During the Headmaster’s Assembly today, Cameron Lamont-Brown (Upper Sixth) delivered her excellent speech to the School. You can read the transcript below.
“Good afternoon School. I hope everyone had the most enjoyable Christmas period possible given the restrictions of tier 4, as well as a much-needed rest. I would like to begin by addressing how well everyone adapted during the first term back in facing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. From sanitising fifty times a day, spraying down desks and getting used to wearing a face mask, everyone did their part and you all coped extremely well during such an unprecedented time.
As well as applauding you all, I would also like to express how honoured I feel to have been offered the position of Head of School with one of my closest friends, Patrick. Entering into the new virtual term, we both want to ensure that we continue to uphold the high standards Joe and Daisy have maintained since September, even if it is over zoom at present. I am sure that we all hope to return soon to School and our friends and are looking forward to reaching the light at the end of this dark tunnel with the optimistic distribution of the vaccine.
When being offered the position of Head of School my first thought was, has Mr Ellmers approached the wrong girl? Due to my not so perfect track record, if someone had told me seven years ago that I would be able to deliver this speech now, I and many of my friends would have laughed and immediately dismissed the idea. However, being given this opportunity to act as a role model figure within the School has given me the chance to reflect on how much I have grown over the past seven years in my time at Sutton Valence.
Shortly after joining the Senior School, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and my family and I were told he had less than a year to live. This completely threw my world upside down, and it made my home life extremely difficult to deal with. To combat the hurt I was feeling, I kept my emotions to myself and presented a persona of overconfidence, acting on futile forms of rebellion to mask how truly fragile I was feeling.
As is common in the lower years, I made a number of mistakes and found myself in detentions on more than one occasion. I used my nonchalant and carefree attitude to try and regain a sense of control over my life, as at School I could be someone entirely different from the reality I faced when I went home.
However, it soon became clear to me that being told off by teachers and facing sanctions actually did not make me feel any better, and as I matured, I discovered that it was a far more fulfilling feeling to channel my emotion and passions into rewarding things I enjoyed such as drama and the subjects I enjoyed.
In the Theatre, I made invaluable friendships with students from all year groups, including Patrick who after six School shows together, I have had no choice but to befriend. If I had not broken out of such a closed-minded mentality, I would not be where I am today, somewhere I’m sure Mrs Rose is much happier to see me rather than in her office. I owe my positive development not only to the pastoral support I received from the staff but also the advice of older members of the School community too, who I looked up to as role models.
I wish to replicate the inspiration that certain old Suttonians served as to me, so in this new online term, I urge everyone to take a step back and ask themselves what they asked me years ago – if you have found yourself in trouble; what caused you to act in this way? Is this really the way you want to be perceived? And how can you learn from your mistakes as to not make them again? As real improvement comes in realising that we have to accept our failures and mistakes in order to grow.
I know first-hand how it can sometimes feel that you are the only one constantly getting it wrong, and how it can make you feel trapped to the point that you want to give up. However, all it takes is the courage to seek help and guidance, as when you look past causing trivial mischief as a form of expression, you soon realise that the pastoral support around you at SV is unmatched.
Since your first day of joining the School, no matter which year group, you have every member of staff and your peers there and willing to help no matter the issue, even if you do not always realise it. This is especially relevant now as we all face another lockdown, which comes with undeniable strain on our mental health, making it more important now than ever to check in on each other and reach out if you need help, as any staff member is just an email away and always willing to talk.
I have learnt that life is all about facing challenges and learning to overcome them, which we all deal with throughout our School journeys. Despite my father being given a miracle of five extra years to live, he sadly passed away this September after a long and treacherous battle with his illness. He taught me resilience and how to always keep a brave face in times of adversity, a trait I feel we can all learn to exhibit given the current climate, as we have all had to completely adapt to a new way of living and learning online. This in itself proves how we all possess bravery and resilience whether we recognise it or not, as everyone has taken it in their stride and still managed to achieve amazing things, showing the strength we have as a community even when we are apart.
In reflection, knowing that my dad would be proud of the young lady I have become is all I could ask for, and I owe that to the Sutton Valence community and the invaluable friendships I have made for helping to mould me into the best version of myself I can be. In the same way, you should all be proud of yourselves for getting through what most of us have known to be the hardest year of our lives thus far.
I believe that even when not physically at School, being Head of School is about approachability and acting as a friendly face to all, no matter what year group you are in, to ensure that everyone in the community feels supported and realises the potential they can achieve. I hope my journey can serve as a source of inspiration to anyone struggling, no matter how small the problem may seem, as I truly believe everyone has the capability to change and grow into impressive young individuals who all exhibit an array of different talents and abilities, as It is both our strengths and weaknesses that make us such a thriving community.
We should all see this new term as a fresh start and means by which to better ourselves, as when you understand that you are the one in control of your future, you will reap benefits and achieve things you never thought possible of yourself. Whether it be taking up a new hobby or interest this term that you can continue when we return to School, or simply working extra hard at a subject you find difficult, remember what you are working towards and who you want to have become when you look back on your School years, as they will undoubtedly fly by.
As is tradition, I would like to end with a quote I heard years ago that has stayed with me, from American author and filmmaker, T.D. Jakes – “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always be where you’ve always been.”
Thank you all for listening and thank you, Headmaster, for giving me the opportunity to give back to our wonderful community.”