For the fourth year in a row, Speech Day was blessed by lovely weather, the School looked superb, the cakes were delicious and it was, once again, a wonderful occasion. The tone was set by the quality of the performance of the choir during the Commemoration Service, while the sermon by Jacques Desrosier, Rector at the Minster, was the first of two outstanding talks we heard on the day. His exhortation to the pupils to serve others was thought-provoking and timely; in Assembly this week I quoted the last line:
“So over the next 20, 30 years you’ll be very busy building your lives, your career, your businesses, your relationships and all that jazz – making the best of your life - and remember ‘to be of use’.”
During Prize Giving we were treated to an equally impressive speech by the Visitor, Joy Odili, a former pupil and now successful consultant plastic surgeon. Her reflections on her time at the School, what she learned here both in and beyond the classroom and on her life after school, were articulate, entertaining and packed with good advice. For me, what resonated most was this:
“Whatever you choose, make the most of your opportunities, and be the person you are most proud of. Work hard and make your weaknesses your strength. This will help you adapt to any situation you encounter. Finally when you get there, when you reach your goal, when you have sat that last exam, and received that last accolade, remember to reach down and help someone else up the ladder.”
The night before Speech Day, there was the eagerly awaited staple of the school calendar that is Poetry & Prose. For once, it was a warm evening and, as usual, a hugely enjoyable evening, not least because of the contrast with the formality of the following day. As one parent wrote in an email to me the following week:
“I also thought there’s a wonderful contrast between Speech Day and Poetry and Prose evening, but actually they’re just two sides of the same coin….I thoroughly enjoyed its almost festival-like air. It’s lovely that all the children support each other and are so willing simply to have a go, and all without looking for glory, just enjoying themselves.”
A review of Poetry & Prose and Speech Day, with links to the speeches referred to above (as well as mine) are below, as is an account of the very successful Year 6 trip to France in the week leading up to half-term.
In the fortnight since the break, the highlight has been three magnificent performances of the Lower School production, ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, in the round in a big-top in the school grounds. Those of you fortunate enough to have seen it will agree, I am sure, that it was a triumph of ambition, energy, talent, hard work and enthusiasm from all the staff and pupils involved; it was hard to believe that none of the actors was older than 14. The audience was transfixed. The School is lucky indeed to have such a dedicated and visionary drama department, assisted by such talented performers.
There has also been a good deal of sport, particularly girls’ and boys’ cricket and details of this are below, as well an account of a very successful Under 13 cricket tour to Guernsey last weekend. This afternoon saw an equally enjoyable and successful Prep School Sports Day. Congratulations to all of those involved; meanwhile, good luck to all those participating in next week’s Year 5 & 6 production.
So many visitors to the School comment favourably on the appearance and presentation of the School, both grounds and facilities, as well as the quality of the catering. We are fortunate indeed to have such a committed, professional and hard-working support staff. This week (below) the spotlight falls on a key member of the team, Graham Kitley, the Grounds Manager.
The last three weeks of term are characteristically full. I look forward to seeing many of you at one or more of the events that mark the end of the school year.