The Principal’s speech for the 2018 edition of Nobelhouse College’s prize-giving and graduation ceremony
Good morning graduands, parents, friends, staff and students. Welcome to the 2018 edition of Nobelhouse College’s prize-giving and graduation ceremony.
This is an exciting day for Nobelhouse College because it is the day when we formally release 10 of our students to the next phase of their lives. Life is seasonal. The good book, the Bible, puts it this way. It says, ‘To every thing, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the sun.’ Let me break that down for you. It means two things.
- That every thing that happens in your life, every event, every activity, every interaction, everything in life, falls within a season of your life. There is no ‘seasonless’ activity. And so, your secondary schooling, your time at Nobelhouse College, has been a season of time within your life, and today we are formally recognizing the end of that season, and we are releasing you to transition into your next season in life.
- It also means this: that every season has a purpose. There is no season that does not have a purpose. So your time at Nobelhouse College has had a purpose. And I would like to spend a bit of time reminding you of that purpose. And I want to do that by focusing on two phrases. The first is our motto. The second is our mission.
So let me begin with our motto. It says ‘Catalyst for progress’. This is bi-dimensional; it means that Nobelhouse College as an institution is a catalyst for progress. It also means that you, as a student of NHC, are also a catalyst for progress.
What does the word ‘catalyst’ mean? A catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change. It is a person or thing that causes an event to happen. And progress, as you well know, means advancement. It means to move forward, to improve, to increase, to grow, to develop, to become better.
In other words, as a catalyst for progress, both you and NHC are an instigator or creator of change and forward motion. Both you and NHC are agents that increase the rate of progress in your community. It means that you cannot be a passive observer or armchair critique. You must be a change maker, a change creator, and a change enhancer. You must make a difference.
George Bernard Shaw once said: ‘The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.’
If you are to make a difference, you must dare to think differently to the way the world or the community thinks. Let me again refer to the good book, the Bible, which says it this way. It says, ‘do not be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…’ In other words, do not pattern your thinking after the thinking of your community. Dare to be different.
Remember the Wright Brothers. They were told that metal objects cannot fly. If they had conformed their thinking to the reasoning pattern of their time, they may not have been credited with the invention of aeroplanes. You see, they refused to accept the limitations of reason. They refused to adapt themselves to the world. Instead, they persisted in trying to adapt the world to themselves, to the possibility of their limitless imagination. And they succeeded in doing what no one else had done, and advancing transportation to a level that the people of their time said was impossible.
They were catalysts of progress. I’m not saying that every one of you here has to be an inventor. I’m not saying you have to be the next Wright brothers, or Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. What I am saying is this: dare to dream! Dare to imagine a better future for this country and for your world. Dare to believe that you can make a difference.
Now, the word ‘catalyst’ carries within itself the notion that while you create or instigate change, you yourself do not change. So don’t forget your values. Always strive to STRIDE.
That’s the first phrase. The second phrase is our mission as a school. ‘creating a new generation of world-class leaders.’
A new generation. The word ‘new’ means something that did not exist before, or something that did exist before but is now being seen or experienced in a different way. So let’s use phones as an example for this explanation. I want to buy a new phone, so I’ve been looking at Samsung phones. It’s so confusing. They have Samsung galaxy note 8, Samsung S9 and Samsung S9+. What Samsung is doing other than trying to mess with my mind, is to produce something new, something different to what existed before. They want to keep upgrading their products. They keep challenging themselves: how can we make an already fantastic product better than it was before?
As an institution, that is what our goal is at NHC. To ask, how can we take the raw material that come to us in Y7, or Y8, or whenever, and transform that raw material into a product that is more valuable than when it first came to us? How can we ensure that when it comes to a day of transitioning, such as this, that we are releasing products that are valuable to their communities and to their world?
Let me emphasize that the NHC education is not one that strives to make you a local champion or even a regional champion. It is one that strives to prepare you to find a space and occupy your place within a global context.
So we have to always keep this at the back of our minds. How are we preparing you to be a new generation of world-class leaders?
Well firstly, by ensuring that we are a values-driven community. If you are to be new, you cannot afford to have a disregard for your community. You cannot lack compassion. You cannot lack values.
In his book, ‘My Vision’, His Excellency, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, states what should be obvious to all leaders. He says, ‘Today’s (Arab) crisis is not one of money, men, morale, land or resources…The real crisis is rather one of leadership, management and perennial egotism. This is the kind of crisis that is bound to happen when lust for power prevails over granting people the love and care they deserve, and when the interests and destiny of one individual become more important than those of a whole nation.’
Whatever else you may have learnt at NHC, whatever else we may have taught you during your time here, this is perhaps the most important of all lessons: position is not about power. It is about influence. Leadership is not about rulership. It is about service and sacrifice. ‘Good leadership puts the interests of the community as a whole before those of any specific group’ and ‘Credibility of leadership can only be established through action and not words.’
Secondly, by ensuring that we expose you to an international academic curriculum which is why NHC offers the Cambridge IGCSE Curriculum. It is an international curriculum that is offered in more than 120 countries. The Cambridge IGCSE Curriculum is designed to make students think critically, and to solve real life problems. It moves education beyond the realm of gathering information and makes it about developing the ability to apply what you learn to solve real life challenges.
That is what we need… a generation of leaders that are able to solve problems. So we are trusting that we have sown within you the seeds that will, in due season, germinate and produce the fruits of national and international relevance.
Nobelhouse College cannot do all she claims to do and all she aims to do by herself. We have been greatly helped, and we continue to be greatly helped. First and foremost by God, who has kept us going in spite of all the challenges that we have faced; and who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask, think or imagine.
Second, we have been helped by corporate bodies as well as by individuals who have funded scholarships. We cannot but recognize and thank OANDO PLC who have funded five of our graduating scholars today. OANDO PLC is Africa’s leading indigenous energy company operating in the upstream, midstream and downstream. It is Nigeria’s largest indigenous oil and gas company, and we are happy to be able to testify, that it is one of the companies in Nigeria that takes its corporate social responsibility very, very seriously. OANDO PLC, thank you!
Finally, we have been supported by a dynamic and hard working parent body. Today, on behalf of NHC, I would like to say THANK YOU for your support.
Once again, I welcome you all to Nobelhouse College. Thank you for coming to join us in celebrating the achievements of those who will one day show Nigerians and the world what a brand new generation of world-class leaders looks like.
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