“There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it – if only we’re brave enough to be it”.
Amanda Gorman, ‘The Hill We Climb’
We are still not entirely sure when schools will return, we’re unclear about exactly how GCSE and A Level grades will be awarded, we’ve still got more questions than we have answers. For the past year, life has been unpredictable; we’ve often felt left in the dark. We have all found coping mechanisms. For me, the most effective one has been to look for the light at the end of the tunnel or, as the US Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, put it last week, I’ve tried to look for “the light in this never-ending shade”. To cope with the present, I have looked to the future. Last week, I wrote about the important part our development project has played in this. As our working title for the project (‘Designing the Future of Brighton Girls’) suggests, there are ways to control at least some of what happens next, and this is all the more important when the present is clouded with uncertainty.
As Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it”.
Over the last two weeks, we’ve been helping the students do just that. Last week, I spoke to the Year 11s about strategies to maintain momentum when the end goal is no longer in sight. My advice was as follows: use this time to consider future choices; take time to notice the things that are starting to crystallise; consider which subjects retain their appeal even when filtered through a screen? Our Sixth Form scholarship process will feed into this – in identifying and nurturing passions – and plans are in motion to begin similar discussions with Year 10. For them, things may seem less urgent, but the same principle applies: find your North Star, fix your sight on something – these strategies can help us navigate the present.
This week also saw the start of our Early Doors process for Year 5. One of the many benefits of being an all-through school is that we have the power to bring certainty at each transition stage – and we will soon be talking to Year 5 pupils about moving up to the Senior school in September 2022. Meanwhile, teachers across the Prep and Senior schools are collaborating on a new project for Wellbeing Week. We are asking Year 11 students to distil content from their GCSE science courses and repackage it into lessons for Year 5 and 6, which they will deliver themselves. Not only will this provide a learning opportunity for all involved, but it should serve to remind everyone of their place within the Brighton Girls family. Big sisters and littler sisters learning together – I can feel the serotonin levels rising already.
To motivate ourselves towards a brighter future, it is important too to shine a light on the past. We were reminded of this on Wednesday, as we marked Holocaust Memorial Day, the theme for which was ‘Being the Light in the Darkness’. The Brighton Girls Faith Committee, comprising students from Year 7 to Year 13 and led by Mrs Dowglass, interviewed Sheindi Perez, a survivor and local resident. Sheindi told her story with incredible power and authority; it was a voice that Mrs Ashdown described as being both “beautiful and terrifying” – terrifying in its subject and detail; beautiful in its message of hope.
“Where can we find light in this never-ending shade?” asked Amanda Gorman at the inauguration of Joe Biden last week. The answer? Acknowledge the past, look to the future and, in the present, celebrate the light we each bring to the world.
“There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see if – if only we’re brave enough to be it”.