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Honour Before Honours

On entering the school for the first time, the name of the school and its motto are two important informational concepts that remain ingrained in the individual for the rest of her life. The motto – Honour Before Honours are three simple but effective words. The significance of these words cannot be overemphasized.

What does Honour Before Honours mean? To some, it is an insignificant slogan, to others, it is a sense of belonging to a Methodist institution. I am not quite sure whether students through the years, ever had the opportunity to have a dialogue on the importance of the school’s motto and the impact in their lives. Those of us, who are proud alumnae of MGHS on occasion do have that discussion of what the school and the motto mean to us.

Below is my analysis of our motto:

Honour before Honours connote integrity, respect, honour, and courteous behavior. These qualities are the embodiment of moral principles. Today, more than ever before, students should be encouraged to have regular dialogue and interaction with their teachers and each other about the meaning of the motto. This will, no doubt, create an environment where respect given will be respect received. Students of the Methodist Girls High School should be as proud to be identified by their peers as girls who are honest, respectful and of good character. Repetition is the mother of learning; it’s time students embrace the school’s motto.

I obtained my inspiration for writing this article about our motto – Honour Before Honours from my daily devotional with the Morning Crew International Christian Fellowship, a community of early risers who listen to the word of God on the Facebook profile page of AlphinaByFaith. Over a two-week period, Sis. Alphina delivered a spirit-filled message on honour in every aspect of our lives. Her message touched me, so I decided to do something by writing this article for our 140th Anniversary magazine.

The research I embarked on, as well, for this piece yielded amazing results. The Methodist Girls’ High School, Freetown, Sierra Leone, is not the only school in the world whose motto is Honour before Honours.  Two other Christian girls’ schools – The Wynberg Girls’ High School in Cape Town, South Africa, founded in 1884, and The Brisbane High School for Girls, in Australia, founded in 1899, share the same motto.

Below is an excerpt from an Old Girl of The Wynberg Girls’ High School, Cape Town, South Africa. She is proud of how her school’s motto continues to impact her life,

“…. I got settled into my work zone for the evening. A little while later, I got a message from my boss thanking me for my hard work and assuring me that my efforts were not going unnoticed. While I appreciated the message, it hadn’t even occurred to me that I was doing anything worthy of thanks – it was simply a question of honouring my responsibility as an employee.

My thoughts turned to my alma mater, and I remembered our school motto as being “Honour before Honours”, an ethos that I have carried with me for a long time. I am a proud Wynberg Girl, and I believe that the principle behind our motto was instilled in us through everything we did, and in every area of school life. Although the motto is rather simple, the meaning is profound – personal integrity and character should always be more important than recognition. Yet often we lose sight of that and end up striving for what will bring us awards and accolades, and public acknowledgment. …”

Finally, let’s ensure that Honour Before Honours does not lose its effectiveness. Education and transformation go hand in hand. This is a challenge to the Board of Governors, the Principals and Staff of the Methodist Girls’ High School, for them to use the tool at their disposal to transform these students into ladies of good character, great respect, integrity and honour, which they could use to change the world.

As an alumna, I send my congratulations to all past and present principals and staff, as well as past and present students on the 140th Anniversary of the Methodist Girls’ High School. We look forward to a better and successful years ahead. In closing, I invoke those three powerful words that our founders tagged on the school as our motto – Honour Before Honours.

Long live the Methodist Girls’ High School!