School Newsletter: Waddesdon Voice

The inspiration for this edition of the Voice is partly derived from an advertising campaign for the Rio Paralympics in 2016. Sammy Davis Junior’s Yes, I can formed the toe-tapping backing track to an advert on Channel 4 celebrating positivity and achievement. Featuring people from a range of backgrounds performing musical and physical feats, its central message was one of pro-activity with a focus on potential and ability, rather than dis-ability. 

This bumper edition of the Voice carries the same joyful celebration of the achievements of our students this summer term, despite the challenges and barriers that we have all faced. 

It showcases the work of our Year 9 Graphic Designers who were engaged in a national project on promoting the Paralympics, and our students’ leadership skills in areas as varied as: community cohesion, environmental activism, tackling sexism, PE leadership and supporting younger students in their mental health needs. 

You will also enjoy the profusion of creativity expressed through the Musical Showcase, Art, Food and images from our alternative Waddfest. 

To close my thoughts for this term, I find myself returning to the Bible verse which I was passed at the beginning of the year from a long-time friend of the school, Revd. Jacqueline Dove: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians, 6:9. 

This edition of the Voice in some small way celebrates the harvest from this year, the fruits of not giving up; it also is an expression of the immense amount of good work and steadfast commitment to our values across our school community. Thank you to everyone who has helped make this happen. Yes, you did. 

– 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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