Nick Stringer Head Boy 2011
Good evening, welcome to the senior prize giving for 2011. And what a night it has been! As I said earlier today, all of you men should be extremely proud of what you have achieved this year.
Tonight marks the end of another brilliant year for the college. But it’s a bittersweet feeling. For myself, and the rest of the departing year thirteens, tonight marks the end of our time here. We entered the school as strangers and tonight we’re leaving as a brotherhood – a bond built over five years of both victories and defeats, successes and failures; but above all – good times.
It all started back in 2007, when I first me the boys who were to become my closest friends. Unfortunately for me, but much to the enjoyment of everyone else – I was adorably chubby. Which in itself is nothing spectacular, but I was completely oblivious to the fact. Accordingly, it was not long before I coined the affectionate nickname “Chunky Monkey” from a kind-hearted housemaster. But that was fine, I just thought everyone liked it so much because it was ironic, as I was clearly the pinnacle of athleticism.
But despite my new nickname causing my self-confidence to be at an all time high, I was attempting to navigate my way through the initial few days at a new school. It was an interesting time to say the least, and at moments I genuinely felt like I was surrounded by freaks. It started with my first impression of Leni Ma’ia’i, and it will surprise no one that our first conversation was all about how good he was with the ladies. It was very educational, yet really really awkward. But my survival instincts kicked in and I laughed along, because even back then, he was absolutely enormous. Things only got worse as the day went on, and the awkwardness went through the roof when I met Jamie Band. Jamie, with his superior intellect, had devised a foolproof line, practised to perfection, to make friends and he immediately unleashed it on me, “Hi! We should have nicknames for each other. You could call me rubber because my last name is Band. Get it? Rubber band . . . ” He then giggled, and I ran away. I was off to a ripper of a start in the friends department. But the McGlashan Brotherhood was beginning to materialise – and I had two super cool new friends.
I finished third form slightly thinner than when I began, but returned in fourth form with a new comfort coating. The highlight of fourth form was not being in third form. It was also a year that people really started to come out of their shells due to Ohau Camp. We were probably less mature than the year before, but it didn’t matter – we were obviously the coolest kids around.
And then we were seniors. Teachers started ranting about foreign concepts like ‘NCEA’ and ‘study’ and we were suddenly introduced to the world of ‘big boys’. For most of this year’s seventh formers, it was also the time of our introduction into the top tier of school sports. I was small, had absolutely no facial hair, and was still reasonably chubby. All of a sudden I was playing sport with giants who had more hair on their faces than I did on my legs. But overcoming the initial intimidation, fear and nerves of this transition was definitely character building, and the effort rewarded with team trips away, like Volleyball Nationals in Palmerston North for example. They are truly life changing experiences, and wee Panga knows exactly what I’m talking about. I have been lucky enough to be involved in a variety of teams in my time here, and these have been experiences I would not trade for anything. Elite McGlashan sport is, in my opinion, the most character-defining ingredient in the enigma that is the ‘McGlashan Man’.
Sixth form rolled around and it was the year that grades really mattered. But it also marked our introduction into the glorious and magical realm of formals and afterparties. Books are useful, but girls will always take priority. Except for the IB boys, they seem to like their books just a wee bit more. Good for them.
But despite most of us being happily distracted, the staff always managed to keep us on track. As always, a huge thank you goes to Mr Garry and Mr Corkery for keeping everything going and inspiring us to reach our potential. All of the teachers have been absolutely brilliant too, but there are three in particular that I would like to thank, on behalf of myself and the other year thirteens, for the miracles they have worked for us on an almost daily basis. Huge thanks go to Iain McGilchirst A.K.A the Russian Spy and Dave Schaumann A.K.A. Severus Snape, for cracking the metaphorical whip and teaching us to read and speak good. And also Merv West, the pirate, who taught us not only how to count our treasure, but also information about life that no curriculum or textbook will ever teach. You shared your passion with us and taught us life lessons that will be invaluable as we take this next step into the unknown, and for that we are truly grateful.
Now the year is over and it is time we take this step. But what a year it has been. Beginning with the indescribably brilliant French exchange and Andrew Lamb’s anonymous hallway romances this year has been by far the most fun – and funniest – year of my life. There have just been so many highlights. Ben Cooper’s heroic performances on and off the cricket pitch, jungle adventures at the afterparty, prefects assembly starring Marty Burgess, and the rugby world cup. The list goes on and on. Tonight really does mark the end of what has been a truly outstanding year.
But I assure you, there will be many more outstanding years to come for this college. Will next year be better than this year? Well that’s entirely up to those of you who are returning. But with the group of prefects that have just been elected, under the leadership of Marckis Schaaf, things are already looking very promising.
This is the final time I will have the privilege to stand in this chapel and speak to you all. So to finish I would like to address those boys sitting up the very front, my mates, the ones that have been with me every step of the way. My dad, big Dave Stringer, in his infinite paternal wisdom has said to me many times over the course of my life, “What is life if you’re not enjoying it?” We have most certainly enjoyed our life at the college, but after tonight we all have an intimidatingly unknown future ahead of us. I have no idea where I will even be in a month from now, let alone ten years. Yet that is brilliantly exciting. There’s a line in one of my favourite books, The Alchemist, written by a man whose name I cannot pronounce, which reads “At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives.” We are now at that stage.
It has been an absolute pleasure to share my time here with you and I wish you all the best as you embrace – and enjoy – whatever lies next.