Headmistress's Views - 26th May 2017
This week, our thoughts and prayers have been with those affected by the Manchester bombings – those who have died, the bereaved, and all who are working so hard to respond to this tragedy.
There has been some anxiety amongst the girls about the increased police presence in our local vicinity, which has been particularly noticeable given the large numbers of people attending the Chelsea Flower Show. We have been reassuring the girls as much as possible during this distressing time.
One of my messages to the girls in assembly came from a letter written by a blogger to her baby following the attack:
Dear Baby Boy,
The news this morning about a terrorist attack in Manchester is breaking my heart. For the victims. For their families. For you. For you, your friends, and your generation.
I fear that these incidents are only going to happen more and more as you get older and it makes me so sick to think I cannot protect you from the barbaric individuals who do things like this.
As you grow up, you may think that it makes more sense and is safer to just 'stay in and not do anything'. As your mother, who loves you so much it hurts, I have this message for you.
'Do not do that. Go out... and do EVERYTHING.'
Do everything you want to do.
Go everywhere you want to go.
See everyone you want to see.
Go to that party at the club, go to school and university, go travelling and get on that plane, ride on the underground and go to that sports match, go on that holiday and see those sights, go to that shopping centre, go to that concert, go see that movie, go eat at that restaurant...
And you may think that is a strange thing for me to want you to do.
But my reason is this:
All your life, my job... is to protect you. Protect you from monsters. Most of those monsters, I can keep away from you, scare off, reassure you have gone away and won't come back.
But not these monsters. These monsters do horrible things all over the world. These monsters I cannot always protect you from.
And as a parent, that is the hardest thing in the world for me to come to terms with and admit to you.
But if I cannot fight these monsters for you, I'm sure as hell gonna teach you how to do that yourself.
By. Just. Living. Your. Life.
They don't want you to do that.
They don't win if you do that.
So do it.
Never be afraid to enjoy yourself and live your life to the fullest.
I cannot guarantee that one day, you may not come face to face with their horrors and destruction. I cannot guarantee that you may not know someone who is killed in a terrorism related incident, or God forbid, are hurt yourself in their bid to injure and kill people.
But remember this-
They cannot kill strength.
They cannot kill determination.
They cannot kill love.
And your generation are going to be the strongest yet. You are going to be the most determined to beat this.
And you are going to have the most love to give, because we will teach you that you mustn't be afraid of these monsters. No matter how scary they seem.
Remember that in every story, there are goodies and baddies?
Look for the goodies, my darling.
Look at those who, like last night's attack in Manchester, are helping others.
Look for the doctors, the nurses, paramedics, hospital staff, police, emergency services who are at the scene and working to save and protect people.
Look for the hotel staff, taxi drivers, bus drivers... all offering to help at no cost.
Look for the passers by who are looking after each other and hugging strangers.
Look for the parents and families who have lost their children to this tragedy, speaking out to show solidarity and unity instead of hatred and revenge.
Look for the strength.
I will not always be there to protect you from the cowards in this world who prey on the innocent and defenceless, but I will teach you to find reassurance in the courage, hope, and bravery you see.
I will teach you to be brave yourself.
We will teach you, our children, not to be afraid and to live harder, happier, and stronger than any of us ever did.
We will hold your hands and lead you through all of this.
We will show you the heroes always beat the villains.
What wonderful words that I’m sure many of us would like to echo to our own children.
Our Cup of Tea
It was wonderful to see Mr Carroll, Miss Wijay, and a group of our Year 10 girls volunteering at the St Egidio's "Our Cup of Tea" event in Kensington last Saturday. It was an event to help the elderly who live alone or have found themselves homeless.
The girls were there to set up the church hall at midday and left after cleaning up at 8 PM! They were a massive credit to the school throughout the day – from beginning to end they worked hard and showed initiative, while displaying a wonderfully positive attitude.
To summarise: the girls cleaned bathrooms, swept and mopped floors, cleaned and set up tables, moved chairs, spent time speaking to the elderly guests, prepared food packages for the guests to take home, prepared flower arrangements for the tables, waitressed the five-course meal (for nine tables of around 60 guests), served tea and coffee, and helped tidy up the hall at the end.
