Ackworth Open Day, Saturday, 7 July, 2007

The following two addresses were given during Open Day 2007

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 2007. This, the culmination of the school year, is the day when Ackworth shows off. The school has good reason to be proud of its achievements. What you will see today represents not just the cream - the work of the most gifted and able - but also the results of a huge amount of time, energy and effort by staff and students in which everyone has had a chance to contribute. Unfortunately, there simply won't be enough time to see more than a fraction of what's on offer. I've always gone away from Open Day thinking "I wish I'd seen that exhibition" and "I'm sorry to have missed that concert". Whatever you choose to visit, however, I know you won't be disappointed.

Today is the end of the school year but, with so much going on, I don't suppose there will be much time for reflection, to think back over the past year, to recall successes and disappointments, high points and low points, things that in recollection make you smile or give you a glow of satisfaction, others that may make you feel sad or regretful. For all of us, from the youngest to the oldest (and including members of the School Committee) I hope that over the coming weeks we will allow ourselves a time for stocktaking. In doing so, perhaps it's worth considering that a year of ups and downs has more worth than one lived on the level for if we have bad times then we can appreciate the good times even more. Nevertheless, it's my belief and experience that, over time, it is the positives that abide. May that be true for everyone here.

For those of you who are leaving, you might well want to look back over your whole Coram/ Ackworth career. That could well encompass a number of years stretching into double figures- ten, eleven, maybe twelve. But there could be others who are marking today as the end of an association with Ackworth going back even longer. I am, thinking here of parents who tend to be overlooked on occasions such as this. This was brought home to me three years ago by someone who was then coming to the end of a twenty year - I think that's the right figure; she'll correct me if it's wrong! - stint as a parent and was feeling quite bereft and far more sorrowful than her leaving daughter, the last of her five children to pass through the school. So the next few words are addressed specifically to those parents for whom today brings to a close your official connection with Ackworth. For a variety of reasons you may, of course, want to rejoice! At the same time, I hope you have felt part of the Ackworth community. If you have valued that experience, I'm sure there will be ways of maintaining links with the school.

So much for looking back; looking forward is far more exciting! No doubt plans for the holidays have already been made. If, come September, you will be returning here there will be changes to look forward to, new experiences and opportunities waiting for you. For those of you who won't be here then you could be starting at a different school or having your first experience of a full-time job or getting ready to go off to university or college (and perhaps leaving home for the first time) or making for some exotic overseas location as part of a Gap year or, just possibly, sitting at home wondering what to do next. To all of you, may I say "Good luck", offering my best wishes and the hope that you find fulfilment.

But for now, enjoy the day!

Christopher Moore

Clerk of School Committee

From the Head

As another school year draws to its close it is rewarding to reflect on some of the outstanding achievements and special moments since last September. In so many ways our young people embody the values and spirit of the school bringing to life in each generation of students the energy, enthusiasm, sense of justice and talents that make Ackworth a special community.

Just the other day I watched the departure of some of our students for their expedition to Peru. In no lesser way, the last few weeks have seen our Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh groups take up the challenge of their expeditions. In all of these cases, preparation, team work, commitment and the spirit of friendship are the axiom for success. Ackworth students, whether in the great outdoors or in other ways embody the values of 'living adventurously' of going forth in comradeship and in a shared love of adventure.

Once again a wide variety of trips and residential visits have taken place around the British Isles and overseas during the academic year providing enrichment to the curriculum and new opportunities for our young people. I thank the staff who make this possible through their hard work and vision in expanding student's horizons.

Music, drama and sport continue to flourish and provide ever more opportunities for students. Each year we build on success, such as the exciting performances of Les Miserables, during the autumn term or the Quaker School's Choirs Festival at Easter and endeavour to find ever new challenges.

The creation of the infrastructure for the campus ICT network has been an important development. Staff and students are alive to the possibilities this will provide in exploring new ways of learning and supporting the development of independent research skills. We took up this theme at this year's Ackworth General Meeting in May.

This term has seen our young people take on the challenge of examinations. For an ever growing number of pupils these have been public examinations with all the stresses and challenges. I pay tribute to the students for their fortitude and desire to give of their best and to you parents for your patience and the way you have lived each question and exam paper over these last two months with your sons and daughters.

At the end of a school year we inevitably say goodbye to a number of staff from both senior school and Coram House. We wish them every success in their new schools and new careers. However, I would like to make especial mention of three people who retire this summer. Malcom St. John has served the school for 26 years within the Music department and for 16 years in the boys boarding house. Many generations of Ackworth students owe their love of music and the realisation of their talents to this man. Muriel Peacock has served no less than five Head's as their secretaries a position possibly as challenging as Secretary General to the United Nations and calling upon the same talents of tact and iron resolve. She too retires this summer after 20 years exemplary service to the school. Allen Gosney retires as Warden after 29 years at Ackworth. His dedication support and ever helpful approach to everything in school has helped make us the strong and thriving community that we are today.

My final comments are directed to those who leave the school and for whom this is their last Open Day. Firstly, you do not get way quite that easily, as you automatically become member of the Ackworth Old Scholars Association. The Old Scholars remain firmly part of the Ackworth family and their support and affection for the school is inspiring. Secondly, I would say this to the leavers. Whatever challenges you go forward to take on from here and in subsequent years be true to the values you have acquired here. You are all remarkable men and women with the potential to change the world.

I am proud of my students and I am proud of my hardworking staff.

Peter Simpson