This morning, as the sun came up bright and sparkling at just about 5am, we could almost feel the buildings, houses, classrooms, fields and pathways stretching themselves – after five weeks of slumber and a summer in which we have had some rain – in anticipation of the new faces, new energy, new potential that has entered our community today.
Today is a day on which practically everybody here is embarking on a new chapter of their lives. Like all adventures, we embark on them with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Many of you may be a little nervous this afternoon, maybe you’re a bit worried that the challenges ahead maybe too great or too taxing. This is perfectly natural, for without those nerves you would be for too relaxed. We are always nervous before a big adventure so don’t be afraid of your nerves, boys.
What I must remind you of all is that you can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep reading the last one. Last years chapter is part of your story, part of your history. Your story, your history is a part of who you are, it helps you to define yourself, but it doesn’t necessarily define the next chapter. In a very profound way, today marks the start of a new chapter in the book of your life, so we need to recognise its importance and significance.
(Before we go further, we have a tradition of recognising the boy and rthe family who have travelled the furthest and this year the gift goes to the Landsman Family who reside in Melbourne Australia. Tobias Landsman is following his older brother Zac, who matriculated from College last year. The Landsman family receive a gift of the book ‘The Boy in You’, the most recent history of St Andrew’s College, written by author Marguerite Poland.)
The Andrean Body
The first reading from Corinthians spoke of each part of the body being part of the whole. Boys, to day, you join a community that has existed for almost 170 years, and in fact several of you come from families who have been part of the fabric of this community for generations. But whether you are 6th generation like Harry Barker in Upper House, or whether you are the very first boy in your family to choose St Andrew’s College, you each are entering a very special community today. The Andrean Community.
Membership of the Andrean simply requires you attend College. It is taken for granted that while you are here, you will strive to give up your best, to reveal the best of yourself, to become the best version of yourself by the close of your time here. And your links within the Andrean community will follow you as you grow and develop throughout the rest of your adult life too.
A Good Andrean?
So what might a good Andrean look like?
It is about living your life in a certain way. It requires courage alright, but not necessarily physical courage – it requires even more emotional courage, social courage, and moral courage. It is more concerned about knowing right from wrong than winning or losing battles and wars – although some of our 1st XV Rugby players who are here might see our match against Grey College Bloemfontein in March as a battle of sorts! Courage in the face of challenge and courage to care to stand up and protect your brothers is part of that mix. Andreans have a backbone of moral courage.
Boys, we will challenge you but we will not overwhelm you. We will ask you to do things that, at first, you may think you cannot possibly do. But we wouldn’t ask you to try something if we didn’t think you could do it.
It was the famous Spanish artist Pablo Picasso who said: “I am always doing thing I can’t do. That’s how I do them.” It is that kind of attitude that will take you forward and further than you have ever been before.
Our school motto is NEC ASPERA TERRENT – difficulties do not deter us.
It is that kind of attitude that will make you into an Andrean of consequence.
Affirmation and Support
Many of you – boys, and maybe even a few moms and dads – will be nervous and a little worried that the adventures and challenges ahead may be too great or too taxing. That is natural, that is good.
Boys, the really good news is that you will have a whole range of support structures in your quest to become a successful Andrean. Caring teachers, a Matric Mentor, your Tutor, your Housemaster, the Wellness Programme Team, our Learning Support team which will be bigger this year than ever before, and our Chaplain Fr Richard. These folks are all here to help you become the best that you can be, to become the man you would like to be.
But perhaps the most important support on your journey are the people who brought you here today – your parents.
Parents, thank you for entrusting your boys to us. We recognise the commitment and the sacrifice you make in order to bring your boys here. On my own behalf and on behalf of the whole team, I wish to assure you that we will work hard to honour your trust in us.
There are very few full boarding schools left in the country, and the responsibility that this places on us is directly proportional to the trust that our parents show in us. I know that we will be working hard to never let you down, and when things go wrong, as inevitably they will in a school and on any boy’s 5-year adventure here, it will be our mutual trust and our open communication that will see us through.
Parents and Boys, these years will pass in the twinkling of an eye. Treasure them, cherish them, enjoy them.
Boys, trust yourselves, for trusting others and trusting the world starts with trusting yourself. We would not have invited you to join the community if we did not think that you have what it takes. In the journey that lies ahead, develop into the kind of man that you will be happy to live with all your life, bring out the best of that man in these years ahead. Keep your feet on the ground, but let your heart soar as high as it will. Refuse to be average.
In closing, I quote the great American author, Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Every blessing to you all and thank you for listening.