Thursday 21 October 2021: Valedictory address by the Head Prefect, Ben Currie.
There is a house built out of stone,
Wooden floors, walls, and windowsills,
Tables and chairs worn by all the dust.
This is a place where I don’t feel alone,
This is a place where I feel at home.
I quote these words from the song, “To Build A Home” by the Cinematic Orchestra, the song played as we led onto the Hawthornden today. I feel this song is quite apt for the message I want to deliver. The time has finally come to say goodbye to this wonderful place that has raised us. The place worn by the dust of the memories we’ve created here. The place where we don’t feel alone. The place where we feel at home.
I would like to turn back time to January 2017, where we, the class of 2021, stepped into Wynberg Boys’ High School for the very first time. It began with our induction week. We met new people and partook in many challenges and activities. After a long and busy day, we finally went to bed to get some well-earned rest … only to be woken up by the prefects five minutes later to do hill sprints.
The next day we were woken at dawn for our hike up Nursery Gorge [part of Grade 8 orientation, – the ‘Challenge’] to earn our blazers. Not to brag, but my house, Glebe, finished in a record-breaking time. I think we had all rung the bell before the next houses had their lunch break at the top of the mountain.
Although we hardly said a word (apart from maybe Curtley and Wassie), and ducked and dived whenever we saw Matrics walk by, we were officially part of the Wynberg family and became Brothers in an Endless Chain. All we had was the blueprint for the men we wanted to be one day.
Grade 9 came around and we started filling in the frameworks and foundations. The Grade 9 camp was a highlight, having to pitch and sleep in tents. We also thrived not being at the bottom of the food chain anymore. (Apology to the Grade 11s here today who took our Grade 8 role). However, the pinnacle of the year was arguably the Grey Weekend, where the 1st team rugby and hockey players become our heroes, winning both fixtures away from home.
Grade 10 rolled around and there was an air of calm and simplicity. We were part of the senior grades for the very first time. Girlfriends became a more regular occurrence, which in turn resulted in breakups and heartbreak, but these shaped us. No summary of Grade 10 would be complete without mentioning the great Nyamazela. The ten day hike through the Cederberg where two-minute noodles and condensed milk became our currency, where caves and crevices became our sleeping places, and where bushes became … well …
The cement was poured, bricks laid and floorboards placed into the house representing the men we were becoming.
Next on the menu was Grade 11. We were older than most of the school, slightly more rebellious, life was good. We did what we wanted, almost. Newlands Rugby Day rejuvenated the school with energy and spirit. We were becoming leaders, starting to take work more seriously, our house was coming together. The windows placed, walls painted, furniture installed, flowers planted, fences erected. And then, all of a sudden a huge tornado nicknamed Corona – not after the alcoholic beverage, unfortunately, Josh du Toit – came and wiped our house away. Everything we knew and had planned was taken and we were forced to rebuild from scratch, which we did.
It was a long and dreary period. But we stand here in Matric, having had an amazing Matric Dance, various sports fixtures, and a return of some traditional events. Our house is rebuilt. I am so proud of the way we have adapted and rebounded as a grade. This didn’t happen by chance though. Architects and engineers, in the form of teachers, shaped and molded us. We have learnt so much from them and we wouldn’t be the men we are today without them.
Electricians and plumbers in the form of our parents supplied us with the power and water in the form of support, opportunities, and financial backing, all crucial in the process of building a home. I think all the boys, although we don’t show it often, are extremely grateful for everything our parents have done for us. To my mom and dad, thank you, I am so grateful for you and I don’t know how I would have gotten through this year without you.
The last thank you has to go to you boys, you are the ones who shared every day together these last five years. I will sincerely miss the games of Buk, the tractor driving on the Hawth, the climbing of the new E-Block, and much more which I don’t think would be appropriate to mention here. I ask that you guys stay the creative, unique, and positive men you are. It has been an honour and a privilege to lead you, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of brothers to share these last five years with.
We all entered this school with different cultures, backgrounds, and ways of life, but today we are leaving as one united group. I never had a brother growing up, but today I leave with 160 by my side.
So now, as I mentioned, our houses are rebuilt, and we are ready to welcome others into it in the years to come. The hour has come to say goodbye to the house built of stone, with wooden floors, walls, and window sills, with tables and chairs worn by all of the dust.
To the place we don’t feel alone.
The place where we feel at home.
Supera Moras. Thank you.
Head Prefect 2021