Rector’s eNews – 19 April 2023/ Rector's eNews
We have a had a sunny and warm start to the Pentecost Term and the boys have returned full of energy and, in most cases, eager to meet the challenges of the weeks ahead.
At our assembly yesterday, we congratulated those who came in the Top Ten of their respective Blocks in the 1st quarter and noted that several of them had achieved that accolade for the first time. This improvement should be a spur to others to rise to the highest standards of which they, as individuals, are capable. I spoke of the boys “being the best version of themselves” and building on the platform they have established for themselves last term as they move towards exams after half-term as well as asking the question of themselves as to whether they are using their talents to the best of their ability or being just less than their best.
We also congratulated those who have brought credit to themselves and to Michaelhouse over the holidays: there were large number of boys involved in giving of their utmost in hockey, golf and rugby festivals/tournaments/events. There is more information relating to these later in the eNews but a significant achievement that is worthy of comment was that the First Sevens Rugby Team won the international tournament held at the home of Rugby, Rugby School, where 200 years ago William Webb-Ellis “took up the ball and ran with it”. In this tournament, we started with a very narrow victory over Llandovery College (Wales) and then a loss to Blackrock College (Ireland) whom we later defeated in the final.
The teams at the festival ranged from New Zealand to Japan to Canada to Chile and proof of the comraderie which can be engendered through sport was never more evident than in Tom Baguley Bonsma meeting up with a friend from the century-old Grange School in Chile where Tom had once been to school. The picture below is Tom and his friend as very young boys and then some 13 or 14 years later as young men. This is just one feature of the way in which common interests through sport or cultural activities can draw people together and underlines the value of boys engaging with such activities from an early age.
Boys valuing their place in the overall Michaelhouse team is an all-important theme with which we dealt yesterday in assembly; in a sports team, we all expect team members to work hard and give of their best to meet the expectations of their team-mates. If they do not do so, they get dropped. So, then, in the school context, we expect boys to conduct themselves at a high level and those who do not operate within the parameters of the rules may lose their place if their behaviour is less than those expectations in certain respects. Boys need to take responsibility for themselves and understand that it is up to them to know what the rules of the school are as they are published and to stick to them. If boys are uncertain about any of the rules, then they should ask. I drew attention to certain rules as exemplars of areas which could go wrong for them very quickly: one example is vaping and if boys have returned to school with any “contraband” of any nature, they have, exceptionally, until 5pm today to hand such contraband in as there will be sporadic investigations in the course of House inspections soon. Another example is that boys are not allowed to drink alcohol during term time or when they are part of a school tour or when they are under school supervision as they well know. With regard to social media, we have made it clear that what can be conceived as a “joke” remains in print and they may regret their actions when the barb of their comment is evaluated more fully. The gist of what I was attempting to put across was that boys must be mature enough to take responsibility for what they do and should not act and then regret those actions. The fact that some boys are in the A Block also most certainly does not mean that they are in a separate category from the rest of the school when they cross the line into unacceptable behaviour and there cannot be any exoneration for them simply because they are writing important exams during the course of this year.
I urged the boys to consider the person they were becoming, whether they were humble, empathetic, understanding of other people, prepared to serve, prepared to display integrity and honesty and be supportive of others. These attitudes are fundamental to the way we conduct ourselves and impacts on everything that we do. I was not, for one minute, suggesting that we could not enjoy life to the full, but rather that we need to look carefully at ourselves and what underpins the way we operate. I asked them to evaluate where they were going and who they were becoming to see if this was in alignment with what is important in life.