From showtime to exams

Every year the month of June brings with it a mix of celebration and anxiety. Watching Wednesday’s end-of-year primary show, it was hard to imagine that the children on the stage – dressed up and radiant – are the same ones we will meet in a few years as young adults preparing to face exams.

I began my speech at last year’s Baccalauréat party, by clarifying one thing to the assembled audience of students, parents, siblings, teachers and diplomats: although I was the one up there behind the podium, I wasn’t speaking for myself alone; I was speaking on behalf of each and   every member of the French Section team. Exam season has begun, and the shows on Wednesday served as a reminder, that the exams are a final chapter in a long and fascinating education that every member of our team participates in.

The annual end-of-year show goes beyond the symbolic; more than a simple rite-of-passage, more than a festive get-together, it paints a portrait of our school. Our school, the one I saw on stage on Wednesday, is a school brimming with talent, a school that wears its diversity as a badge of honour, a curious school, a challenging school, a school that thinks about the world of tomorrow, a school that is joyfully intelligent, that gives its students the freedom they need and the confidence they require to learn in the best possible conditions.

I know, I’m getting overly theoretically…in reality, I was there on Wednesday with a lump in my throat, on the verge of tears. It moves me to see the entire primary team working together towards the same objectives. It moves me to see the students enjoy themselves so much on stage and giving the very best of themselves. It moves me to see the pride on their parents’ faces. It moves me, finally and possibly most of all, to be able to measure the almost imperceptible changes: the bodies, the voices, the attitudes, the competencies and the personalities becoming more assertive with each passing year.

I have had the incredible luck of watching our students grow for the past five years. Most of the time, I look upon them professionally, as the head of the school in which they are students. But sometimes, I let that side slip, I succumb to the charm of an afternoon when I am merely a spectator and I look upon our students with pure and utter wonder. Those afternoons are entirely yours – parents, colleagues and students.

Our 3ème, 1ère and Terminale students will soon be sitting in exam rooms, and the will to succeed will be entirely theirs. Our school’s greatest strength is not that they owe it to us to succeed, but that they know, thanks to all they have learnt and experienced over the years, that they owe it to themselves. Not so long ago, the month of June was synonymous with theatre, dancing and singing for them too. Older now, they face different challenges. They are ready and I know they will give the very best of themselves as they know so well to do.

Have an excellent weekend!


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