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SPEECH FOR PARENTS DAY

Hint-After saying hello and welcoming them mention how pleased the students are to be able to
share aspects of their school work and classroom. Also say thank you on behalf of the other
students for taking the time to come and also thanks for all the support they give you at home.
Then finish with saying you hope they enjoy the day.

Miss Ashleigh Ball, Reverend Fathers, Trustees, distinguished guests, parents and
pupils, good afternoon. Welcome to our Speech Day.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our guest speaker Miss Ashleigh
Ball for agreeing to be with us today. What better motivation and inspiration can there
be than to have a former student of the school address us. I know that so many of the
school community followed her progress avidly in the 2012 Olympics, and those
fortunate enough to have tickets, shouted loudly their support in the crowd and those
at home, probably screamed at their televisions! Therefore, it is a particular delight to
welcome Ashleigh back to St Edwards, thank you. It is indeed our pleasure to have all
of you with us today.
I would like to think that over the last term, I have been able to convey to the staff
here and to the students (and to parents also) something of my educational
philosophy; what I believe is important for a school and my expectations and
emphasis. I realise that there has probably been much talk in the staff common room
about my speech today. Sadly though, I suspect not about its content, but more about
its length! We have to bear in mind that, even after a term, to an extent, I am still an
unknown quantity when it comes to length of speeches!
I have had a number of subtle questions asked of me by staff over the last few weeks;
Hows the speech writing coming on?
To which I have answered, Havent started yet!
Oh! Some years its been really long you know.........and its rained to which I
reply,
Oh! ............ then, they say Mind you, children get fidgety, they cant sit for too
long.
True I respond.
In exasperation or is it desperation; finally out it comes, The staff will have a book
running on how long your speech is, you know!
Gosh ........and so it goes on.

Well that preamble was really there to add a little interest to the book, because
stopwatches you need to start ..........in a moment!
I have to say that it is my absolute pleasure and an honour to be standing here and
giving an overview of the many achievements of St Edwards over the course of this
academic year. At the same time, I feel privileged, because I am the person who has
the opportunity to report on this, but have joined the journey for the last leg and can
take no credit for delivering a winning team.
My greatest fear is that I may have overlooked a highlight and the only excuse I can
use is to say, sorry, I am new, but faced with an almost impossible task of reviewing
the highlights of the year and keeping my address short, to prevent the children from
fidgeting, I will do my very best to do justice to all areas of school and along the way;
convey a little more of what we feel is important and look forward to some plans for
the next academic year. I have decided not to use PowerPoint, but hope you have
enjoyed looking at the slides which capture much of what I will be saying.
So a good place to start is to say that I believe a school should be all about the pupils
and their learning and that the teaching just supports this. So what influences
learning?
It is all about developing the right attitude to strive to do your best which as you will
know is our school motto Quantum potes aude. How do we achieve that at St
Edwards? Well, in a school where groupings are deliberately small, no child can
become lost or overlooked; our pupils are given time and attention.
We remind students that they are individuals; each has special gifts and talents unique
to them. We want our pupils to recognise their worth and that of others in our
community. We seek to provide a wealth of opportunities and experiences for our
students with teachers who are always encouraging and committed to getting the best
from the students. Efforts are rewarded.
Examination results at GCSE and A Level in 2012 yielded very good positive Value
Added; at GCSE, students again achieved higher grades than would have been
expected according to standardised baseline assessments.
Our Value Added score for all qualifications at A Level indicated that performance
can be attributed, with confidence, to the teaching and learning process and placed St
Edwards School in the top 10% of the national cohort of Schools according to the
CEM Centre based at Durham University. That is excellent. On your behalf, I would
like to thank all of the teachers for their contribution to this achievement.

