This week sees the beginning of the Holy Father’s Synod on the Family. It seems appropriate, therefore, to reflect on our school family. If some of the functions of the family are to teach, look out for and protect each other then we are lucky to see the true spirit of family at Challoner.
Over the last few weeks I have been touched by numerous messages or emails I have received from members of the public or people who know the school highlighting the care Challoner students have shown when outside the confines of our school walls for their school mates or members of the wider community. One Sixth Former found a frightened Year 7 boy who had missed his bus and made sure he was safely reunited with his parents. Another Year 9 boy put a friendly arm around a younger student who had been sick on the way to school and escorted him to the medical room. Two Year 8 students stopped to help a mother off the bus with her buggy, shopping and young children. Yet another Sixth Former took it upon himself to reunite a lost bag, mobile and purse with its worried owner.
These are just some of the messages that have come to me from outside school but inside school I see daily acts of compassion and genuine friendship. Sometimes these are very simple and expected acts of kindness. Such as when students stop to help if someone slips in the playground or trips in the corridor. Sometimes it is a shared smile of understanding when something has not gone right or a pat on the back to reassure a pal after they have been the butt of a collective joke. However, there are also times when the gesture of support offered to another student or from a member of staff to a student is so genuine and understated it can leave you truly staggered and humbled.
As I still try to get over England’s exit from the world cup, I can’t help but reflect on our efforts in school. Sometimes, we can try our hardest, be sincere in our efforts, be true to our character and yet still fall short. It is a bitter pill to swallow. The question I would pose is – do we change our values and question our character or do we learn from our mistakes and forge a new path moving forward?
This week saw some tough rugby played at school with a few hard fought but tough losses. For some the initial buzz of a new school year is wearing off and a few mistakes have been made. Work is mounting up, rehearsals are scheduled, House events are taking time and life is beginning to feel more pressured – for students and teachers.
So – do we back off or do we back up what we believe in and continue to strive for everyday excellence? Strong, secure families pull together and enjoy being together when the going gets tough.
A Jesuit friend of mine once told me that families that pray together stay together. I’ve always thought this was pretty good advice. Perhaps, as we join in our daily acts of communal prayer in our school family, it is something to keep in mind as the term moves forward.