A photo taken by Lillian Spibey entitled: Cranleigh We Will Rock You II-4564

This blog is a transcript of the March 2020 Colours Assembly podcast.

Having had a week of virtual learning, a podcast assembly will not feel like a surprise to you. Over recent weeks, we have been introduced to new concepts such as ‘social distancing’ and ‘furlough’, over use of the word ‘unprecedented’.

So at the very least, I thought we could do some of the things we normally do in assembly. Something ordinary that nonetheless focuses on some of the extraordinary things that have happened this term so we do not let Coronavirus dominate our thinking.

I will announce the winners of the competitions and award Colours and offer a few thoughts for the Easter break.

The term started in an extraordinary way. On the very first weekend, the girls’ U16 indoor hockey team became the first hockey team in Cranleigh history to win a back to back national title, equalling the feat of the Rosslyn Park 7s team of 2016 &17. Five days later, we gathered in the reading room as the 1st XV collected the Daily Mail Trophy for topping the Michaelmas term’s performance league, another amazing performance.

Only hours before on the same day, Old Cranleighan Ollie Pope scored his maiden test century for England, 135 NO against South Africa. Not bad going for a school of 400 boys and 260 girls!

I am not sure any of us imagined that we would end the way we did first with scarlet fever and chicken pox and then the ending of school sport, trips and finally school closure. You will all have shared in some form of loss and disappointment that work you have put in over so many months, whether that was to your academic studies, sport, music, drama, did not reach its proper conclusion. Yet I have been so impressed by the way you have conducted yourselves, especially whilst we have been away. Thank you for taking the bigger national perspective and just putting up with it without audible complaining.

True character is often revealed in times of crisis, and I have received so many plaudits on your behalf from your teachers in recent days which have shown those values of commitment, friendship, leadership, service have shone through, especially in the way you have approached remote learning and the different forms of activity, callovers, chapel, exercise programmes.

We want you to be thinking, being, giving young men and women. Thank you for demonstrating that. Keep going over the next few weeks.

Before we move on to cups and colours, I just want to highlight three things from this term that did go ahead.

I experienced my first ever Vex Robotics competition in late January. The combination of preparation, design, technical wizardry and team work is brilliant. Not to mention the ruthless competition that makes watching it almost a gladiatorial spectacle. The team had qualified for the national finals but could not take part because of travel restrictions – hopefully, they will get another chance next year.

The CCF had a very successful biennial inspection a week before we broke up. There are few areas in school life where pupils genuinely get to lead others and the CCF is one of them. The section goes from strength to strength under the guidance of the Major Reed, Sgt Money and the other officers, but real credit must go to the senior NCOs, Ben F, Hugo N, and their teams who take on the ground responsibility week to week for the cadets. Their enthusiasm is infectious.

We will Rock You was months in the making, hours of rehearsal for directors, actors, musicians, tech crews. To only perform it twice to an audience was a great shame. But what a performance it was! From acting to music, dance, visuals, technology it really was spectacular. It is hard to single out people as drama is all about teams. For Freddie M to take the lead amongst so many experienced actors and musicians was amazing; and then almost anonymously at the front, James G showcasing his talent as a guitarist helping hold it all together. We were well and truly rocked.

I understand the collective footage of the performance is good, so we look forward to an internal showing at some point when we return.

The names of individual recipients of Colours and Awards are on Firefly.

Competitions & Cups

Now we have four boys’ houses and four girls’ houses, this year has seen the growth of affiliated house competitions, which I think have been a great initiative. Thank you for your support for them. Here is the list of winners:

Affiliated House Senior Maths: Cubitt / South
Affiliated House Junior Maths: East / Martlet
Affiliated House Chess: North/West
Affiliated House Bouldering: Rhodes/Loveday
Affiliated House Fives: Cubitt/South
Junior House Water Polo: Loveday
Affiliated House Senior Badminton: North/West
Affiliated House Junior Badminton: North/West
House Football Soccer Sixes: Cubitt
Senior House Netball: West
Boys Indoor Hockey: North
Orrorroo Hockey Cup to best Junior Team: U14As – won five, drew one (unbeaten)

The plan was to introduce a new award for student leadership this term. As I mentioned in December, one of the things I have been most struck by this year is the way you are taking the lead whether that was Eco Group, Alliance, Cranleigh Being or indeed in Prefect and Voluntary Action and Charity Work.

We do not lead, or at least we should not lead, because we want to receive a reward. We often do so from a deep moral conviction that something needs to be done or said to make the places in which we live and work better than they were.

When I sat and listened to Henry M and Macca G speak from their hearts and their experiences, I cannot remember a time when I have encountered such integrity, bravery, honesty and powerful vulnerability from a student, and to be fair not many adult leaders. It was incredibly humbling, sometimes a little shaming and uncomfortable and did what all great talks do, make you consider the world differently.

I would like to present them both with a school shield as the first recipients of this leadership award. However, our tribute to them must be that our culture changes and that our language changes, being respectful, kind, accepting to everyone regardless of their sexuality, gender, race or religion. I hope we will look back in a year or two’s time, look back at a kinder culture and a more supportive language and point to a turning point when two young leaders were prepared to take the stand.

A few thoughts to end with, inspired by We Will Rock You.

We are going to find the next few weeks a challenge. We will all be anxious. We all know that there are plenty of ways you can hurt a man and bring him to the ground. You can beat him, you can cheat him, you can treat him bad and leave him when he’s down. It’s that terror of knowing what this world’s about.

But now there is a new thing, this virus, an unknown foe. It makes us question, ‘Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?’ And even though we are hoping that corona virus will respond to Mr Fahrenheit , we all feel under pressure, caught in a landslide, no escape from reality. Whether here we stand or here we fall History won’t care at all.

I am sure as you are all sat home, all you are thinking is, ‘I want to break free from all this remote learning that is guaranteed to blow your mind, break free from sports staff exercises that tell you not to be fat bottomed, down beside the red fire light.’ But by flash and thunder fire, I know you will survive. So stick around, ‘cause we might miss you, when we get tired of all this visual. And please believe me when I say, Bismillah, no we will not let you go.

Please take time to say to one another when you are happy, happy at home, ‘you are my best friend.’

One day soon, and more than once a day, you will be able to get on your bikes and ride, and ride them where you like. You will go to a Nandos and say, ‘Gimme Fried Chicken!’ You will be wavin’ your banner all over the place. Trust me, you are gonna take on the world some day. You’ll be travelling at the speed of light. There will be no stopping you. You won’t wanna stop at all.

And you will look back and reflect that it’s been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise, a challenge before the whole human race that has proved that you can go on and on and on. The days were endless, we were crazy, we were young. These were the days of our lives.

As for me, I have learned one thing: I don’t wanna be the President of America!

To quote Gerald Turner, I do wanna be the ‘best Headmaster of Cranleigh School, Sir’ and can’t wait until we are all back together again. God Bless You All.