Learning is linked to motivation and effort. Our students are reminded that what is
most important is that they strive to do their personal best in everything. It shouldnt
matter what others are doing or achieving, its about them. Are they doing the very
best that they can do? It is here that St Edwards excels in meeting the needs of the
individual.
We support our most able students and there are some notable successes of which we
are particularly proud; Jacqui Urens excellent achievement in receiving an offer from
St Hughs Oxford to read French and Spanish and Hannah and Tabitha Noble who
have both been accepted to Brigham Young University, a prestigious university in
America with Scholarships, Hannah one year early to read Mathematics and Tabitha
to major in Illustration.
Whilst all three have done exceptionally well in very competitive circumstances, we
have to pass on thanks to their teachers who have supported them in their study and
preparation.
Of course we are equally very proud also of all our Year 13 students who are either
heading to university or to some other purposeful activity; a number of them are
currently holding offers from Russell Group universities. What a lovely group of
students we have in Year 13; they have enriched St Edwards so much as leaders of
our school community. They provide the motivation for us, as teachers; and how
easily we can see in Year 13, many of the characteristics that we wish to see manifest
in our younger pupil before we launch them into the outside world. We wish our Year
13 every success in the future.
Learning is influenced by a clear sense of purpose, whether within the routine of
lessons or on the many trips and visits which take learning outside of the classroom;
and there have been many such trips and visits that have extended the learning
environment, too many to mention, but students have benefited hugely.
The Art Department has had a very successful and productive year with some
exceptional work created in coursework and examination submissions. Trips,
including for example, a visit to the refurbished Ashmolean Museum and the Natural
History Museum; all provided students with a valuable bank of photographs,
drawings, art history and contextual material as starting points for their coursework.
Students have been immersed in awe inspiring landscape studies on the St Briavels
trip, where Year 10 stayed in a real medieval castle, which set the backdrop for
practical art sessions in Tintern Abbey, Chepstow Castle, and other locations in the
Royal Forest of Dean.

The Textiles department were inspired by a trip to the Knitting and Stitching show at
the Alexandra Palace, which provided many new ideas and unusual approaches to this
discipline, from stitching in car doors, to using mouse skulls in embroidery.
The learning experience has been complemented with a large number of excellent
theatre trips this year provided by the English and Drama Departments enabling
students to experience a wide range of performances, such as The 39 Steps, and The
Woman in Black, which provided much to inspire and influence the students own
work. And in English: performances, from the sublime of Richard III at the Globe
theatre (for Sixth Form) to the deliberately ridiculous of the Royal Shakespeare
Companys Christmas show as a treat for Year 7.
For a relatively small community, we are incredibly ambitious; with opportunities
linked to all subject areas. As well as visits, s tudents have attended lectures delivered
by university experts on topics such as Ancient Women, and Virgils Aeneid as part
of Gloucestershire Classical Association.
Talks on a Classical theme were also enjoyed by the department at this years
Cheltenham Literature Festival. Some of our Gifted and Talented students attended a
conference in Oxford, where they heard lectures on such diverse topics as Does a
snail have consciousness? and Hendrix meets Einstein: rock in 11 dimensions. In
April, Year 10 mathematicians attended a day of lectures at Gloucestershire
University to encourage a further study of Mathematics. The Year 12 Physicists
visited Cardiff University for the annual Sixth Form Physics conference subjects
included Dark Matter, magnetism, Higgs Boson and the history of the universe.
Learning is effective when students are interested. In b ringing learning to life and
seeing subjects in context, we have experienced a visit from a Roman Soldier; a
cooking task for Year 7 to prepare a typical Roman menu (I didnt realise how much I
liked dates until then!). Year 11 students heard presentations at the Maths Inspiration
Show about the Maths behind the bouncing bomb used by the Dambusters in the
Second World War. The Maths behind gambling and juggling were considered too!
Purely to show an application of Mathematics, I have been assured!! Year 12
Psychologists used a practical approach to learning when students conducted
experiments to test whether males are better at jigsaw puzzles than females (they
werent) and designed questionnaires to test levels of obedience. I would be interested
to see the results to that one, too!
Learning modern languages is made more enjoyable by being immersed in the culture
of the country. Valencia was the destination for the GCSE and A Level students in the
autumn half term. A group took part in the German exchange, staying with host
families and experiencing life as a German teenager in Berlin. The Barcelona trip for

