The Last Word

By Joshua Friend | Posted: Tuesday August 11, 2020

If you boys want me to be completely honest, Ive had my doubts whether or not this day would actually occur, but here I am, standing in front of you now.

When preparing for my Last Word, like Jacko, I thought to myself, what actually makes a good Last Word? How am I going to deliver a speech that will leave you pondering on the ideas, rather than forgetting I even spoke to you five minutes later? This led me to the thought that for a Last Word to have meaning to its audience, it must first have meaning to the speaker, which is why I have decided to speak about the idea of opportunity, or specifically, making the most of every opportunity as an Otago Boys’ High student.

I vividly remember my first day at Otago Boys’ High School. Waiting anxiously outside the archway, socks pulled well past my knees with about a half a litre of hair spray stuck in my lid. Starting high school, I was a very stock standard kid. I did my school work but I wasn't very smart. I played a lot of sports but I wasn't very good. I had made a bunch of mates, but also, made the odd marginal decision. Undoubtedly I was a bit of a regular Joe. It wasn't until I first walked through the archway that a range of different opportunities revealed themselves, which has helped shape me into the young man I am today.

For me, the first opportunity that presented itself at Otago Boys’ was through academia. To my surprise, in 2016 I was put in 9T, which was the top streamed class at the time. Looking around at my classmates with the likes of Hendo and Peter, I thought to myself “what am I doing here?” I’d much rather be causing a ruckus with my friends in the other class. At the time, I was not aware how much this opportunity would benefit me in the long run. Although this began as a challenge, solving maths equations and doing geography tests that pushed my capability, this set me up well heading into NCEA and has better prepared me for the future outside of school.

On the sporting field, many different opportunities have arisen over the years. I can still remember my first school Athletics Day. I was egged on by my mates to enter the 800 metre race as somewhat of a pisstake. To my surprise, I ended up in the front of the pack after the first lap. Looking around I was just about ready to drop off back to the boys, but encouragement from the Year 13's on the side of the track gave me the motivation I needed to see the race through. It was this encouragement and sense of brotherhood that made me push myself outside my comfort zone and try something new. Since then, I have gone on to represent the school on the track for the following four years.

Lastly, I am most fortunate for the friends I have made over my five years at Otago Boys’. Coming from a large intermediate, I already had a rather vast group of friends, most of whom were heading to the same high school. It was not long before this group expanded, as I have got to know a bunch of good blokes from across all year levels. Although my mates may come across to many as loud, odd and possibly a bit insane, in the words of Mark Hooper, they are “the most unique group of mates I have ever seen”. It is these guys that have made my five years at high school as memorable as it has been, and that is something I will always be thankful for. Never would I have thought heading to Otago Boys' that I would become friends with a guy called Skitzy from Kurow, but hey, you learn something new every day.

If there is anything I want you to take away from Josh Friend’s Last Word, it is to be grateful, to take time out of your day to appreciate all of your wonderful accolades and achievements, and to take each opportunity that is handed to you. Whether that opportunity be large or small, as we are never really certain what fortune or tragedy lies waiting for us around the corner in this crazy game of life. 

With my days in the blue blazer almost reaching the full time whistle, it will be not long before I will be sitting in a cold dark flat, music rattling the wall, nibbling on a some uncooked noodles, thinking to myself “man, Pratley's business class would not be a bad place to be right now”. As tradition, I will finish on not one but two quotes. The first from Waitaki local, Balmacewen Intermediate caretaker and loving father of four, Peter Friend. The second from the late great Robin Williams. “There's not many people in this world who get to go to school in a castle on top of a hill, make the bloody most of it mate.”

“Carpe Diem. Seize the day” fellas… cheers.