St Mary's School

St Mary’s School Prize Giving 2021: Speech by Lizzie, Mary Ward Girl 2020

Hi Year 6 and the rest of St Mary’s! I hope you are all well. In case you don’t know me, I’m Lizzie, a leaver of 2020, and the previous Mary Ward girl.

I was delighted to be asked to make this speech and was excited to have the opportunity to come back to St Mary’s and see my teachers and the school again, albeit virtually. But, I was a bit daunted thinking about what I could say.

Then, I started thinking about all the time I had spent at the School and of so many great friends. And, that for me was the key thing. The School felt warm and accepting – we were all individuals, but we cared for each other.

I just wanted to describe a few of the things that meant so much. Let’s start with Prize Giving and go back.

I remember the excitement of last year’s Prize Giving,  So, I understand a bit how you all must be feeling right now! Thinking about the years at St Mary’s and what comes next.

Why were we so excited? Of course, there was the friendly competition, each wanting our form to be top and wondering who would receive which prize.

But, it was more about the camaraderie, the friendship, being genuinely delighted when the School managed to find a way to include everyone. To find a way to recognise each person’s individual strengths.

The light-hearted build-up made the wait much less tense. But, for me, the best bit of Prize Giving was having a dress-signing competition in the rain, with the unknown prize being able to be in the Chapel with Mrs C-E to receive our prizes!  Turning a rainy day into the excitement, not the problem.

And, that for me is what the School represents. Finding the positive and the value in everyone and everything. Of course, naturally, my form 6C won, and it was so exciting walking into the Chapel – socially distanced of course – and waiting to see what would come next!

What stands out for me at the School.

Of course, the trips were fantastic, time with all my friends.

I’d say one of my favourite trips would be the Year 6 Ski Trip, as it was so much fun, and we did so many different activities. However, with great fun comes great responsibility! As a year group, we consistently showed determination to go down the slope confidently, and maybe even move up onto a harder slope, but every time one of us would fall, we would have to persevere and get down the slope.

A great example of when this happened was when Eliane broke her thumb mid-way down the slope, and yet still wanted to carry on. As well, as that, we would listen to each other as there could be good tips on whether there was a bump on the slope to look out for, or an icy bit to be extra careful on. Watching the teacher doing their impressive skills was very amusing, and we all strived to attempt it as well, not always being successful! I can say confidently that everyone fell down at least once, and may have even hurt themselves. But, at the end of the trip, I never heard anyone complaining, and instead, talking about what a fun time they had!

Another fun trip was the Skern Lodge trip in Year 5. Throughout our time there, we did many different courses, including kayaking, body boarding, abseiling, and much more. I can safely say that with each course we did, someone fell in, or went too fast, or fell off. But, when they had finished, all they could do was laugh about the experience they just went through. I remember that one of the courses was on a climbing frame, but with a net instead of ropes. Someone would always get their shoe stuck, or even fall off, but they would persevere, with their group cheering behind them, and they would listen to the people down below for advice in case they got stuck.

As well as those, the best whole school event, in my opinion, was Sports Day. Throughout the different races and competitions, everyone stayed friendly in a competitive way, and always made sure to cheer everyone on; always showing the St. Mary’s way.

However, the best part of St. Mary’s was the daily life and atmosphere of the School. The way everyone was accepted, and never pressured to be ‘the smartest’ or ‘the sportiest’, but instead to just try their best in everything and accept the results.

Throughout my last year at St Mary’s, times were getting tough as the virus spread worldwide, and home-schooling was a definite. Still, somehow, we managed to put on The Lion King Jr, thanks to the teachers who worked very hard, and the students who came up with more and more ideas to help make it feasible.

During the last few months, when we were back at school, we worked so hard on the play – well, movie now! I remember always laughing when some of the other forms would be shooting their scenes and would come out to break in their full make-up and costumes. The excitement when we would have to change into our characters and apply our ‘makeup’ – face paint, admiring how good we all looked, looking like Hyenas.

The best bits would be when our teachers would stop mid-lesson and say, ‘Let’s practise our dances’, and believe me, there were a lot of them. The thing that amazed me was that every day of our last year, everyone acted so normal. Whatever happened, we would just get on with it and make the best out of it. For both years, going from face-to-face to Google classroom lessons became the new normal, and we just had to deal with it as there was nothing else we could do.  However it was an experience, and we all learnt things that will help us in years to come. For example, being patient was key to making home-schooling easier, and that will be strongly in your favour when you grow up!

Transitioning to secondary school in a year like this was definitely not easy. It was hard at first, but I always remembered that I was a St Mary’s girl, and we got on with things, good or bad, always trying to make the best of any situation. Having the St Mary’s Way is such a big part of you. It is increasingly easier to make friends, which is obviously a huge part of secondary school. So, just always remember to be true to who you are, and always stay a St Mary’s girl at heart.

Year 6, I wish you all the best for your transitions and future life, and a successful start to secondary school, as you approach the unknown. And, just know this, it’s really not that scary!

On that note, I will say goodbye, thank you for listening, and have a great summer!

Thank you.