success may be short term while others may be long term. Some may be exact; while others, you never know when success will reach your door. As an example, if you decide that success for you is winning that gold at Sa Champs or achieving that distinction. You will know that, by the end of the year or the race, once you do what you need to do - that is, study and pass your exams or train and compete in that race. If your success goal is to work at engineering firm or specific institution at the end of completing a degree, then the variables that come into play are now out of your control. Many graduates have attained their degree or even a master's, thinking that they are assured success because of it. This is so far from the truth. There are no guarantees and many think of themselves as failures or they have wasted their time, effort and money.

This also happens to sportsmen who pursue an award. They make the necessary sacrifices according to them to attain success. But what does success look like really? What we need to realise is that it takes baby steps, and along the way, you may enjoy the giant leaps and then it’s back to baby steps to reach success. You have to celebrate each step as success. If you don't, then ingratitude sets in, and believe me, that type of attitude works against you in moving forward and appreciating what is to come. All that you go through, success or challenges are all preparing you for something better, something greater, which just requires your patience and faith.

Some Lose, Some Win.
What sort of grit and armour do we need to have in order to really understand what sacrifice means? I have come up with a list that I am sure is not exhaustive. There might be more if you have any feel free to add to it:

In order to make sacrifices:
You must believe in what you are doing even though others don't agree with you;
You must be willing to do whatever it takes even if it is something that makes you uncomfortable;
You must be willing to face adversity, negativity and even isolation from friends, family and loved ones;
You must be willing to stand alone if it comes to it;
You must be willing to accept criticism from others who do not understand your vision;
You must be willing to question yourself and determine if your dream is bigger than your fears.

For some of us, we are afraid of being successful, so we do nothing nor add value and make no sacrifices in order to stay where we are, but secretly wish we did something differently. What a torturous state to be in! I hope that isn't you! What are you really afraid of? Confront yourself with this question and ask if our heroes even Jesus and His disciples did not get over their fears and make the sacrifices, where would we be today?

What sacrifice are you willing to make in order to make your future better? We are the beneficiaries of the past. As parents and teachers, we need to be careful what we say and show our children. We pass our fears on to them. I don't consider myself a forecaster or predictor, but one thing I see happening is children today being more enterprising, more adventurous, more willing to take risks, willing to try new things and be uncomfortable, willing to fit into that profile list above. Let’s not stop them, support and encourage them for I see leaders in the making. Leaders of a new age that we need to accept and give room to, and even learn from.

So if you have been making sacrifices in your own way, and for some reasons you think it is all in vain, don't despair, the benefit may not be for you in this life, but for generations to come.

17 March 2017

Drugs Policy

During assembly this morning we welcomed Nerice Swanepoel from SAIDS (South African Institute of Drug Free Sport) to the College. Nerice provided the boys with a wonderful presentation on the dangers of steroid misuse, dietary and supplement advice, the legality of steroids and the ethical consideration of steroid abuse. 

We do this because it is not simply sufficient to have rules in place and expect the boys to adhere to the rules. Effective education requires awareness around the creation of a rule or policy. This awareness pertains to both the boys as well as their parents. Having done that, the policy requires ongoing reinforcement from the College. Lastly, it requires the support of the parent body who emphasise the importance of adhering to the societal regulations in place. Then and only then can we expect our boys to adhere to the rules of the College.

It is very sad when we discover that one of our boys has fallen afoul of the Drug Policy. The boys are aware of the policy, however some of our parents are less aware. It is with this in mind that I pen this letter, asking you to please have this conversation with your son and to familiarise yourselves with the policies of the College. Below is the abbreviated  St Benedict’s College drug and steroid policy. For the full policy please refer to the College website.

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. Random 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. This includes the dangers involved in the smoking and drinking. 

The Steroid Policy goes on to state that the desire to achieve a desirable body image, to succeed on the sports field, or to play for the first or provincial team are strong motivators and influences. These influences can cause boys to risk their long-term health by using performance-enhancing substances as a shortcut to meeting their goals.  This is cheating and a violation of the honesty and integrity of fair participation. St Benedict’s College is committed to act against this behaviour by introducing a steroid testing programme and to educate boys on the health dangers of taking anabolic steroids. 

It shall be considered a violation of the sportsmanship code of conduct for any student to possess, ingest or otherwise use any substance on the list of banned substances as indicated by the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS), without written prescription by a fully-licensed physician as recognised by the South African Medical Association, to treat a medical condition. In short, use of performance-enhancing drugs by pupils at St Benedict’s College is considered to be cheating and will be penalized. 

The recommended consequences for violating the steroid policy are that any person, who tests positive in a test, or any person who refuses to provide a testing sample will be required to attend a Disciplinary Hearing and if found guilty, will be obliged to leave St Benedict’s College immediately.

Any pupil who deals in steroids is in violation of the substance abuse policy and will be called before the Disciplinary Council. The consequence of selling drugs at St Benedict’s College may lead to expulsion.

 

 

03 March 2017

Winter is upon us

What a scary thought! The fact that this weekend sees the summer sporting season drawing to conclusion is scary enough. The thought of winter fast approaching is just too ludicrous to contemplate. Either way you look at it, this time of year gives us an opportunity to reflect on our achievements thus far. Our boys can be some what pleased with how the summer sports season has turned out. The 1st team cricketers have enjoyed an extremely successful summer making it through to the Eastern Gauteng Coke T20 finals. This team has played some quality cricket over the past 6 months knocking over some big schools in the process. The U16A team have also enjoyed some pleasing results and cricket appears to be in a far better space than it was twelve months ago.

Our swimmers have been rewarded for their hard work in the preseason by winning the majority of the galas that they have swum this season. We congratulate Mr Upman and the ‘A’ team swimmers on their win at the Inter-high relay gala. This is the second successive year we have won this event.
The U14A basketball team are unbeaten thus far while the U16A team have performed extremely well throughout the season winning close to 90% of their games. The 1st team as well as the U16A team won the Inter-Catholic Schools Basketball Tournaments. 

The waterpolo boys have played some tough games this season and the lessons learnt should stand them in good stead moving forward; while the tennis boys continue to impress. Unfortunately the ‘A’ tennis tour to Paul Roos was postponed due to an outbreak of measles at the school. This tournament will now take place at the end of April. 

Our rowers have had some excellent regattas this year winning the majority of the races in which we competed. Our First Eight appear to be peaking at the right time as they go in defence of their National title. While they may go into this event as the underdogs, I have no doubt that they will be giving it their all come Sunday afternoon. This weekend all our rowers will be taking part in the South African Rowing Championships at Roodeplaat. We wish Mr Roff and all the rowers, as well as the coaches, everything of the best as they go forth in defence of their National title. 

