One of very many Chapel highlights in the school year is when we entrust the six Senior Monitors to speak to the whole school community, passing on their wisdom and insights before they leave Mill Hill for pastures new. This week in Chapel, Isabella Ward, Luca Cicale, Alina Merkel, Reuben Brown, Sophie Fresco, and Djantai Otorbaev have each delivered a vital message for their younger peers to learn from.
Born out of personal experience and thereby having deep authenticity and integrity, these ‘lessons for life’ have carried a weight of authority.What each of these young people has mentioned is that education is about far more than passing exams; it is about equipping young people with a set of abiding values and enabling them to discover and celebrate their unique individuality.
They have exhorted their fellow pupils to take full advantage of all the rich and varied opportunities that are on offer at the School, even if they are afraid to do so, for it is through this process that they will discover more truly their genuine gifts and interests. We have been shown that failure, and learning from it, is an inevitable part of the road to success and achievement – and we have heard the lofty words from Winston Churchill that, “success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” The concept of Mill Hill’s Nonconformist Foundation has been explained as having the moral courage to challenge individuals and organisations which fail to live up to the highest values. We have been reminded that the school Chapel is a place where these values are taught and caught and have the power to change lives. The theme of being encouraged by teachers to attempt things beyond what was thought possible, has emerged as a vital ingredient for personal growth. Having the courage to be oneself, and not to follow the crowd has been quietly emphasised, thus encouraging the whole School community to celebrate individuality and diversity. All of this has taken part in a School community where valued friendships can be forged, both with fellow pupils and even with teachers.
For teachers hearing such talks by the Senior Monitors, these are immensely proud moments; for we have witnessed and participated in their growth into adulthood – and in the rest of their year group whom they represent. Indeed, this is why we are privileged in our vocations as teachers. However, the part we have played in their lives is nearly over and it is time for them to take up their place in the wider world. Judging from what we have heard this week, this current generation of school leavers will do themselves, their parents and the School proud.
Foundation Chaplain and Head of Religious Studies