‘New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.’ Lao Zi
One of the awful things about last year’s summer term was the way that school rites of passage were discarded. How much all of us have hoped that this year would not be the same, and so it has been, we have had the Year 13 signing of shirts, muck up days (or the OHS Year 11 version which was a witty themed dress-up day bedecked with sunflowers and Ad Lucem in sparkling gems), the celebration of school days disguised as a wonderful festival for Year 13, mocktails for all as well as joyous celebrations – all poignant events when those who have supported, enabled and inspired your daughters say goodbye. Clapping Year 13s outside the front of Oxford High was heart warming as the staff gathered, socially distanced, of course, to celebrate their walk of joy away from us towards the school gates where so many of them had entered seven years ago, and on into the next chapter of their lives.
And so it will be. In September when the crisp autumnal winds start curling round the classrooms, the Year 13 leavers will be onto their next beginning and their new adventure wherever and whatever that may look like. It may be nailed down and planned or ethereal and changeable but it will be different – the baton will be passed to a new year, and so the seasons change.
It is now that we also have to say goodbye to some of our brilliant, committed, and dedicated staff who have made OHS their own during their time here. Our heartfelt thanks go to them for their service to our school and for the legacy of their many and varied contributions which have so greatly enriched and enabled their students. And a warm welcome to those who are stepping through these doors for the first time to inspire and empower a new generation of OHS pupils.
Strange how brutal this process can feel. No sooner do we say goodbye to Year 11s and 13s, then the following Monday we greeted a new cohort of Year 6s who were eager to come in through the school gates in their turn and make their own marks, raise their voices and unleash their opinions and views on our unsuspecting world. Their ending, their farewells to the early years as they leave Year 6 to start their journey as young women discovering the joy of limitless learning, is also a beginning. This will be the time when they will become aware of a wider world and discover their passions, and so another beginning unfurls.
These have been difficult, strange times when our normal world, like a mirror has been shattered. There are shards where we can still recognise ourselves but the total picture is distorted and fractured – painful endings indeed. Now, however, as we welcomed our new pupils this coming week, and our joining staff and parents after, we will take another step towards the restoration of our school community, creating a clear glass which will reflect an Oxford High School that we recognise and yet see differently – the same, yet launched anew.
I wish you a restful summer with your daughters and look forward to the diurnal round beginning once more in September.
“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” T S Eliot