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Headmaster’s Blog – 25 November – True Values

November 25, 2013


Yesterday, November 22nd, was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. Some of us will remember where we were when this horrific news came through and many, young and old, have been inspired by some of the speeches and comments which JFK made in his lifetime. One of these is this: Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

Kennedy was, of course, referring to the American people in this statement but it also resonates amongst the rest of us whether we apply it to our nation, our local community, our work place or our family. It is a simple message and perhaps one easily overlooked in the fast-paced world we live in.

Another statement struck me last week which was also simple but profound and, as in Kennedy’s rallying cry, one which came from the heart. We had our Y11 leavers back in school for their GCSE presentation evening. One such young man told a staff member that he had just secured a weekend job with a prestigious company and he felt that much of this was down to his nurturing at Ballard. This is what he said: This school teaches you how to shake hands with someone, look them in the eye, wear a jacket and tie properly and talk with adults.

Not the most profound of claims for a School but one which really goes to the heart of what we are trying to do at Ballard: prepare our young people to be well-mannered, responsible and positive citizens in the world. Kennedy called for Americans to consider how they related to their country and our young leaver had clearly imbibed the same message here and related it to his own situation and opportunities. Manners maketh man (the motto of Winchester College and New College, Oxford) is another reflection of these truths.

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