Mr Viljoen’s Speech at Speech Day 2021

Good morning to all our special quests, governing body members, old boys, dignitaries, parents and other visitors. A special word of welcome to our class of 2021 – it is an absolute honour to have you with us on this very special morning. This is indeed the day that God has made.

I have over the past 10 or so months felt like the challenges would never stop – we have lost a teacher, I honour the late Mrs Aretha Jugath, boys have lost mothers, teachers have lost brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. The word seems like a crazy place. A place where normality seems light years away.

And then, you have a family meeting, and the dark clouds seems to dissipate just a little – our presidents change our alert level and we start to have just a glint of joy in our eyes.

Given this context, it would be easy for our boys, to back down, to surrender, to give up or to fall down – to feel like the joy has been taken from their lives – but then you would not know them well – because these are no ordinary men – these are Knights, men of honour and reputation.

As Knight, you fight, to protect all that is good, and dear and special to you – your family, your brothers, your school, its ethos, its reputation, because this place has given you so much.

This place is not a perfect one, not all things we do are excellent, we do not win all our matches, we do not all get straight A’s some of our boys are even naughty and make bad decisions – but that is what makes us human, that is what makes as unique, and this why if our beloved school has taught us anything, it is to accept that we are not all perfect, that we are not all exceptional, that some of us come from broken homes, disadvantaged backgrounds or has suffered tremendous loss. But isn’t that life boys? Is that not the best tool that we could have given you?

Men of Northwood, Knights – you have chosen this place as you’re your home for the last five years – some of you love it so much that you have spent six years enjoying this place you have called home. Thank you for giving it your all.

Thank you for playing and performing your heart out – thank you for honouring those that have come before you with your determination, effort and resilience – there is not an old boy would not be proud of you today.

So as you prepare to sit for your final exam and then go on your separate ways – cherish the friendships, heartaches, and celebrations – because we have faced them together –we have handled it!

So I am afraid for you? No –I am excited for you, yes! There are not many who could have dealt with the challenges you have faced. So you are ready for life, you are ready to fight for what is right, you are ready to live our code of chivalry.

Go out into the world and live life to the fullest:

  1. Build your foundations on your God;
  2. Each day, dare yourself to be outstanding;
  3. Never ever be afraid to fail – at least then you would have tried.
  4. Always pray to have eyes that see the best in people, a heart that forgives the worst and a mind that forgets the bad.
  5. Always put Others First
  6. Go out into the world and understand that nothing is beneath you and that you are never too Important to do the small things.
  7. Be Humble in your Attitudes and Actions.
  8. And most importantly– Go and be a man of honour.

When you inevitably get criticized and questioned, when people judge you harshly, when others believe they could have done a better job, remember these words from that famous American President Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

To my staff and management team and the exceptional governing body– thank you for sacrificing so much of yourself in the effort of making our boys great! You have faced so much in your own lives, fought your own battles and lost some of your own loved ones. Yet, you always answered the call to arms – I can never thank you enough. You certainly make me look far better than I am.

To our boy’s parents – you have done well, you can be pleased, proud and excited. You have equipped your sons with a value system that will allow to excel in life. You have guided, loved and supported these young men during the some of the craziest times of their lives.

I love my God, my wife, my children, my boys, my staff, my fellow principals, our circuit manager, our board, our old boys and community, and I certainly love this precious place – it is an honour to serve this school and all that form part of it. Our blood is blue men of Northwood. Watch out world, the boys are done with school and now the Knights Are Coming!

God bless and thank you.