The Last Word

By Samuel Thompson | Posted: Monday February 25, 2019

Respect is a word that we use a lot at Otago Boys, and its for a good reason.

To be respectful is truly a virtue, and to be respected one of the most humbling feelings there is. It plays a big part in our school values – respect is the ground on which the pillars of courage, honour, and perseverance build towards excellence. Respect is a central part of our lives which separates boys from young men. Today, I want to take a look at what respect really looks like, and ways in which we can use it in our everyday lives to make our school a better place.

The first aspect of respect I want to talk about is respect for your environment. Not just in the sense of recycling, but the spaces we have access to every day. We live in a beautiful city in a peaceful part of the world, attending an excellent high school. I think all of us sometimes take for granted how significant that is, and this is where we need to exercise our respect. It’s easy to assume that everyone in the world has access to what we do, but I’m telling you today that this is one of the finest schools you could be enrolled in. So how do we show our respect for it? Well this part actually is easy – just leave everywhere better than it was before, and if that’s not possible at least keep it the same for the next person. This can look like a lot of things – putting rubbish in the bin, picking up your books in the library, or even just having the restraint to not draw a penis in the class workbook. By doing these things, taking just a few seconds out of your day, we are showing to everyone that we are grateful for what we have.

Secondly, make sure you respect the people around you. Your parents, your family, your peers, your teachers, and even strangers. We are held in very high regard in this town as a school, and every minute of the day, even when we’re not wearing our blazers, we represent it. Not just that, but we represent ourselves. You boys in year 11 won’t remember this, but last year Stephen Anderson, CEO of Foodstuffs South Island gave a speech here that really resonated with me. In it, he talked about how an employer is not necessarily just after your qualification, but your ‘personal brand’ – the way you treat people around you. Most important to him was not how you treated your superiors, but the people below you, such as a waiter in a restaurant. Once again, this is not a hard thing to do – simple manners and perhaps a little bit of 21st century chivalry goes a long way to promoting your image in the minds of others. And it is part of our continued duty as members of Otago Boys’ to make sure that this image is as positive as it can be.

Thirdly, boys – make sure you respect yourself. I know it sounds a little silly, but seriously make sure you are taking the time every day to just think about how you are doing. Are you happy with everything going on in your life? If not, why not? You know, it’s very typical of boys to be a bit conservative about feelings, and I don’t blame you for that. I get that way myself. Independence is just a big part of our attitudes. But if you do just take that time, even five minutes, to just allow yourself to make sure you’re not keeping anything down, I promise you that you will thank yourself for it. And cut yourself a little slack when you deserve it boys. We have a large internal period approaching, and I believe it’s already underway for a lot of you, so there’s bound to be a lot on your plate when sports and other cultural activities are taken into account. It’s very easy to get swept up in a flood of stress and deadlines around this time of year, so when that hard period does inevitably come, make sure you’re not getting yourself too worked up about it. Your friends, your parents, your guidance counsellor, are all there for you, and it’s alright to talk to them about this stuff if it gets to you. And, unlike with the environment or other people, sometimes it can be very hard to pay respect to our feelings. But as John F. Kennedy once said, 'We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.' And no matter how hard it is, it can be the most important thing you can do to respect yourself.