Today I’ll stand at the front of Year 11, at the end of their Leavers’ Mass, for most probably the final time. The final time for them as Year 11, the final time for me as the Headteacher.
From September I will assume my Executive Headteacher role fully with Simon Eccles becoming the new Headteacher at St. Mary’s Catholic College (or Academy as we might be by then). The song I will play hasn’t changed in the past fourteen years, Eva Cassidy’s “Fields of Gold”, and nor has what I say.
“You’ll remember me when the west wind moves among the fields of barley.
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky when we walked in fields of gold.”
Eva Cassidy remembers her old loves and relationships that she had during her short life. Sadly, she died in her early 30’s of cancer. As she looks back it is the people that she remembers.
Ours is a God of Relationships, Father, Son & Spirit, and it is through enriching relationships that we grow. We are called to be “fully alive and fully human” and to “live life to the full”. These are the “Fields of Gold” which Eva Cassidy sings about
Long after you have forgotten the Periodic Table, Pythagoras’ Theory and possibly whether the apostrophe goes before or after the “s” you will remember the people. The friends, teachers and staff who have walked with you at St. Mary’s.
You’ll remember the times that you laughed, the times you cried and the times of discovery and learning. In particular you’ll remember the people who you shared those moments with you.
I will always remember John Pinnington, he was my Biology Teacher & Head of Sixth Form. He was a fantastic teacher and regularly took a group of us to Waterloo RUFC to play in the rugby teams. Occasionally I had the honour of playing alongside him but he was a very good rugby player and so was usually in a higher team. He took us on a Sixth Form Biology fieldtrip getting anyone who was willing up at 6:30 a.m. for a morning run before breakfast. I thought he was great. When we had a new Biology teacher join the school he quietly took me to one side and explained his expectation that I would help ensure everyone in the class focussed on their work and there was no messing about. I was a leader then even if I didn’t always lead in the right direction. I can’t remember all the content of the Biology lessons but I remember the man, the way he treated people with great dignity, his sense of fun, fairness and good order and the values he lived out.
I met him many years later, as a Headteacher, of a wonderful school in Norwich.
As well as the people you’ll also remember special times and different days. The retreat to Castlerigg; Year 10 Industry Day when your created costumes from junk; Sports Day with its victories and losses and in a few weeks’ time the Year 11 Prom.
In this quiet time at Communion let us pause, remember and pray for the friends who walked with you through your time at St. Mary’s. Some of these may have journeyed with you from primary school and many will continue on the journey with you into Sixth Form. Let us also remember and pray for the staff who have taught you, the staff who have cared for you and the staff whose work supports our educational mission.
As you go onto the next stage of life’s journey remember the many talents you have, you are talented beyond your imagination. You are called to use these talents in the service of the Master, it is when you give of yourself to others that you truly give. Our World is one where we too often find broken and damaged communities and people. It needs to know that God exists and you are that living proof of hope and charity.
I pray that your faith will grow, enrich and support you both through the stormy waters and on the sun drenched beaches of life
I believe you are skilled, blessed and powerful beyond your own imaginings, and
I hope that you will walk with special people, in blessed relationships and in Fields of Gold your whole life through.
Thank you for what you have given to St.Mary’s.
It’s been a pleasure walking with you, God Bless.
If you’re looking for a final speech to urge Year 11 or Sixth Form on in this examination season, Futures Day: What Advic Would You Give Your 15 year old Self