How our leavers inspired us during sudden school closure

When the government announced that schools would have to close on Friday, March 20, it took staff and students alike by surprise

WE were sadly forced to say goodbye to our students far too soon this year, including upper sixth formers in their final year and GCSE students as their time in upper school approached the end.

But our students’ incredible spirit, strength and resilience has been an inspiration and we are very proud of them all.

In a moving final assembly to Year 13s, headmaster Jonathan Webb told them: “You are amazing, you are fantastic. You have so much potential.”

And he gave them some words of advice, including: “Look after each other, look out for each other, and love your parents, because they made you. Life is a leveller, we all have strengths and weaknesses and do not everybe jealous of anybody else.

“And finally, the greatest virtue in life is empathy, understand how other people feel and the world opens up.”

Mr Webb also thanked RGS’s school officers of 2019-20, who were ‘stolen from us five weeks too soon’.

Head of upper school Rachael Clark described our Year 11s as a wonderful, talented and inspirational year group: “I am so disappointed their final year has been cut short, but this does not detract from their ability to be successful in the future.

“We wish them all the best and we will always be here for them.”

Head of sixth form Terry Fell told upper sixth formers that it was a real shock to have to say goodbye so abruptly: “None of us thought it was going to end quite so suddenly, in quite such a chaotic way.

“Every year group which joins our sixth form is different, but I can honestly say with immense fondness that your year group has been unlike anything else.

“You have become amazing young adults and we are going to need your positivity and enthusiasm and your sense of conscience in the coming months and years.

I want you to be positive always, I hope it’s something we’ve nurtured in you in the time you’ve been here. Always look for the silver lining, it’s good for your health and the health of those around you.

“Always be kind, think about how you and your actions affect other people. I know you do that and I’ve seen that – hold on to that.

“We’re being tested as a society like never before and our society is being shaped by that kindness, it’s so important.

Above all while we all may feel sad today and a little daunted by the immediate future, you can’t be limited, defined or haunted by regrets. You can’t be. You’ve got to look forward and you’ve got to be strong and trust in yourselves.

We take what life throws at us, for good and for bad, and as Maya Angelou says: ‘We rise, we rise, we rise’.”

Head boy Jasper Wood says he was unprepared for having to leave school so prematurely: "It was a strange feeling. I had to say goodbye to people I had known for seven years, all in a matter of days. I always knew it would be sad to leave RGS but under these circumstances it seemed even more upsetting. Nevertheless, I feel the rush brought us closer together as a year group, albeit at the end of our school journey, but I know the class of 2019-20 will continue to stand out from the crowd having gone through this strange end to an era."

Head girl Emma Belward agreed, adding that, although it was a strange end to their time at RGS, sixth formers did enjoy a very special last day:" My time at Ripon Grammar has been truly amazing. I was so nervous to move to RGS in year 9 because everyone else knew each other and I knew no one. Those nerves only lasted a day however as everyone was so kind and welcoming and I’m so grateful for that. I never expected then that I would have such a spectacular time over the next five years at school.

"This last year has been incredibly busy yet still so enjoyable. I feel like we’ve achieved so much in such a short space of time. From sending off university applications to raising £11,496 for Surfers Against Sewage. It’s been an unforgettable journey and I’m so sad that it’s had to end so abruptly. I know that we’ll all stay in touch with each other and with the school. I really couldn’t have wished for a better school experience."

Staff will continue to support and educate students remotely until the end of the school year, with everyone rising to the challenge as we adapt to a new way of learning.