Principal's Leavers Address 2019

Vicit agnus noster. eum sequamur
Some of you may have been looking at those Latin words above my head for the best part of 15 years. In spite of Latin’s status as a dead language, many organisations still use Latin phrases as their motto.
Which of the following do you recognise?
Audere est facere
Nil satis nisi optimum
Pro rege et lege
Schools often have them too:
Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus
Ours also involves an animal. We have adopted the Moravian vicit agnus noster. eum sequamur
There will be a mix of emotions in this room today. Nerves, excitement and trepidation; relief, joy and sadness – and that’s just the staff! For our Upper Sixth leavers, today marks a milestone in their academic careers. What you face over the coming weeks is the culmination of almost 15 years of education; for some, those 15 years have all been spent here.
Rev Newman quoted Psalm 126 in Church last Sunday – “Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy” – in the context of the start of Christian Aid week. The same is true in the context of exams: pupils almost always get what their efforts deserve.
Not that those exam results will define you as a person. The extent to which you respect yourself and respect those around you, the extent to which you are willing to put long-term gain ahead of short-term gratification, and the extent to which you are prepared to graft to realise your ambitions are all more significant.
Exam results and school reports aren’t always the best measures of future success. Take the following report I found:
“Is a constant trouble to everybody and is always in some scrape or other.” Angus, our Head Boy, back in Year 10? No, that was written about Sir Winston Churchill.
Or perhaps this Boarding House report: “I’d like to take responsibility for the lack of neatness … but I must confess to failure. Occasionally we did manage to effect a house cleaning, but it necessitated my dumping everything in the room into a pile in the middle of the floor.” Chrissie, our Head Girl, that’s terrible! No, it’s a report on US President JFK.
Broadly speaking, there could be three different approaches to today for our leavers.
The first is based on a want to look back. Schools are about people and you will have met some wonderful people. Classmates, team-mates or teachers, your memories will involve fun, laughter and growing up together. Performances, Christingles, matches.  There may also be sadness and regret; that’s fine, growing up is not a perfect process.
Modern advocates of happiness might suggest a second approach, to spend today living in the moment. This room will never be the same again – we will never all be in this Church together again. Enjoy your last day here together. Put long running feuds behind you. Find that teacher who you fell out with four years ago and make sure they know that you now understand why, that you now understand that everything we do is about putting your longer-term interests first.
The final approach is to look forward and I mean forward beyond the up-coming exams. Whilst you have been forced, through the UCAS process, to plan your next three or four years, I wonder how many of you have really thought about where you might be in 10 years’ time.
By then you will be qualified, you may have your life-long partner and you may even be parents yourselves.  Now there’s a thought! Life will have been very busy and you will have created some of those happy memories that I talked about in last week’s assembly.
Vicit agnus noster. eum sequamur
Most of you will know that this means “Our lamb has conquered. Let us follow him.”
Over the coming years, you will find paths to follow. In the early years after Fulneck, your own professional and personal pathways will seem most important. The staff in the room chose a vocation and it is my hope that you will find one too.
If not, find a way in which you can still make a contribution to wider society. Find a way of showing that you know there is more to life than self. Find a cause – political, social or environmental; local, national or worldwide. Find your reason for being. Find a way of making a difference.
Former US President Barack Obama was asked in a recent interview by Bear Grylls what advice he gives his daughters: “Be useful and be kind” will do for us too.
What many of you will not know is that the official name of the Moravian Church is also Latin: Unitas Fratrum, or Unity of Brethren.
As you leave Fulneck School, please remember that you will always be a part of the brotherhood and sisterhood of Fulneck and be very welcome here.
Go well, stay safe and follow your own path.

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