School Newsletter: Waddesdon Voice

The image on the front of this edition of the Voice shows students in Year 7 investigating Hooke’s Law. As you may know, Hooke’s Law says that force is proportionate to extension, or in other words, the more weight you add, the greater the stretch on a spring. 

When I was at school I remember learning about the elastic limit, the point at which the spring would no longer return to its original form. As eager young physicists, we would load more and more weights onto the spring, measuring the extension at each point, until – at last – the spring lost its ‘springiness’ due to the build-up of weights. It had reached its elastic limit. 

Thank goodness we’re human beings, not springs. 

Despite the worries and demands that have weighed on us all since March 23rd 2020, I believe in our ability to return to our original form and to return to our ‘spring’. Yes, of course, we may need help from others, benefit from spiritual support, or perhaps just need time to recover, but what keeps us going, and will continue to keep us going into this year, is our ability to come back from our own elastic limits. 

Like the three students collaborating on the front cover, we recover best when we do it together, not in isolation. Or in the words of Ecclesiastes, 

“A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” 

So, as the days get lighter and with them, hopefully, the weights we have all been carrying, let’s remember who we are, collectively as well as individually, so that we can flourish together. 

The message of Easter reminds us of this hope and the promise that comes with it. Happy Easter, to you all. 

– Mr Abbott, Headteacher

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St Paul tells us to

“give thanks in all circumstances” which feels like a bit of a tall order given the year that has just passed for all of us.

However, thanks to our chaplain, Revd. Phil White, we were able to reflect on these words in the recent Services of Praise and Thanksgiving. He even managed to convince us he was thankful for a parking ticket he’d received, noting that he was lucky enough to own a car in the first place!

I had a similar experience recently when I realised that our garden shed had been broken into. Thankfully, the unwitting thieves had stolen the only bike that was broken and left the ones we actually use – to transport our daughter around town. In fact, the road bike that they had taken
was then later found
by a kind neighbour, discarded in a front garden due to the tyres being flat. I even found myself being thankful for my deficiencies in bicycle maintenance!

As ever, the students help us all to be thankful: from their joyful engagement with life and the poignant reminders from Remembrance Day. I am in admiration of, and grateful to, the students who are leading the school in our work on becoming even more explicitly actively anti- racist. 

Having started with a theological perspective, I end with a psychological one:

“The optimists and
the pessimists: I have been studying them
for the past twenty-five years. The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault.

The optimists, who are confronted with the same hard knocks of this world, think about misfortune in the opposite way. They tend to believe defeat is just a temporary setback, that its causes are confined to this one case.

The optimists believe defeat is not their fault: circumstances, bad luck, or other people brought it about. Such people are unfazed by defeat. Confronted by a bad situation, they perceive it as a challenge and try harder.”

Dr. Martin Seligman, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life.

I hope that you can find things to be thankful for this Christmas, whatever the circumstances.”

– Mr Abbott, Headteacher

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“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10).

One of the reasons why the students chose this verse for our school was because they wanted to acknowledge that life can be difficult and messy as well as exciting and rewarding. To live life, in all its fullness, requires us to recognise the spiritual, emotional and physical aspects of our well-being.

The challenges that we have all faced over the past few months have brought home how much we depend on each other, on our inner reserves and on those things to which we turn for succour and support.

I hope, as you read this edition of the Voice, that the articles, stories and examples remind you that life continues to offer fullness, albeit in a new context,
and also that the students’ creativity and contributions to society are a clear sign of hope for the future.”

– Mr Abbott, Headteacher

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“When we were discussing ideas for this newsletter, we talked about how important it is to look at the world from a different perspective to the one we usually take. Or to use the famous line from To Kill a Mockingbird, acknowledging that “You never really understand a person until you consider things from their point of view… until you climb in their skin and walk around in it.”

Louis’ article on page 3 explores this idea, as do the different extracurricular activities featured throughout and Hannah’s moving piece of creative writing on page 16.”

– Mr Abbott, Headteacher

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