the lower school finally went in July after bad weather prevented its departure at
Easter. In October, Years 8 and 9 pupils went to Italy on a Geography trip.
A hands-on approach to learning for the Year 12 Biologists improved their
understanding of ecology by field-based tuition during a Residential Field Course to
Devon. GCSE Geographers experienced field days around Gloucester Quays and the
Cathedral, collecting data for a study on Tourism and the changing urban
environment. Year 9 Geographers carried out a study of the tourist opportunities at
Cheddar Gorge and presented their findings and suggestions to their peers and in front
of visiting judges from Cheddar Gorge.
We love competitions; and we are successful. In the spring term the Junior Latin
Reading Competition, for Years 8 and 9, helped to bring the language to life. Ryan
McAlary and Eleanor Findlay represented the school in the Gloucestershire final and
came third in what was a very strong field.
Sixty one students in Years 9 and 10 entered a national Biology Challenge involving
31,000 students from 538 schools. The results were impressive with students in Year
10 winning Gold, Silver and Bronze awards.
The Mathematics Department entered t he Regional Final of the Junior Team
Challenge in which our team, competing against 30 other schools, had their efforts
rewarded by being placed 5 th overall in the competition, our best ever result!
Similarly impressive achievement from students as part of the UK Maths challenges;
in particular, Chris Uren in Year 9 was awarded a certificate of Merit for his efforts by
securing a superb result, placing him in the top 2% of entrants. Tom Ford in Year 8
also qualified for the Junior Maths Olympiad following his outstanding score in the
Challenge round.
Experiences and opportunities have been available in all Year groups. The History
Department took Year 7 to Goodrich Castle. Year 8 visited Harvington Hall to admire
the ingenuity of Nicholas Owen, who designed and constructed the priests hiding
places in the house in the late 16th century, to be a Catholic priest in England was
high treason. Perhaps we should build one here to capture Fr Basil and prevent his
departure?
We have witnessed many great learning opportunities with our ambitious school
productions. The Drama Department began the year with the Lower School
Production in November - The Roses of Eyam. With our thanks to Fr. Basil who
directed the production. This historical drama had a cast of forty-six Key Stage 3
students who produced a performance of incredible maturity.

In February, the Upper School production of Shakespeares Macbeth was directed by


Mr. Strachan. A cast and crew of over fifty Key Stage 4 & 5 students combined to
produce assured and energetically engaging performances.
The English Department too, initiated a fully staged-production of one of the A Level
set texts. Where learning by doing was the key driver. Every Sixth Form English
student was involved in the production of The White Devil; turning the Drama Studio
into a dysfunctional Machiavellian world for two nights in November.
I must thank the Stage Crew under the leadership of Mike Robson (Lower VIth) for
an excellent service to the school through productions and numerous assemblies and
other events.
We want our pupils to love learning. Developing a love of language and reading is an
integral part. To celebrate World Book Day, we held our first House LitQuiz, with an
added dimension of dressing up as characters from books to support the charity Book
Aid International.
This year we launched a Reading Challenge for Years 7, 8 and 9 to encourage a wider
range of reading materials, which has been successful. The Carnegie Shadowing
Group saw nine students from Years 7 to 10 enjoying reading and reviewing the
shortlist for the 2013 Carnegie book award.
Our wide ranging extra-curricular activities programme continues to thrive with good
participation at all ages. The Environmental Science club entered 12 students for the
GCSE this summer and the Year 7 Globetrotters Club made connections worldwide
and flat Stanley has been seen in schools in Alaska, Thailand and Malawi!
Music making continues to flourish. This year marking the 25 th Anniversary of the
School, there was a special Mass in Tewkesbury Abbey on St Edwards Day. A
wonderful celebration for the school; with music for the Mass written especially by
Mr Bryant and Mrs Taylor. Tewkesbury Abbey was also the setting for the School
Carol Service in which the choirs led our annual celebration of carols and readings.
The year has been punctuated with a number of other quality musical events Our
Chamber Choir was invited to perform again alongside some of Cheltenhams finest
musicians in the Joy of Christmas concert in the town hall.
Over 90 pupils involved in the choirs, orchestra, concert band, brass group, percussion
ensemble, wind ensemble and guitar group performed in the annual Pump Room
concert to showcase the work of the department and also the solo talent of Dan Lewis
and Oli Pickering; superb guitarists from Year 13. More recently, the Chamber Choir