At this point I would like to thank all our summer coaches, whether they were students or permanent staff, for their expertise and passion to their respective sports. A big ‘shout out’ goes to you the parents for your loyal support throughout the summer. Our sport is enriched through your commitment and dedication. 
Finally I would like to thank the Auxiliary staff for their hard work in getting our facilities into top shape. The heavy rains, this part of the year, has really placed enormous amount of pressure on the staff to deliver and that they have done. (See insert picture as to the adverse weather we have had to deal with)
Now for the winter sports. While we enter a season where contact is made on the field, let us control our emotions, let the referee/umpire make the calls and let our boys enjoy themselves. Always remember that a bad workman blames his tools.

 Good luck to each and every one of our boys and let’s do ourselves proud this winter sports season. 

 


 

17 February 2017

Respect.

“Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts? (Confucius)

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. to all that started singing the Aretha Franklin song in your head. You are most certainly “Old School”
Over the last few months, South Africans have requently seen how easily people disrespect one another: whether it be in parliament; at a “feesmustfall” rally or on YouTube. Increasingly, we appear to have lost all sense of respect? Do we blame the media, education, politicians; or do we have ourselves to blame?

What do we do when we respect someone? We actually recognise their value. When we disrespect another person we are, in essence, saying that you are not worthy. Respecting each other is a silent way of expressing our feelings to them. This leads to building unshaken strong relations between people. 

It is very important to respect one another in any relationship. It is impossible to have a harmonious relationship when one side judges the other side to be unworthy. Relationships work when there is an over-riding high regard for one another despite disagreements. We are all human and we will disagree on certain issues. How can you treat someone well when you feel they are unworthy and have no value? How can you be helpful to them when you feel they have nothing to add? How can you have a high opinion of someone who views you as unworthy and value-less? 
It is also important to remember that respect is reciprocal. When you respect someone you recognise the value in them. You will treat them in such a way that tells them you find them valuable. Their natural response will be to respect you in return. They will feel that this person really does add value to my life. They magnify what is good about me. They bring out the best in me. 

Showing respect shows more about your own character than about the person to whom you are showing respect. Your inability to show respect reveals a weakness in your character and, by implication, reveals arrogance and ignorance. Mutual respect and trust are the critical elements in any successful relationship.  In the absence of respect, there is humiliation, contempt, dishonesty, bullying, the feeling that one is not heard, and feeling misunderstood.

What can you do to build respect?

Follow the Golden Rules:

 
Treat others as you want to be treated  
Try to understand people and be tolerant rather than insulting them or their culture  
Show courtesy, treat people fairly and honestly, listen to what they have to say  
In a conflict, recognize that the issue is probably the problem, not the person  
Consider other people’s points of view and listen without interrupting  
Believe in yourself and be content to be yourself; don’t pressure yourself to compare or compete with others  
When disrespected, stand up and say being disrespected is not acceptable to you  

Respect breeds Respect.

                                                      


 

03 February 2017

Left Behind, Lost, Misplaced or Stolen

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”. There remains a pile of lost property from the Grade 8 Orientation Camp in the foyer as well as the other normal lost property handed in to Mrs Dubrovo during the course of the day.

No doubt certain things are genuinely lost or misplaced. Others may have been left behind because boys, by their very nature, are often careless. As well as this, there is unfortunately a degree of theft within our society and within our school. Respect for other people’s property is not what it ought to be.
Over the course of the last few years, St Benedict’s rolled out a number of lockers. This was a request which we had through the IQAA quality assurance survey of 2013. We currently  have over 150 lockers unallocated and available to all boys in all grades. Boys simply need to see their Year Head and they will have a high quality locker allocated to them free of charge.

Yes, the lockers will not entirely solve the problem of left behind or misplaced but will give him a secure storage space which, with a degree of self-discipline and habitual behaviour, will give him somewhere to safely store his belongings. Obviously this will also go a very long way to eradicating theft when expensive items are carelessly left lying around.

Please encourage him to accept greater responsibility for his belongings by securing a locker.

                                 


 

20 January 2017

TIME FOR WORK AND A TIME FOR PLAY

After six weeks of holiday; I have no doubt that the boys are ready to get back into the swing of things. We have returned at a time when the summer flowers are in full bloom. It was a pleasure to return to school on Monday and see just how green our fields are looking and how colourful the gardens are. A special thanks must go to our ground staff for taking care of our facilities while everyone else was on holiday; it is this kind of commitment to our school that sets the tone for the year.

Welcome back! I trust that you are feeling rested following the well-deserved holiday. The start of the year is always an exciting time. It is an opportunity to put the past behind you and focus on the future.  It is a time to set new standards and put realistic goals in place to which one can aspire. It is imperative that we strive to better ourselves as individuals so that collectively we can make an impact as a school.

This year has already started with all engines firing. The theme for the year “What do you want from me?” is in commemoration of the centennial when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared before three shepherd children in Portugal (Mr Oosthuysen’s welcoming letter has more details of this). The theme speaks to servant leadership which should always be at the forefront of what we do in our daily lives. FNB’S slogan; “How can we help you?” is possibly just another way of looking at how service can be improved.

In 2017; the academic staff will be undergoing extensive professional development to get up to speed with ‘Google Classroom’. While this is an exciting time for many, it is also nerve-racking. Therefore, I ask parents and boys to be patient with staff as we strive to become more efficient and innovative.

At this point I would like to congratulate the class of 2016, and all the staff who were involved, on their outstanding results in the NSC. These results were historic in many aspects and the boys have raised the bar on some of the results which the class of 2010 and 2013 achieved. 137 Matrics sat the exams and collectively they amassed a total of 329 distinctions at an average of 2.4 distinctions per boy. The overall grade average was 72% while 38 boys obtained an overall average of 80 and above. Eleven of our boys achieved a full house with Sean Ingle making it onto the IEB Outstanding Achievers list, while Jared O’Reilly and Matthew Pepin made it onto the IEB Commendable Achievers List. For more details on the results; I direct you to the Academic page on our website where you will find a detailed breakdown of these fantastic results.

Last week Friday all the new teachers from the three campuses came together for the first time as St Benedict’s staff members. The day started with a meeting with their sectional Heads followed by an orientation programme.  I am extremely excited about the calibre of staff member that we have appointed and I have no doubt that they will add value to the quality of our teachers in the College. They are truly amazed at what we have in place at St Benedict’s and they can’t wait to sink their teeth into the academic programme.

In Mr Oosthuysen’s welcoming newsletter he mentioned that, moving forward, the newsletters will only be circulated fortnightly.  Having said this, the newsletters will be kept  current and information pertaining to sports fixtures, events and results will be kept up to date.  Therefore parents can click on the most recent newsletter for up to date news.  Alternatively, parents will be able to look at the “Quick Calendar “ for forthcoming fixtures.

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. 

 

 

02 December 2016

JOY TO THE WORLD 

As we approach the end of yet another busy year, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our parents for the support they have given to both their son/s and the school. A school of our stature cannot operate as a single entity and it requires a huge effort by all in order to obtain the results we do. Our academics continue to be our strength and ultimately this is why you chose St Benedict’s as your school of choice all those years ago. The Matrics have completed their finals and we now await the release of the results on Friday, 30 December. By all accounts, we can expect some pleasing results.

