So how was your February? I think we can safely say that here at King’s it has been an eventful month. Some of which eventfulness I am able to tell you about…
The fact that both Groundhog Day and Candlemas coincide with one’s birthday is surely a sign of good fortune. What is even more gratifying is that one’s friends are prepared to fly over from the south of France for one’s birthday dinner. And given that one’s friend is a dealer in extremely rare wines one’s birthday dinner had a rather mellow and wonderful feel to it.
Just before the half term break we had a splendid concert in the Chapel, which I thought was one of the best I had heard. Annie O’Neil’s clarinet playing was a highlight, as was the singing of the Chapel Choir – a large outfit, and one which is not heard often enough outside the usual routine of Wednesday morning Eucharist. They are making an increasingly rich and accurate sound. We heard three organists playing; a sign of the growing popularity of that instrument in the College.
At the fifth form parents' meeting the next evening, while speaking about the joys of the King’s Sixth Form (and they are legion), I challenged the pupils to explain why the only term in which we could ever have two Friday the 13ths was the Lent Term. Any ideas? And indeed this is such a term. Is that an omen, I wonder? And if so is it for good or ill? Or is triskaidekaphobia just a load of old nonsense?
The half term break itself was quite an adventure for me. I travelled to India to meet the developers and see the site of a new school we are thinking of supporting. It’s too much up in the air still to give much detail, but the potential is there and I was excited by the idea, by what I saw and the people I met. We’ll see. I also interviewed some delightful young men and women who are thinking of coming to King’s to study. I do believe that India is going to be an important part of our children’s future and we need to embrace it and get to know it. The highlight for me was one night spent in a renovated hill fort in Rajasthan, perched on a cliff above a sleepy little village. A real slice of heaven – peaceful, warm, comfortable and simple. They only serve vegetarian food and we did not realise that you have to bring your own alcohol; but I survived. I wandered into the village in the morning and was greeted by children on their way to school – smart, cheerful, happy to chat. Children are, essentially, pretty much the same wherever you go.
The second half of term is flying by at a rate of knots. We’re into staff recruitment season now and I am delighted to say that in the last few weeks we have made some outstanding appointments for next year. It is always heartening to see how strong the application is for jobs at King’s. The fact that people want to work here must say something about us. Once the season is over and the appointments are all made I’ll give final details to parents.
And another bit of excitement is that we are also into the 13+ scholarship season. A good number of sports candidates joined us for two days last week (one of which was, thank goodness, clear and dry). They seemed to have a good time, and I look forward to hearing how they did. Tomorrow the academic candidates arrive for three days of exams and interviews. We do try to make the experience as positive as possible, although I know (having one candidate under my roof this year) that it is an anxious time too. Then on Thursday and Friday we see the art, music, DT and drama candidates, after which we try to come up with a fair and sensible set of decisions about who gets what awards, with the inevitable tension between wanting to reward the incredible talent on offer and the need for budgetary constraint. I am excited by the enormous levels of interest in King’s places for September and the strength of the field of applicants.
I write this on St David’s Day. Looking out of the kitchen this morning we were greeted by the sight of a large swathe of daffodils, glinting in the pouring rain. Y Ddraig Goch ddyry gychwyn, as they might say across the Severn.
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