What are we?

Below is the transcript of my Year 10 Prize giving speech.

This time last year I stood here to give the Principal’s address at our first prize-giving. It brought to an end a year of firsts. Everything we did was a first. Well we are not new anymore, we are here. So at the end of our second year I find myself standing here celebrating the fact that we have become. So the question I now find that I ask myself is what does that mean, what is Rolleston College? Not what are we becoming but what have we become. I am surprised to be asking this question after just two years, I thought we would be in the developing stage for a little longer, but it does genuinely feel that we are here, we have arrived.

In answering the question, what is Rolleston College, I find myself increasingly getting the answer from the learners, their actions, their attitudes and how they embody the values and vision of the College. So to explain what Rolleston College is I offer the following examples, each of them quite small in the big picture, but all of them significant for the individuals involved and when added together these small examples create the big picture.

What is Rolleston College?

Many of you would by now have heard me read or refer to the ‘Kindness Speech’ written by Dylan Evan’s that I have stolen on numerous occasions of late. Well it is time I gave it back to Dylan and thanked him for letting me use it. The examples I want to refer to are really examples of what Dyaln talks about in that speech.

Rolleston College is a young learner newly arrived from China who on hearing that we are possibly going to have international learners here next year sends me this email;


“I think I can take on the job of helping Chinese students studying abroad next term.I am good at Chinese . Although I am still learning English, I have no problem with basic understanding and communication and I want to help others more.I think I can do it.Please think about it,Thank you.”


What is Rolleston College?

It is two of our Year 9 learners who, as an extension to the work they were doing in class, stood in the pouring rain one Sunday morning to run a car wash as a fundraiser for the establishing local toy library. They washed one car, they carried on despite the weather and then made a donation from their own pockets to the toy library.


What is Rolleston College?

It is two Year 10 learners organising a thank you to the staff from the learners. For each staff member they made a little sleigh of edibles with a little Santa and laid them out in the staff room so that when the staff arrived they found this train of thanks snaking across the staff room.. This little gesture, which took them a considerable amount of time, gave the staff a huge lift. In the middle of the frantic countdown towards the end of the year , when there was so much to do and so little time to receive this act of kindness was huge. More important was the little messages they put on every sleigh.

Mine said;

“Thank you for a really great year. We actually enjoy attending Rolleston College so you must be doing your job right. From your favourite pupils.”

I’ll take that.

Last week when I arrived for the opening night of our production of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ two Year 10 learners rushed up to me in a very excited state. They were coming to watch the performance and had just delivered flowers to their friends in the show. The flowers were symbolically coloured to suit the characters their friends were playing.

Again a small act of kindness but spreading so much joy to others.

What was even more impressive and important though was just how proud these learners were of their acts of kindness, knowing just how much happiness they were spreading.

Not too long before this two of them have the courage to come and see me and explain that they had been really good learners for two years, they had not led, they hadn’t been the top of their class but they had worked hard, they had been joyful they had embodied all of the Rolleston Spirit values yet they had never received a Spirit award and they thought that they deserved one. They have one now.


It is about me, when I need representatives to act as ambassadors on open nights I look at the learners who volunteer and tell myself, they’ve got this, and they have.

Rolleston College is  a group of learners who came and see me to ask if, as part of their Quest project, they could run a mufti day to raise money to give to the City Mission to assist the Homeless. When I said no, rather than giving up they asked permission to approach the Primary schools with the same idea.They visited the primary schools to explain their project, run it and raise money for those less fortunate. They found a way to overcome the obstacles that I had put in their path.  They overcame.


What is Rolleston College?

It is a Year 9 learner who has had times in her life when anxiety has played its part,approaching me to offer to be a mentor and helper for learners who are arriving next year who may also suffer from anxiety . Not as a person who can solve but as a person who can listen, empathise and understand in a non judgemental way.


All small stories and there are plenty of others, but they serve to create the picture.

What is Rolleston College?

After two years. It is a place that develops young people as individuals who can then see beyond themselves and want to help others. Young people who see that they have a role in the world, they have the skills and the heart to make a difference beyond themselves. So I ask you as adults, at 13 /14 years old were you able to do that? Was this you? Were you in that position, did you have that sense of purpose, that vision beyond you?

What is Rolleston College? It is about developing learning, knowledge and skills that learners can use to make the world a better place, a kinder place for themselves and others.

Rolleston College is about these wonderful young people as individuals but also as the future and a future that is going to be just that little bit kinder.

In the words of one of my favourite singer songwriters.

‘While I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to Earth.”

BUT and there is always a but.

They are entering dangerous waters. The next few years they will continue to make decisions as they grow into adults and this scares me, it scares you, it scares them. The dangers are real with pressures, stress,  decisions. So I appeal to you, to all of us. Hold them safe and treat them with the kindness that these examples prove they are showing us. The best way we can protect our kids going through these years is to give back to them the kindness they have shown us.

Be safe, be happy, be kind, See you all next year. Enjoy camp.



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