It's the annual Week of Leavers. Handkerchiefs at the ready for soft-hearted souls.
This morning I attended Leavers' Assembly at the school where I have the privilege
of being a governor. The head teacher had tucked a box of tissues by the door for anyone who had not come equipped for an Emotional Hour. I didn't think I would need to avail myself of this kind offer, not actually being a parent or grandparent of any of the
pupils. I was wrong.
One of the leavers had put together a PowerPoint presentation with a photo collage of each of the 22 leavers. As each fresh slide flashed up on the screen, all the children - without prompting
- chanted their names. I can't adequately describe just how moving that was, the completely instinctive affection for class-mates moving on to the Brave New World of secondary school.
Each leaver had been
given a canvas on which to record, in pictures, what memories of their school they would take with them as they left. Class by class they took to the stage with their teachers who added their own words of praise for their pupils' progress over their years
at the school. The lad who put together the PowerPoint presentation had filled his whole canvas with a picture of a computer. He definitely knows where he is going. The Great Outdoors figured high on the children's canvases, along with drawings of their friends.
One teacher had composed a poem about the eight leavers from what she called her "Top Class."
Some of my grandchildren have been leaving one place of education for another. The Duracell Bunny is bound for
"Big School" in September and was photographed at his nursery school wearing a bright blue gown and mortar board, standing shyly by a small blackboard and easel, on which is chalked: "I'm going to big school." Yes, there were tears in my eyes and I wasn't
Sweet Eleanor moves up into the Sixth Form at her school, leaving behind the need to don a school uniform every day. This means Serious Attention to Matters of Wardrobe which I hope Mr B and I
can help to address when our granddaughter comes to stay for a few days next month. We have promised her a shopping trip during which she can choose her own birthday present.
Eldest grandson Jack celebrated
leaving Sixth Form College by going out clubbing with his college mates - not one of his customary activities. He reported back that in just a few hours on the dance floor he had totted up no fewer than 27,000 steps. Whether clubbing will ever be added to
those worthy lists of Healthy Living suggestions remains to be seen.
I remember the last School Assembly I attended at my Grammar School. As Head Girl, my most important task came at the end of Assembly when
I had to call for three cheers for the teachers. Come the moment, I was away with the fairies, thinking about my years at school and the scary world I was about to enter. There was a long, painful silence in the school hall as everybody waited for the traditional
call. It is down in my personal history as possible the Most Embarrassing Moment in My Life.
Many years later, I was summoned back to my Alma Mater to present the prizes at the annual Prize-Giving Ceremony.
Clearly I had been forgiven - though possibly the March of the Years had drawn a veil of forgetfulness over the unfortunate incident. I used the opportunity in my address to the audience of pupils, parents and teachers to tell them this story at my expense.
After which I craved their indulgence in allowing me to call for three cheers - for the pupils, the parents, the teachers. Though I say it myself as shouldn't (as my dear Mum would say) it was an inspired ending to my homily, guaranteeing loud cheering rather
than the polite clapping which would undoubtedly have greeted me as I left the stage.
Nobody at Leavers' Assembly this morning forgot what they were supposed to be doing. It was a joyous occasion from start
A little later, back home, I called Mr B to the kitchen window to watch a small procession of children and parents making their way along our road. There were the 22 leavers, each with a "buddy"
from Year 7 at the secondary school and accompanied by their parents - off to a celebratory picnic in the grounds of their new school.
I'm pleased to predict that, thanks to the care and dedication of the
teachers and teaching assistants they are leaving behind and that of the teaching staff in the school they will be joining, all these young'uns will get by just fine.
With a little bit of help from their (new)