They even went far beyond the call of duty: both Liv and Alysha asked if they could sing for the guests – Liv sang two songs and Alysha sang one song (as well as doing the official welcome at the start!). Manaal asked if she could help draw the raffle with the organiser, Emmanuela, on stage to mark the end of the evening. They formed a very entertaining double act!
Sarah took on the role of head waitress and kept everyone fed. Elena and Connie made the effort to speak to nearly every guest and went beyond just their own assigned tables to speak to guests in both rooms. Every girl stepped out of her comfort zone at one point and we were very proud to see Lizzie and Sara being the first to go over and sit down to chat with some of the elderly guests.
Congratulations to the following girls for being offered MENSA membership:
Jodie, Yasmin, Kana, Emma C, Emma S, Amelie, and Paola. To be offered membership, one has to score 148 (average score is 100), which puts the girls in the top 2% or above – well done!
We had a fun-filled week of fixtures. On Monday, we hosted Queen’s College for the U12 and U13 rounders games. While we were waiting for the opposition, the U15 students took on leadership roles and helped coach the younger students. The U12s drew 6.5 - 6.5, which was a great improvement on their match the previous week. The U13s narrowly lost 9 - 7.5. On Tuesday, we hosted Francis Holland and saw some fantastic fielding from both teams. Wednesday saw the U14s in action against Francis Holland again, unfortunately, we narrowly lost by 2 rounders but it was a great game.
Finally, on Thursday, the U14s and U15s played Queen’s Gate in a back-to-back match. It was a fantastic afternoon of rounders on a beautiful day. In the first innings, the U14s scored 7.5 rounders and QG scored 8.5, then the U15s took to the field and won 5 - 4 meaning that overall the match was a tie at 12.5 all. What a game! Top batters were Liv Bertoni (2 rounders), Giulia Caramelli with an awesome hit between 1st and 2nd base, and Caroline Karp who launched the ball into the far distance. Honey Smith and Emma Bunting both did a sterling job at bowling. There were also some great catches taken in the field - Lizzie Aperghis caught out their best batter. Juliette Clarke and Gabby Withers worked exceptionally well together to get out 3 batters at 2nd base. Well done all!
The U13 cricket squad were back in action again this week. On Thursday, they hosted Queen’s College and played fantastically, demonstrating some excellent bowling and batting skills. Mr Robertson commented on the improvement in their fielding skills, which was great to see. Daphne Thorne was top scorer and Millie Constable was the top wicket taker with a total of 2 wickets for 4 runs.
Year 8 SPEC Retreat
On Tuesday, our final Year 8 group, 8T, made the trip to SPEC in Pinner to complete another spiritual retreat at the diocesan youth retreat centre. They worked with Ann, Alex, Mya, and Milan on fun games, biblical interpretation, prayer, and spiritual reflection. At the end of the day we spent some time in Eucharistic Adoration where Ann spoke to us of Catholic belief and how she reads Aristotle to help her understand what the Eucharist means.
The girls really enjoyed their day and were exceptionally well behaved and respectful. The team was extremely impressed with their enthusiasm, knowledge, and courage in asking difficult questions. We hope to go back in Year 10 for another retreat when the girls will undoubtedly have even more questions for the team at SPEC.
I hope that you have a restful half term whilst the girls fill their days revising! If you are in need of a day out, Mrs Hunt (History of Art) has put together a list of wonderful gallery visits to keep you busy.
Please be with those who have been injured and hurt by the recent terrorist attack in Manchester.
Please be close to the families and friends of those who have been killed or hurt.
Upsetting events, hurt and destruction in our world cause us to ask, ‘Why?’
We pray today that we have the courage to ask ourselves, ‘What next?’
We ask that you guide us with wisdom, compassion and tolerance to work for a world in which peace reigns.
Peace among nations, peace among people and peace within our own hearts and communities.
Give us the strength to choose practical actions and ways of thinking that help us to act in a loving way.
Help us to shun the path of fear, anger and aggression. Lead us towards love, hope and solidarity.