Theme: SHOULDER TO SHOULDER
The theme for this week’s assembly is “Shoulder to Shoulder”. It is no coincidence that I have chosen this theme less than 48 hours after the end of our winter sports trials. There is a definite whiff in the air at Maritzburg College today.
After Saturday’s rugby trials, the rugby coaches went together to an imbizo or bosberaad deep in the Umkomaas Valley, where there was the usual fiery talky about blood and guts [mainly from Mr Orchard], but also about this College team that we are all part of – boys, staff, parents, Old Boys – and this shared journey that we are on.
I loved hearing about the culture that First XV this year is striving for, the various objectives that the boys will be hoping to meet not just on the field but off the field too, and their desire to build their season week by week – and “brick by brick”. It resonated with me, and filled my heart with hope and vigour. We have all chosen to work, play and in many cases live at this school. It belongs not just to all of us, who are here today, but to everyone who has gone before us – schoolboys, masters and staff, and headmasters, going back all the way to 1863. For those of us who were lucky enough to attend College, it will always remain our Alma Mater – which is the fancy Latin term for our “nourishing mother”. This old school is not just bricks and mortar, then. It is a lot more than that. We are all part of a great College team, a College family, a College crew and a College tribe.
For some wisdom about teamwork, Mr Marwick shared a video from arguably the world’s most famous bodybuilder, who came to the USA in the 1970s from humble origins in Austria.
Mr Schwarzenegger . . . As Arnold reminds us, “None of us can make it alone.”
For many of you, Maritzburg College will be a presence in your life for but a handful of years, which will burn brightly and then in many cases fade, as the years go by, and your affections and attentions are distracted by other institutions, other priorities, or simply the business of living.
But for others, it will live on in your adult lives, and for many teachers on our staff – and we have 38 members of staff at school today who have worked at College for 20 years or more – it will have a central place in their working lives, sometimes over many decades.
Maritzburg College belongs to us all, and we are all bound to each other, whether we like it or not. We are dependent on each other, and an injury to one is an injury to all. If boys amongst you break the Code that College boys are expected to live by – maybe they bunk out, or they cheat, or they steal, or they smoke dagga – then they cause an injury not just to themselves but to the school and to us all; to you, to me, to the staff, to everyone.
We all suffer, and our school suffers. But let me turn that rather negative point around.
When one of us does well, when groups amongst you boys succeed, when our teams do their best, when that one tennis player or that one actor up on the stage or that debater pulls through for College – then we all win, together.
Whether you are sweating it out there on Goldstone’s or Pape’s, or hurling your basher triumphantly into the blue sky, or offering a polite cheer on the staff stands, we are all part of that shared success.
We must revive ourselves, ladies and gentlemen and young men, all of us, and shake ourselves out of this COVID-induced sluggishness that is still holding some of us back. There is too much complaining about the recent past, and not enough looking to the near future, and all the opportunities that lie ahead.
Let your energy, enthusiasm and willingness to march forward with the College team be infectious, or “catchy”, to the people around you, and a positive, uplifting inspiration for good. We have great tasks that await us today, tomorrow and this week, perhaps on the stage or in the classrooms, and we have glory that awaits the Red-Black-and-White on the sports-fields!
Let us stand shoulder to shoulder together, staff and boys, and, like our rugby players have decided, build up our shared future in 2022 brick by brick. It is up to us, and we all have a role to play.
So let’s all do the right thing. Let’s all play our various parts with vigour and enthusiasm, and support this great Maritzburg College team that we are all lucky enough to be part of.
Pro Aris et Focis