On the sports front; our rowers continue to put St Benedict’s College on the international map. In August, Sandro Torrente and Alexander Julicher participated in the U19 Junior World Championships where they obtained a bronze medal. Mr Brad Smith, who was the coach of this team, claims that our boys dug deep against great odds to gain a place on the podium. While many of our boys have been to these Championships in the past, these boys are the first to return with a medal. At the RowSA awards, our boys along with Mr Smith picked up numerous awards. It did not end there either.  The trio were invited to the SA sports awards in Bloemfontein last Sunday where St Benedict’s were crowned School team of the year.

Another first for Bennies was the first place our swimmers achieved at the Inter-high relay gala. The boys have worked extremely hard this year and their victory was just reward for their efforts. Our 1st team rugby boys beat Pretoria Boys in Pretoria for the first time. The Under 16A hockey team won the Top 8 trophy while the U16A soccer team enjoyed an unbeaten season to name a few. 

The cultural side of the school continues to shine. The cast of Dipuo won the prestigious RAPS competition for the second time in the history of the competition. While the Bible quiz team won the CSO Bible quiz competition to stamp their dominance on this competition. I am delighted with these results and our boys have achieved over the course of the year and they are a credit to our school. 

As I have mentioned in a previous newsletter this year, there have been a few staff members who will be leaving our employment at the conclusion of this year. We thank them for their contributions to St Benedict’s over the time that they have been here. No matter how big or small their contribution may have been, it certainly had a profound impact on our boys. We wish them everything of the best in their future endeavours. The college has found suitable replacements for the staff that are leaving and we look forward to welcoming them in the new year.

This is just a friendly reminder that school starts on Tuesday, 17 January for the Grade 8 boys while the rest of the school starts on Wednesday, 18  January 2017. There is an academic programme with integrated sports attached to this newsletter which our boys will be involved in the first week of term. This programme can be viewed further on in the newsletter. 

In conclusion, I would like to thank everyone for their dedication and commitment. Our school thrives because of the involvement of the staff and the support that they receive from parents. We are fortunate to have boys who understand the value of education and who work hard to improve upon their own personal best. 2017 should prove to be an exciting year and I look forward to seeing you all in the new year. I leave you with a Christmas quote;

”What is Christmas? It is the tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.”

 Agnes Mike Pharo


25 November 2016

LEARNING AND GROWING UP IS A JOURNEY

At the end of yet another busy year, I find myself thinking about all the highs and lows of 2016. As human beings we tend to be haunted by our mistakes. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Well I tend to lean towards the good.

 

Mistakes are learning experiences that propel people toward success. As educators of young minds we have the ability to teach youngsters that it’s ok to fail on the road to success. Don’t get me wrong we do not willfully teach boys to fail; boys get taught and coached to go out there and give their best.
Mr Oosthuizen has spoken about the Bennies boy and his “journey”, starting at gr 00 and finishing in Gr 12. It’s a long time to not make any mistakes. We are bound to do, say or react the wrong way. But it’s not about the mistake ……. It’s all about what we learn from making those mistakes. As we are all planning our holiday trips I remind you of that speeding fine you received going down to the coast. The mistake was not intentional; however you have learnt from it and will probably not speed again at that exact same spot. This is how we learn. 

You cannot buy or plan the kind of education that mistakes and failure provide. They demonstrate that you are out there on the front lines, taking risks and giving your best effort. Learning from your mistakes and failure makes you more adaptable and confident to future learning experiences. People who are confident in their abilities are not afraid to share their blunders. They learn from their mistakes and failures, gain experience “the hard way” and learn the valuable lessons that error and failure has to offer. As the boys finish their exams be mindful of the mistakes they made.

I found some guidelines that we can use to help boys cope with this proses.

Acknowledge that you don’t expect them to be perfect.
Let them know your love is unconditional, regardless of their mistakes or lapses in judgment.
Don’t rescue children from their mistakes. (Children need to take responsibility for their own actions). Instead, focus on the solution.
Provide examples of your own mistakes, the consequences, and how you learned from them.
Encourage them to take responsibility for their mistakes and not blame others.
Avoid pointing out their past mistakes. Instead, focus on the one at hand.
Praise them for their ability to admit their mistakes.
Praise them for their efforts and courage to overcome setbacks.
Mentor them on how to apologize when their mistakes have hurt others.
Help them look at the good side of getting things wrong

As Einstein once said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
We are all human we WILL make mistakes. Everyone can and should learn from their mistakes.


18 November 2016

Holiday Exercise

The College’s last summer sports fixture has come and gone, exams are upon us and many of the boys are already looking forward to a long holiday. This is what prompted me to inform the boys that their next competitive sporting fixture was 70 days away. Saturday 21 January 2017 vs Parktown Boys’ to be precise. The results of this sporting fixture will largely be determined by the amount of holiday exercise (training) which takes place between now and then. 

With exams out of the way and the inevitable “I’m relaxing” out of the way, the boys will have vast amounts of time at their disposal. Obviously they will have some priorities in terms of their time, including late morning sleeping, socialising, shopping and gaming. Now here comes the rub; with all these “demands on their time” (and more) to navigate, it may become hard for your son to prioritise staying fit and healthy. It's therefore important that you encourage him to form healthy lifestyle habits and support him in maintaining these. To this end, you should be promoting healthy eating, sleeping (not too much) and physical activity (getting fit).

There are hundreds of good reasons why it’s worthwhile to get fit. Some of these include the following: 

•It charges you up - thirty minutes or more of vigorous exercise releases endorphins (the good stuff) in the brain, giving you energy and a natural high.


•It helps your positivity - not only does it release those happy hormones but also it can help create a positive mindset.


•It helps your social life - exercising with others, going to the gym or playing sport is a great way to meet new people and to keep each other motivated.


•It helps you sleep - working the body and clearing the brain puts you in the right space physically and mentally for a good nights’ sleep.

But with exercise and training, the hardest things to do are to get started and to keep going. Many people give up on exercise because they haven’t learnt the best way to go about it. Here’s are a few pointers:

•Little by little – if you’re just getting into it, start gently with an activity you can manage and then increase the length and intensity of the exercise.


•The ideal workout – once you’re a little more fit, try and get in 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per day.


•Work it into your daily routine – make it a habit by doing it at a certain time of the day and try to do it every day.


•Pick the right workout – choose something you enjoy doing because if you see exercise as a chore, it will become a chore, and nobody likes chores. 


Lastly please discourage your son from doing those things which we all know are not part of healthy living nor conducive to good results come January. Here are some things which he should not be doing:

•Binge watching - spending hours and hours on end lying in front of the TV.


•Junk food eating - take aways, packets of crisps and sweets and litres of coke are no way for him to “bulk up” in the off season.

