As ever, it was a pleasure to welcome back all those in our school community following the Christmas break, and once more it has been an exceptionally busy start to the term. Our pupils have certainly started the year as they mean to go on: with determination and a sense of purpose!
Our pupils have benefited this month from a really special opportunity to learn more and to develop their empathy due to having heard from a truly inspiring individual, Ruth Posner BEM, who offered a webcast through the Holocaust Educational Trust. She spoke of her experience of having grown up in Warsaw and of her imprisonment during the Holocaust. As our pupils know, Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on 27th January each year, commemorating the day on which Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated. Bishop Vaughan’s pupils have endeavoured to make thoughtful and meaningful contributions annually to the city’s collective commemoration of this day, whether through writing and offering prayers, music, poetry, readings or making other contributions.
It is usually at the start of a new academic year, rather than a calendar one, that I share the following quotation with our pupils:
“This is the beginning of a new day.
You have been given this day to use as you will.
You can waste it or use it for good.
What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.
When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place will be something that you have left behind... let it be something good."
At the start of Year 7, we look at the idea that our pupils will be spending nearly 1000 days at Bishop Vaughan between Years 7 and 11 - 975 to be exact – and well over a thousand days if, like most pupils, they remain in the school until the end of Year 13. We therefore consider together the fact that they will have at least a thousand - and realistically many more - opportunities to “leave behind” something good, something positive, in place of each day. Every single day, we are presented with numerous opportunities to do something meaningful, something compassionate, something to further our learning, something to enrich our cultural experience, something to develop our spiritual formation and more besides. As we enter this New Year, it is worth each of us reminding ourselves – in the same way that we might make resolutions – that each day is a gift: one in which we can learn something new, make friendships (some of which we may carry with us for life) and, for all of our pupils, to take a step at a time towards gaining qualifications that will be the passport to their future.
Having so recently engaged in the Examen prayer then, as is our school-wide practice at the end of each Friday throughout Advent, we know the importance of looking backwards to reflect with gratitude upon our blessings, and that of looking forwards with determination to fulfil our God-given potential. We wish all of our pupils and their families a year ahead that is filled with the blessings of health and success, and we pray that something good is ‘left behind’ in the place of each new day that this year offers.