Valedictorian Speech at Induction 2020
Deputy Head Prefect Thomas Katzenellenbogen’s message to his classmates
Good evening to the Patron, the President of the Maritzburg College Old Boys’ Association, honoured guests, respected family and of course to my fellow 6th formers.
Tonight we gather to celebrate a coming of age. A magnificent end but also an exciting beginning as we prepare to become a link in this endless chain of brotherhood.
Boys, I’m sure none of us can really believe our five years here have flown by so quickly. We have always heard of higher formers talk of this last stretch and how it seemed to slip out of their grasp, now as we sit here, we realise just how true that is.
It is, however, events such as these which make it feel as if time slows down for once in our lives. Occasions like these are one of the rare moments in our lives when we start to take in what’s around us a little more, where we know we are experiencing something we will remember for years to come.
In a year like this, there’s a lot of time to reflect on days gone by. It is so clear to me now that we have created some very special memories here. We have seen higher formers who were simultaneously terrifying and inspiring. We will never forget the names of the prefects from our 2nd form year. The likes of Glover, Reed, and King who helped shape us into the College boys we are today. This is the essence of College, to know only once you arrive at the top, the reason behind all your earlier strife.
We will always remember the goose bumps on a Friday night in the Clarke House quad, the first time we sprinted onto Goldstones with our bashers sitting right on our eyebrows, and the first time we ever heard our own voices echo with the roar of 1300 others.
These small moments, along with the other thousands we have had the privilege of making here at College will remain with us forever.
Tonight we are here not only to reminisce but also to look forward into the daunting future which lies ahead. Tonight, my brothers, we become Old Boys. We become the finished product of 5 gruelling years. We now transition from being the voices in the hallway to being one of the thousands of echoes in these walls.
When I look at this group sitting before me, I know that in a short period of time, we are going to become the fathers, husbands, uncles and mentors in our communities. We are stepping into the role of being men in today’s society.
Keeping this in mind, we should not forget what has made us, as College boys, so different from other boys. For example, at an event, College boys will be the most eager to greet parents. Or how, in a class of 28, all 28 boys will stand to greet a staff member who walks in. One day, when sitting in an interview room, the College Old Boy will be the first to stand and greet his senior.
Let us also not forget the values that College has taught us of honesty, integrity, self-discipline, respect, courage and commitment. These are all words, which have been spoken many times but that College has taught us to turn into action. Wherever we end up, whatever role we fulfil in society, we will take with us, those core values.
Now it is our time to have the privilege of joining the illustrious ranks of our 123-year-old Old Boys’ Association. No matter what your role has been during your schooling years, whether captain of a sport, prefect, or house leader. Tonight we all leave with the same badge and tie.
There is no doubt that the class of 2020 has experienced a year like no other. We are still ravaged by the onslaught of an international pandemic. We have lost out on so much but one thing that has rung true for me is that God knew College needed a special 6th form year to handle a year as challenging as this one has been. He knew that our final year would be one that will be remembered for a long time to come. It has been remarkable to see the love, determination, and passion of this form no matter the obstacles that have been thrown our way. It is these very trials and tribulations and the poise with which we handled them that will make our form one to remember.
As we move on to a new phase in our lives it is hard not to think of the legacy we leave behind. But let’s not let our legacy be just what we have done in our 5 years here but also what we continue to do as old boys in the years to come. I suspect we will all need some time away from this place but I have faith that though distance may separate us from College physically, we will be a form that sponsors many boys through the foundation in the future so that they may share in the College experience. That we will be the form that can be spotted all over Goldstones on reunion days. I hope to see many of you at O.C. events in the future donning the very ties you receive tonight.
I hope to see many facilities with plaques which read “Donated by the class of 2020.” I have faith that we will give back to a place which has given us so much. That we will be the change we all want to see.
And so, with those hopes; tonight, let us celebrate. As Mr Andrew Hay, the 2010 head boy said, “We have lost some soldiers along the way” but boys, we have made it so far! Truly, this is an achievement in itself. Let us enjoy this evening and finally don out old boys blazers and ties with pride!
May God bless you all.
Pro Aris et Focis