Welcome to Barker 2021. I have been so happy to see staff, students and parents returning to the School. The soul and spirit of our community has come back among us. As we commence a new year, let me offer some thoughts to help prepare our students for the new possibilities ahead.
Seven ideas to help get ready:
i. Lay the past to rest
The past year is over (thankfully). There is no purpose in dwelling on the things that happened in 2020. The year ahead is an exciting new chapter in your life, and the page is blank now. Anything is possible.
ii. Be filled with optimism for the year ahead
Expect to be amazing. Set your mind on the things that build up. Identify your many strengths and play to them. Focus on your gifts with a thankful heart. Expect the year ahead to be the best one in your life so far. You are so much more than you imagine. Expect to be amazing.
iii. Read, read, read; Write, write, write
Get back into reading and writing – quickly. Grab your English novels and read ahead. Make notes and prepare for learning. There is not a moment to lose. It is strange how quickly we forget to how to write. Our fine motor skills depart us very quickly if we don’t use them routinely.
iv. Change something
It’s a new academic year so change something. Even if it is only small – change something. It makes our minds understand that this is a time for new things. Move your desk a little; choose a different coloured pen, or different notebook; rearrange books or papers on your shelf; change your posters; listen to some different study music. Do something different, even it is only small.
v. Plan for success
Good preparation is one of the best antidotes for stress and anxiety. Set up a daily routine or schedule. Make it easy to keep and plan enough times for rest and recreation. Be in control of your life.
vi. Get ready for new things
A new academic year brings change. Classes, teachers, rooms, routines, subjects, texts, systems, teams and even friendship groups may be different to previous years. Changes bring refreshment and new possibilities, but they can also be daunting. Get your mind ready to focus on the opportunities that new things will bring into your life. Adopt positive “self-talk” and be confident that you are ready to meet any change that comes your way.
vii. Set goals
The blank page of 2021 awaits you. Set SMART goals and make them your guiding star. Don’t make your goals too big. Great journeys are completed by simple steps in manageable stages. Spend some time presenting your goals in a meaningful way, and look at them most days.
Be a Friend
You’re not alone in the experience of a new school year. Your teachers, Heads of House and carers are here to help. Plan to be a source of encouragement too. You have so much to give. Be a good friend to others and reach out to others around you who need your smile. God has made us to be in community with one another and to love one another and your contribution to the lives of other students will be a blessing to them as well as to yourself.
There are scores of websites dedicated to assist in times of change. Even though perhaps a little dated, here are some that could help:
Our prayers are with you at this lovely time of year.
The Hill We Climb
I must close with something that captured the imagination of all who heard it. You may have seen the 22 year old poet laureate Amanda Gorman’s astounding piece of performance poetry at the Inauguration of President Joseph Biden on 21st January. In her striking poem, entitled “The Hill we Climb”, Amanda Gorman writes:
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare….
Quoting from Micah 4:4, she calls upon her hearers to establish the future in peace and kindness. The original text from the prophet Micah reads: “Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken.” It is a lovely, gentle image that captures the unreachable search for peace for all.
Together we also look up in 2021. We have set our theme this year as “Look Up, Look Beyond”. It is not so much that we look up to the “Hill we Climb”, though climbing a hill we are. Rather, our eyes look up to the quiet hills whence comes our help.
In Psalm 121 we read:
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
your Protector will not slumber.
Behold, the Protector of Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
Our confidence does not reside in our own capacity, or in our clever strategies, or even in our incalculable efforts and determination, despite the abundance of all these things in our community. Our help comes from the Lord, the make of heaven and earth. Our Lord is an ever-present strength who does not tire nor sleep, and who is ever present with us to strengthen us and to protect us to complete the good work we have begun. Our prayer is for all our families and our students, that this may be your best year ever.
May 2021 be a time of hopefulness, peace and joy for you and those you love as you serve the great cause of education at Barker.