Head Boy Eddie Grant's Address At Prize Giving 

By Eddie Grant | Posted: Friday November 4, 2016

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. Welcome to this very special occasion.

Before I begin this address, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the staff members, particularly Mr. Hall, and the senior management team for the great contribution they have made to so many facets of school life. You are an excellent team. We are very lucky to have you. I came to this great school five years ago and I thank you all so much for making it the rich and rewarding experience that it has been for all of us.

For many of us here tonight, both students and parents, it marks our last senior prize giving. This gives the occasion a note of sorrow as it will be the last time the Year 13s and their families will come together as a school community to pay tribute to those who have excelled. Many parents have created friendships as a result of time spent on the side of rugby fields, cricket fields, soccer fields, hockey fields, concert halls, swimming pool, the list is endless. I apologise for the many times you lost blood circulation in your feet as a result of watching OBHS teams play winter sport in Dunedin. Thank you to all of the parents here tonight and those who aren’t, for making the effort to come and support our OBHS teams. We really appreciate your support.

My passion for Otago Boys’ did not come all at once, nor did it come immediately. Originally Otago Boys’ was not my first choice of school. My brother had been expelled two years earlier, and I didn’t really want to get involved, although thankfully, I was rejected by my first choice of high school, and off to Otago Boys' I went. My first day of school, was in my opinion, a disaster. I was left out of the top class, which I had been worrying about the entire summer. I threatened my Mother and Father during term one of Year 9 that I would switch to Kavanagh, but fortunately they did not go out and buy me a whole new uniform.

It was exactly four years ago today, when I was in Year 9 sitting where all of you are now watching the 2012 Head Boy Thomas Wardhaugh deliver the greatest speech of all time, then I realised just how lucky I was to be at Otago Boys’ High School. He spoke about the amazing school buildings, the incredible academic, sporting and cultural records, he spoke about the amazing times he had, the friends he had made and the future he had created for himself, because of his years at Otago Boys’. As I stood and clapped, it was at that moment that I decided I was an OB’s boy, and I was very proud of it. And as arrogant as this sounds, it was also after this speech that I decided that I was going to be the Head Boy for 2016. I actually went home after the prize giving that night and wrote a page and a half of my ‘2016 Head Boys’ Address’ which was not due for another 4 years. This was extremely embarrassing as Xuzz, my brother found the speech two years later while searching through my room while I was away on rugby tournament in Year 11. Unfortunately, I was unable to find it to use it for this evening’s occasion.

The School Motto reads “Recti Cultus Pectora Roborant” —

“The ‘right’ education builds a heart of oak!”

A very very short 5 years ago, we, our current Year 13, nervously and excitedly arrived at our historic and prestigious school, metaphorically speaking, as acorns - seeds, needing watering, nurturing and light. The teachers in Year 9 and 10 provided this for us by their care and attention, their tightly scaffolded teaching. Strong friendships were formed. By the start of Year 11 we had grown into saplings beginning to thrive in our own right. We thought the move into long pants made us look like Wall Street Stockbrokers. And perhaps even started trying to act like them. With senior school came academic coaching, strenuous physical training and excellent coaching and tuition from specialist teachers. Three years later, and I like to think we have become young oaks. We have matured in body and hopefully in mind, as a result of the care and attention, the learning and the experiences we have received at the hands of OBHS. Thanks to the learning gained in the classroom, the care given by our families in this theatre today, the support given by our brothers in arms, the groundwork has been laid. The heart of the oak has been built. We have been embedded with a special OBHS strength and character and we know we will only continue to grow stronger as we grow older.

The oak tree symbolizes strength and endurance, protection, success and stability. An oak provides protection for those seeking shelter, produces oxygen, withstands storms and ultimately adds value to its’ environment.

Tonight we are here to salute those who have made the most of 2016 at Otago Boys' High School. Those who have formed ambitions and realised them. A massive congratulations to all of you.

However, those who receive trophies and certificates are not the only ones who have achieved their purpose. Those who helped junior boys with reading, those who took charge and led the house competitions, those who coached sports teams, those who led by example in the production, the senior hostel boys who provided a loving shoulder to the new Year 9's. Despite not crossing the stage know that you too are a great success. No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. You are all a perfect part of this great hole that makes OBHS such a great place to be.

For the class of 2016, next year will be the start of a new life, whether at university or at polytechnic or in the workforce or overseas, we will all be apart for the first time in five years. It is hard to comprehend. Although as Heraclitus the Greek philosopher said, "Change is the only constant in life." So embrace change we must. To those of you who know exactly what your vocation is in life, embrace your path with courage and pride. To those of you, who, like me, who are not 100% clear on which path to take at this moment, embrace that too. Know that everybody has a different journey and eventually as life unfolds, it will all work out. Our only job is to ensure that whatever we do on a given day, that we do it well. And if we continue to do it well, consistently, opportunities will come.

We will act with citizenship, looking out for those who need protection. We will contribute to society, we will become inventors, curators, creators, wine waiters, navigators, demonstrators, renovators, interrogator, you name it we will do it. We will continue what we have started here and continue to have fun along the way. We all know that life outside of school will have periods of instability and unpredictability, but we have grown the heart of oak to endure the storms that will come. I believe that we have formed such enduring bonds that our connection to each other will give us added strength in these storms.

The security of our 153-year-old castle home, has provided us with a secure and familiar environment in which to grow. We are grateful for that. We have learned well, had fun, played fantastic sport, enjoyed amazing wins, endured upsetting losses, laughed at antics on stage, stood in awe at talent, formed close friendships, we have made mistakes and we have learned from them. Thank you again to our teachers and our community for standing by us as we grew from acorn to sapling, from sapling to oak. It’s not always an easy journey, for you or for us, but we made it. Now it’s time for change.