Head Prefect Introduction Address
Good morning to the Headmaster, Mr Viljoen, staff members and my fellow brothers of the Blue Army. I stand here today humbled, grateful for the trust you have bestowed on me, mindful of the sacrifices made by the outgoing Knights.
My name is Vernon Matongo. I grew up in a small neighbourhood back in Zimbabwe called Cranborne, with my older brother, Vincent, my hero. In 2015 when I got given the opportunity to come to Northwood I was over the moon, it was a step closer to my dreams of becoming a Springbok. The only issue I had was that I wasn’t willing to leave my hero behind, my brother, but Mr Le Roux assured me that coming to Northwood would be the best decision I would ever make and to this day I agree with him.
When I joined Northwood I became part of a brotherhood that would last a lifetime. From a young Squire who was scared to leave one brother behind, I have become a Knight with a thousand brothers I’ll never have to leave behind.
I stand here today, honoured by this amazing opportunity to lead this school, not only by being the best school in Durban, but the best school in the country. Our blood is blue and next year we are painting the whole nation blue. I know you might be thinking that this guy is crazy, but let me ask you something – who is Northwood?
Look to your left…. look to your right…. look behind you…. now look in front of you… look at the names on the memorial wall…. look at the names on the honours boards…. look at the staff members that sit in front of you…. look at the Old Boys who have walked these corridors before us…. look at the walls that surround us…. lastly, I want you to look at yourself. You are Northwood. We are Northwood.
No one will magically come and make the school great. It is up to you and I to make Northwood phenomenal, not just for you and I, but for generations to come. And, to some of you, it may seem like we are trying to build a huge wall, but instead of focusing on the wall, focus on the brick you are laying that will contribute to the final wall, making sure that the one brick is perfectly put in place and eventually we will have our fortress. I have faith and all my trust in my prefect team and the deputies that will help both you and I to build our wall. Together with the prefects we have set values that we as Northwood gentlemen will all live by, and by all I mean you and I. The values are:
- To respect the badge;
- To respect all who form a part of Northwood School;
- To protect our Brotherhood with compassion and honesty;
- To be held accountable for our actions;
- To put others first;
- To respect our environment and be active in its survival;
- To uphold integrity and do the right thing even when no-one is watching;
- To leave this school better than how we found it;
- To believe that nothing is beneath us and we are never too big to do the small things;
- To be humble in our attitudes and actions; and
- To Honour our motto – Acquit ye like Men,
With these values put in place, Northwood is no longer about “you broke this rule, you broke that rule.” As Northwood gentlemen we should have these values instilled within us so that even when no one I s watching we will have the integrity to do the right thing. Now how can we build this beautiful wall?
If you and I can be just 1% better each day, whether it be in our manners, standing to greet an elder, our attitude, living out our values. In a hundred days we should be guaranteed 100% improvement and I believe our wall will stand tall and firm.
Where does my belief come from?
I stand here knowing that my story is part of a larger Northwood story and I owe a debt to all those that came before me and in no other school on earth is my story even possible. I believe we are all connected as one people, one brotherhood.
It is this fundamental belief – “I am my brother’s keeper” that makes this school work. Hope for the future gives me strength to lay down my one perfect brick today, hoping for the greatest version of Northwood, because at the end of the day, it is “My story, your story, our story, the Northwood Story.”