From the Deputy Head Master – Summer Hill

From the Deputy Head Master – Summer Hill

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

And wisdom to know the difference.

– Reinhold Niebuhr

Almost a year ago, newly minted School Officer, Tyson Jackson 12Fo, spoke to the boys and young men of the School about the challenges we had faced in 2020, and which we thought we had left behind. At a time when there is again a focus on wellbeing and mental health, particularly for young people, and after a couple of weeks in lockdown, and with little clarity about what will happen in the coming weeks, it seemed to me that it was worth sharing a young person’s perspective again.

2020 taught us a lot. The simple things we took for granted, are not able to be done at the moment. Hopefully, we will be able to experience those things again as and when things begin to return to normal. But life as we knew it has changed again, and maybe even next year as well. Even the way we went to school has changed and we had to get used to seeing our friends and teachers on a screen rather than face to face.

However, one of the things that this year has taught us is that we can be resilient. We can cope with change. We can cope with disappointment. We have all been faced with setbacks, yet we have all learned to cope with these challenges.

For me, last year was especially tough, [and the fact that the CAS Season has been affected again this year is bitterly disappointing]. But as much as I love to run out with the 1st XV to a packed No. 1 Oval grandstand, that was not the way things panned out. Because rugby is such a big part of my life, it became hard to find the motivation to keep training and stay fit. However, during this time the fact that everyone was in the same boat made it easier to get through the uncertainty by remaining tight as a group and staying positive. We just found new ways to get stuff done.

This principle is very important. In life, regardless of the hurdles we face, it is important to believe that we can be resilient, that we can continue to find ways to improve ourselves, and we can take what life throws at us in our stride. We all have a unique opportunity to do what we love here at the School, to pursue our passions and interests, so it is important that you take advantage of these opportunities and remain committed to what you do. Like we have all managed to do all year, it is important to find ways to turn those things you aren’t so keen on, as well as life’s predictable disappointments, into a positive experience. Persist with those things, and the lessons that you learn will be invaluable.

If there’s key takeaway, it is to persist with those things you may not particularly enjoy, lean into the disappointment, and keep finding new ways to overcome challenges.

Tyson’s words were apposite last November and retain their power almost a year later when we find ourselves back to where we started in March 2020. Seek help when you need it. Reach out to the support services. Your sons (and daughters) need to be reassured that this too shall pass.

Bradley Barr | Deputy Head Master – Summer Hill

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