with the choir from the Junior School performed Karl Jenkins Requiem at Clifton
Cathedral in The Big Sing as part of its 40 th anniversary celebrations. A magical
experience to hear such beautiful choral singing and witness our children from Year 3
to Year 13 from the two Schools perform in front of a live orchestra. It was so
incredibly moving.
At School we are learning all of the time and it is great fun; have I convinced you yet?
Is it any wonder that St Edwards is such a happy place? We believe that children will
learn best when they are happy and feel safe. Our community is very important to us
and one of the great ways of building community is through the House system. The
imagination shown by teachers in thinking up ideas for competitions is staggering;
varied in their approach, they have united the school community, sparked the
creativity and the initiative of our pupils; as seen for example in the recent Mousetrap
cars event, where pupils built a car using a mousetrap as the power source and raced
them at assembly. The Science, Tech and Mathematics Quiz which saw about a third
of the school and many staff fight it out. Competition was fierce for the prizes of the
coveted glow in the dark rubber ducks.
Learning is influenced by getting students to take responsibility and so we develop
their leadership skills. We are educating our young people to be leaders in society, in
their communities, in whatever capacity. Part of being a good leader is the ability to
communicate effectively and with confidence in public. The English Department
continues to advocate the benefits of debating by fielding teams in competitions both
local and national. We have achieved notable successes in the English Speaking
Union Public Speaking Competition in which our Year 10 team progressed to the
Branch Final in February, and then narrowly missed first place by 1 mark! The girls
eventually emerged triumphant winning the Cheltenham Professional and Business
Womens Cup when they competed at the Cheltenham Festival of Performing Arts.
In Private Speech and Drama classes, during the year, thirty five students entered
forty-two LAMDA examinations including achieving seventeen passes with
Distinction, Seventeen with Merit.
Leadership skills have been honed through t he Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
This year, 36 new participants in Year 9 joined the existing 75 pupils registered from
Year 10 and above working at Bronze, Silver and Gold levels. A sense of
responsibility and organisational skills are instilled as the participants take ownership
of their activities in each of the sections: Our thanks to Karl Hayter, Dave Ruck, Grant
McIntosh, Jenny Mayes and external assessors who assist in this.
Students have certainly been given many opportunities to develop their leadership
skills and self-awareness within our very active CCF under the leadership of Flight Lt

Ruck with his staff officers Captain Hayter, Captain Lythgoe and student NCOs in
support.
Last Summer, 30 cadets and 5 members of staff went on camp to Barry Buddon in
Dundee facing a wide range of activities, including a 36 hour exercise and live firing
on a variety of weapon systems. The trust instilled in the cadets is vital and everyone
worked hard and enjoyed themselves immensely. Their efforts were rewarded as the
Contingent were Awarded a Silver Salver for participation, dedication and spirit
throughout the week. During the year, the CCF had a very successful Biennial
Inspection, a Ski trip to the Tyrol region, Flying and Gliding opportunities.
F acing the challenge of military skills, navigation, skill at arms, first aid and
leadership all with very little sleep (which seems almost a pre-requisite) - were a
team of ten cadets from Year 11 to 13 who took part in the Cadet Cambrian Patrol
Competition which the School entered for the first time; it was a long and arduous
weekend, but they rose to the challenge. The CCF continues to go from strength to
strength with a healthy number of cadets. In the Autumn term the ranks swelled as 18
new Year 9 cadets started and 16 Year 11 cadets began the Method of Instruction
Cadre, learning how to become the next instructors. The joy of seeing cadets engaged
in activities and talking about them is immense; they simply love it!
Another key area of enjoyment and much success is in the variety of sporting
achievement. St Edwards continues to punch well above its weight for a small school
competing in a large sporting arena. An amazing total of forty five pupils have
represented the County or above in sports as diverse as Athletics and Archery; Power
Lifting and Squash; Equestrian, Cycling and Water Polo as well as in the major sports
of Cricket, Hockey, Rugby, Swimming and Tennis.
Our sports teams are District Rounders Champions at U12 and U13, District Hockey
Champions at U12 and U13, National ISA Hockey Champions at U15 and Runners
Up at U13 and U14. We are Tri-Schools Winners at Golf, and our most recent
outstanding Golfing achievement to date, which we won only on Wednesday, is that
St Edwards are now the National English Schools Golf Team Champions, thanks to
Luis Arteaga, Tom Hage and Alex Robinson! Well done to them and to Mr Bate!
We are ISA National U18 Rugby 7s Runners Up as well as Shield Winners at
Kingham Hill and Quarter Finalist at Sibford. Indeed, St Edwards is developing an
enviable reputation beyond our region for hosting well-organised National ISA
sporting events in both Hockey and Rugby with a new National Tri-Athlon
competition soon to join them.

