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14 Dec 2018

Alex Hems: Head's Blog Dec 14, 2018

Tempest 600w'O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in't!' 

These words, spoken by Miranda in The Tempest a couple of weeks ago on the St George’s stage, seem to me to have special resonance in a school, where, on a daily basis we are reminded of the diverse talents and strengths of all the individuals within our community. Of course there is a certain irony in the way the words are used in the play, and Huxley’s use of Brave New World has altered the way that our modern ears hear them.

At this time of the term, there is a great deal to make us ‘wonder’ and to feel proud, as we see the culmination of so much planning, creative thinking and sheer hard work. The Tempest and Beauty and the Beast were very different productions, but each showed just how much can be achieved when talent, commitment and effort come together, across year groups and indeed between schools. A few weeks ago we were privileged to hear the five finalists in the Young Musician of St George’s competition performing – each one of them performing to her best and all enchanting us with their music. I am looking forward to reading the latest edition of Independent Women, which draws together work produced by the girls on Founders’ Day. Last week the Lower 5 Youth and Philanthropy Initiative finalists gave their presentations – each team member involved, and each one setting aside personal anxieties about public performance to do the best for their chosen charity. The Joint Junior School and Lower School Concert, the Lower School Carol Service, this week’s Primary 1 and 2 Nativity and the Junior School Carol Service on Friday have all been celebrations of hard work by staff and children. They have also been celebrations of creativity. A passionate article in the recent Chronicle reminds us of the central place that the creative arts should play in education, nurturing collaboration, confidence and communication as they do, aside from the sheer pleasure that they can bring.

Helen Czerski 600wOver the course of this term we have also heard from some notable people – last week Helen Czerski, physicist and oceanographer, who talked about her work in the Arctic during a week of exciting STEM activities; Dr Hambuchen spoke to girls about her ground-breaking work at NASA; Gabby Logan whose life story so far is in itself an eloquent reminder of the message that Judy Dalton had for us earlier in the term – if you see something that needs to be done, or that you want to achieve – don’t sit around and wait for it to come to you, but get up and start working for it. Remarkable people, working hard in their own ways to move the world forward. But Shakespeare’s words remind us that there is something ‘goodly’ and ‘beauteous’ in all of us. We will not all become leading scientists, writers, sportswomen etc but every one of us has it in us to make a difference somewhere. What so often sets apart those who go on to be outstanding is the fact that they have seized opportunities and not been afraid of hard work.

Gabby Event 600wI tell the girls that they all have it in them to do something remarkable with their lives. More often than not those deeds will not be headline making, Nobel prize-winning deeds, but they could still alter the lives of those around us for the better, or leave behind a lasting legacy of change or future security for others. We need courage and determination to do these things, but we also need creative thinking, the capacity to ask ‘What if…?’ and to carry on questioning. We need to know how to recognise abilities in others that we do not possess ourselves, and to collaborate. These last few weeks have shown all of this happening, across the school.

I hope that your daughters are proud of all that they have achieved this term, and wish you all a very restful and happy holiday, when it comes.

Mrs Alex Hems MA Oxon
Head, St George's School for Girls, Edinburgh

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