Ernest Saunders was a sixteen-year-old High School student in Philadelphia. One of his passions was to play the piano, and to his good luck he was able to find a very patient, efficient and encouraging music teacher.

At one point, the teacher, fully aware of Ernest’s prowess and potential, decided to apply for a scholarship for him at the world famous Settlement Music School. The Board invited him to an audition. Ernest and his teacher promptly responded.

The entire Board of the Music School was present. That posed a formidable challenge to the young musician. Very respectfully Ernest gave them a courteous bow, and then took the piano stool.

To the stunned disbelief of his music teacher, Ernest began to play a complicated concerto. The audience listened with rapt attention and mounting admiration. Midway through his performance, Mrs. Evans, the school official, stood up and applauded heartily and so did the members of the audience. Instantaneously Ernest Saunders was granted a full scholarship. He was instructed to enrol immediately.

Turing to the audience, Mrs. Evans commended Ernest for the brilliance, the fluency and the grace with which he performed. And then with tears streaming down her cheeks, Mrs. Evans informed the audience that Ernest was an extraordinarily special musician and for one very extraordinary reason – he was born with only one finger on his right hand!  Where some see obstacles, others see opportunities.

Ernest Saunders went on to record several highly acclaimed albums and became one of the world’s famous entertainers, teachers and modern composers of our time. The curious question on the lips of all is: How did Ernest Saunders rise to be so eminently successful? Here is the answer: Above his desk in words engraved on a wooden board is the following quote by Bernard Edmonds:

“To dream anything that you want to dream –

that is the beauty of the human mind.

To do anything that you want to do –

that is the strength of the human will.

To trust yourself to test your limits –

that is the courage to succeed.”


My dear students, as you begin a new academic year, I can sense your excitement on the one hand, and your trepidation on the other. I can sense your excitement about beginning a new year in a new class with a whole set of new subjects. On the other hand, I can sense your trepidation at the uncertainty of the challenges that you will be facing. However, I want you all to know that God has blessed you with the abilities to cope successfully, if, like the buzzard and the bat,  you will ‘look up’ and forge ahead with a firm confidence in your God-given abilities and an unshakeable faith in God.

As one author has said so very rightly: “Each and every one of you is unique – individually created by God, intricately woven, and masterfully knit together for a purpose that only you can fulfil.”

I sincerely pray that each and every one of you, students, is abundantly blessed with success in every venture throughout this academic year. I am fully confident that each and every one of you has the God-given abilities to cope with any challenge and the latent potential to seize every new opportunity. Remember this wise motto always: “Where some see obstacles, others opportunities!”