Pupils saying goodbye...

It's that time of year when pupils in Yrs.11 + 13 go on study leave, some never to be seen again apart from when they come in for exams. For the last 5 years I have been a form teacher for the same class, having taken them from Yr.7 (11-12 years old) to Yr.11 (15-16 years old). It's the first time school has ever done this, have teachers (where possible) follow a class through for 5 years. As a practice it has its good sides and bad sides, but the good far outweighs the bad. If things go well you can really develop a relationship with the pupils. You hope that you have been a positive influence on them. In particular in my case as a Brother, I hope that in some small way I have helped bring them closer to Christ. I suppose a good sign for me after these 5 years was that my class bought me a Southampton F.C. shirt with "Bro J" and a "10" on the back. The class had also signed it. Another pupil gave me a large bottle of malt whisky. The class presented the presents to me after our Yr.11 Leavers' Mass which I had led the music for with our staff/pupil band as usual. I was surprised and moved by their generosity. I will of course being seeing (and probably teaching) many of them in the 6th Form next year, but it was nonetheless a moment of farewell to them as a bunch (full of lively, witty characters) that left a lump in the throat. Two of them will be coming with me to Africa in 6 weeks.

1178972542 Spt Ai Southampton Derby 04
20 year-old Saints midfielder, Andrew Surman, a former pupil of our (the De La Mennais Brothers') Southampton school, St. Mary's College.

Today (Fri.) and tomorrow it's the turn of our Yr.13s. They had their Leavers' Mass and full English breakfast this morning. Their Leavers' Party is tomorrow with us staff musos providing the "entertainment"! We always end with a few good sing-a-longs to get them joining in (which they invariably do at any opportunity). There's always a really good, friendly atmosphere at the Yr.13 Leavers' do, with staff and 6th Formers enjoying each others company in a relaxed atmosphere. If I think of it I'll put a set list up here (so you can all laugh!).
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