Ackworth Open Day, Saturday, 5th July, 2008

The following two addresses were given during Open Day 2008

From the Clerk of the School Committee

Good morning everybody – pupils and students of Coram and the senior school, staff, parents and other family members, Old Scholars and friends of the school. It is my very great pleasure to welcome you to Ackworth Open Day 2008. I’m quite sure that, as usual, it will be completely impossible to see, hear and in other ways experience everything that’s on offer – every exhibition, every display, every concert and every whatever else isn’t covered by these categories. And besides all that, we’re going to need plenty of food and drink to sustain us as we travel round the school campus – again I guess there’ll be a greater amount and variety than we can comfortably take in. So we’re going to be spoilt for choice. As we go round I hope we’ll be able to show our appreciation of what we’ve enjoyed. For events such as musical concerts that’s readily done in the form of applause at the end. In other cases it might be more appropriate to offer a word of thanks to those who have made and served the food, prepared and contributed to exhibitions etc. All of what’s on offer today will have come about as a result of a lot of time and effort some of it possibly representing the culmination of a whole year’s work. I hope all contributors will go away this evening with a glow of satisfaction that comes from doing a job well and having it appreciated.

If you look at the honours board in the Fothergill Theatre foyer, you will see, on the girls’ side for 1975, the name of Fiona Wood. Just under three weeks ago I had the privilege of sitting in a packed Fothergill to hear Fiona give the Sunday Evening Meeting address. I’m sure all those of you who were there too were as inspired as I was not only by what Fiona had to say but by the way that she said it. No doubt much of that inspiration has been passed on to the rest of the school by those fortunate enough to be present. What came across most forcefully for me was the importance of self-belief, of wanting to achieve something and the determination, in spite of setbacks and disappointments, to realise that aspiration. Now I don’t suppose everyone here will go on to do the equivalent of developing a revolutionary new method of plastic surgery for treating burns victims and be named Australian of the Year. However, if the desire to make a difference for good is there, don’t hesitate to go for it.

It is customary in these welcome remarks to offer good wishes and encouragement particularly to those for whom this is their last day at Ackworth. Of course I wish all leavers good news when the results come out next month and success in whatever lies thereafter. I hope you will all make a difference but I wonder also if you will stop to reflect on what difference you have made during your time at Ackworth and what difference Ackworth has made to you.

To address only the leavers would, however, be to ignore the majority of pupils and students sitting here. For you, the end of a school year is merely the end of a chapter. Though no doubt you have no wish to be reminded of the fact right now, you will return in September ready to go on making a difference. However, I’d like to close by mentioning two loyal servants of the Ackworth staff who won’t be here then because they are retiring this summer, Josie Gosney and Steve Slack. You will shortly hear Peter Simpson expressing thanks to them but I would like to add the appreciation of the School Committee for their having made such a difference to the life of the school in, respectively, the Catering and Estate departments for so many years.

Now all that remains to be said is enjoy the day and have a happy holiday.

Christopher Moore

Clerk of School Committee

From the Head

Thank you, Christopher

As this school year reaches its end it is right that we look back and reflect on some of the highlights of another very busy year for the school. Academically the school has thrived with excellent public examination results last summer. Not only have six of our students received conditional offers from Oxford and Cambridge this year but also some individual and subject performances have reflected the very high levels of value added that we achieve. This measure of helping students to fully achieve their personal potential and to develop their talents in a supportive and enquiring environment is a great strength of the school.

The drama and music in the school have similarly flourished with our musical ‘Sugar’ in the autumn term and our first involvement with the National Theatre Connections competition with ‘A Vampire story’. We have enjoyed some memorable concerts and recitals and the choir very successfully toured to Rome at Easter. Already auditions have taken place for our autumn term musical amidst much excitement, so the cycle starts once again.

Our theme for Ackworth General Meeting in May was the extra-curricular life of the school and the range and diversity of the opportunities available to the community here are truly impressive. Our sportsmen and women have had some excellent performances and the involvement of so many students committed to representing their school or enjoying house matches is very encouraging. These occasions are always difficult in what one leaves out but in respect of our clubs, societies and visits I must mention the continued work of the PeaceJam group, our success in reaching the national finals of the Young Consumer competition and our involvement in successfully taking a film to the Bridge Film Festival in New York for Quaker schools.

As is always the case a number of staff leave the school at the end of this term to take up new challenges. We wish them every success in their new schools or with their future plans. Steve Slack our Head Groundsman and Josie Gosney our Head Cook, both retire over the summer after 33 and 17 years of service, respectively. The extensive grounds have been beautifully maintained under Steve’s excellent and loving stewardship. Josie has had the daunting task of meeting the dietary preferences of all from age 4 to 18 and beyond!

I am always delighted to hear from Old Scholars and we are fortunate to have such a healthy and vibrant Old Scholar’s association. Just this term many of us were inspired and privileged by hearing Old Scholar, Dr. Fiona Wood share some of her experiences to a packed Fothergill theatre.

There is much to celebrate and recognize in the achievements of our students and as you visit departments, displays and concerts today I am sure, like me, you will feel the school community lives adventurously and that our young people use their gifts to the full. Open Day is a celebration at the end of a school year and as we look forward to the challenges and opportunities of another school year it is good to reflect on the life and energy of the school. For our leavers this will be all the more poignant but I am sure they will take away much from there time here in learning, in fellowship and in the values that have inspired many generations of Ackworth students.. I wish them every success.

We will now have a few moments of quiet reflection.

Peter Simpson