The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 31
At the close of another session it is gratifying to be able to report the continued prosperity of the School. The number of pupils now on the roll is 194, as against 159 at the close of last year.
We have much cause for thankfulness that though an epidemic has prevailed in the city for some time our average attendance has not been seriously affected thereby. A few isolated cases have occurred, and one of our number has been removed by death, hut no material interruption of our work has taken place.
I have to thank the Board of Education for assenting to the application I made at an early part of the session to provide additional class-rooms, so as to enable us to carry on the work more satisfactorily. It was late before the building was commenced, and thus we could not avail ourselves of the increased accommodation this year. Next year, however, we hope to be in a position of greater comfort. We have now three new class-rooms, one of them a completely equipped laboratory. This will enable us to commence the study of chemistry, which in future will form part of the scientific course for the Upper School.
From many causes—and chiefly because the circumstances of the School for the last two years have been very different from previous years—the work of classification has been one of difficulty. Mistakes may have been made at first in placing boys in classes engaged in work beyond their ability. We have been this year endeavouring to remedy this as much as possible, to consolidate the classes, and to ascertain the individual capacities of the pupils in order to give each his true position in the School. It is only by the exercise of caution and firmness in this way that we can hope to benefit the pupils themselves, and prevent any one boy from retarding the advancement of the others. If it should appear to any that our classes, or divisions of classes, are unduly multiplied, they should remember that it has now become an accepted fact in education, especially in the higher education, that it is impossible to teach page 4 classes which exceed 30 in number with any degree of satisfaction or success. This will be kept in view, I trust, when I make application for an increase in the staff of masters.
Two new features in our system are deserving of notice this year. We have succeeded in introducing class-singing into the School, and we have at the same time fairly inaugurated the study of German. The former has been confined to the two junior classes, and the latter to the boys of the modern side in the Upper School. It is hardly possible, in my opinion, to over-estimate the value of the German language as a means of education. It is scarcely inferior to Latin as an instrument for grammatical training. It has a rich and extensive literature; and to those who view the question in the light of its utility alone it must seem to be of great and increasing importance in a commercial community like this. Let no one fear that the number of subjects is inordinately increased. While the course is a varied one we seek to confine the boys only to those branches which they are able to overtake.
The other departments have been conducted as before, and I take this opportunity of thanking my colleagues for co-operating with me in endeavouring to make the School as efficient as possible.
In the department of physical training we have confined our attention chiefly to athletics and drill. The want of a sufficient playground for cricket and other sports is a great misfortune, which I suppose must be borne until the Government see the propriety of removing the Boys' High School to a site more suitable than the one it at present occupies. Our annual sports were held at the Caledonian grounds three weeks ago, and were quite successful. The Artillery and Rifle Cadet Corps have had frequent opportunities of showing their efficiency in drill. Medals have been awarded from Sir J. Richardson's fund to the five boys in each Company who have been most active and attentive to drill throughout the year, and these will be presented to the successful competitors to-day.
On occasions like this it is usual to refer to the honours gained by former pupils in the different spheres of life on which they may have entered. Few of the boys front this school choose a university career, and consequently it is not easy to trace the future course of those who leave us; but I have to mention the fact that this year an old pupil—Mr. Solomon—has been the first in the colony to gain the New Zealand University degree of B.A.
I now beg to tender thanks to those gentlemen, friends of the School, who have shown a special interest in our work by presenting prizes to the pupils. This year we have been quite overwhelmed with gifts, and the difficulty has been to find special subjects to which to attach them.
Captain Hutton and Mr. Robert Gillies, President of the Otago Institute, offered valuable prizes at the beginning of the session—the page 5 one for the best collections of Natural History, and the other for proficiency in Geography and Map-drawing. These prizes have been specially useful in exciting the interest of our boys and in supplementing the School work. His Worship the Mayor has presented two handsome prizes for English. The Chamber of Commerce medals have been given to the Dux of the whole School, to the best in arithmetic in the classical side, and to the best in arithmetic in the Lower School. Mr. Burt gave me two prizes for arithmetic in the Lower School, and Mr. Wain has supplemented the prize annually awarded by Mr. Webb by two additional ones for writing. Mr. Reith's prize is this year given for science in the Lower School, Mr. Joel's for French and German, and Mrs. Burns' for History. I wish here to notice the pleasing circumstance that the number of former pupils who have continued their connection with us by presenting prizes is on the increase. Mr. Wilkie has annually given the mathematical prizes, and to his name are now to be added those of Messrs Solomon, Norman, and Cargill and Harris. Mr. Solomon handed me a microscope to be given to the best scholar in natural science. Messrs. Cargill and Harris presented a valuable silver cup to the champion runner at our games, and Mr. Norman a gold medal to the best in the walking race. The High School Club have also given prizes for classics, 8.:c. I may add that these prizes have been all spontaneously offered, and that we are under a deep debt of gratitude to the gentlemen who have displayed such liberality.
William Norrie, M.A., F.E.I.S., Rector.
|1863||Buchanan, N. L.|
|1870||Stuart, A. T.|
|1871||Wilmot, A., Solomon, S., and Park, A.|
|1875||Milne, W. D.|