No Man is an Island - particularly in a pandemic

The Head's Study

Our value of community remains at the core of so much that we do regardless of the pandemic.”
Mrs Kate Reynolds, Head

Having read about the excitement this weekend at the discovery of a handwritten manuscript of John Donne’s poetry found in Suffolk, I poked around a little more than normal as I pulled our Christmas decorations out of the attic, ever hopeful. Before I knew much about Donne’s poetry I had already mused at length about what is probably his most famous line – ‘no man is an island’. Schools at Christmas would normally be a shining example of this, of the incredible power and energy created by communities as they come together to mark the festive period. Of course, it is different this year but, pleasingly, thinking through the last few days and the week ahead, not that different. Our value of community remains at the core of so much that we do regardless of the pandemic.

So, this morning four of our boarders talked to the Senior School about human rights, giving examples of role models and reminding us of the importance of respecting the equal rights we all have. Thank you to Magdalena Freund, Candice Leung, Catherine Emoekpere and Sybil Wu for their insights. They provided a timely reminder of this as, close to home, we have one of our best-known independent schools in the limelight as freedom of speech is debated.

Later this week all of our girls will join the annual Amnesty International ‘Right to Write’ campaign, writing letters of solidarity to people around the world who have suffered human rights injustices or letters of appeal to the authorities who can bring justice to them. Working together as a community they will hope to bring comfort and change.

This spirit of community is seen repeatedly across the School reinforcing the value of working together for others. Over the last few weeks, Eliza Hyde has been organising an inter-house Christmas Hamper challenge encouraging year groups to donate generously to hampers that will be distributed to local families through St Stephen’s Church. Well done to Year 8 who were declared winners but indeed to everyone doing their part as a community to help others.

And in a different but no less important vein, the inter-house sporting events on Saturday were a timely reminder of the collaboration and team-work integral to strong communities. Just as the pandemic has proved to us how crucial human contact is to our wellbeing, so the second lockdown reminded us of how much we have missed sport and House events.

As the Royal High School community heads home for Christmas, I hope the girls will bring with them that sense of service to others during the festive period. Our ‘islands’ my be smaller than usual this year as we form our Christmas bubbles, but I hope that you and your families enjoy a peaceful and happy Christmas together.
Kate Reynolds, Head