In Roman times, a Dux was a leader of troops. In Post Roman Britain, King Arthur was refered to as the dux bellorum (leader of battles).
In South Africa, it refers to the academic leader of the school. In other words, the student that attains the highest academic marks in a year. And in the particular school my Children attend it applies only in Grade 7 (end of preparatory school) and Grade 12 (end of high school). In the case of the grade 12 students, one has to wait until the external exams are marked and the results published before you know who the dux scholar is.
For 2010 it is my daughter with distinctions in all 9 subjects she wrote. I am as proud as punch and somewhat in awe of this wonderkind. She is diligent, driven and focussed – so far from the mental state I was in at the same time in my life. I was the creative cloud gatherer. The most consistent item on all my school reports was the remark: “Capable of better marks – not working to her full potential”. I have no doubt that my potential was to be achieved outside of the classroom in a world of paint and clay and marks on paper, so it is not such a terrible thing.
We were invited back to school for an assembly with a trophy presentation and all the accompanying congratulations. Although congratulating me was rather like congratulating a supporting actor for the lead actor’s Oscar. The one thing we are being realistic about is the importance of this award in the larger scheme of things. If being top of your grade at the age of 18 is the pinnacle of your life then you have some long sad years ahead of you. Rather make it just a nice foothill in the upward climb of your life than the apex of everything.
To add a bit of reality and levity, and because I can’t resist a pun (visual or linguistic) I created this “Dux” t-shirt for my daughter to wear for the presentation. Nine ducks in a row (one for each distinction) representing the fact that she got her ducks in a row, academically and playing in the word dux/ducks. Sadly – it had to be explained…