This letter was written by our Acting Head of School, Belinda Willows, to our Old Highburians at the end of the second term. The message is equally relevant to our current Highbury families and so we have included it in our blog as an ongoing reminder of why traditions matter at Highbury.
"It has been my privilege and my pleasure to lead Highbury over the last six months as Acting Head of School. It is in these corridors, classrooms and playing fields that magical childhood memories are made by barefooted, happy boys. It is a place where each young boy is encouraged to become everything God meant him to be when He thought of him first. Surrounded by a strong management team, who have enjoyed the incredible support of the Board and along with a team of passionate educators, we can say with confidence, that we have achieved all that we set out to do in this first semester. Highbury is well-positioned in the company of South Africa's leading prep schools, to welcome our new headmaster, Mr Roland Lacock.
The arrival of the new guard promises to imbue our Highbury families with a sense of excitement and anticipation for all that is fresh and new, yet ever sure that the old guard will be recognized for the invaluable institutional memory they hold - a treasure trove of stories, anecdotes, folk memory, traditions, legacies which have shaped Highbury from Granny McMillan through to today. It is these traditions which remain through time, weaving the common thread through all the stories, which keep the Highbury Story one manuscript.
Tradition can come in many forms from guarding our abundance of space and expansive playing fields from parent parking pleas, to the annual pruning of Granny's huge tree under whose shade she sat and read to her charges over 100 years ago. These are the visible traditions along with the everyday pride the boys take in their uniforms, their manners and etiquette. Not to mention the 'hidden traditions' which remain unspoken but which breathe life into the sense of brotherhood. Traditional days like Founders Day and Remembrance Day and others remind the current Highbury boys that they are a part of a history that is not only about the past because it also shapes who they are today and what each of them will become. We relish the start of new traditions too, but we value and treasure the old ones. Recently the Harvard Business Review, speaking on why institutional memory matters, encouraged organizations to employ a 'chief memory officer' to safe-guard that which sets them apart - the "too good to be forgotten".
Highbury’s positioning statement 'Knowing Boys' speaks of Highbury Preparatory traditionally knowing how boys learn best, play best and love best. Since 1903. We have recently added the 'Since 1903' statement to our positioning, as increasingly we recognize what a vital differentiator this is, in a time in which education is becoming increasingly commercialized and new private schools seem to be on the rise.
In the book 'Make a Difference in your Life and the Lives of Others' by Frank Sonnenberg, he explores the seven reasons that traditions are important:
- Tradition contributes a sense of comfort and belonging.
- Tradition reinforces values such as freedom, faith, integrity, a good education, personal responsibility, a strong work ethic, and the value of being selfless.
- Tradition provides a forum to showcase role models and celebrate the things that really matter in life.
- Tradition offers a chance to say "thank you" for the contribution that someone has made.
- Tradition enables us to showcase the principles of our Founding Fathers, celebrate diversity, and unite as a country.
- Tradition serves as an avenue for creating lasting memories.
- Tradition offers an excellent context for meaningful pause and reflection.
Tradition is a cornerstone of our school. It reinforces our ethos and is what makes us belong. It showcases the founding principles of our founders enhancing the depth of understanding around so much of what goes towards making up the Highbury legacy. It allows us to remain relevant, looking forward with expectation whilst wearing the Highbury badge on our heart with pride 'Never Behind'."