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A letter from The Head – 29 November 2022

29 November 2022

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Our 150th year has reached its conclusion and what a celebration it has been. Thank you for partnering with us and for encouraging and supporting us through the highs and lows, the successes and the struggles.

It continues to be a singular privilege to lead this great school and even more so through the historic milestone of 150 years. I hope you enjoyed the privilege of being a part of it all.

Being deeply traditional and refreshingly contemporary can be challenging at times as we contemplate which aspects of our institution need to be modified so that we prepare our boys for an unpredictable future. At the same time, we endeavour to honour our faith in God, timeless values and our principles. We may not always make the correct calls, but I’m indebted to the board and the many Old Hiltonians and parents who encourage us to try new things, to take risks and to embrace the future, so that we may continually improve.

Our varied achievements this year include our first class in matric who sat the A Levels alongside those who wrote the IEB matric; our ongoing successes in all our sporting arenas; our growing number of boys obtaining their President’s Award; our tremendously engaging cultural productions; our growing academic subject offering, including agricultural sciences; the addition of our new Chamberlain Music Centre; our new organ in the chapel; and our ongoing contribution to the education of boys in today’s world.

These achievements only happen on the back of dedication from the team who keep the engine of Hilton humming so very smoothly. I know you will join me in thanking the staff of Hilton for each and everyone’s contribution as they serve your sons.

About the cell-phone experiment: I am delighted to share a number of thoughts articulated by some of your sons in answer to a survey conducted during this experiment. My thanks to the parents who engaged me on this; your responses and notes were overwhelmingly positive with only two letters of dismay at this experiment. Once again, my thanks for your support as we try various approaches to help your sons navigate the challenges of life with technology.

I also thank the boys who took on this challenge with a sense of determination and resolve.

According to the survey, boys found themselves doing more:
• Reading and studying;
• Bonding with dorm mates and interacting with others on a more meaningful level;
• Playing sport and engaging in outdoor physical activities; and
• Different things, including talking to boys in the younger forms.

Boys found themselves spending less time:
• On social media;
• Lying around doing nothing;
• Procrastinating; and
• Distracted.

Boys have reported the following advantages of restricted access to their phones:
• A slower pace of life;
• A growing closeness to God;
• More time for cultural activities; and
• Passing inspections more often.

The reported disadvantages have included:
• Feeling slightly disconnected from the outside world;
• Difficulty communicating with parents and friends outside the school; and
• Not being able to gain quick access to information.

The experiment highlighted much about our use of technology and the challenges and advantages of having it at our fingertips. We will take some time at the beginning of next year to craft our protocols around cell-phone usage and access to phones at school. It will be important to understand the views of our boys as we chart a refreshed approach to technology.

Please enjoy quality time with your son this holiday. I look forward to welcoming everyone back, refreshed, revived and ready to unpack the promise of 2023.

Kind regards,

George Harris

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