Dear Upper Sixth,
It wasn’t meant to end this way. It is not what any of us wanted. It is certainly not what any of us expected. The time, the day, when you leave school is undoubtedly completely unique. Over so many years I have seen how much this day means to Leavers, and the emotions it brings to the surface. There is an anticipation, followed by the realisation that one of life’s key chapters is drawing to a close. So much time spent together. So many vivid memories shared with friends. So many close bonds, with value that soars at the prospect that they could now come to an end.
So it is right that such a time is marked with celebrations and events that reflect its significance. It is right that Leavers have the time to build up to this point and the opportunity to share together in what it all means. But you, rather cruelly, had this rite of passage stolen from you, which is something we shall all never forget.
However, what we cannot do is let any of this diminish what you have achieved. We cannot let any of this dull the mark you leave behind. The leadership you have brought. The achievements you have captured. Therefore, we cannot let the traditions that would have marked your rite of passage fade away and be forgotten. Your Leavers’ Service, hastily pieced together, as we all rushed towards this unprecedented school closure, was moving not just as it marked your imminently announced departure, but also because of the shock that was tangible amongst you all. To me it seems vital that as we turn towards the Autumn, we must all wait for the opportunity when we can reunite you in an occasion that is fitting. When we can celebrate properly and, importantly, allow your parents to come together as well. We cannot forget that for them, the emotion tied into this time in your lives is also so acute.
Van Gennep described how life and society is like a house divided into rooms, and how moving between them is sometimes so significant it is almost sacred. As this year draws to a close please know that we understand that together we have unfinished business. You deserve that final rite of passage and the opportunity to come together, as your parents do too. So as we say farewell, please do know that this chapter will not be allowed to finally close until we choose to close it, and draw it to an end in a style and fashion of our choosing, not one that is enforced. Then, together, we will all enjoy a rite of passage to truly remember, that sees you leave our family and our room, in a way that no Upper Sixth has ever deserved more.
Mr M J Getty Headmaster