One of the responsibilities that we have as educators in schools like Saints, is to ensure that our students have access to all of the strands of the complex tapestry that is life. It is our job to force our students to raise their vision and to look beyond the familiar and we will not resile from this mission. It is through a range of experiences that we believe our students will become more aware of the richness and range of possibilities that life can offer us. Our lives thus become more interesting, stimulating and meaningful as a result.
One such experience is sport and it is compulsory for every student to compete for the School. We believe sport is important for both athletic development and fitness, but also for learning about working with others and pulling together as a team. There are also lessons to be learned about how to deal with disappointment and joy in an appropriate and dignified way. Luckily for the students at Saints we get to play in a competition against PAC that goes back almost 150 years. This history has ensured that there is an intense rivalry when we play against each other which heightens these feelings of joy and despair. At the First Team level, this year the rowers and water polo teams finished their seasons in joy, while the tennis players, cricketers and badminton players felt the opposite emotion. It is clear that these contests mean a lot by the tears that are not infrequently shed, and for young men to display vulnerability in such a public way says something about the power and importance of this enduring rivalry we share with our friends down the road. What I can also state categorically is how proud I was of everyone who competed in blue; whether vanquished or victorious, our boys and their supporters conducted themselves with class.
Another thread to the tapestry is music. At the end of Week 8 I attended the Alfresco Concert held outside of our newly redeveloped Hill Wing Music Centre. The evening was a celebration of music at the School and there was an atmosphere of joy and happiness as the audience relaxed on the grass under a beautiful summer sky. I’d like to congratulate Mr Philip Walsh for the quality of the program and thank Robert Jones for his leadership as the Captain of Music. I’d also like to take this opportunity to wish all of our musicians competing in Generations in Jazz this year all the very best.
The following week, I attended the Faure Requiem at the Cathedral and was moved by the music in a very different way. The combined choir transported me from the secular to the sacred in an instant and reminded me of the transformative power of great music. Paradoxically perhaps, great music encourages introspection on the one hand, (who am I/when have I felt like this before?) but on the other, takes us out of ourselves and encourages us to think about something much bigger. On that night the beauty of the music forced me to ask a range of questions of myself initially before I was carried willingly to a deeply sad but utterly sacred realm. And there were some searingly moving moments all throughout the performance. The solo performances by Alex Adams, Tom Oldfield, Charlie Wells and Will Fitzgerald pierced me to the core. I was captured from start to finish. The great music that I heard that night was not only due to the passion and commitment of the conductors Mr Andrew Chatterton and Ms Katie Carey, but also because the high expectations they set for the students, and which they willingly meet. I am eagerly looking forward to what comes next.
Pro Deo et Patria.
Ben Hanisch, Head of Senior School/Deputy Headmaster