Matthew de Bie was faced with a choice in grade 10: continue dabbling in hockey, as he describes it, or put most of his efforts into academics and get the best marks that he was capable of in Matric.
The record shows that he made the right decision – he got seven As at the end of last year – and he goes into tertiary studies now knowing what he is capable of and “ready to start making my way in the real world.”
He was not, however, prepared to withdraw from extra-curricular life completely and was one of the stars of the school’s cultural programme throughout his school career.
“I know from experience just how much time is needed to do well academically,” he said. “But I believe that if you focus on school work exclusively then you are selling yourself short and you are not getting everything out of Jeppe that you can.”
He participated in public speaking and debating, but drama is his real love. He played in the major productions each year, although in his matric year time constraints meant it was only a minor role.
“That didn’t matter to me, I just wanted to be part of it for a final time,” he said.
Earlier in the year he wrote, and played in, Jeppe’s entry into the FEDA play festival and the production became the first one from the school that was invited to appear on the final night of the festival.
Looking back on his five years at the school, it is the people that made the greatest impression on him. “There are good people here and I made friends that I will keep for a long time,” he said.
“I think the thing that makes Jeppe different from other schools is that growing up in such a diverse environment gives you a realistic view of the world.
“This is not an elite bubble. I have met and mixed with people from vastly different backgrounds and have interacted with boys who hold vastly different views to mine. That will certainly stand me in good stead in the future.”
And his immediate future is at the University of Pretoria where he is enrolled for a BCom in Law. “I love languages, writing and reading, so I think I will do well in law.”
There’s not too much doubt about that.