Graduation Keynote Address
Very very dear Class of 2020…
When I think about the class of 2020, order is not really a word that springs to mind. In fact, our journey together over the last 2 years has been anything but neatly organised. Without naming any names, one glance at your desks, reports, endless university applications and haircuts tells me that you defy the concept of order. You are almost impossible to categorise - you are artists, geneticists, coders, chemists, singers, psychologists, animators, ecologists and entrepreneurs - but never just one of these, and often several simultaneously. You prove daily that you do not have to be logical or creative, a leader or a team player. You do all these things effortlessly and, whilst each of you is ambitious and competitive in your own way, I have never known you to achieve your goals at the expense of others.
We have shared plenty of mayhem along the way, and there have been successes and failures, tears as well as laughter, sometimes at the same time. So what is so exciting about this particular evening, for this unpredictable group, is that it is an instant in your life that also absolutely defies categorisation. You are right now simultaneously a child and an adult, a son or daughter but also now your own person. Tonight you are both a student and a graduate of HeadStart, and you will this day become not just school friends but also only memories of friendship for each other. In this room right now is both an end and a beginning and I suspect this makes you both happy and sad. But in this moment is potential. You are like a spring tightly coiled by school, family, friends and life, and where you go is both predicted and unpredictable. The decisions you make from this point on may define you, but if you are lucky they will just open up further doors of endless potentialities.
And for me this is why this is a moment to celebrate. If the last year has proved anything, it is that the world of defining things neatly in categories, valuing one idea or person over another, or even being able to predict what the next day will hold, is fast disappearing. The people who will run the new world that emerges over your lifetime need to not be like us, content with single definitions of success, virtue or self but open, flexible and chaotic, able to respond to the unknown.
So whatever you do in life, remember and embrace your uncertainty. Once thing that graduating will make you realise is that what is presented to you as an end, is in fact just one of a series of steps that will never be neatly ordered. You will take steps forwards but you will also take them sideways and even back, so do not expect to neatly progress through life. Do not be fixed - opinions and long term goals are good to have - but interrogate them constantly and don’t be afraid to change them. Be thankful for the privileges you’ve had and respectful of the people and places that have provided them, but challenge their assumptions and allow your context to change you as you change your context.
So congratulations Class of 2020 for being such an incomprehensible and disorderly bunch, and enjoy this moment of pure chaos in your lives. Getting to know you over the last two years has never been dull and, although there have been moments of exasperation, I have enjoyed every second of it. Like parents, teachers are not supposed to have favourites but you will always hold a special place in my heart as the group who watched the world unravel about them and took it in their stride. The chaotic world is waiting for you and if there is one thing I am certain of, it is that you will bring your own unique brand of indefinable crazy into it and somehow leave your mark. Thank you.
By Ms Gemma Caines, Head of Sixth Form