HEADMASTER'S REFLECTIONS ON ACADEMIC YEAR 2022-23
Yet another successful year has come to a close at one of the country's pre-eminent boarding and day schools, Headmaster Mark Semmence reflects on this academic year's key events.
There is a particular type of contentment which comes from walking through our beautiful grounds and buildings. It has to be said that they have rarely looked finer - and I do hope you get the opportunity to wander around the site during the course of today – with striking modernity complementing the ancient stones of our oldest structures.
I am very aware that a reverence for the past is not always the natural preserve of the young, but I do feel that Reptonians’ affections for their school are securely tied to the wonderful environment we are so fortunate to enjoy. They might not always appreciate that a thousand years of learning have accumulated on this site, nor pay specific heed to the eight-hundred-year-old charms of the Old Priory, but our pupils, revising keenly, come to appreciate the reliable peace of the Library just as pupils and monks have done for centuries before them. Of course, it is the energy of the pupils and staff which breathes life into the bricks and mortar, and pitches and planting: the annual seasonal and academic renewal is a wonderfully sustaining thing, making tradition fresh and individual.
As a School and as a nation we, in our lifetime, have perhaps never been confronted by the power of history as much as in this year with the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022 after 70 years on the throne and the subsequent coronation of King Charles III on 6 May 2023. The Queen’s passing prompted questions of national identity and the lifetime of service she embodied and then, in her son’s accession to the throne, witnessed by her grandson and great-grandson, we saw again those virtues of change and continuity entwined in the life-affirming rituals of the day.
At Repton, our ceremonies of remembrance and thanksgiving coalesce around the Chapel and The Garth, places of antiquity and beauty, and I am reminded of the words I say each year at The Founder’s Day Service where we as a community recall and thank those who ‘each in their generation, have built truly and wisely that invisible building of the spirit wherein we walk today’. Our leavers this year have been able to build their own futures on the strong foundations of the past. Each in turn, perhaps unknowingly, has laid their stone, built their memories and set their monument, not realising the effect on themselves and those around them. We will remember them with gratitude and welcome them back with pleasure to a place that will always be theirs.