Leaving School

Last week we said goodbye to Year 13 as they went off for study leave. Prior to them going the School Captain and his two vice-captains gave excellent assemblies giving their thoughts as they finished their time at the School – these can be found here http://sixthform.nottinghamhighblogs.net/
My response to these assemblies was entitled ‘Be your own Spotlight’ inspired by the Patrick Stump song – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5nC1yoTh3M
I spoke about the fantastic impression that the year group have made on all those who have worked with them. The song refers to their salad days being over but however, good a time that these students have had at school I hope that this is just the beginning of a fantastic life to follow.
The expression ‘School days are the best of your life’ always concerns me. Whilst it is true that I want all boys to end their time with us being able to look back positively on the fantastic range of opportunities they have had, I hope more than anything that the skills we have equipped them with will enable them to go out into the wider world and make the most of all that lies ahead. The pressures of exams will be replaced by other challenges in the years ahead but I hope that they have gained resilience, confidence and communication skills in the time that they have spent with us.
Equally importantly I hope that the friendships that they have made here will stand the test of time. In the past few weeks I have heard via LinkedIn from many boys I taught in the early years of my career in Chester. Such contact from past students is always one of the great joys of being a teacher. The boy who I knew as a skilful wingback in my 1st XI football team is now an employment lawyer but his character still shines through his email to me. I hope that the High School students who leave us now will stay in touch in the years to come. Through our new Old Boys organisation we seek to keep in touch with them but also want to help put them in touch with each other. Thus, for example, if someone is moving to a new area we hope that they will contact us and we can put them in touch with others in their new area, or better still in their new company. These friendly faces can then help them to settle in or tell them where the good places to live are etc. If through the school we can help out in any ways then we will truly have a community for life. I want to create a situation where people might physically leave us at 18 but where virtually they remain part of our community.
Thus, whilst those leaving this week will inevitably have a sense of nostalgia and perhaps even a few nerves about what the next stage holds there will always be a warm welcome at the School and just as in recent weeks we have had some Old Boys in their 80s visit us I hope that many of our recent leavers will be regular visitors in the years ahead so we can share their successes with them.
School days are great but a great deal of life lies ahead for each of these students. I genuinely hope that the great time that they have had with us is matched by the experiences still to come. It would be truly sad if after all they have achieved with us that their best days were behind them. I have every faith that they are equipped to make a fantastic mark on the world and that whilst they can look back with pride, they can look forward with excitement.