•All night gaming - this will result in him spending the next day sleeping and the day will have been wasted.

11 November 2016

Exam time is upon us

There is a saying in Gauteng that says “If you haven’t started studying by the time the Jacarandas are in full bloom; then it is too late.” While this saying may be true for varsity and matric  students, it may not necessarily apply to pupils in the younger grades who only start writing their final exams mid-way through November. We have finally reached that stage of the year where the boys will be assessed on the work that they have covered over the course of the year. Preparation for exams is no different to preparing for a big sporting fixture. The greater the amount of time you spend training; the better the chance of you having a positive outcome. 

I have reminded the boys at line-up and assembly that these exams carry a far greater weighting than the previous terms' assessments. In grade 8, these exams carry a 60% weighting while the grade 9 to 11 exams carry a 75% weighting. Therefore, should a boy really apply himself during these exams, he then has the opportunity to bolster his year mark. I encourage each boy to make use of the time wisely and ensure that he is more than adequately prepared for these exams.

The grade 9 boys are reminded that they need to achieve certain results in Maths and English in order for them to proceed with their subject choice in grade 10. The subjects in question are Information Technology; Accounting and Science. Boys taking these subjects need to be aware of the criteria that pertains to taking these subjects in grade 10. The grade 11 boys will be using the final results from these exams in order to start the process of enrolment into University in 2018. In order for boys to get into the faculty of their choice, boys are urged to do the best they possibly can in these exams.

As we move into a three-week exam period, it would be fitting to lay down a few ground rules:

Boys must be present at the venue at least 20 minutes before the exam is due to start. Extra time will not be given to those boys who arrive late.
Should a boy fall ill during the course of the exam period, the school must be notified immediately. A doctors note will be required explaining his absence.
Boys may not borrow equipment or stationery. They must bring their own.
All stationery must be housed in a clear/ see-through container or plastic bag.
Calculators may only be used in the exams where they are permitted.
Cell phones may not be used as a calculator.
Cell phones need to be turned off and placed on the floor next to the desk.
Smart watches and translators may not be brought into the exam venue.
Bags may not be brought into the venue, therefore no valuables should be left in the bags.

On behalf of the College, we wish each and every boy the best of luck over this exam period.

 


 

05 November 2016

Sleepy Son?

Do you have a sleepy son? Is it difficult to get him moving in the morning? Everyone knows what it feels like to be tired. It is important that we encourage our children to practise good sleeping habits. Talk about the importance of sleep with your son and encourage him to look at ways he can improve his sleep habits. It is also important that parents keep an eye out for children who appear tired on a regular basis. Falling asleep in class, being unenthusiastic or moving slowly could be a sign that your son not getting enough sleep.

Getting the right amount of sleep is really important to restore energy to the body and brain. But what’s the normal amount? A normal amount of sleep can feel like being well rested when you wake up, not being tired during the day and having enough energy to focus. Up until someone reaches full maturity (around 22 or 23 years old) they need more sleep than adults do. About 9 hours of sleep per night. Our teenage years are a period of rapid growth in the body and brain. These extra hours of sleep each night allow the body to work on the final development of these areas.

Signs you’re getting enough good sleep are that you fall asleep within 20 minutes of lying down, you don’t usually wake up more than twice a night, you don’t feel tired during the day and you have enough energy throughout the day.

There are some tell-tale signs that you’re not getting enough sleep and these include having trouble paying attention, trouble concentrating on mental tasks, have a reduced memory, being more moody, having slower reactions to things and feeling constantly drowsy throughout the day.

So what to do if your son is not getting enough sleep? Get him into a sleeping routine by setting specific times that he will go to bed and wake up each day. Avoid naps as you want him to be tired at bedtime. It’s much better to go to bed earlier if you are really tired as one period of sleep in any 24-hours is much better.

The following is a list of tips and tools a lot of people find helpful in getting good sleep:

Lay off the caffeine before bed as this can make it harder to get to sleep or  may cause sleep to be disrupted.

Try to reduce TV or computer time in the evenings as the artificial light tricks the body into staying awake.

Exercise outdoors first thing in the morning. Sunlight can help reset the body clock.

Some other things you can do to help yourself sleep in the hours that you have chosen are:

Sleep in a well-ventilated room that’s not too hot or cold.

Avoid too much exercise right before bed.

Drink warm milk before bed to calm the body.

Avoid eating heavy meals or meals rich in sugar late in the evening.

20 October 2016

Change is inevitable 

Last week Wednesday, the College said farewell to the Class of 2016. The day started with a Leaders’ assembly, a memorable Mass and, finally, the day concluded with the Valedictory lunch. In the Headmasters address, I spoke about change and the fact that this is inevitable in our daily lives: we are never too old to learn new tricks and the world around us is changing at an alarming rate. 

Our Matrics have been fairly sheltered over the past five years and now they need to face up to the many challenges that await them. We are all well aware of the ongoing crisis at our universities which our boys are about to enter into. This could be a daunting task if our boys allow it to consume them. The important thing is that they remember all the life lessons that they have learned at school. They need to remain resilient, stay focussed on their goals and they need to be committed to their own task at hand. Should they be able to do this then I have no doubt that they will be better off for it.

At St Benedict’s College, next year, we will also be experiencing some change of our own. During this past week I was walking around the school with one of our grade 6 parents. The parent asked me a question about the number of staff that were leaving the College at the end of the year. She said that the car park talk was concerning about the number of staff that were leaving both the Prep school and the College next year. The automatic assumption was that we had a crisis on our hands. So let me put to bed some of the rumours that are floating around and allow me to share some of the reasons as to why some of our staff may be leaving us at the end of the year in the college. 

Over the past four years, the College has had very little staff attrition. The staff compliment has been stable during this period with very little movement. While this year is an anomaly, it still falls within the ISASA average. Every 3 to 5 years there generally is movement as spaces open up at other schools. 
In the Maths department we have the following movements: Mrs Serafino has undergone surgery this week which may need to be followed up with chemotherapy. She has resigned in order to take 2017 off to recover. Should her health improve by the end of 2017, she would like to return to the St Benedict’s family. Mrs Serafino has been replaced by Mr Christo Botha from Curro Serengeti. Mrs Nel has taken up a promotion post at Treverton High School in Mooi River. She will take over the Maths Lit department as well as teach senior maths. We have secured the services of Miss Andrea Balzer from St Peter’s to replace Mrs Nel. Miss Scott has indicated that she would like to travel abroad next year. She has been replaced by Mr Grant Hayward who has a Masters degree in Mathematics. Mr Tennant, who teaches Junior Maths and is also the MIC of Hockey has indicated that he would like to leave our employment at the end of March 2017 as he would like to go and work on the yachts in the Mediterranean as well as do a little bit of travelling himself. He has been replaced by Mrs Samantha Naidoo who joins us from Curro Serengeti. We are currently in the process of employing an MIC of hockey.

