During the Year 11 Awards Ceremony, Leo was nominated by his Form Tutor at Senior School Voorschoten to give a speech on ‘Making a Difference’. His message speaks to his contribution to the character and community of the school.
When I was volunteered, yes volunteered, to give a speech by my Form Tutor, I had mixed feelings. I would have to give a speech in front of you all – both worthy award recipients and their proud parents. This task seemed insurmountable at the time, but as the date has drawn closer, I’ve decided to look at this as more of an opportunity. Not only a chance to work on my public speaking skills but also to put myself out there, for lack of a better term.
Anyway, I’ve been asked to talk to all of you about making a change. Initially, I thought, what a broad topic. I could talk about anything.
As teenagers, we are encouraged to grow, mature, and change with every year of school. The school community has given me plenty of opportunities to make a change. My experience volunteering in the lower school baking club afforded me the chance to see the faces of Year 7, 8 and 9 students light up when their cakes rose perfectly. I witnessed their change from stress to relief as they removed six perfect cakes from the oven.
I had an even more involved role during my time in Model United Nations when I had to argue for the eradication of nuclear weapons. I ensured the safety of the world’s future during the weekend of this year’s BSN MUN conference. The school organises these clubs to allow us to come together and make a change, learn skills, and work as part of a community.
But the change I want to talk to you about is something I experienced by myself, away from the lunch clubs or the classroom. Let me take you back to a cold winter’s day last year. I was sitting in the corner of my PSHE [Personal, Social, Health, and Economic Education] class, talking about something I can’t quite remember now. After all, I had eradicated nuclear war, so I felt ok with taking this lesson a little easier. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone struggling—a poor kid, no older than 12, trying to get into the bathroom with crutches.
After observing him wrestle with the bathroom door for 20 seconds or so, I stood up. To my teacher, this may have looked like I was simply walking out of the room, but something had come over me. Someone in my community needed assistance, and without any real thinking, I knew I was the type of person who was willing to help. I went to go open the door for him, and when I did, his expression went from frustrated and annoyed to sincerely happy.
As a footnote to this story, I must add that it didn’t occur to me to think about how he would get out of the bathroom and his teacher needed to rescue him. Ignoring that, it is these individual changes that I would like us all to reflect on.
”We should reflect on times when we are not being directed to be helpful or told to work as a team. We should reflect on times when we have the opportunity to make our school friendlier. These are differences that we can choose to make.
And this is the message I wish to leave you with, making a difference does not need to be loud, for a crowd or a spectacle. I made a difference in the life of that person on that day. Small gestures are needed to make big differences, and we have the power to make our school a better place by choosing to be kind and considerate. And you may think, “What does this guy know?” but please remember that I did successfully save us all from nuclear annihilation. Thank you for listening.
‘Character and Community’ are core to The British School in The Netherlands’ mission as stated:
We celebrate our diverse international community, helping students to develop a sense of pride, confidence and compassion, and encouraging them to challenge themselves, build their resilience and play their part in improving society.
It is worth noting that Leo received the Year 11 Head of Year Award. Congratulations, Leo!