Welcome back after the well-deserved half-term break. As the daylight hours increase, I feel increasingly optimistic about our College and the range of activities that you are engaged in.
Only last week, students returned from Florence (Mathematics), Berlin (Film Studies and German), Cern (Physics), New York (Media Studies), and I am delighted by the brilliant comments made by staff. You continue to be such outstanding ambassadors for our College and I am certain that your experiences will stand you in good stead for the future. Of course, none of these trips would have been possible without the tremendous commitment and dedication of our wonderful staff. Organising such excellent experiences is certainly not easy and can be extremely demanding, both physically and mentally. These trips also mean that our staff are away from their immediate families. However, we are blessed with such commitment and we know how beneficial these trips can be. I do believe that this level of commitment sets us apart from almost all of the post-16 providers at 11-19 schools and colleges. The fact that the following trips are organised for later this year is testament to this: Thailand (July); South Africa (July); Tanzania and Kilimanjaro (June); Paris (June); Washington (April); Iceland (March).
So much has happened since I last wrote both at our College and in the world.
Recently, I had the fortune of spending time with four wonderful students who "volunteered" to take part in the Youth Speaks Competition. It was such a privilege to experience the development of an argument about role models; the thoughtful, sensitive way in which the group supported each other and the passion with which Sarah Magaharan delivered the argument. It was no surprise that Sarah’s speech won the day but the team effort was incredible. There is a great line from the writer Calvino,
"I speak and speak, but the listener retains only the words he is expecting. It is not the voice that commands the story: it is the ear."
As our group finished their presentation, one noisy adult behind me said,
"Wow! Who said young people don't care. Doesn't it give you hope for the future, Jay?"
Last week was 'Book Week’ and it was great to see evidence of reading, the book of Wyke, quotes and to hear famous lines. After all, as an educational establishment, we are nothing without books and the written word.
"The desire to have many books, and never to use them, is like a child that will have a candle by him all the while he is sleeping", Henry Peacham
"The pen is the tongue of the soul", Miguel de Servantes in Don Quixote.
Two weeks ago, some of our photography students won prizes and accolades for their outstanding work. I am hoping that their work will soon be displayed at our College so that we have the opportunity to 'enjoy' their creative endeavours.
Our boys' football team have progressed on to the national semi-finals (once again for the third year) and it is an incredible achievement for a College of our size. We are participating in a competition where most of the colleges are at least five times our size and we continue to "punch above our weight". I am immensely proud of our students, the manner in which they conducted themselves on the day and our outstanding coaching staff. I will certainly be attending the semi-finals in Crewe and hope that we can progress on to the finals. I have always maintained that when one achieves or reaches a certain level on merit, there is no stopping them. This applies in all walks of life: academia, music, drama, sport…… It is crucial that you believe in yourself and the evidence is in your success, whether it is being accepted at the top universities, on the most prestigious courses or in a competitive environment on a national platform.
On Friday, our dancers will travel to Liverpool to take part in the National Dance Competition Finals. I wish them luck because it is an honour to compete at a national level against some of the best dancers in the country. It is certainly something that you will never forget and at a level that we have never achieved at our College.
On Wednesday I went to the first night of our College production, Your House, and loved every minute of it. As always, the team of staff and students decided to push the boundary. The live music was performed in the atrium and digitally transmitted into the theatre and to the cast. Clearly, the acting, singing and music had to be synchronised. What a difficult challenge to set ourselves but the outcome was truly amazing. Well done to all of the cast, the musicians and the staff.
As we approach the examination period and that time of year when judgements are made, I am really convinced that you should be true to yourself:
"Above all, do not appear to others what you are not". Robert E Lee
Hold your counsel and be focused on the next stage:
"A bore is a man who, when you ask how he is, he tells you," Bert Leston Taylor
Take control of your life and do not expect others to make things happen for you:
"The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is right. You have to make it fall,"
The world is a more uncertain place at the moment with the changes at national and international level. However, I believe that truth, like quality, always rises to the fore.
"Do nothing secretly; for Time sees and hears all things and discloses all," Sophocles
Finally, I will leave you with one of my favourite quotations from an English "convict", imprisoned for hunting and poaching:
"The Law locks up the man who steals the goose from the common, but leaves the greater villain loose who steals the common from the goose".