Speech Day began with Leavers' Mass in the Chapel, celebrated by The Right Reverend Christopher Budd Bishop Emeritus of Pymouth. His Homily addressed how school is just a small part of our journey through life. Bishop Budd asked our leavers to build on their school days, give thanks to God for what they have received and to not forget to pray for each other.
Following Mass, Governors, parents, pupils and staff gathered in the marquee where Mr Michael King, our Chair of Governors, welcomed them. Mr King explained how the Governors and Prior Leadership Team have restated Prior Park Schools values in our new Vision 2025 document.
Mr Murphy-O'Connor then addressed the community. Noting Monkton School's recent Speech Day, and with the help of our Director of Drama Mr Langley and a few props, the Headmaster had the audience in giggles as he tried to decide which performance to give - something from Cabaret, or maybe Chicago, definitely not The Full Monty, perhaps Riverdance is more JMOC? I advise you to watch the video... https://www.facebook.com/prior...
Continuing with this Irish theme Mr Murphy-O'Connor then spoke about his beloved County Mayo and Old Head harbour, a place where the fishermen of West Mayo head off from in search of lobster, crab, mackerel and the like. Some fishing boats head out further to less chartered waters, in search of a bigger catch. Before they go the fishermen need to ensure their boats are seaworthy, that they have decent supplies, a good crew and the key skills and excellent training required to navigate these waters. The ocean can be surprising; sometimes boats are caught in the doldrums, at other times the crew are holding on tight just to survive the rough seas. As our Leavers head out to the unchartered waters of life between school and family, we hope they have gathered the skills and crew to help navigate them onwards.
The Headmaster believes our leavers need two further skills, Vision and Faith. Vision for themselves and their crew and Faith (in God), in good times and bad. Referencing a speech given by Pope Benedict, "The Lord is in that boat. He does not let it sink, it is he who guides it."
Following the presentations of Co-curricular and Academic Awards, our Guest of Honour, The Reverend Prebendary Edward Mason Rector, Bath Abbey, addressed the community. The Rector was recently asked what his 'luxury item' would be if he was cast away on Desert Island Discs. Luckily, he had brought it with him - a box of rocks! Each rock has a special meaning to Prebendary Mason. The first was from a memorable family holiday in the Isle of Wight; the next from the beautiful Masai Mara Game Park; another from the Munro Mountains of Scotland where he had "broken the rules" and embarked on a stone throwing fight with his sons. Next out of the box was a rock from the shepherds fields in Bethlehem, a place now surrounded by a wall that divides people, "we can make walls crumble". The final rock was from Buckingham Palace. The rocks represent the Rector's intersections of life, great moments and memories. With that, the Rector produced baskets of Prior Park College rocks, which he then handed out to our U6.
U6 has been an outstanding year group. We have been most blessed to witness them leave the twin harbours of home and school. They are ready to set sail on exciting adventures and we wish all of them "Bon Voyage."