Wembley College ‘comes of age’

Milestone celebrations for Greytown school

Wembley College in Greytown celebrates a special milestone this year as it “comes of age” and turns 21. These poignant words were adapted from chairman Michael Yeadon’s Founder Day address.

“Wembley College is turning 21. What is the significance of a 21st birthday celebration?

Birthdays were not deemed important enough to be celebrated until humans first chartered the stars, thousands of years ago and linked their fates with events in the sky. To know one’s moment of birth meant that a horoscope could be drawn which was considered critical to a good life.

As with much that is new, the rich and prominent were the first to enjoy birthday celebrations. Egypt’s Pharaohs ordered businesses to close on their birthdays and gave enormous feasts for their hundreds of servants. Cleopatra gave Anthony a birthday dinner with gifts so plentiful that some partygoers arrived poor and left wealthy. In ancient Rome, the emperor gave gigantic parties in honour of his own birthday which, included parades, circuses and gladiatorial combats.

In South Africa, the tradition on coming of age at 21, is to thank our parents when we receive a symbolic key. Some say the key is to allow us in and out of the house when we please, others say it is a key to your adulthood. Some parents enforce leaving the house and finding your own way in the world.

Key to the door

Our founders at Wembley, have given us the key to the door and we are now finding our way in the world.

At Wembley, we are celebrating in our own unique way with our Duck Derby, tree planting, go-cart racing and all the other traditions we have created for this special school over the past 21 years.

Our Wembley mission has been to teach, nurture and inspire students to be individuals where they can learn, grow and flourish in a co-educational, family environment based on an international education system in the country.

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Moving forward, our students need to heed the world of Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli historian who writes, ‘The improvement of technology bestowed endless comforts upon people, who developed cravings for things they don’t really need. Overall humankind is wealthier and more powerful than at any point in history, but we are not as happy as our ancestors. We need to think hard about what we really want to avoid endangering ourselves – especially now that we can not only guide history, but we can end it altogether.”

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This is a serious warning and perhaps a tad morbid for us to consider on our 21st birthday but it is important. One of the objects of Wembley is to “promote awareness of environmental needs and preservation and foster the ideal of long-term life sustainment of the environment.”

For the next 21 years, we challenge our school to celebrate and be thankful but to think about ways to sustain the environment – this is non-negotiable. Whatever the future holds you will all be a part of it and as future leaders will be part of forging and shaping that future. Go forth and be global visionaries: our planet earth needs you. Wembley has given you the edge to do this. We have so much to celebrate at Wembley College. We look forward to our journey ahead, venturing to new heights of success.”

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