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Yesterday the Heads of School, Elizabeth Blackett and Matthew Cantelo, addressed the School with the underlying message that everyone should give 100% in everything they do and take full advantage of the opportunities that RHS has to offer.

Lizzy Blackett, Head Girl

Lizzy Blackett, Head Girl

Matt Cantelo, Head Boy

Matt Cantelo, Head Boy

Here is their full address:

Many of you, in your time at RHS, will have listened to several Heads of School addresses where the central focus is about seizing every opportunity. Although we underline this whole heartedly, we do not want to structure our speech entirely on that point. The Headmaster, Mrs Godfrey and, most recently, Mr Christmas have all talked about productive use of your time at School. At the end of the day, the onus is on you. You have seen the list of activities, societies, ensembles and clubs; and, as such, you should know what is going on and seize that accordingly.

It will never be forced upon you to do these things, nor will it be easier for you to do them at a place other than at RHS, an environment which sustains such an enormous range of things to do. We urge you to use your drive, ambition and courage to make your own decisions. And if you do decide to commit to something, go for it 100% – because there should be no reason to be half-hearted in your approach. Yes, you will make mistakes and errors in your time here, such is the nature of life but ,of all places, school is the most forgiving.

Many of you will have watched Christine Ohuruogu at the World Championships. As captain of the GB Athletics team, she delivered a speech to the athletics team on the night before the Championships. The essence of this was not leaving anything behind on the track and channelling every iota of passion into the race regardless of the chance of success. However, after a career-threatening quadriceps injury she was a clear underdog for her own chosen 400m event.

Yet determined to prove herself she said: “Nobody thought that I was going to win a medal, but what mattered was that I believed that I could get a medal, I even believed I could win it”. After winning, she claimed that this was the ‘proudest moment of her life,’ above even that of the Olympic gold in 2008 due to her struggle to get there. An example of when passion and commitment manifests results.

If we could ask every one of you today what you are proud of – what would it be? We don’t expect all of you to become a top-flight athlete, musical virtuoso or creative genius, obviously, but we would just like to instil an ambition to achieve. Our Head Scholar, Alistair Green, will talk about this in an academic context next week and this is the main reason of being at school, so anything you do as an extra should not detract from that.

However, as Albert Einstein once said: ‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’ And fully understanding that everyone has a vast array of talents, the School supports them regardless of the genre.

Having said all this, in your pursuit of achievement, you should not sacrifice personal values and friendships. We hope that every pupil stays true to the unspoken values that make RHS what it is, regardless of whether you have just joined in Year 7 or are in your final year in Nelson. If you do nothing else this year, we would like it if you could demonstrate these three key qualities on a day-to-day basis:

  • Integrity – this means demonstrating honesty, and loyalty to your peers, to the School and to yourselves. Having that pride in your dress, in your work and your interactions with people is what we believe underpins our School community.
  • Respect – respect is a two-way concept and underpins all of our interactions with other people. We would have younger pupils looking up to their elders, whether teachers or senior pupils, but implicit in that is that older pupils demonstrate qualities deserving of it and show respect towards younger pupils.
  • Kindness – regardless of exams results, sports performance or musical excellence, if you leave here defined by your kindness and strength of character, the School has done its job.

As our School takes tentative steps towards independence, a lot has changed. That is undeniable. However, it is our firm belief that this change is cosmetic; RHS still breeds that same brand of well-mannered and modest pupils it always has and it is up to you to ensure the core values instilled in each one of us endure”.