After welcoming our new Year 7 students to Heart of England on Tuesday, we began the new academic year with a whole school assembly on the first full day back after the summer break.
“We always begin with a whole school assembly because it is an opportunity to come together as a community,” began Mr Bennett. He welcomed our new students and staff members and congratulated incoming Year 12 students on their excellent GCSE results this year.
Our recently appointed new Head Boy was the next to speak. George focused on firsts and lasts: “This is the first time I have spoken to such a large group of people. It’s also my final year at Heart of England.” He said that time seems to have gone quickly now that he is looking back at his time at school but that, “for many, this will be a year of firsts. For some Year 7s this may be the first time you learn a new instrument. I remember picking up a guitar for the first time in Year 7 and after many years of practice can perform reasonably tunefully and even be in a band!
“You will have the chance to seize opportunities here. It’s never too early or too late to begin a venture and be the person you have always wanted to be.” George finished his address by quoting writer Charles Caleb Colton: “‘The present time has one advantage over every other – it is our own.’”
Vice Principal Mr Bennett then gave his thoughts for the start of the year. He began by paraphrasing Muhammad Ali by saying: “Don’t count time, make time count.” Mr Bennett speculated that although we think that we know what time is, there is also something ethereal about it. Time has been personified for thousands of years in figures like Kronos and Father Time who have the qualities of wisdom and reflection.
“There is no option in life to fast-forward life in the pursuit of wisdom and experience,” said Mr Bennett. There is no shortcut to knowledge, insight or ability he suggested, even when it’s frustrating. “Just like George speaking about his development as a guitar player, he made the time he spent practicing count.”
Mr Bennett concluded by saying that we should not mark time by using time as a countdown but rather to fill every moment with purpose and meaning.
The final message came from our Principal, Miss Hughes-Williams. She reflected on the many ways we talk about time: “Time is money, time waits for no-one, time flies…” Quoting American poet and writer Carl Sandburg, she said: “‘Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.’ Make sure it is you who chooses how you spend your time.”
Picking up on the themes mentioned by Head Boy George, the Principal said that we’re all at different stages of our life here at Heart of England and that regardless of where we sit on the timeline, today is a beginning. We are often reminded of the passing of time when we meet long-time friends and relatives and see how much they change over time.
The Principal also offered thoughts about how we can use our time not only productively but also positively by serving others or at least refraining from harming them! What gives meaning to our life – the purpose of our life is positive. “The Dalai Lama said, ‘For our life to be of value, I think we must develop basic good human qualities—warmth, kindness, compassion. Then our life becomes meaningful and more peaceful—happier.’ What he’s really saying is time really does count and the same is true of your choices.”
Miss Hughes-Williams closed by saying that it was time to set goals and picked up on the Head Boy’s notion that “It’s never too early or too late. Let’s make this year count!”