Our teams have been on tour representing the school in Rounders and Netball for the
Junior girls, with the boys heading off on their tour in Football and Rugby in
February. Our pupils and families have hosted visiting Cricket and Hockey teams
from Australia and our own Senior teams enjoyed a truly memorable experience when
they were on tour in South Africa last summer. Sport is enjoyed at many levels at St
Edwards and we are indebted to all those pupils who have competed for their House,
the School, the District, the County and beyond. Congratulations to the PE
Department, to the other teachers and coaches who help out, of course to the students
and also to the many parents who come along to support. I do hope this impetus of
success can be carried through to next school year.
The School has certainly gained momentum throughout the year culminating in what
has certainly been a great year with much to celebrate. Before we look forward to the
next academic year, we say farewell to a few members of staff. Covering maternity
leave for Mrs Pozzi in English we thank Mr Linney and Mrs Robbins, Mrs Green for
covering during Mrs Joness maternity leave in Languages.
Providing additional teaching, Mrs Holdaway from Mathematics and Mr QuibellSmith from Individual Learning. We also say good bye to Mrs Walker, Head of
Individual Learning, who is moving, to a School closer to home. Fr Basil, our
Chaplain who is leaving after six years and is taking a sabbatical, during which he will
embark on the Medieval Pilgrim route to Santiago De Compostela, walking over 1400
kilometres which he will hope to complete in about 10 weeks beginning in September,
the trade mark sandals forming part of his kit, no doubt! Mrs Wright, Head of
Psychology who introduced this now well-established subject to the school, who is
retiring (early, of course), we wish her well in the future. Lastly Miss Godwin who is
also taking early retirement having been at St Edwards for over 34 years as a teacher
and a pupil of Charlton Park before that! During this time she has been Head of Girls
PE and also been a member of the Mathematics Department. Miss Godwin we thank
you for your service to St Edwards and wish you a happy retirement.
This school values its traditions, but we are not afraid of change and learning can be
very much stimulated by well-managed change. Even Mr Scarborough, after many
years teaching 17th century English History, is leaping forward and adopting 20th
century Britain as his new course topic at A Level. He says he will miss King Charles
I and the Puritans, but is looking forward to getting to grips with the giants of modern
British History like Winston Churchill and Mrs Thatcher!
However, I do not believe in change for changes sake. Of course there will be change,
I think the phrase is evolution rather than revolution, because you have to protect what
is good and there is plenty that is good about this School. The School has had to get

used to having a Headmistress as opposed to a Headmaster, and that has been quite
entertaining, as there are still some who call me Headmaster!
St Edwards has a big heart and the importance of helping others is stressed. Not only
do we punch above our weight in the sporting arena, we have high aspirations in terms
of the experiences and opportunities available to our students. This summer, we have
22 students travelling to Borneo for a month to take part in volunteer community work
as well as having the opportunity to explore a beautiful part of our world.
Next Easter we shall be returning to the battlefields of Flanders and France dating
from the First World War. There will be the CCF Ski trip, a trip to Rome run by
Classics and RE Departments; the Geography Department will return to Iceland in
October, and the Languages Department will be off to France and there will be
residential trips within this country all to enrich the landscape of 2013-2014.
We will continue our preparations for the ambitious Multi Sports tour to Dubai in
October 2014 which has generated such enthusiasm. We are hugely excited about our
Musical production of the Wizard of Oz in the early part of the Spring term for which
casting has already started. There is so much to look forward to.
Over the coming academic year, we will continue our collaboration with the Junior
School. We want to build on the success that Mr Lythgoe has had working with the
Junior School on the Green Goblin electric car project and involve Senior School
students in working with the younger children to build and race a new car next year.
Our Scholars will have opportunities to extend and share their talents and expertise to
the benefit of our School community. We want continue to cultivate a love of learning
as students journey through St Edwards.
We will continue to move forward and to look out with pride rather than looking in
with too much introspection. Pupils have achieved so much this year and rightly you,
as parents and we as teachers, should be congratulating them all on the commitment
and tenacity they have shown and the progress they have made.
It has been a great year and it is a joint effort. Thank you to the Trustees who give
their time freely. To my predecessor, Paul Harvey, the Senior Management Team who
have been superb in supporting me over the last term in particular and who have
provided loyal support to Mr Harvey. Our Bursar, Bob OHara and Stuart Jeal and the
fantastic support staff, administration and housekeeping; to Richard Norris who keeps
the grounds looking stunning. Tony Berry and the catering team who provide a superb
service with their delicious menus and healthy portions to sustain us during our very
busy days.

