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Old Boys of Northwood School

Squires to Knights

The Grade 8 Northwood boys are welcomed into the Knight’s fold as ‘squires’.  At the end of Grade 11 the ‘squires’ are knighted, and in Grade 12 are referred to, by the squires, as Sir.  The brotherhood of The Knights unites every Northwood pupil, past and present.

In the Age of Chivalry, Squires became Knights by learning the Code of Chivalry which promoted honour, honesty and respect for God, courage, generosity, compassion, courtesy, loyalty and self-control.  Knights also acted as mentors to Squires.  In the same way, Squires (grades 8-11) at Northwood are guided with the help of the school, parents and guardians and Knights (grade 12) to take on these virtues so they leave Northwood as men, who go into the world and make a difference. When Beachwood and Northlands merged in 1990 to form Northwood it was possible to merge the school badges and retain both mottos to echo this.  “Acquit Ye like Men” (Behave like Men) and “Quisque Sibi Verus” (Be True to Yourself) remind Northwood learners to become men who are true to themselves, while at the same time upholding the values of chivalry.

Northwood Grade 12 Knighting Ceremony Address

D.M. Meadows  –  26 January 2009

“Good morning, Mr Jordan and staff of Northwood.  A special welcome to the fathers, representatives and sponsors of the grade 12s, who have taken the time and braved the heat to be here this morning.  And good morning grade 12s, Matrics of 2009 … or perhaps I should say, good morning, Men of Northwood.  You might well ask, why do I address you as “men” of Northwood.  I do that, because that is what this morning is all about.  It’s about recognising that you are no longer the boys of this school, but Northwood’s men.

Most of you would have arrived at Northwood four years ago, very much boys of 13 or so, full of hopes and fears about what High School had in store for you.  The grade 8s of 2009 are sitting behind you at the back of the hall, feeling much the same way.  Four years ago, you were inducted as Squires, just as this year’s grade 8s will be, later today, when they each ring the bell.

But that was four years ago  –  you’ve had four years as Squires, and today you will become Knights.  So what’s that all about, then  –  why the Squire thing; why the Knight thing; what’s this ceremony all about?  Well, a few hundred years ago, before even Mr Jordan was born, boys of around 14 years of age were sent to be trained as Knights, and they were called Squires.  They were taught all of the skills of Knighthood, as well as the Code of Chivalry, which taught them the values and disciplines necessary to serve as a Knight.  If they learned well, they would then become Knights around the age of 18 to 21, a similar age, of course, to you guys.

But, I can still hear some of you thinking, so what?  What has a centuries-old tradition got to do with me?  I’m from a world of satellite comms, i-pods, fast food and faster cars  –  how’s this going to help me make enough cash to buy an SLR McLaren Black?  Well, I’m not sure I can answer THAT question, but I can tell you what’s important about your four years as Squires, and your becoming Knights this morning.

It all comes back to where I started, when I called you men of Northwood  –  it comes back to one of your two school mottos:  “Acquit ye like men”.  You see, our society, our country, our world, has a serious shortage of men.  I’ll say that again  –  we have a serious shortage of men in the world.  OK, I know that my sons would say, “Dad, don’t be a complete whack-job”, because obviously about half the world’s adult population consists of men, right?

Wrong!  There’s no shortage in the world of adult males … but there’s a shortage of men.  It’s not difficult to become an adult male  –  nature does the job for you, if you wait long enough.  You guys have all been through it.  You get taller and stronger, maybe you start having to shave, you start to think the girls at Danville or Northlands look quite hot  –  with a bit of luck, some of them even think you look hot.  So in your four years at Northwood, nature has turned you into adult males, but here the thing.  Only you, guided by this school, your parents, your role models, perhaps the sponsors that have come with you today, can ensure that you become men.

So males / men, what’s the difference?  I’ll tell you what the difference is  –  the characteristics that make an adult male a man are honesty, courage, generosity, compassion, respect, courtesy, loyalty and self-control.  The preparedness to seek out, and stand up for, what is good and what is right.  In other words, exactly the characteristics that young Squires had to learn hundreds of years ago, in order to become Knights.  That’s what is so important about today’s ceremony.  When you come up to receive your badge as a Knight of Northwood, we are recognising that Northwood has provided you with an environment and guidance, for four years, for you to learn not just academics, but those characteristics that I mentioned  –  honesty, courage, generosity, compassion, respect, courtesy, loyalty and self-control.  In short, in becoming Knights of Northwood, you been have provided with the opportunity to grow into not just adult males, but men.

So you will become Knights  –  what does that mean for 2009, for your Matric year?  To answer that, I’ll go back to your motto:  “Acquit ye like men”.  Grade 12s of 2009, Knights of Northwood, the school expects you to behave as men  –  as the kind of men that those Squires at the back of the hall can look up to, as the kind of men that set an example for the rest of the school.  And how do you do that?  Well, a rather unique thing about the Northwood badge is that it has two mottos  –  the first motto reminds you to acquit yourselves like men, and then the second tell you how to do that  –  it translates as “Be true to yourself”.  If you are true to yourself  –  if you are true to the values of Knighthood in your character, then you will be a man.  In fact, that second is motto is the first part of a quotation  –  the whole thing goes:  “Be true to yourself, because then it will follow, like night follows day, that you cannot be false to anyone”.  Be true to yourselves, Knights of Northwood, and you cannot be false to anyone.

In closing, I must just take a little time to explain the badges that you will receive, and what they mean.  I am here today representing the Knights organisation, which is the Old Boys organisation for Northwood and its predecessor schools.  The organisation provides an information and network facility for all of the Old Boys, so that they can keep in touch with each other, and with what is going on at the school.  It also helps to market the school, and gets involved financially in projects that provide direct benefit to Northwood.  As Matrics at Northwood, you automatically become members of the Knights organisation, so that when you leave school at the end of the year, you will be able to keep in touch with your mates, and what is going on at your old school.

The blue badge that you will receive today signifies that you are a member of the Knights.  However, please can you make sure that you fill in one of the forms that you received, so that the Knights have all your necessary contact details, to make sure that we are able to let you know about events at the school.  Membership is free, but I’m afraid I have to do a bit of a commercial here  –  you have the opportunity to join the Bronze, Silver or Gold Order of the Knights, which each require a financial contribution, either annually or in a discounted once-off payment.  These Orders qualify you for various additional benefits, but more importantly, provide valuable income to the Knights organisation to do its work of service to the community and to Northwood.  I’m not going to go into details  –  I’ve already taken too long on the commercial break, but please enquire of the ladies at the tables after the ceremony, and they will explain how it all works

So grade 12s, men of Northwood  –  in a little while to be Knights of Northwood, may I be the first to say congratulations and wish you well in your final year at the school.”