Good morning, Chairman of the Board, board members, Mr Thelning, staff, parents, friends and fellow students. My name is Joshua Padayachee and it has been my honour to be the Head Boy for 2023. I would like to welcome you to our annual prize giving ceremony.

The Cathedral Grammar School has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember it.  In 2015, I started at Cathedral Grammar in Year 1. Junior school then was still in a prefab building where our fantastic new Boys’ School stands today.  Mrs Crone was my first teacher and just like any 5 year old, I believed every word she said. Apparently, my listening skills weren’t so good as my parents tried to convince me that the song was Noah built the Arc, but I insisted Mrs Crone taught me that no one built the arc. I've been very lucky to have some amazing Junior School teachers like Miss Forrest, Mrs Dark and Mrs Erasmus who made learning so much fun, I never wanted to miss a day of school. My favourite club activity in junior school was Mrs Black’s cooking class, where every week we cooked something new and delicious. We still cook Mrs Blacks yummy sausage rolls at home to this day.

The next year, we moved into our award winning Junior school with the rooftop playground which was opened by Sir John Key in 2016. It was particularly memorable when the Bishop came down the slide.

In year 4, we moved into Inveresk, where the boys’ locker room was entered at your own risk (or with a peg on your nose). One of my favourite memories includes year 6 Civix, a game where we learnt about politics and working with other parties. Mr Lean - Massey enjoyed allocating a secret agenda to each student, contrary to our personalities. Lawsuits were filed and corruption was rife. We could've given Mr Luxon a few tips on coalition negotiations.

In 2020, Covid hit. Because of our dedicated staff, learning continued and disruption was minimal. My friends overseas missed nearly 2 years of school as a result of the pandemic. Thank you to all the staff who worked so hard to ensure we could continue our learning. During level 3 lockdown, since my parents were essential workers, I had to go into school. The rules for being in close proximity were strict, so for the first time, I learnt how to play hopscotch- which was the preferred social distanced activity.

In 2022 we moved into the new Boys’ School which has been an amazing facility to use. We are lucky at Cathedral Grammar to have so many opportunities. There is always something that suits our talents and interests and we also get to try new activities. During my time here, I've been fortunate to be able to try a variety of sports like football, table tennis, tennis and duathlon. Extend sports on Fridays was another great opportunity, and I enjoyed learning how to stand up paddle board and how to rock climb. I appreciate the significant time and effort our sports teachers, Mrs Harrington, Mrs Kimber, Mrs Jones and Mrs Evans put into organising our sporting events and house competitions.

Our school provides us with a rich arts and music experience. Over the years, I have been fortunate to be nurtured by many passionate music teachers from Mrs Dark in Junior school to Mrs Lowe and now Mr Adams and Mrs Holt in Prep school. I've participated in orchestra, string and chamber groups and bandquest. This year, in the Christchurch Schools Music Festival, Cathedral Grammar had the second highest number of students of all participating schools. This is a notable achievement considering the comparative small role of our school. My operetta experiences have allowed me to graduate from being an aphid in Bugs, to having the role of the butler in The Sound of Music. I’m sure that you all enjoyed the recent annual art exhibition and we have Mrs Gray and Mrs Edmonds to thank for exposing us to such interesting art projects. The year 7 Wearable Arts project was especially fun. My partner, Charlie did a great job modelling our sea creature and not tripping over his blue flippers. I’ve also been involved in Cantamath, Otago Problem Solving and Science Fair. Charlie, Tom, Conor, James and I had so much fun competing in a science, engineering, problem solving challenge called Epro8. We were Canterbury champions in Year 6 and 8. Thank you to Mr Lean - Massey and Mr Brooke for supporting us and for running the program.

Our annual camp provided even more highlights. Experiences I’ll always remember include fun at the water slides at Hanmer Springs in year 6, freezing during our overnight sleep this year at Castlehill and kayaking at Wainui in year 5.  Before leaving, I have to say some thank yous.  To Mr Brooke, who always made science and maths fun and is an endless source of knowledge and wit. We’re still not sure if you are being serious or sarcastic. I particularly enjoyed how in the middle of our first science test, you told us that for every question with a word spelt incorrectly, our marks would be halved. This sparked confusion and chaos until you casually said “just kidding”.

I am grateful to Mrs Leith for always making English fun. Your positive, enthusiastic teaching style always made learning enjoyable.  To all my homeroom teachers who supported and nurtured me. A special mention to Mrs Bennett who managed to get a class of rowdy, teenage boys through their last year of primary school and for making this year memorable and special. To all the office staff, caretakers, and Mrs Hazel in the uniform shop, who all work tirelessly behind the scenes to make everything run smoothly, thank you.

Thank you to Mr Thelning, Mr Shaughnessy and Ms Dyer for your support and leadership advice. Leadership lunches rank highly in my Cathedral Grammar highlights list.  Finally, thank you to my fellow head students, Rose Martin, Ada Pang and Conor Ruane. We’ve had great fun organising weekly assemblies, pancake races and sausage sizzle fundraisers for victims of cyclone Gabriel to name a few.  Soon, next year’s leaders will be taking our place, and the school will continue without us. I congratulate Oliver, Edward, Samantha and Heather, who are the Head Students for 2024. I wish you all the best and I hope you enjoy the leadership position as much as I have.

I’ve had a wonderful experience at Cathedral Grammar. It has given me a rich foundation for life and made me ready for high school. Thank you to my classmates for being a part of my primary school memories. I'll always remember the fun times we spent together.

As we all go on our different paths, I wish you all the best and a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Joshua Padayachee
Head Boy 2023