My thanks to Philippa Gammond, my PA who has basically sorted me out! For all of
these people, nothing is ever too much trouble. To John Lewis and Pat Hemming who
have done so much of the organisation for todays event and the team who have
supported them.
To my husband for his patience and understanding, and for taking on most, if not all,
of the domestic chores (I wonder how long I can keep that going!) To our PTA, under
the chairmanship of Mr Weaver, who willingly give their time in supporting school
functions, arranging social events as well as fundraising opportunities from which all
of the students benefit and another parent, Mrs Dowie for looking after the secondhand uniform shop. Please do continue to support them in their roles. To you, parents
for entrusting your children to us and for your support of the School.
I cannot believe that in reviewing the highlights of the year, I havent mentioned
Morfa Bay! In all my years of teaching, I have never known a School trip be held in
such affectionate terms as this one. It is not just the activities; I think students really
enjoy discovering who they are and learning what it means to belong to St Edwards
School; this special community. The friendships formed with the Sixth Form who
attend are sustained beyond the week and you know its got to be special, when you
cant tell who is more excited, the Sixth Form helpers or the new Year 7s. How lovely
is that?
I am conscious of time and someone said to me the other day, Pat you have to keep
remembering that when you stop speaking, people can go on holiday for 8 weeks!
So I wont delay your holidays much more other than to say:
This school is all about learning and setting the foundations for the future. It is the
responsibility of us all, and certainly of a good School, to introduce children to a
range of possibilities so that their minds are open and receptive to learning. And at St
Edwards we certainly do that!
`

Welcome to you all. I think that most of you know me, but for those of you
who do not, I am Dominic Randolph, the Head of School. I am appreciative
of working here with great colleagues, marvelous students and wonderful
families. I wish you all the best for this new school year.
As I got to know Riverdale during my first year here, I came to understand

what a strong school community we are, but felt that we needed to be


clearer where we stand on things. As we have moved forward with a strategic
thinking process, we have also come to clarify what we stand for as an
intellectual community. I would like to share some of those ideas and
principles with you in a different way than I might have in the past. I will
start that by reading a poem sent to me by a former student of mine, Hovig
Vartan, who remembered my love of Ozymandias a poem by Shelley, and
sent along this poem by Geoffrey Brock that refers to the Shelley poem.
1st Day of School

I was a math majorfond of all things rational.


It was the first day of my first poetry class.
The prof, with the air of a priest at latin mass,
told us that we could make great poetry personal,
could own it, since poetry we memorize sings
inside us always. By way of illustration
he began reciting Shelley with real passion,
but stopped at Ozymandias, king of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!because, with that last plosive, his top denture
popped from his mouth and bounced of an empty chair.
He blinked, then offered, as a postscript to his lecture,
a promise so splendid it made me give up math:
More thingth like that will happen in thith class.
Copyright The Poetry Foundation

Learning is fun; it is remarkable; it is extraordinary, as the poem recounts. I


hope that as you follow your sons and daughters through this year that you
will find yourself learning with themand that they, in the routine of life

that we all lead, find the magnificent wonder of learning something deeply. I
was sitting with some 9th graders at lunch yesterday and we were so happy
to be learning the name of world capitals, of Antananarivo and Ulan Bator.
They were happy, laughing and learning. We believe that learning should be
challenging but fun and engaging.

The delivery of lessons is important but what is in the lesson is also so


important. Thus, we also put a premium on trying to develop minds and believe that young
people have to work at becoming better thinkers, they need to learn to think for

As we know from cognitive science, good thinking is developed by


deliberative practice in different domainsstudents have to become
scientists, historians, mathematicians and literary critics. You become better
at thinking by doing more of it with good rich content. Our teachers know
their disciplines and know how to inspire good thinking. This means that, as
Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker and CNN told our High School students on
Wednesday, they need to be educated media consumers. What he meant is
that the words, the images that we all perceive every day are linked in often
abstruse ways with reality that need decoding and deciphering in an
informed way. Just as George Orwell so ably put it in his essay On the
Politics and the English Language, we need to equip our students to become
autonomous thinkers who can make their own decisions both in school and
their lived lives using precise and clear language to communicate their
thoughts. Support us in helping us prod and push at times your sons and
daughters to do the hard work on their own of thinking through things.
Along with developing the mind, we ensure that students understand that
the process of thinking is not divorced from real life. Good thinking makes
for a significantly better life. At times, universities and educational
institutions give the impression that thinking or intellectual activity is an
amoral activity. We believe that is not at all the case. Work in every arena at
the school is a moral enterprise and involves grappling with community
values. We hope that our students do not just learn, they learn to live well.
Constructing Americaour interdisciplinary English and history course in
themselves.

the 11th grade asks students to explicitly connect historical events to current
issues. We demand a high level of sportsmanship in our student athletes. We
ask older students to demonstrate the empathy it requires to help younger
students in our PAL advising program. We ask students to offer their hard
work to make life better for Botswanan children in Maun. We build character in
our students.