Mrs Mathey, in the Afrikaans department, retires from teaching at the end of this year and we welcome Mrs Liline Swart from Edenvale High School to take over from Mrs Mathey. Mrs Lourens, who is also in the Afrikaans department, has decided to take early retirement due to health reasons. She has been replaced by Mr Johan Van Eeden from Hoerskool Brandwag. 

In the Visual Arts department; Miss Coetzee has indicated that she would like to study further on a full-time basis; while her colleague, Mrs Brunke will be taking up a HOD position at a school closer to home. Mrs Caron Hoy joins our staff from Holy Rosary School as the HOD for Visual Arts. 

Mrs Holpert has been a household name at St Benedict’s for the past 13 years. She has reached a point in her career where she feels that she needs some new challenges in her life. Mrs Holpert will be taking up a post at St David’s Inanda in their Science department. Mrs Holpert will be replaced by Mrs Mia Angelova who is relocating from Witbank. Mrs Angelova is currently teaching at Curro Bankenveld. 

Miss Wright, who has been with us for 9 years, has indicated that she would like some different scenery and a challenge. She has taken up an English post at Helpmekaar. We will not be replacing Miss Wright as we have a teacher in excess in the English department. 

Our MIC of Cricket, Mr Tomsek who is also one of our senior rugby coaches will be relocating to the North Coast of Durban at the end of this year. Mr Tomsek is looking for a complete change in career path. We have employed Mr Kurt Francis who is currently coaching at Rynfield Primary but originally hails from the Eastern Cape. Mr Francis will assist with the coaching in both the cricket and rugby sections of the school. Mr Savage-Reid has spent the last two years with us as an intern. He will be leaving us at the end of the year to try his hand in the corporate world. He has indicated that he would like to continue coaching Waterpolo, work permitting. We have advertised for a first team Waterpolo coach and we await the final outcome from the interview process. Finally Mr Smith, who is our First Eight Rowing coach will be relocating to the Western Cape where he will take up a position in the Bishops rowing department. This position will be filled internally.

Amongst all of this we welcome Miss Leandre French from Springs Boys who will take up her position as HOD Business Studies - which is a growth post. Miss French will supplement the coaching staff in the hockey club. 

Therefore one can see that there is a whole host of reasons as to why some of our staff are leaving the college at the end of the year. These range from retirement to relocation.  When I have spoken to those staff members who are leaving, they assure me that they are not leaving because they are unhappy. They have fond memories of St Benedict’s and are leaving enriched for having been here. Opportunities have presented themselves in a wide spectrum of positions across South Africa and it is just unfortunate that they have all coincided with one another at the same time. 

Change is inevitable. Throughout the interview process, we have been blessed with some wonderful applicants which has allowed us to choose only the best. New staff bring with them a new sense of energy and new ideas. I am excited about the prospects that these new staff members will bring to the college in 2017. I have no doubt that they will add value to the quality of education that already exists at St Benedict’s. Therefore there is no need to panic nor raise the white flag. We will continue to strive for excellence and ensure that the quality of our academics goes from strength to strength. 

14 October 2016

                       

We all have big dreams and goals growing up. Are you still waiting for your dreams to come true or your ship to come to shore, and change your life forever?

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, dreams don’t come true. However, it is your goals that can forever change your life. By setting goals, you can turn your dreams into reality.
Don’t Confuse Dreams and Goals

Dreams come easy, they are free. You just need to be asleep for them to happen but dreams by themselves are just that… dreams. They are imaginary pie in sky and they don’t produce tangible results. You will actually have to take action...You need goals to make the visions of your dreams a reality. 
Don’t confuse your dreams with goals. Dreams occupy your mind. Goals take over your reality.  

                                                       
Goals Do Come True


Dreams can inspire you, but goals can change your life. Sometimes it only takes one step to change a dream into a goal. Yet, it can take years to take that goal to the finish line. Always dream big, but make sure your goals are just as big. 


“Dreams can inspire you, but goals can change your life.”
Adapted from Goals on track by Craig jarrow


 

07 October 2016

At assembly today, the College Leaders of 2017 were announced. In determining their leaders, many other schools simply have a round of voting followed by a staff meeting and then the leaders are announced. I would like to believe that our process is far more thorough. It consists of the following steps:


An outward bound week in which leadership is developed
Voting round 1 to determine which Grade 11 boys attend camp
A leadership identification camp
Voting round 2
Staff meeting where all eligible candidates are discussed
Management then meet to discuss the short list of candidates and determine which boys are ultimately selected for positions of leadership


There are a number of positions of leadership which a boy can hold within the College. These range from the Captain of the U14C hockey team to the 1st XV Rugby Captain, from the Cultural Technical Captain to the Captain of Bible Quiz, from Leader to Headboy. Through these positions, boys begin to learn the necessary skills of leadership, skills which they will take with them into their adulthood and the world of work. Their role as College Leaders, yes all of them, is to act as ambassadors of the College; be they dealing with a referee, ensuring team discipline and behaviour, delivering an address at a debate or ensuring the College Code of Conduct is being adhered to. They represent the College and are often the boys on whom the public’s perception of St Benedict’s will be based. This is certainly a large responsibility for any teenager and this burden of responsibility demands that all College Leaders receive our support.


We acknowledge that there were boys selected whom you may not necessarily all agree with. Similarly there were boys not selected whom you believe should have been made leaders. What is important is that we give the leaders who were announced our support. To the boys who were not selected, a true testament of their leadership can still be displayed. The test of their leadership will come in how they respond to the disappointment of not been selected. They are to bear in mind that this is an ongoing process and that selections are not cast in stone. Similarly, to the boys who were selected, their selection is not the end of a journey but rather the beginning of a process. This is also the beginning of the test of their leadership ability. 


To the remainder of the College and particularly the Grade 8 boys, the message was this; appointment to a leadership position is a role which many of the boys began working towards since they entered the gates for the very first time. They have displayed their leadership both inside and outside of the class. They have exhibited their ability to lead by example in terms of the contributions which they have made. They did not begin to work towards their appointment at the beginning of Grade 11. They have now reaped the reward. And so I urge the boys you to remember this if they would like to hear their name called out in years’ to come.


We congratulate the following boys on being appointed as College Leaders for 2016/2017. 
 
Diago Alves
Devon Breet
Declan Carolin
Gianfranco Catinella
Roberto Coelho
Augusto D'Alessio
Jacob Groenewald
Malibongwe Hlatshwayo
Sibusiso Jantjie
Mark Kruger
Jason Kwan
Liam Macgregor
Kingsley Martell
Kundai Matigimu
Mitchell Rabey
Adam Randall
Stefan Sprenzel
Jason Teixeira
Jonathan Ting Chong

T.Craig


30 September 2016

No substitute for hard work

We live in a time where it is okay to fail, a time where mediocrity is acceptable. The reason I say this is because if a child fails we, as adults, jump in and bail the child out. We either make excuses as to why the child failed or we tend to blame a third party. We don’t allow the child to experience an important aspect of life: when you get knocked down you have to get back up no matter how hard it seems to be. We need to teach our children to be resilient and they need to display a whole lot of perseverance if they are going to survive in this excessively competitive world of ours. As George Custer once said; ”It’s not how many times you get knocked down that counts, it’s how many times you get back up.”

