Dear Parent/ Carer
Welcome to Holy Week. In one way it feels like a long time since Ash Wednesday, yet at the same time I can’t believe we are nearing the end of the term already.
Over the past week, I have had the privilege of joining with other members of staff to listen to some of our Y13 students make their presentations at the end of the ‘Extended Project Qualifications’. These qualifications enable students to engage in undergraduate level independent study on a topic of their choice. The presentations I attended last week were all excellent, serving as another reminder of the potential of our young people and the value of education. I have really enjoyed learning about topics as varied as the novel ‘Anna Karenina’, the role of Bismark in the unification of Germany and the impact of vitamin D deficiency. My congratulations go to all the students who have undertaken the qualification and my thanks go to the staff who have supported them. We will be launching another round of Extended Project Qualifications for students currently in Y12 during the summer term.
Another highlight from the past week came on Friday afternoon, when we welcomed some colleagues from St Julie’s school in Liverpool, one of our sister schools within the Notre Dame family. A group of members of staff had cycled from Liverpool to Sheffield, raising money for the Stroke Association and had done so marking the anniversary of death of St Julie, on 8th April 1816. Three members of staff from our school rode out to meet them as they entered the city and led them back to us, where we were able to feed them after their long journey. It was lovely, even in a small way, to continue to foster the community founded by St Julie and to support colleagues who are raising money for those in need.
Looking ahead, we will finish our term on Holy Thursday with Lenten Services for every year group. Suzanne and the chaplaincy team have put together a wonderful theme for us all to reflect on as we come to the end of our Lenten journey together as a school community.
We will return to the reading of the ‘Woman caught in adultery’ which was featured in our Ash Wednesday services. Each student will receive a stone, which they will place at the cross during the service. We will be invited to reflect on our own need for forgiveness and our need to forgive others. The stone will represent the guilt, regret, anger and upset that we can carry as a result of the things we do wrong and the wrong that is done to us.
Reflecting on the plans for the service, I could not help but be struck by the power of the message in the midst of concerns about the pressure that young people face to live the ‘perfect lives’ presented on social media. I thought too of our growing awareness of ‘fake news’. In the middle of this, the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection point us away from the ‘fake’ and towards the truth of doing our best every day and the humility to accept that we are not perfect. The stones that the students will place at the cross remind us that we don’t need to pretend to be perfect or be too hard on ourselves when we fail. Instead, we are asked to be honest about our failings and ask for forgiveness. In the same way, we are prompted to forgive others and not hold on to anger or upset, reassured that God will help us in this. By doing so we can experience that real joy of freedom and fullness of life that we celebrate especially at Easter.
I wish you all a happy and Holy Easter.