Year 12, rites of passage and the passing of time – looking ahead and looking behind
I am writing this looking out at reassuring calm and constancy of the CM Wood Performance Centre at the end of the final day of classes for Year 12 2016. At lunch today and in the final period, Year 12 students met with current and former teachers, some from the Junior Schools, to say thank you and farewell. We had the traditional signing of shirts and dresses (my apologies to Year 12 parents, but I just don’t think these will be being sold in the Uniform Shop!) and a moving range of emotions from students and staff.
Today is the Year 12 Fancy Dress Breakfast in the Anderson Centre, followed by the Year 12’s (informal) Assembly and then the whole-school Valedictory Service – it is a very, very significant day indeed for our Year 12 students, their parents and their teachers.
While this is certainly a time of some stress and anxiety, with examinations beginning next week for our Year 12 students, it is also a time of reflection and consideration. Over the last 6 or 7 school weeks, I have been fortunate to eat lunch with (almost) every Year 12 student. During these, the students have continually fascinated with their reflections on their time at the School.
Whether here for one year or for 14, our 2016 Valedictorians can certainly discern worth from smoke and mirrors and their observations have been pithy, humorous and packed with gratitude. They have cited many different things as ‘what I have valued most at Tintern’. Most frequently these were about gratitude to their parents, their teachers or to their friends. Gratitude to parents for making it possible for them to be sitting at our lunch, or for their unconditional support. Gratitude to staff for helping outside of class time, or when it was not convenient for the teacher and gratitude to their friends and peers for the mutual support and generosity of their year level.
Their expressions of gratitude revealed an outward-looking view, not self-focussed or narcissistic. A view that recognises the importance of, and the reliance all of us have on the generosity and good-will of others. This is a view that the father of Positive Psychology, Professor Martin Seligman, would say is the first step to a fulfilled life.
Having been a terrific group of leaders through this year, our 2016 Year 12 students are now an easy group to respect and admire as they turn heel and leave us for the final time.
Factis non verbis.