With this in mind I would like to sing the praises of the 1st cricket team. During the first term they were literally knocked down - inconsistent performances by both the batsmen and the bowlers led to some poor results over all. There seems to be a resurgence of energy in the composition of this year’s team. The young members of this team have earned their places through many hours of hard work. K Matigimu has led from the front scoring two 50s and a hundred this season so far. W Saxby scored his maiden 1st team century against Edenvale High School in a T20 match. This was after his 50 earlier on in the week. A Visser has been consistent with the bat scoring 3 fifties, while all-rounder L Holland has scored a few runs with the bat and has already bagged a 5-wicket haul. K Saxby has been consistent with his line and length, keeping the batsmen under pressure with his swing bowling and has also contributed significantly with the bat, scoring two 50s. D Snyman has proven to be an asset behind the stumps. This resurgence in the first team cricket is not having an adverse effect on the lower teams: at the Trinity House Cricket Festival last weekend, D Day and  J Theron both scored hundreds while R O’Donaghue scored his hundred in a mid-week game this past week.

What I admire about the 1st team is that they are young and full of energy. The successes that they have had so far have certainly fueled their confidence. Their good results can be attributed to the fact that these boys have put in many hours of training over and above their school practices. This commitment and determination has lead to improved performance. In fact, some of these boys play club cricket as well which allows them to test their skills against some more experienced campaigners. 

What about academics you may ask? Some of these boys are in the top twenty within their grade which goes to show that you can be busy and achieve good results all round. Boys generally are great at procrastination so it is often best to ensure that they are kept busy. Time management is a skill that these boys have learnt early on in their school careers which will stand them in good stead when they eventually move onto University.

In his book “Drive”, Daniel Pink talks about 3 major drivers that will determine ones' destiny:  autonomy - which is the desire to direct our own lives; mastery - the urge to get better and better at something that matters; and thirdly: purpose - which he mentions is the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. All our boys at St Benedict’s have these three drivers within them but they sometimes they don’t respond to each one of them to the best of their ability. At this stage of the year, it is time to avoid the distractions and focus on the end goal. If our boys are able to do this then there is nothing to stop them from achieving something great. Always remember you reap what you sow. 

As the year starts winding down, in just over a week and a half we say farewell to our matric group. They have been great ambassadors of St Benedict’s and I have no doubt that they will do themselves proud when it comes to their final results. The many hours of hard work that they have put into their studies will certainly benefit them when the exams come around. 

Have a great weekend.

D.Jeffrey


23 September 2016

When to step in

Discipline is necessary in every household. The goal of discipline is to set rules and help boys to learn about acceptable behavior and self-control. Boys will test the boundaries and the limits set by parents, teachers and society. However, Boys need boundaries. Every sport and activity has a set of rules, if you break them you get penalized. 

When do we as parents and teachers step in? If we step in too soon, the boys don’t learn a valuable lesson or if we step in too late, too much damage might have been done.  Nobody said parenting was easy! There is a fine line between being a “smother” or helicopter parent and being a “lawnmower” parent. Establishing rules will help boys understand your expectations and teach them self-control, what is expectable behaviour and what is not.

Every institution has a system in place. Normally it is one warning followed by some consequences. Unfortunately a mistake that we all have made is the follow through. We warn, but we do not enforce the punishment to rectify the mistake. We need to be consistent. Consistency teaches boys what to expect. If a boy has made the mistake let us not cover and protect them, rather walk alongside them and guide them. Be there to encourage them. They have to learn that every action has a consequence.

Let us step in when boys are being treated unfairly, but let us step aside, as parents, if a boy pushes the boundaries and gets himself in trouble. Protect him, but don’t prevent him from learning a life lesson.

M.Nel


16 September 2016

School Rivalry

Over a hundred years ago some of the most famous monastic schools in Johannesburg, South Africa and indeed the world came into being. Many of them modelled themselves on schools in England. This modelling took the form of sports they offered, the curriculum, the house structure and some of the pastoral structures. But they also modelled themselves informally and so many of the traditions which had been in place in the overseas counterparts found themselves being adopted in the South African schools. One of these traditions took the form of school rivalries.
These school rivalries can still be found and are often spoken about. Fathers (and to a lesser degree mothers) can be heard comparing their alma mater with those of their friends, narrating stories of their school days and their competition with neighbouring schools. This rivalry is still to be found in the classroom, in the theatres, on the sports field and at social events. But of course, there have always been and will continue to be those amongst us who take this rivalry, and “love of their school” one step too far. And this inevitably boils over.
Last week St Benedict’s hosted its annual Big Bennies Bash. Unfortunately the event was somewhat marred by scuffles between some of our boys and boys from neighbouring schools. Once again, I refer you to school rivalry. These scuffles resulted from certain boys being under the influence of ill-begotten alcohol. 
No doubt when news of these scuffles reached their parents, there were stories of being ganged up on, overly aggressive boys from other schools and stories of how the scuffle was not their fault and that John Smith from said neighbouring school started it for some or other reason. I then am left to try and determine the truth behind the story. Should your teenage son come home from an event of this nature having being involved in an unsavoury incident, accompanied by an exaggerated story, please do not take his word on the matter verbatim. He may very well be placing himself in harm’s way, all done in the name of misplaced and misunderstood “school rivalry”.
In my experience, I find neither party's story to be accurate and am often able to apportion a degree of blame to both parties involved. Parents I urge you to consider your son's behaviour at social events. Caution him against associating with overly aggressive boys, caution him against becoming involved in fights and caution him on the danger of behaviour associated with the use of alcohol. There is no upside to any of these and they will often and inevitably lead to tragic consequences.


T.Craig

 

9 September 2016

Going for Gold

The August holidays have come and gone. It is now an opportunity for us to consolidate and reflect on what we have done and what we still need to do. The parents’ evening that takes place on Thursday, 15 September allows our parents an opportunity to utilise the occasion to discuss their son’s progress thus far and possible remediation that needs to be put in place prior to the final exams can then be done during the third term. Academics is our core business and the more we work together as a team (parents & boys & teachers); the greater the prospects for a successful partnership. 

While we only report to academics three times over the course of the year, assessment is ongoing and therefore feedback to the boys is a vital cog in the wheel in keeping them “on track”. The ultimate goal in academics is to achieve a full house of distinctions in the subjects that the boys offer. This would probably be equivalent to winning the gold medal at a major sporting event such as the Olympics.

