Prize Day at Hasmonean High School for Boys kicked off with the talented Zak Wolfson playing the theme tune from “The Muppets” as parents and guests took to their seats. It was a fitting way to start an afternoon full of laughter and joy in celebrating the achievements of our students.
Mrs Lebrett warmly welcomed the award winners and was received with a raucous round of applause when announcing that Hasmonean was among the top non-selective state schools for public examinations for the seventh consecutive year. In her opening address, Mrs Lebrett spoke about the qualities of leadership found in this week’s sedra, Shelach Lecha. The examples of Joshua and Caleb demonstrate the importance of fostering a sense of confidence in the people they lead; in a message to our prize winners, the leaders of the future, Mrs Lebrett made it clear that those who say, “we cannot do it” are probably right, as are those who say “we can.” Solid and justified confidence, based on preparation and performance, leads to triumph.
Hasmonean does not scrimp on the opportunities it provides students with to display the qualities of a good leader. In addition to formal studies, this year there has been an Achdus trip for Year 7 boys, Gateshead Gesher trips, a trip to Scotland, a moving experience for Sixth Formers in Poland, visits to St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney, football matches in aid of One Child Ghana and the Boys Clubhouse, a Purim Talent Show, visits from 26 Yeshivos, and talks by AJEX veterans and visiting artists.
There was no time however for a tipple or a tantalising and tasty treat supplied by Ms Stavrou and her Food Technology students as the afternoon swiftly moved on to Rabbi Golker, Menahel, and his address to prize winners. Presenting a Dvar Torah on the theme of leadership, Rabbi Golker used Moshe Rabbeinu’s example to show the dual qualities of successful leadership: being a “man of war”, strong and principled, and being a “man of the people” humble and grounded. Rabbi Golker was able to celebrate the success of our students and provide them with a key message for their futures. Indeed, this message of leadership was verified with the introduction of the keynote speaker and guest of honour, Rabbi Lerer of the Central Synagogue in the West End, who began his career in a blazer and a maroon tie, sitting in a Hasmonean classroom alongside Rabbi Golker.
Rabbi Lerer’s stirring and inspirational address focused on the perceptions of humility based on the pasuk, “Vesham Ra’eenu et Hanifilim Bnei Anak Min Hanifilim Vanehi Ve’eynenu Kachagavim Vechain Hayinu Be’eyneyhem,” (There we saw the Nephillim the sons of the giant from among the Nephillim. We were like grasshoppers in our eyes and so we were in their eyes.) Rabbi Lerer stated that many people assume that someone who is humble think themselves to be worthless. But he also noted the words of Baroness Campbell who said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking about yourself less.”
Naftoli Stimler, Head Boy, presented a meaningful speech about the concept of respect and how this can lead to success and growth within a community; he therefore gave the boys an encouraging and stimulating message for their time ahead at Hasmonean. A powerful First Give presentation on JAMI by Year 9 students Daniel LeBlanc, Ben Gersch and Eitan Korman, under the guidance of Rabbi Liss, showed this message of respect in practice. Furthermore, Ari Wolff, “Speak Out” Regional Champion, delivered a riveting, creative and eloquent speech on the topic of exams which showed everyone in the hall that Hasmonean boys have a powerful voice in the wider community. He was a true credit to Mrs Serfaty and to the whole English department.
Accompanied by musical entertainment gifted students Zak Wolfson, Uriel Lev and Dov Samuels, Mrs Lebrett distributed the awards and turned to Mr McClusky, CEO, to end what was a wonderful afternoon with his vote of thanks.
It was an evening which truly inspired all the senses: our eyes were wondered by the display of gallery-worthy art created by the boys and collated by Mrs Jenks and Mr Bazen; our nostrils quivered and tongues tingled with the morsels from the Food Technology Department; our ears were marvelled under the leadership of Mrs Algranati and the musical prowess of her students; and as the parade of delighted boys walked up to the stage, the feeling of pride that emanated from the hall was tangible.