Head of School Speech – Eliza Semmens (Upper Sixth)

Senior School
24 Sep 21

Eliza Semmens (Upper Sixth) delivered her Head of School speech during the Headmaster’s Assembly today. You can read her whole speech below. 

“I would like to start with a warm welcome to the Headmaster and I look forward to working alongside him and the rest of the prefects this term. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone for settling back into this term for what is still not normal times.

I am truly honoured to be standing in front of you all as Head of School. Inevitably, the first thing that came to mind when being offered this role was the daunting idea of this speech. Trying to offer my advice when I haven’t really worked it out myself seems impossible. However, if there was one thing, I would tell my Third Form self, arriving at SVS on the first day, it would be to have confidence. Confidence in yourself is the necessary spark for everything that follows. Whether this relates to academia, on the sports pitch, on stage or anywhere else, having the belief in yourself will ensure your success.

What is the definition of success? In the dictionary, it is defined as ‘the accomplishment of what was aimed at’ however, for every single person I’m sure success means something different. For some people, success is running a marathon and for others, it could be as simple as getting out of bed that morning. However big or small your success may be – it does not change the fact that it is still a success.

Whilst saying this, being challenged and supported by others to be pushed outside your comfort zone is crucial. As the motivational speaker Tony Robbins has said “The truth is, if you want to grow, you’ve got to be around people who challenge you to raise your standards.” If I never pushed myself out of my comfort zone and never did things that made me feel anxious, I would not be standing here today. The fear of failure we experience has a concrete power over us that stops us from doing those things that we do not feel comfortable doing straight away. We need to create a shift in our mindset that being uncomfortable is not always negative and can be where great success is found.

I think a key part to succeeding, which isn’t spoken about enough, is balance. Obviously, there are times in your life when you should give it your all. However, burning yourself out before you have even finished the task will not work to your advantage. Balancing your time across academic work, hobbies, your social life and resting can be difficult in such a jam-packed week. Relaxation and activities that take your mind off of the stressful things in life can really go a long way. We should all prioritise a small portion of our day to relaxation and distraction – as, in the long run, this will benefit us far more than burning ourselves out and losing our motivation to succeed.

I have learnt that life is about accepting the challenges we face and being pushed outside our comfort zone to overcome them. Whether we recognise it or not, we all have the capability and strength to achieve this, along with the vital support of friends and family. The importance of a friendly face and a kind, supportive word will never go unnoticed. I want you to know that I am approachable and will always have the time to listen and to be there for anyone who needs me.

The School’s tight-knit supportive community cannot be faulted but it is something that I have only properly started to appreciate in the Sixth Form. The opportunities provided for us here, from start to finish, really does shape the adults we will become. I encourage you to get involved in everything you can, make those mistakes, learn from them and become an even better version of yourself.

As is tradition, I would like to end on a quote by Tim Duncan, ‘Good, better, best. Never let it rest until your good is better and your better is best.’ I believe we should never compare ourselves to each other and that our best is all we can hope to achieve.

Thank you for listening.”