From where I was seated on the Union stage, I had the privilege of looking out across a sea of faces at the recent Centenary Interschools Assembly.
They were the faces of our recent history; our Old Unionite community. I could sense the rapt attention, feel the emotion and detect the odd teary eye. There was a palpable intensity and liveliness in the room, and I began to realise that I was witnessing something quite unique. Although the groups were tonally graded in their respective reunion cases, gradually greying towards the front, they were by no other means divided. Instead the Union Hall was filled with heart!
What is it that lures people from every corner of the globe back to this famous Alma Mater? I deeply suspect it is the concept of home.
P. Mercier wrote: ‘’We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.’’
So how wonderful it was for our Old Unionites to return home and see the home fires burning bright, to see the campus in such splendid condition, to see the green flag of the fields glorious, despite the drought, to find a conscious space filled with love and care. To see leadership and management. To know that the school has a clear vision of the future.
Part of why many of you feel so proud of this amazing school is that it has been built on the shoulders of all your efforts and contributions.
There are fragments of you everywhere. Many of you dreamed of a better Union and helped towards the school we see today. Being currently involved I cannot describe to you how hugely we appreciate both the physical and financial help given us by the Old Unionites. You give us the opportunity to dream! Not a single cent is wasted. We are fiercely jealous of the contributions we receive. The truth is that we would not be where we are today without our Old Unionites.
To those generous souls, Union must offer a huge vote of gratitude. You cannot fathom how precious your help is. Unfortunately, every improvement, whether structural or on human expertise, costs money.
Thank you to all the members of the Hundred Club. Your R250 per annum allows talented learners, who are struggling financially, a chance to thrive. I encourage every Old Unionite to join the Hundred Club. For that relatively small contribution, you, collectively, will change lives.
When all the games had been played and our visitors gravitated towards the Union in the evening glow, it occurred to me that home is also so much more than a place:
“Is it possible for home to be a person and not a place..?”
Our beautiful school aside, it is always our human connections that matter most. We come back to each other, to embrace our fellow beings, to throw our heads back and laugh, to reminisce, to empathise, to celebrate the greatest friendships we ever make. Nowhere in life do we develop the same bonds we forge at school. The power of Union is really about the power of people.
Thank you for visiting, and please keep coming home.
- David Langmead, Union High School Governing Body Chairman