The last day of term

rose gardenHere we are, on the last day of term. I’m sure most of us are looking forward to the holiday, to a break: a change of scenery and a change of rhythm. Some of us will travel far, others will stay closer to home. However, all of us, at least hopefully, will make it out of Marlborough. And, I also suspect that for most of us, the rhythm of the days and weeks will change for these two months: no check-in, Studies or prep. No assemblies, Chapel or fixtures.

And of course, although you may take some friends with you, it is also a break from those you see every day, whether that’s people you like or those whom you find slightly more challenging. The summer gives us an opportunity for a change of scenery, a change of rhythm, and a change of company.

What is great about this change, is that it gives us an opportunity to bring the past year into perspective. Suddenly, the things that seemed so important, like winning or losing the House Tug-of-War, seem far more trivial. The little things that have started to annoy you, don’t seem so important any longer. And maybe of other things you have learnt or done, you suddenly see the value. A break like this is an opportunity to change perspective and to take stock. Just as every holiday destination will be different for each of us, so also that process of reflecting and taking stock will be different for each of us, just as its outcome. However, I’d like to suggest some themes that may be common for all of us.

The first one is that, we begin to realise how much we have learnt and changed. You only have to look at your Firefly photo to realise this, but it is not just about your appearance, in many other aspects you have changed as well. Last weekend, lots of you in the Remove went on the D of E expedition. I’m sure that now your blisters are slowly going, you look back not only with fondness, but also with a bit of pride to what you have achieved. The same is true for Shell OA week. Who would have thought you could walk for two days in the rain, without your phone and without Love Island?

The second thing you notice it that there have been a lot of things to celebrate over the last year. Personal achievements, but as the Master already mentioned yesterday, also the achievements of others. You may not have been in the first cricket, rugby or hockey team, but you have been able to support those who were. That is a reason to celebrate in itself: that you have been a friend to those around you.

Friendships are not always straightforward, but they can be compared to a winding path. We all know that, we fall out with people at times, and it is not always easy. Just as has been true for the year itself, I suspect. However, we also know that this journey of friendship, of life, shows some undiscovered beauties, which you will only discover if you dare and trust to take the journey.

That brings me to the last point I’d like to mention, as a suggestion to reflect on yourselves over this summer. It is how your ability to persevere, to walk that journey of life has grown. If nothing else, I think it is that which Marlborough College gives you: an ability to get on in life, to get on with people and to challenge yourselves no matter in which situation you find yourselves.

Last week, I went on a sailing trip, spending a week with a skipper and four pupils on a yacht. Apart from the lovely scenery, the enjoyment of sailing and swimming, what struck me most was the ability of the pupils to enjoy themselves, to get on with whatever was necessary, and most of all, to get on with each other. You only have to look at the newspapers to realise that getting on with each other is not a given.

So, some things to think about over the summer. Celebrate what you have achieved, but also what you have helped others to achieve. Realise how much you have grown and learnt, and celebrate that too. Look for some challenges, and maybe above all, have a lovely summer, rest and relax, and I am looking forward to seeing you back in September.

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