Head Boy’s Speech 2018

Valedictory Speech Dylan Cooper, Head Boy 2018

1 724 days ago, I started my journey as a Grade 8 student at Waterfall College. This adventure started with 16 Grade 8s sticking to the safe haven that was Room Four, sneaking to the tuck shop once in a while and, only if we were desperate, to the bathrooms at break. Back then, five years seemed like a very long time, but I think I can speak for all the Matrics in saying that it could not have gone any quicker.

Grade 8 was an interesting year. Maths introduced us to its new friend algebra, a friend that we, as a class, bullied and battered, until finally accepting that there was nothing we could do to make it leave, and grumpily decided to put up with it. The rest of our classes were nice to us, except for Arts and Culture, where we had to draw crumpled pieces of paper and our personalities – for marks. Due to my lack of artistic ability, my paper looked like burnt hair, and my personality was a rather wobbly stick-tree.

Aside from academics, our grade was heavily invested in the care of our class fish. There were a few fish in this little tank of ours, but our favourite was one we named Maxine, after our incredible (and not annoying in any way) fellow student, Maxine Cooper. Maxine was pregnant (the fish, that is). You can just imagine the shock and horror experienced by my mom, who was familiar with Maxine, the person, when I told her that “Maxine gave birth in class today”.

Grade 8 was a fun year – the fire drill that we thought was a lock down, the snow to be seen on the mountains and the false but convincing stabbing of a Grade 10 during an April Fools prank on Mrs Green. Grade 8 taught me to have fun at school. Yes, there are times for seriousness, but also, many times for fun.

This fun was continued throughout Grade 9. From science experiments with Mrs Hendey, to monologues with Mrs Simmons and map work with Mr Delport, we all felt a little out of place somewhere along the line, which is why there was much excitement as we split up in Grade 10 along our different subject lines. This is where life got super interesting.

The classes were way more focussed and a lot more happened in one day. By the time we got to November last year, we were all ready for our well-deserved December holidays. I remember us all creeping back on the first day of this year, anxiously anticipating what was to come. We had been told so many different things about Matric. Some said it was fun, others hated every minute.

For us, as we near the end of our year, we can say that yes, there were certainly many horrors, but we also had a lot of fun. The main horror was receiving multiple different assignments from multiple subjects with the same due dates. But the nervousness for Matric disappeared after that first treacherous week, as we all started talking about the Matric dance, who we were going to take and what we would be arriving in. That night, we flew away into a magical world and enjoyed celebrating Matric as a group.

We also had our Matric hike, which I sadly had to finish early due to my ankle injury, but thoroughly enjoyed with the rest of the grade. This hike made me so proud of us all. The willingness to help consistently and the ability to have fun in the middle of nowhere was encouraging and inspiring.

And then, June exams hit us like a truck. We walked out of each exam like Katniss walked out of The Hunger Games – barely alive. After surviving those exams, we had trials thrown at us. For some of us, 11 exams written consecutively. Survival is a word I will always associate with those weeks. But we did it. We’re here. After at least 12 years of schooling, we’re dragging ourselves across the finish line into the big, bad world. This has always scared me. The big bad world. I’d love to give it another name.

We’re going into a world where we can be whoever we want and do whatever we want. Yes, there’s the money factor, but I think we’ve learnt by now that we can do anything if we put our minds to it. So my proposed name for this world is “The World of Endless Opportunities”, one with open and infinite horizons.

To the Matrics of 2019 – you have a choice. You can make your Matric year a positive one with fun-filled memories or one you would rather forget. It’s up to you what you decide, but I’d suggest having fun. Matric is what you make it. My advice would be to make it the best year yet! How? Do your work before the due date (yes, that helps). Also, help each other. You’re in this together. You start together, try to finish together.

I want to say thank you to every one of our teachers. Each and every one of you have had some form of impact in each of our lives, which has made us who we are today. Thank you for helping us see that this is indeed a world of endless opportunities. Thank you for working harder than you needed to in order to shape us into who we are today, preparing and readying us for this world. Thank you for putting up with our eating, our jokes, our constant begging for frees, and thank you for being our inspirations throughout this wild adventure, which we are about to finish. We will remember you as we begin the next chapter of our stories.

And to those who are worried about the rest of high school, the Grade 9s who are worried about subjects, the Grade 11s who are worried about careers – try not to worry too much.

Our good friend Tolkien once said, “Not all those who wander are lost” and his friend CS Lewis said, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” Believe them. They knew what they were talking about.

And so, here, the Class of 2018 says goodbye. Goodbye to our home for the last five years, and hello. Hello to the world. Our world. Our World of Endless Opportunities.