The following Address was delivered by the Deputy Headmaster at this week’s Muster celebrating National Boarding Week
Happy Boarding Week! Today, I am thinking both about our boarding program and also Father Theo’s message: ‘In everything give thanks.’ For me, there’s a a link between the two. One thing I’m really grateful for is the life I got to live growing up on a school campus. My parents were both teachers, and we were lucky enough to reside at the school. So, at the risk of sounding like I have tickets on myself, sometimes I like to think as myself as an honorary boarder.
This will make me sound really institutionalised, but I was actually born in a school, and I spent my whole primary and secondary education living on campus. Then, when I went to university, I clearly hadn’t had enough, so I chose to live in a residential college on the university campus! By the time I finished, I obviously still hadn’t had my fill, so my first job was as a boarding master, living – again – on campus! Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to work in two more Boarding houses, and I have never actually been employed at a school that doesn’t have a boarding program.
Boarding, then, feels like a totally natural part of the educational experience to me, and the advantages seem so obvious to me, like having instant access to teachers, living in what amounts to an enormous country club in a capital city and being able to walk to school.
There are, however, less visible advantages to boarding that I believe are even more important.
Firstly, the bravery and resilience required to forge an identity in two homes – your biological home, if you like, and your school home – turns one into a pretty formidable character. If you want to see what this looks like, cast your mind back to the Headmaster’s hymn singing practice last Muster, and observe the standout job the boarders did with that. If you want a tough job done, find a boarder.
Secondly, it is very hard to teach someone who has never lived in a community how to live successfully in one. I have lived in quite a few apartments, and I have been consistently amazed by how dreadful some adults are at living with other adults. Boarders understand the compromise, love, patience and understanding one needs to thrive in a close community, which makes them an excellent fit for a world that happens to be full of other humans.
So, to our Boarders, you are both impressive and an integral part of our community. We give thanks for all that you do, and Happy Boarding Week.
Deputy Headmaster (Acting)