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Seizing the summer holiday

Seizing the summer holiday

We’re now at the end of the 2015/2016 academic year. We have had Senior School Prize Giving on Monday of this week, and Junior School Prize Giving on Tuesday. We are now all turning our thoughts to the long summer holiday!

As adults we remember our childhood summer holidays, I hope, with great affection and delight, and my hope is that all of you, family and friends of our students, will have a wonderful summer holiday.

On a light hearted note, I would like to challenge every member of our school community to do something a little bit differently this summer. Mr Matthew O’Reilly, Head of Juniors, recently contributed to an Angels & Urchins magazine feature with suggestions of alternative ways of devising a plan of summer holiday activities, including taking on a task that starts with the same letter as that day of the week. For instance, on a Friday, our Junior School girls might decide to try their hand at fishing and flying a kite!

Mr O’Reilly has also spoken to the Junior School girls this week about being ‘day dream achievers’, further to a growing body of evidence that suggests that daydreaming and procrastination are just as important as focus and determination! Children need to be given time and space to be able to successfully absorb what is going on around them and what they have learned, so that they can work out how to digest this information properly as their thought processes continue to be formed as they grow.

The girls have been encouraged to make space in what is a fast paced and highly connected world (even for our youngest girls and especially so for our older students) and find some time on each day over the summer break to dedicate to daydreaming. As Pope Francis said, so we echo:

“The summertime offers many people an occasion for rest. It’s also a favourable time to take care of our human relationships”.

So self-reflection, time to relax, and time to enjoy being with each other is something to relish over the next few weeks!

Our Head Girl, Aisling H-B., presented a wonderful assembly recently, in which she encouraged the girls to think about a whole variety of things they could be doing over the break – for example, researching a recipe and cooking a dish from another culture, or joining a summer club to try a sport that you would never normally consider.

Other suggestions include:

  • Ask an older relative about their history
  • Keep a sketch book but start filling it up from the back and work your way forwards (a no rules sketch book!)
  • Design a ‘10 things to do in _[where you live]_ for _[your age]_ year olds’ list, work your way through them, and write a blog post for each
  • Attempt a summer marathon: try to clock up 40km in total over the holiday by doing a bit of walking or running each day, and if you have a cause close to your heart why not fundraise as you go on your 40km summer marathon?
  • Greetings from around the world: send a postcard to the class/favourite teacher during the holidays from wherever you are in the world. When the girls are back in school they will be invited to give a presentation on the place(s) they have visited
  • Matchbox challenge: try to fit as many interesting items as possible into a standard matchbox from your summer holiday!

I encourage everybody to take on my challenge over the summer – please take photographs of yourselves doing some wonderfully varied activities, and share them with us, whether via the school’s Facebook or Twitter account, by email or even with a printed photograph at the beginning of the Autumn Term, so that we can create a school-community-wide celebration of new adventures and challenges, creativity and activity.

It’s not just for the girls to undertake these activities – I will be encouraging my own family and friends, and I would urge our parents to encourage the girls, yourselves, your own parents and your friends to take on this challenge!

On a serious note, Sixth Form students will be undertaking work experience and trying to add to their CVs in different ways – gaining formal experience, genning up on particular areas of interest, adding to their understanding of the working culture by taking on summer jobs, and generally turning their thoughts to what they would like their future selves to spend their time doing – readying themselves for the world of work and Higher Education.

For these students my advice echoes that of Aloun Ndombet-Assamba, the High Commissioner for Jamaica, who visited the Senior School in March 2016 to inspire the girls as part of our International Women’s Day celebration. She said: "take in everything that is being offered, because you never know what you can use at some point in the future… just soak up every bit of information that you can – and don’t only concern yourself with what’s in the books you’re studying here! Read the newspaper! Watch the news! Listen to the radio!”

I would add to this that it is normal not to feel comfortable nor to know what you are doing when you are first presented with a new role, or a new skill to learn, or a new topic to understand, but the more you investigate, the more you will realise in years to come what you have soaked up, and the summer provides the perfect opportunity!

I wish you all a well-deserved and exciting summer holiday!