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A wish for Christmas and the New Year – Headmaster’s blog

December 20, 2013

ImageThis year for the first time we put up a ‘wishmas tree’ at school. This idea came from a museum in London where members of the public wrote messages and placed these on a Christmas tree in place of decorations. At Ballard we used parcel tags to create some colour and encouraged pupils to write a brief message expressing a wish or desire for themselves, others, the world.

This was not a compulsory task and I have to say I was amazed at the response. In a school with over 400 pupils from Reception to Year 11 we had 124 ‘wishes’ – more than a quarter of the school. I was also delighted that there were only two ‘silly’ messages and when I mentioned this in Assembly the culprit came forward to apologise!

After the end of term I took the messages off the tree and then categorised them: school issues, animals, friends, family, self, others, world (general) and world (issues). Over half fell into the latter three categories – whoever said that the youth of the day were self-centred? There was not one mention of the internet or computers. The six responses to do with school were mostly about relationships (I wish for our school to have the kindest pupils and for everyone to have a good Christmas) whilst those about animals were generally about pets although a few were concerned with habitats: My wish is that people stop cutting down trees which takes away the habitats of endangered animals.

A quarter of the messages were about family or friends. Some were poignant – grandparents who had passed away and those living with single parents wishing they had their mum or dad home more often – and many were concerned about illness and mortality: I wish that my best friend will come down from the sky and that I could give her a merry Christmas. Those to do with ‘self’ were mostly career ambitions (I wish I could be a footballer or an architect) but some concerned qualities (I wish that I will never give up) and others to do with a wish to be able to fly.

The ‘wishes’ for others (in various forms) were very heartening: several were concerned for the homeless and the poor; many wished for there to be no more war (echoes of ‘world peace’) and where there was conflict the wish was for a happy outcome (I wish that people who die in war have fun in heaven); a few were ‘green issues’ (I wish that people would stop throwing rubbish on the floor) ; one was worried about mechanisation (I wish that robots never take over the world) – or perhaps this indicated a surfeit of Dr Who!  

This was a risky venture in the context of a school as it laid us open for anonymous criticism and gossip but I should not have been worried as the majority of the ‘wishes’ indicated a caring and concerned pupil body. This one perhaps summed them up: For the world I wish we could raise a lot of money, save people, help them and never stop believing that we can save them. Happy Christmas everyone and the richest blessing for 2014!

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