ST ANDREW’S COLLEGE VALEDICTION
– Speech by Paul Edey
14th OCTOBER 2014
Parents, Staff and Boys of the 2014 matric group:
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to your Valedictory Service. (This is not a deliberately ambiguous and mischievous remark!) It is appropriate that we have this service in this beautiful Sir Herbert Baker Chapel, as we celebrate its Centenary. It is a place rich in tradition and history, and all around you, you will see plaques commemorating masters, boys and old boys who have made a contribution to this school. It is perhaps a place that you will come back to and spend time in and reflect. It is where you began your College career five years ago. It seems like only yesterday. Many of you sitting here this evening have an association with St Andrew’s that goes back twelve or thirteen years, to your years up in the tranquil surroundings of Fairlawn at St Andrew’s Prep. Some of you come from generations of Andreans going back to the turbulent history of the Eastern Cape frontier. (Pause) Others of you are first generation Andreans but we hope that after five years here there is a deep sense of reverence for the values of this school.
Parents – for many of you this is the end of a chapter in your lives – you have made great friends here or renewed old friendships made at school and for many of you this evening will be an emotional experience. We thank you for entrusting your boys to us and for your great support of the school over the past five years, and for many, beyond that.
Some of you have very ambivalent feelings (that means you have mixed feelings) as you sit here. You are excited at the prospect of your House Dinner which is lying before you and you are also looking forward to leaving school, to venturing out on the great roller coaster which is life. Sadly some of you have assumed the manners and attitude of a subjugated race – you have outgrown school and you are ready to leave. You have grown tired of rules that you deem to be petty. Some of you are feeling nervous at the thought of leaving the place which has given you friends, fun, a home and love. Some of you are feeling very sad at the thought of leaving College, a school you have learned to love. Certainly very few of you sitting here are feeling indifferent about your years at College. You face enormous challenges as you go out into the world and I am sure Father Gary will be talking about that.
We all like to leave a legacy and as you are about to depart you must consider what legacy you leave behind as a group and as individuals. There are many plaques around the school with words and sayings written on them. One of my favourites commemorates Alan Edly Symons (Mullins 1972-1975). Alan died in his final year of Electrical Engineering at Wits University. He disappeared on a diving trip with the Wits Diving Club off Sodwana on the KZN coast. It is believed that he was taken by a shark. He had an unblemished record at school; in his final report the Headmaster, Mr Eric Norton, used a cricketing image: Alan has had a fine innings in which he hasn’t given a chance. We all realise that Alan’s type is the backbone of this College.
During his Grade 12 year, Alan had applied for Electrical Engineering at Wits, but had been turned down because they deemed that his marks were not good enough. This spurred him on and he achieved a first class matric in the old Joint Matriculation Board, in which he got an ‘A’ for Maths. He was then accepted into Wits. He died shortly after his 21st birthday and the monetary gifts that were given towards his 21st were used to erect a wall outside Mullins. (Pause) A memorial should commemorate and inspire. Written in the Mullins Common Room are the following words: Men of the future, as you read this text, think not of death, but remember when death comes there will be no finer epitaph than “I did my best”.
You are a quite splendid group of young men and I have enjoyed the five years with you enormously. You have been well lead by Robert and Hugo and you have stuck together through considerable trauma- more than it would be difficult to imagine. You have good old fashioned guts coupled with character and humour. As a group you celebrate the intellectuals, the poets, the rock stars, the musicians, the jocks and the humanitarians.
There has been so much given by this group that has been positive and as a group and individually many of you have made an enormous contribution. As we wish you ‘vale’, farewell, this evening, I can think of no better words for you than to encourage you to always do your best.
Don’t ever underestimate the difference that you can make. Embark on the thrilling next stage of your life with enthusiasm and vigour. Take courage, travel the world, learn from other people and cultures, and be resilient and adaptable. Be an explorer and a pioneer. Never forget the values that you have learnt at this school and go out and make a difference.
And now my friends, all that is true, all that is noble, all that is just and pure, all that is lovable and gracious, whatever is excellent and admirable – fill all your thoughts with these things. (NEB)
NEC ASPERA TERRENT