To the Grey High School Class of 1988
Thursday 9 May 2013
Dear Gavin and the Class of 1988
Firstly, let me congratulate you on the magnificent reunion weekend that you have organized. Everything is flowing so smoothly and seamlessly, but I know that a lot of hard work and effort goes into making it happen. I am sure that everyone will enjoy the various functions that they attend.
Secondly, I would like to thank you for inviting me to share in your reunion with you. It is very rewarding for a teacher to observe the results of his handiwork and to know that, in part, he has been responsible in shaping their future. You can be justly proud of the contribution, small or large, that you individually have made to your families, your communities, your school, your country and your world.
The Class of 1988 has certainly continued the Grey tradition of raising the bar to new heights!
I have fond memories of the very special years, 1984 – 1988, that I had the privilege of teaching and getting to know many of you at The Grey. Yes, in many ways, I am as much a part of your class as any one of you.
It was thirty years ago to the month, in May 1983, that I arrived from the Western Cape at Grey High School. It was for the very first time that I had come to see for myself the school at which I had been appointed to commence my teaching career in 1984 and to continue setting up a very new departmental computer centre for Port Elizabeth based at The Grey (with an Apple 1 and three mainframe consoles!)
At that time you were in Standard Five and had also applied to go to Grey High School housed in those magnificent buildings in Mill Park, Port Elizabeth, which will celebrate its 100th birthday next year.
We arrived there together in January 1984 – you were the very junior Standard Sixes and I was the very young and junior “Sir” – a mere few years older than you!
We continued our high school careers there – all achieving various levels of success. But, in 1988, it came to an end and we passed ‘neath the Tower for the last time. You went your various ways into an unknown world for which we, your teachers, had hopefully prepared you.
I swapped the academic world for the business world, married Pera (now a grade 2 teacher at Grey Junior) and we had two sons, Sean (who matriculated in 2010) and Phillip (who matriculates this year) and who have kept my ongoing connection with The Grey – firstly as a teacher and then as a parent. When Phillip leaves ‘neath the Tower at the end of this year, it will bring to an end thirty years of my direct connection with the Institution.
Whilst I can never lay claim to being an Old Grey (and my son Phillip kindly reminded me that not even a blood transfusion could give me the Grey Blue Blood that was necessary to lay claim to that title of “Old Grey”), I will continue to be a proud member of the Old Greys’ Union.
In 1859, the very first year that classes were taught at the brand new Grey Institute on The Hill, the Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir George Grey, was recalled to London. The Staff and boys of the school wrote to him expressing their regret at his departure and “gratitude for the benefits he had conferred upon them”.
He replied to them as follows:
Gentlemen and Students
Your letter at expressing your regret at my departure is one of the most gratifying which I have received. Every man desires to aid in blessing others, and in doing good; but it is not given to many men to see such early fruits springing from those labours in which they themselves and others have engaged. God has, in the case of the Institution from which you write, given me this pleasure, and has allowed me to hear that, from the Grey Institute, and from amongst yourselves, good and able men have come forth.
If any of you who have done credit to the Institution, require a friend in Europe, remember that you are, in some sort, children of mine, and have a claim upon my sympathy and aid which I shall not overlook.
From your affectionate friend
I am pleased that from the Class of 1988 “good and able men have come forth”.
G. Grey, your affectionate friend, whose mortal remains lie in St Paul’s Cathedral in London, must also take great pleasure in seeing the fruits springing from his labours.
There are many life lessons, but one which I recall is the fact that “time comes to an end”.
Our time together at The Grey and my teaching time at The Grey, about which we reminisce so much this weekend, came to an end in 1988, our weekend together will come to an end all too quickly, and, indeed, our time on this earth will come to an end (and, for some of our group, has already come to an end. We remember them with fondness.)
During our time on this earth, life will hand us many different “Dear Johns”. Many of you are aware of my illness. I will most probably not see some of you again.
As a young teacher, just a few years older than yourselves, I taught you mathematics and computer studies, but I don’t think we ever spoke about life as such. We were all too young for that!
In some sorts, you are also “children of mine”. If I may then, let me give you one last lesson: Let me encourage you to make the most of each and every day. Live for the moment. Live each day as if it were your last, because some day it will be!
Until we meet again … thank you for the memories.
Your teacher and friend