Tim Morehouse of the Riverdale class of 1996 returned to the school this
week to talk to the Middle School students about his winning a silver medal
in fencing. Tim talked about fencing, about Beijing, about the thrill of
victory. But most importantly he talked about committing to goals, to
persevering with tenacity and playing to ones individual unique strengths.
This message is so important. It is great to see a young person work for 17
years to achieve their dreams of participating in the Olympics and winning a
medal. As Tim said, in his first year at Riverdale as a 7th grader, he got C-s in
all his courses during the first quarter. Tim found a way of believing himself
and of committing firmly to his goals. While committing to his goals in
fencing, his academic results improved. We try and help students commit in
such significant ways to some activity that they love, whether it be a playing
an instrument, writing a novel, participating in a sport, getting excited about
a class project or getting involved in community service. Support your sons
and daughters in their interests, in their enthusiasm for some endeavor. We
believe that igniting interest and engagement in students is part of our brief here.

What is the atmosphere or personality of this community like? Well, I was


expecting to have difficulties understanding the New York mentality, given
my non-NYC background and my previous inability to support any American
athletic team. While living in New Jersey, I just could not understand the
rabid commitment of NY fans to the various teams in the city. I have now
come to understand the error of my ways, and have mended my past folly
through my current active support of the Yankees and the Giants. Most
importantly, though, I have come to understand the type of mindset we
prize at the school which is a reflection of this wonderful city we all live

in. When we are at our best, we offer young people and adults alike an atmosphere of high
challenge and low stress. We believe that people should have to support their
opinions and beliefs with good evidence. We believe that asking questions is
a good thing. We believe that reaching for dreams is a great thing. We are
skeptical of easy solutions and easy answers. And yet, we want our children
and adults that comprise this community to be happy and satisfied. We want
to have a relaxed atmosphere herethere is humor in much of what we do.
We understand that life can get stressful, but we seek to try and diminish
anxiety by supporting each other through difficult times. We are a
demanding but supportive community. However, of the aims stated above,
this last point regarding a community of high challenge and low stress is the
one that is the most difficult things for us to achieve in this day and age. Our
lives are increasingly complicated and our childrens lives are increasingly
different than the lives we lived as childrentheir lives are increasingly
composed of high-stake pursuits. I ask you to join us in simplifying the
choices and the lives of our childrenof lowering the stakes. The most
pleasurable activities in life are quite simple: learning something well and
deeply, communicating in a sophisticated way with others, caring about an
issue or a person. We have to ensure that our young people have the type of
environment that supports such simple goals. They should not multi-task
during the evening hours. Students need to work hard, but they also need to
relax and let their mind wander and recovethey need to enjoy life. They
should get enough sleep every night. They should eat meals that are
nourishing but do not create erratic levels of glucose in their bodies. They
need to run around on athletic fields, play in arts studios and expound about
life from our stages. They need to worry less about grades and scores and
more about the quality of the work they are doing. The only way that these
things can happen is if we take a good firm line with our sons and daughters.
We are going to do that this year, and we hope that you will support us in
that endeavor. Keep things fun and engaging; get our kids to be better thinkers; let them
understand that most choices have an ethical component; support them in their passions

even if they might be bizarre or impulsive; and finally, lets try and bring some health sanity
to our childrens lives as they move through these formative years that builds the foundation
of the adults they will become.

Thank you for your attention. Have a great day and thank you for sharing
your sons and daughters lives with us. Please feel free to get in contact if you
have any questions or comments about the school. I do write and try to
communicate my ideas on my weblog and website linked to the school
website. Make sure that you login to the website to get the most contentif
you have forgotten your username, there is a link that will send you the
information to your e-mail address. Engage with the community and help us
in our work to make this the best school possible. Thanks and have a great
day.
Tags: education, parents, riverdale, school
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