Speaking about achievements and the Olympics in one sentence; during this holiday - a lot of time was spent catching up on who achieved what on the medals table at the Olympics. South Africa achieved 10 medals which left them 30th on the overall medals table. As South Africans we can be content with the results that team SA achieved but one may feel that we were a medal or two short of our real capabilities. Due to the Olympics only taking place every four years, some athletes have become ‘long in the tooth’ and probably won’t be participating in Tokyo in 2020. 

Michael Phelps confirmed this and has indicated that he will now retire from International competition. His medal haul in the pool of 28 Olympic medals, 23 of them gold, will certainly require a super human effort in the future if it is to be surpassed. At the Rio Games, a massive 27 world records were broken, eight of which came from within the swimming pool and the weightlifting arena. Our very own Wayde van Niekerk broke Michael Johnson‘s 17-year-old record in the men’s 400m, while Caster Semenya won our other Gold medal in the ladies 800m final. Fiji won their first Olympic medal ever. Rugby enthusiasts might argue that this was a medal destined for the Blitzbokke who unfortunately had to settle for Bronze. Overall, South Africa had 137 athletes take part in the Olympics, with 22 of them picking up medals in five sports.

Our National rowers did exceptionally well with all 5 boats making it into the ‘A’ finals. Vincent Breet (class of 2011) and his three other partners gained a fourth place in the final of the coxless fours having been in second place for most of the race. While I am talking about rowing; I am proud to announce that Alexander Julicher and Sandro Torrente who are currently in Matric at Bennies, challenged valiantly for the gold medal in the pairs at the World Championships in Holland. The bronze medal that they achieved will forever be etched in their memories. Maybe we will see them rowing for team SA at the Tokyo games in 2020. Well done to Mr Brad Smith who was the head coach of the boys’ team.

Whether one is attempting to achieve a full house of distinctions or achieve the highest accolade in sport, there is one thing that remains constant and that is that these cannot be achieved without hard work and dedication. If you are passionate about something then this could be the start of great things to come. Long may our Bennies boys be successful. 

I look forward to seeing you all at the Bennies Bash this evening. 

5 August 2016

Build on our Experiences

By the time you read this newsletter you should have already received your son’s report. If you are anything like me then the 1st thing you would have looked for was the final outcome followed by a breakdown of the results per subject. The reason I do this is purely borne out of fear. When I was at school, one of the most traumatic times of the year was the end of term when results were being distributed. This was because if either of my siblings or myself achieved poor results at the end of the term, then we were guaranteed to get a hiding; alternatively some serious punishment was metered out.

If you are that kind of parent then I say “wait, think about what you are doing.” Two wrongs don’t make a right. Exam time is a stressful period in anyone’s life and receiving the outcome at the end of the process can be just as stressful. In order for us to make it a meaningful process then we need to work hand in hand with each other. We need to build confidence in our children and inspire them to achieve better results as opposed to striking fear in them. 

We are all creatures of habit and invariably we will treat our children in a similar way in certain events as to how our parents responded to those events. I found myself doing this very thing with my own children when they were in primary school. Instead of them growing and building on the experience, I was teaching them resentment and fear. Not a good combination. Nowadays I work through the results with my children and offer my support and guidance rather than blame and punish.

Sometimes the support and guidance has taken the form of making some difficult decisions and reprioritizing activities to manage time more effectively. Many times we’ve had a long look in the mirror and faced the reality of under preparation, or too much TV. Other times we have accepted that despite the hard work, on the day, the result was not forthcoming. Whatever the approach, I have found that the time invested in this reflection has paid off and the improvement in their results due to this change in attitude has been astounding. 

We, as adults and teachers need to be “Difference Makers” who lead by example. We need to be catalysts whose passion and courage ignite talent and action in our children. Our energy will in turn empower them to believe in their own potential and find solutions to some of the barriers that they may be experiencing.
Currently, we are the most informed generation of parents and educators who have ever walked the planet, yet we are raising children with rising rates of stress, insomnia, anxiety and depression. We have the power to stem this tide by taking time out of our busy schedules to walk a journey with our children as opposed to using the sink or swim philosophy. 

Modelling and mirroring relationships and attitudes between teachers and students is perhaps the most enduring effect of our teaching vocation. Our students take away from their experience a sense of who we are, what we stand for and how we've made them feel. As parents, you can align your values with ours. Understanding the significance of the support and mentorship in a child’s life is critical to his or her development of life skills. 

In closing I leave you with some wise words by the International best selling author J.L. Witterick who says “You don't have to be extraordinary to make a difference, you can become extraordinary by making a difference.” Our everyday decisions may determine our character and ultimately our destiny.
Have a fantastic holiday. Don’t forget to book your tickets for the Bennies Bash on 9 September. 

29 July 2016

Compulsory Sport at School

This debate was raised at our Sports Indaba last week. Do we continue with compulsory sport or do we make it voluntary? At the end of the 3-day Indaba we all felt that sport plays such a crucial part in the development of our boys that we will not tamper with our winning formula.

St Benedict's, like other boys' schools, stresses the importance of participation in school sport and various cultural activities. This is regarded as educationally important in that team-work can accomplish what no amount of individual talent or dedication can and there is nothing like sport and group activities for stressing the value of teamwork and Christian values such as concern for other people.
 
We believe that without the lessons taught by school sport, our boys would be receiving a poorer education.  We stand, therefore, for a broad and balanced education. Sport underscores the values for which all good schools stand: honesty, loyalty, team-work and consideration for others (taken from our Pastoral Care Handbook)

After the recent Cravenweek festival the question “What happens to all these brilliant rugby players after school?” was asked. Only a small percentage carries on playing after matric. 
Are we instilling the correct values and training methodologies in our boys? Are we as educators, coaches and parents killing our athletes’ (and by athletes I am referring to all sporting codes) passion for the sport, by putting too much pressure on them to win at all costs?
I found an article that shed a bit of light on this for me. A study undertaken in 2014 at the George Washington University by Amanda Visik concluded the following reasons why children stop playing.

No longer fun - 90% take part to have fun. They stop once the fun has left the field of play.
Winning is no fun – she asked the kids to rank 81 characteristics, and winning was ranked no. 48. 
Uncomfortable at parent's heightened scrutiny – she states the pressure put on children by parents as the third reason why they stop. 
Culture doesn't support recreational play – we don’t allow children to just play, it always ends up with a winner and a looser.
Children feel they aren't involved – with this pushing to win, some are left on the bench as the best players should always be on the field.
Burnout – Add all the above together and you can get one final potential reason for a child to quit sports – sheer exhaustion. Kids do have what seems like a never-ending reserve of energy, but even for them all this hectic scheduling can become too much.
What we can do, according to Visik.
Adults are the root cause of a number of these factors. At such a vital time when children develop self-esteem and many other social skills, the approach from parents in sport is often misplaced.
put the fun back into sessions,
Treats players with respect and keep them engaged during sport, and they'll learn to love it into adulthood.
Ensure everyone gets a fair share of the action

As a School we strive to create Long Term Athletes (LTA). We try and instil the desire to keep an active healthy lifestyle during their time at school and hopefully once they have matriculated they will continue with the sport. 
So to keep our boys active and prepare them for the rest of their lives, we institute the Compulsory Sports Policy at St Benedict’s College, and we hope that all the hours spent training these boys will pay off in the long term, so they can live a healthy active life. It is our job as educators, coaches and parents to facilitate this important part of our boys’ development. 

