Despite the whole school suddenly switching to remote learning during the week, due to a surge in COVID cases, our Headmaster, Mr. Howard Tuckett, insisted that the Year 6 & Year 8 graduation proceed, because it forms such a critical element of a child’s overall development. “A good closure to a learning stage is as important as having a good start of a new chapter”, said Mr. Tuckett.
So, when the sun was setting on a Tuesday evening, our graduating students, dressed smartly in their school uniform, arrived together with their parents. Socially distanced greetings were exchanged, whilst many queued up for one final family photo before entering the hall.
Mr. Parr, Head of Key Stage 3 and Class Teacher to Year 8 (who came to WASHK from WASCZ), kicked off the ceremony with his typically stern face and a hint of humour. A quick welcome for the parents was immediately followed by five minutes of addressing students. A true teacher from the heart, Mr. Parr was giving his students a final lesson! This time, a lesson of self-reflection.
“Remember at the beginning of the year, when I asked all of you to know your place at this school, that being the most senior cohort at school, your every word said, and actions performed, sets the standard for our school, and also an example for all other students to follow? I am proud to say that you have all duly carried out this responsibility well and set a fine example as the first batch of graduating students from Wycombe Abbey School Hong Kong.”
After the address, it was time for Year 6 to get onto the stage and perform their English song “Seasons of Love”. For the first time, they sang together (a week of remote learning meant there were no opportunities to rehearse). Joe Kedwards sang at top of his voice during his solo performance and parents snapped as many photos and video footage as possible. Afterall, this was the last time they were all to be on the same stage.
Our Headmaster, Mr. Howard Tuckett, then took over and began to recall a unique year of running the school under constant disruption from COVID-19. He praised students, staff and parents in maintaining a positive attitude throughout the long periods of lockdown and explained it was the togetherness that kept the school going, and students will only emerge from this experience stronger.
He summarized how WASHK’s core mission was to always teach their children three skills; to think, to reason, and to solve problems. These universal skills, in his mind, will remain strong and valuable to students within society, no matter what the future holds. He reminded students to embrace the unknown, to bravely walk the advancement of humanity into unchartered grounds, where it is likely their adult lives will look like something from a science fiction movie of today.
Anyone who thought Mr. Tuckett was exaggerating was soon reminded that when he was a child, he watched the first series of Star Trek on a black and white TV. He recalled people were able to talk to each other through a small mobile device- they could even see each other on different screens, and that glass doors would automatically slide open. Back then, it was all science fiction, but now look around us! Armed with the ability to think, reason, and work collaboratively to solve problems, our students are not only well-equipped to adapt to the future but help shape it as well.
Prizes, awards and souvenirs were handed out next. As each student walked onto the stage, their class teacher read a short paragraph to highlight his/her personality, interests and key achievements of the year. Every speech was unique, why? Because every child is unique. Many parents could not help but whisper to one another, “I can’t believe how well these teachers know my child!”
Onto the Year 8 performance, and once again it was the first and last time for them to sing together “再见我的朋友，未来可期” (So long for now my friends). Despite the lack of practice, it was important that everyone took part. WASHK’s stage is not built for only those who are ‘show ready’, but for every student. In Mr. Tuckett’s words, “the objective of this song was not to impress the adults, your parents already love you no matter what. This performance was more to let you show yourself and everyone that you can do it, and with confidence as well! And for that, we applaud you.”
Finally, it was time for students to collect their annual keepsake, the school yearbook. A tangible record of a successful year at WASHK. In the coming weeks, students will gather in their own capacity and exchange farewell messages, before they embark onto their next chapter of life.