The exam season is now in full flow, so it is an excellent time to reflect on the last few months and to think about the future.
I have walked around the campus on a number of occasions recently and have been amazed by your work ethic and the studious atmosphere. All of you have found various nooks and crannies where you can focus on your studies and I can see the serious way in which you are approaching the next few weeks. As it is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, I will endeavour to refer to him having been inspired by a live show that was beamed to theatres on the actual day.
"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so," Hamlet.
Remember that however difficult it seems at the moment, it will be worth the short-term sacrifice:
"Come what come may, time and the hour runs through the roughest day," Macbeth.
It has been wonderful to have been able to respond to a request to open our Library on Saturdays. I am delighted that so many of you have used this facility from 10.00 am until 4.00 pm. It is pleasing that the numbers have gone up from 14 to 42 to 61 last week. Of course, I am extremely grateful to all of the staff, particularly Karen, who have made this possible by giving up their own time. Indeed, I am always thoroughly grateful and in awe of the lengths our staff go to, to make sure that you are well prepared for the future.
"Nothing will come of nothing," King Lear.
Last month, I was privileged to be able to watch our Women's 1st XI play in the AoC cup final at St Andrew’s Stadium in Birmingham. It was the second consecutive year in which we have got to the final. This is an incredible achievement for a college of our size. Whilst we lost by 5 goals to 4 to the same team as we played last year, I felt incredibly proud of our players, our wonderful supporters and all of the parents who attended. That combined with our boys' team reaching the semi-finals, I believe that these achievements are a testimony to our wonderful PE Department and all of the teachers and coaches who run the teams. This line from the Bard is an apt description of what we witnessed:
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts," As You like It.
For me, that player was Misty Russell who was selected as the player of the final (which in itself is unusual from the losing team) but who was truly outstanding. A fantastic role model for all of the players and supporters in the way in which she played (scored a hat-trick), the way in which she encouraged her teammates and her sheer genuine modesty. You made us all really proud, Misty.
On Monday, I travelled with a colleague to a garden party at Buckingham Palace to collect a plaque for our College to offer the Duke of Edinburgh Award. We are now a 'Licensed Organisation' to offer this award thanks to the tremendous work of staff. It was brilliant to see so many Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award winners and to listen to Hannah Cockcroft, who is a world record holder and gold medal winner from the 2014 Paralympics. Hannah astounded us all by telling us how hard she works and her motivation to ensure that she never loses a race (she has only ever lost one race). As ever, someone who is so talented and determined was incredibly modest.
"If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottage Princes' palaces," The Merchant of Venice.
Therein lies a message for all of us!
Three weeks ago I went to listen to the candidates in the hustings for the Student Executive. It was great to see a packed theatre and hear such interesting ideas. It is always incredibly difficult to speak in front of your peers and I thought that many of the speeches were excellent. The current Student Executive did a great job in organising the event and ensuring that people kept to their time limit. Unfortunately, not everyone can get elected and such is the democratic process that many excellent presenters were unsuccessful. I hope to meet with the new Student Executive and begin the exciting journey into the new academic year.
We are now busy planning for the new academic year to ensure that our College is ready for the next stage in our development. This means that we have appointed new staff, reorganised some of our current arrangements and made decisions about the subjects that we will be offering, the timing and nature of our internal examinations as well as reviewing the use of our existing resources and catering arrangements. Much of this is about trying to guess the future from a position of strength:
"What light through yonder window breaks?" Romeo and Juliet
As ever, we continue to hear snippets of some (false) negative things said about us in some 11-18 schools. Our response as always is:
“Fi, thy calumnies taint us not”, As You Like It
"Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows," The Tempest
Finally, I cannot resist the temptation to comment on my beloved Leeds United. Our season is disappointingly over and my club is a shambles:
"The fault, dear Brutus, lies not within the stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings," Julius Caesar
I am really pleased about The Tigers and hope that the club is successful at Wembley for our staff and students, for the City in 2017 and for our College.
Returning to Shakespeare, my advice to you is:
"To thine own self be true," Hamlet
"Love thrives not in the heart that shadows dreadeth," The Rape of Lucrecia,