Head Boy’s Speech Day and Prize Giving Speech 2017
Ladies, gentlemen and Bickley Park boys and honoured guests, I am standing on the stage of the Churchill theatre, to describe to you what a privilege it has been to have been at Bickley Park School for my whole school life and how well the school has prepared me, and my friends, for the next stages of our lives.
Bickley Park School has been my second home for 11 years now and I am now leaving for the next chapter of my life, which will surely come as a huge shock to the system. However, I am sure that my excitement at making the next step in my life will strongly overwhelm any lingering sadness.
I imagine this is what it would feel like to be standing on the winning position on the podium of a formula Ford race, knowing that you are ready to move on to the next stage of your motor racing career, which is Formula 3 by the way! When you consider it, the life of a developing Bickley Park boy does greatly resemble that of a maturing racing driver.
Although I can’t remember my first day in the nursery we have a photograph of my brother and I ready to go and I can see the look of pride and confidence on his face as he prepares to introduce his little brother to his marvelous Bickley Park world. Sadly my Mum isn’t so keen on the food mixer in the background of the picture!
Nursery could be compared to karting where a young driver is introduced to driving, gradually progressing to competition when he will have more control of his vehicle. It was a safe and nurturing environment to start my school career. At my nursery teddy bears’ tea party, I can specifically remember worrying that my teddy was being strangled by the name tag which the teachers had placed around its neck (don’t worry, he did survive!)
In pre-prep I will always remember at the start of every morning, raising our caps to Mr Marsh at the big purple door as he greeted us all by name; and in the autumn, playing outside in the playground, trying to catch the falling leaves before they hit the ground in our caps. How things have changed since then – that tree has since been uprooted and replaced by the new eco building.
And the joy of being old enough to move to Prep! No caps or grey shorts anymore and the opportunity to change teachers and buildings and get some fresh air between lessons, catching up with our friends and DEFINITELY NOT running on the path, Mrs Marriott!
No one can leave Bickley without memories of the hell that is cross country – mud – smelly socks – the heavenly sight of the finish line – never has a chocolate Penguin biscuit tasted so good ( unless the year sixes have eaten them all, as we found out last year). At the time, we all feel that there is no purpose to this torture. However, with hindsight, I realise that it is one of the many character building experiences that have brought me here to you today.
Sport plays a huge part of our lives here. Sport every day, and many additions, like the rugby tour to Portugal in 2015, run by the sports department, has been responsible for many of year 8’s fondest memories of the school. One of the most entertaining highlights was glancing over to Oscar Gray, a year 8 last year, whilst we were paintballing, who gave me the thumbs up, before immediately receiving a paintball directly to the face. The lesson I learnt? Keep your head down!!
So many events take place before and after lessons, including the many music ensembles and drama productions. I have progressed from recorder to clarinet and saxophone under the excellent guidance of Miss Thurlow, and started learning the piano too. I was also fortunate enough to go on the choir tour to Venice, where we enjoyed a packed itinerary of music and sightseeing carefully planned by Mr Stein. This wide range of extra-curricular activities even includes a beekeeping club, where for the first time I decked myself out in an alien outfit and visited the bees with Mr Wenham.
Recently, Year 8 was taken away for a week to the Dordogne to celebrate the end of exams. Whist there, we learnt survival skills – some of us more than others….I think none of us will ever forget Matt’s team sinking their three man canoe or Eddie bouncing off the tree on the zip wire and then having to do ninja grappling moves to get back to the other side! We won’t mention me walking face-first into a road sign!
We practised working in teams, whilst also learning that safety helmets are NOT a fashion accessory to be recommended!! Our grateful thanks go to Mr Hyslop, Mr White and Mr Bagnall for being such good sports.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the teachers, from those who taught me when I was in early years, right the way through to the teachers who showed me what a point evidence explanation was, or how to use pythagoras’ theorem last year.
During Common Entrance week, Josh Broadfield and I went down to pre-prep, where I was with RHS, 1AK, and 2JP. Watching the boys at pre-prep brought back many happy memories of my time in the department. Whilst I was there, I bumped into Mrs Hamel who was my key-worker in nursery. She hardly recognised me, remembering me as a “little round thing”.
We have all become accustomed to Mr Patel’s motivational videos, and Mrs Evans’ constant smile and encouragement, so it might actually be hard for us to be moving away from the teachers who we all know so well, to new teachers who surely will never be able to understand us as well. I would also like to thank Mr Hornby for being an excellent form teacher this year and also a great science teacher for most of my Bickley Park career. I am sure that Mr Petrozzi hasn’t forgotten my knowledge of the band ‘The Clash’ in one of the general knowledge competition rounds, a trait that was unfortunately passed down from my Dad!
Throughout my school years, our teachers have provided the guidance and support in a similar way to a racing team manager and we all have much to thank them for. They have gone the extra mile to ensure that we all have been able to learn and develop as we have progressed through Formula Ford into Formula 3.
The team engineers are the people in school who make it all happen, the staff and teachers, the caterers and the people who maintain the school. Thank you to the Matrons, Lily and her staff in the kitchens – you have no idea how happy it makes us when we know it is all day breakfast or turkey burgers on the menu!
Tomorrow, I, along with nine other year 8s, will be setting off for Wales, with the target of walking the entirety of Offa’s Dyke, essentially a massive mound of soil which runs the length of the boundary between England and Wales. Altogether, the distance that we will be walking over ten days is 176 miles, so it’s no wonder that Mr Cash described the badge which we will receive at the end of the Offa’s challenge as the ‘Victoria Cross of Walking’. This challenge will definitely end our Bickley Park careers on a high, as we will be forging many more lasting memories. Hopefully, these memories are memorable in a good way, unlike on the practice walks of Christian sinking his boot into a huge cow pat, or of Ilias’ falling backwards on a steep hill, to avoid ploughing straight into Mr Cash.
Lastly, my school days have been made memorable by my friends and fellow pupils. From the day a boy enters Bickley Park School, he is made to feel welcome and, almost instantly, they settle down as though they have always been here. I have been lucky enough to be at Bickley since I was 2 ½ – and the friends that I have made will be my friends for life. I must give a special thank you to the Arman family who have generously given me a place in their car on the school run and made my journey to school so much easier.
I will endeavour to keep the values of Bickley Park School in mind as I move forward to Sevenoaks School or Formula One. Whichever way you think about it, I have been very well prepared and am now ready to stretch myself and learn new skills with the intention of standing on many other podia during my life.