To our leavers, and I include the successful 10+ and 11+ leavers and indeed every boy who has had to contend with the demanding senior school assessment processes. You have all shown a level of resilience that I expect you did not think you had in you. You have all excelled and should take heart from the fact that you came out the other end. It may have seemed brutal at times, but you are all the stronger for it.
I want to share and pass on a few pointers or rather ten things that have helped me over the years. Make of it what you will as you go on to the next stage of your lives and your education.
- Do not be afraid to dream big, but equally focus on what is in front of you. Passionate dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals are also deserving of your ambition. Get your head down and work with pride on whatever is in front of you. If you focus too hard on the very long term goals, you may miss opportunities in your periphery, or indeed staring you right in the face. This is a marathon not a sprint and consistency will be key. Maintain your enthusiasm for everything and stay positive.
- You are going to be presented with all sorts of opportunities. Try not to let them pass you by. Be proactive, try new things and keep an open mind.
- Remember how lucky you are. Not only to be born and here and now, indeed incalculably lucky to be born, and overall enjoying life, but that you are supported by those around you who care and who love you. Never take them for granted.
- Actively work at the skills of empathy and compassion for it will be your soft skills your ability to connect, to relate to and to communicate with others that will set you apart from the crowd. You might even enjoy some happiness along the way. Empathy is intuitive, but it is also something you can work on intellectually.
- Learn another language. Just do it, even if you think languages are not for you, learn another language. With each language comes at doubling of possibilities of opportunities. It can be exponential. It is great for your brain oh and it will make you very marketable.
- Exercise, look after yourselves continue to develop your passion for sport, whatever it is – you may not have discovered it yet. If nothing else simply keep fit, eat well and take exercise. It is the gateway to good mental health and cannot be underestimated. You are also going to be around for a long time. Good habits established now will last a lifetime.
- Question everything; be hard on your beliefs. You must think critically and do not depend on the opinions of others. Identify your biases, your prejudices, and your privileges.
- Keep an open mind to what you want to study. Try not to base your choices on whether you like the teacher or not. We as teachers have so much to answer for in developing experts of our own subjects. Follow your passions and study what you love, not what you think you should. Seek balance. If you are going to focus on the sciences throw in a creative arts subject, try not to narrow your choices too soon. If you think the arts is going to be your thing, do not kick mathematics into the long grass, as it too is a skill for life.
- Be kind. Be kind to those less fortunate and more fortunate than you; be generous with your praise of others. People will judge you on how you treat others. Remember that the core values of kindness respect and tolerance are not just core values at Durston House, but should run through you like a stick of rock your whole life.
- It is not always going to be easy; it is how you overcome adversity and the knock backs, which will ultimately define you. So stay positive. Remember the words from The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse:
‘What is the bravest thing you have ever said?’ Asked the boy.
‘Help.’ said the Horse
Boys, I want you to promise me that you will never lose sight of those things you are passionate about, and then I want you to take that even further, let the world know about it. Have the tenacity and the conviction to persist and to, persevere. No one ever achieves anything alone. Look around you, on either side of you are your friends, teachers, and behind, your parents and family. Their words of encouragement, support and guidance echo within these walls and they have sustained you at home and at school. At the end of the day you, only you, decided to not give up, to rise, to persevere and to walk in these gates at Durston doing the right thing at the right time (on the whole). You put that heavy backpack on, carried those heavy books, went to all those classes, handed in those assessment tasks, completed the exams, and you kept doing that for years.
To me that is amazing in itself.
Let me state categorically that we your teachers and all the staff at Durston are equally proud of every single one of you. You have gained hard-won places at some of the most prestigious senior schools in London and in the UK. The envy of many countries around the world, and you should all take great pride in what you have achieved. It has been a bumper year in the awards won by our Year 8 cohort as well as by pupils at 11+ with academic scholarships awarded at Hampton and Haberdashers’ Ask’s. In Year 8, a spectacular 4 John Colet awards to St Paul’s, Academic Scholarships to Merchant Taylors School, a Music exhibition to Reeds, Steam and academic Scholarships to John Lyon School and two further coveted awards in Music to St Pauls and a Sports Scholarship to Hampton School. It is right and proper to celebrate these outstanding successes.
For the leavers, take the time to reflect on what will be the most time you will spend in any one school. Your 7 or 9 years with Durston come to a close as pupils here, and remember this: once you have been to a really good school, you never really leave it. You may be moving on, but you will always carry a part of Durston with you (metaphorically of course), cherish your memories, your friendships, many of which will last a lifetime. Stay in touch, you will always be a Durstonian. Alumni of Durston House may follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated on news and to reminisce.