“Mens sana in corpore sano” Latin Quotation - A HEALTHY MIND IN A HEALTHY BODY 

22 July 2016

The Importance of Appearance

At its most obvious level there is something very pleasing about a well-turned out young man. For any school, a smart uniform signals pupils and parent's pride and reinforces the school's standards. It shows they care and demonstrates a certain class which has nothing to do with money or status.

Uniforms create equality amongst the boys and also creates a sense of identity. Dressing neatly draws positive attention. We live in a judgmental world where people are quick to make assumptions and to categorize individuals based on what they see. A young man who wears clean and tidy clothing will make people value him, his ideas and his presence. A young man who dresses neatly will rise above, and chances are he will be spotted first, valued and respected.

If a boy takes the time and effort to dress neatly he will undoubtedly radiate an image of self-respect and self-worth. People will see him and think positively of him. People will think that he is worthy of their time and company. Dressing neatly also boosts self-confidence. A young man who has confidence in himself can accomplish so much more. Dressing neatly displays a sense of responsibility which will allow him to sever himself from, and rise above, his boyhood traits.

One of the responsibilities of parents is to ensure that their child conforms to the hair and uniform policy of the College, thereby helping us to maintain the high standards for which our school is known. Please ensure that his plain black lace up shoes are polished, his trousers are not frayed nor styled, a belt is worn, he has the correct shirt and tie and his blazer is clean and in good repair. A young man should be clean shaven on a daily basis and he is to have the correct haircut. The College policy IRO of hair is that “Boys may not have fashion hairstyles”. “Short Back and Sides” is preferable.

We ask all parents to support the school uniform and hair policy. We believe that parents have a duty to send their children to school correctly dressed and ready for their daily schoolwork.


 

15 July 2016

Halfway Mark

The exams have already begun for our senior grades while our junior grades begin their mid-year exams this coming Monday. While there is a lull in the number of activities in and around the College over the next few weeks it allows us some time to catch our breath. It is also a good time to reflect on what the rest of the year has in store for us.

This afternoon, our soccer teams are engaged in a friendly with St Dunstan’s College. The start of the soccer season means that the winter sports season has finally come to an end. The good news is that it also signifies that the sun is on its way back to the Southern Hemisphere. It is scary to think that we are already thinking about summer.

This weekend our Pipe Band Club host their annual Highland Gathering on the main field below Café 58. If you have never been to one of these gatherings before, I highly recommend the massed bands at the conclusion of the event which normally takes place at around 15:45. A real treat to watch.

The 3rd of August has been declared a public holiday in order to allow the public to vote in the municipal elections. What does this mean for our camp week? Structures have been put in place to accommodate the public holiday during the first week of August. The grade 8s and 9s will have the day off on the 3rd of August. The grade 10s and 11s will remain at their venues as their camps are taking place out of town. The 1st group of grade 12s will return from Parnassus on Tuesday evening the 2nd of August while the second group will leave for Parnassus on Wednesday afternoon the 3rd of August. These arrangements allows those boys who are eligible to vote to do so. Please note that the activities for all grades will return to normal on Thursday the 4th of August. 
Spring-time at St Benedict’s is generally a time for celebration. On return to school in September, the Matrics will only have four and a half weeks left of secondary education. It is also a time where we await the arrival of some much needed rain following the winter drought. However, September is also a time where we as a Bennies community come together and celebrate a social event. YES - It is the Big Bennies Bash time again!

Our fourth event of this nature should prove to be bigger and better than last year. This year’s open air concert, which takes place at St Benedict’s on the 9th of September 2016, boasts artists such as Kyle Watson, GoodLuck and TIMO ODV who are all riding high on the South African music charts. Tickets have gone on sale which can be accessed on our website. Please note that there is an early bird discount on all ticket sales. What has proven to be extremely popular in the past are the pre-booked tables. These tend to get booked up extremely fast. Thus to avoid disappointment, I urge you to visit the website and book well ahead of time. 
At the start of term 3, the College boys will be involved in athletics and soccer respectively. While summer sports fixtures will only begin on the 1st Saturday in October.

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

Study Tips

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
Best direction
Most creative poster
Best comedy
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

Drugs

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 lennoxt@stbenedicts.co.za. 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

Opting Out

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
I will...

  • 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.


Basketball

Shingirai

Hlanguyo

Cricket

Shawn

Ingle (RA)

Kundai

Matigimu

James

Marais

Keegan

Marengo

Golf

Yen

Choo (RA)

Rowing

Luca

Tonini (RA)

Alexander

Julicher (RA)

Trehnt

Peters (RA)

Matthew

Pepin

Mitchell

Rabey

Devon

Breet

Sandro

Torrente

Luke

Bennetts

Roeloff

Boettger

Swimming

Anandt

Van Rensburg

Dominic

De Oliveira

Aidan

Lewis-Enright

Jared

O'Reilly

Jonathan

Eastern

James

Dhooge

Daniel

Losper

Waterpolo

Dominic

De Oliveira

Daniel

Losper

Jared

O'Reilly

 

Congratulations to the following boys who qualified for their Honours Blazer


Honours

Daniel

Losper

Full Drama, Full Swimming and Full Academics and Half Water polo

 

1 April 2016

International Travel

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 (norrisc@stbenedicts.co.za). 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

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

Perseverance



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”.

College headmaster
Dave Jeffrey


4 December 2015

Emotions aside

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.

Happy holidays!

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.

6 November

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.

30 October

 

 

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


 

22 October

 

 

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

 

16 October 

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

 

 

9 October

Leadership 

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

2 October

Good Manners 

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 


 

23 September

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

Clean-up Week

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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

Drawing Inspiration

 

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?

Entitled.
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

“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 etiquette

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:
- Skydiving,
- 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!

Get ticking...

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're curious
•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:

•extreme confusion
•inability to be awakened
•seizures
•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."

Dave Jeffery
College Headmaster

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:

  1. Children who specialize in a single sport account for 50% of overuse injuries in young athletes according to pediatric orthopedic specialists
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Smarter, More Creative Players: Multi-sport participation at the youngest ages yields better decision making and pattern recognition, as well as increased creativity.
  3. Most Provincial Athletes Come From a Multi-Sport Background: Look no further than our favourite sporting son, AB de Villiers
  4. 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.
  5. 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

Taking Responsibility

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

Measuring success

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:

  1. You can let it define you
  2. You can let it destroy you
  3. 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?

 

Morne nel

Newsletter 13 February 2015

EcoSolutions Partnership

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.