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Letter from the Chairman – 30 November 2023

30 November 2023

Dear Members of the Hilton Family,

As we approach the end of 2023 and reflect on the year which has been, one is filled with a deep sense of pride and satisfaction that 2023 has been another immensely successful year for Hilton College.

At speech day in September this year, I remarked that there was some level of trepidation entering 2023 especially given the outstanding results achieved by the class of 2022, but I am delighted to report that, so far, the class of 2023 has not disappointed and, in many respects, have been the equal of their peers from last year.

This leads me to my opening remark in this newsletter and that is that Hilton College is in an extremely good place and is fortunate to have a highly competent and motivated staff as well as happy boys.

During the past year Hilton boys have continued to excel in the classroom, on the sports field and on the performing stage. What is even more pleasing to me is that the vast majority of these boys have given their all this past year and have recognised the privilege afforded to them of attending this magnificent school. They have exploited the myriad of opportunities which are available to them and continued to grow and develop into the future leaders of our country.

Earlier this year, we were advised that Hilton College had been placed second among all independent boys’ schools across South Africa in the matric exam results. These were some of the best academic results achieved in the last two decades and didn’t even take into consideration a number of top achievers who chose to write A levels instead of the NSC and who likewise excelled and did Hilton proud. On the sporting front, 2023 like 2022, was an excellent year across the board with several boys achieving provincial and national colours in the various sporting codes. This culminated in Hilton College being ranked the top sporting school in South Africa across its six core sports in 2023, which for a small school of only 600 boys is nothing short of remarkable. I was also privileged earlier in the year to attend certain performances of the Hilton choir and the various musical ensembles and was inspired by the quality of the performances and the talent amongst the schools’ musicians.

Achieving these results does not happen in a vacuum or per chance, but rather is the result of the dedication, passion and commitment of a highly engaged staff, so ably lead by Mr George Harris. As a board, we could not ask for more and our deep appreciation is extended to each one of these staff members for their ongoing service towards Hilton College.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, it was remarked that when a boy left Hilton College, he took away with him an inheritance. So, what is it that has enabled Hilton College to keep giving this gift of an inheritance to generations of pupils who have passed through the gates of Hilton?

Perhaps it can be summarised in the following five key attributes which have generally been recognised as being present in all highly successful schools, namely:

1. Outstanding visible and ethical leadership;
2. High expectations of staff and students;
3. High levels of collaboration and communication among stakehoders;
4. A clear and shared focus and vision so that everyone knows where they are going and why; and
5.  A high level of family and community involvement.

Undoubtedly, each of these characteristics can be ascribed to Hilton College, its executive team and staff members, as well as to the guidance and support of the Board of Governors. Recently, the process of refining the school’s strategy has been reassuring in confirming that we are on the right path and that the choices Hilton College needs to make are largely to improve what we currently do, rather than changing course dramatically. As I intimated last year, core to the success of Hilton’s future is to build up its endowment and plans are afoot to grow this aspect of the College in the new year. To the several generous benefactors of Hilton College, please accept my sincere thanks and appreciation for all that you do and contribute towards the welfare of the College.

Finally, to the matric class of 2023, good luck as you pursue your careers and dreams and I look forward to welcoming you back as old boys to your alma mater in the not-too-distant future.

To the remaining Hilton Family, happy holidays, safe travels over the festive period and see you again in the new year.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Johnston