As beginnings go, last weekend’s Coronation of King Charles III proved to be quite a beginning – an immaculately rehearsed public spectacle on an international stage – they don’t come much bigger than that. Steeped in history, a re-enactment and remembrance of ancient traditions and events, the ceremonies and pageantry, with their centuries-old carriages, crowns and jewels, served to re-establish a link to the past, yet herald the beginning of a new era.
Watched by 20.4 million people worldwide as the King was crowned, viewers bore witness to the first moments of the formal Carolean era, last seen in the seventeenth century. But strong beginnings rely on strong endings.
It is not often you can say you witnessed the end of an era. But by definition, the second Elizabethan age ended with the death and subsequent funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, which was meticulously managed and undeniably moving. It was – as the odd but accurate phrase has it – a good funeral. Not least because it was in recognition of a genuine good. Whatever your view of the monarchy and the institution as a whole, it is hard to deny that Elizabeth II loyally served right to the end.
In school this week, on a somewhat smaller scale, Year 13 students marked the end of an era with a full week of costume planning, final lessons, yearbook receiving and signing, culminating in the Sixth Form Celebration event on Thursday evening. Year 13 students assembled with their parents to mark the end of their High School education, making way for study leave and final preparations for their A Level exams.
During the same week, our Year 6 pupils travelled with their teachers to Osmington Bay on the south coast for a week of fun-filled challenges and activities with their friends, cementing life-long relationships ahead of their transition to Senior School, signalling the approaching close of their primary education journey.
At the time of writing, Year 13’s final celebration assembly looms large – a chance for the students to dress up in their themed costumes, joined by the Senior School staff, to watch the Leavers’ film, and say final ‘thank yous’, creating a memorable close to the girls’ experience at Northampton High.
American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, whose over life-size white marble bust has stood in Poets’ Corner Westminster Abbey since 1884, quoted ‘Great is the art of beginning, but greater the art is of ending’. How apt.
As parents of Preschool, Year 6, and Year 11 pupils will know well and feel acutely, the transition ahead to the next important stage of school life – to Reception, Senior School, Sixth Form respectively – brings heightened anticipation, emotion, and perhaps a sense of nervousness. For the parents of Year 13 students, who have, in some cases, been bringing their daughters to Northampton High for the last 15 years, the next steps for their daughters will be understandably daunting, yet keenly anticipated.
What is crucial for this time of uncertainty is that the ‘endings’ for our students who are nearing the next liminal stage of their education are the best they can be, making way for positive new beginnings.
Good endings matter. The hoodies, the year books, the new plans, the celebratory events and the transition sessions are all part of making sure the culmination of the ‘lasts’ at that stage of school life make way for the myriad expectant ‘firsts’ to come.
Our Year 11 students will now prepare for their summer GCSE exams as they start their study leave. Our Year 13s leave us to prepare for their A Level exams, and the page is turning, ready for them to start their next chapter. We wish them everything of the best for the period ahead, and genuinely wish them ‘good beginnings’ for the next stage of their adventures.
Director of Marketing & Admissions