On Wednesday this week, we were delighted to host a virtual Leavers’ Service for our departing Upper Sixth students as they bid farewell to the School. Their transition from pupil to Old Suttonian was marked by a live-streamed service from the Chapel, led by the Headmaster and the Chaplain. Whilst we would have liked to host the event with the leavers present, we hope the virtual alternative provided the Upper Sixth with an opportunity to reflect on their time at the School as they embark on the next stages of their lives.
During the service, the Chaplain, Mr Davies, encouraged the students to build on all that they have learned and achieved at Sutton Valence, to continue their development as they flourish as young adults. Highlighting the importance of humility, respect and kindness, he wished them the best of luck for their lives beyond the School. This sentiment was echoed by the Headmaster, who explained that whilst their full-time journeys at the School may be coming to an end, their lifetime journeys through their connections as Old Suttonians were only just beginning. This seemed especially pertinent this year given the curtailment of their time at the School and the limitations of their farewell activities.
Traditionally at the Leavers’ Service, the Headmaster individually bestows each leaver with their Old Suttonian tie and OS lapel pin. This year, due to the imposed limitations, we made the decision to provide these gifts ahead of the service, with each of the leavers receiving a hand-delivered Leavers’ Box to their home address. As well as the OS gifts, the boxes also included a personal valete message from their respective Housemaster or Housemistress, a welcome letter to the Old Suttonians’ Association and their Leavers’ Hoodies. In total, 78 boxes were distributed at the start of this week with staff members volunteering to man the 13 routes around Kent and East Sussex. We are indebted to them for giving up their time to recognise the leavers and the resultant feedback has been really positive.
A core part of the usual Leavers’ Service is the music and we were pleased to include a rendition of The Lord Bless You And Keep You by John Rutter, sung by the Upper Sixth leavers from the Chapel Choir. The service was concluded, as has become customary, with Jerusalem, with the assembled virtual guests invited to sing along from the comfort of their own homes. The hymn was accompanied by a montage of photos that spanned the cohort’s time at the School (see below). We are grateful to Anna Harrison and Tom Gray for organising and producing such a lasting memory of their year group. Finally, although this year’s celebrations were devoid of the Leavers’ Dinner, which would traditionally proceed the service, we hope that the pupils and parents were able to continue their own festivities once the live-stream went off air.
We will undoubtedly miss the leavers of 2020 and all that they have brought to the School. We share their sadness in not being able to enjoy many of the traditional rites of passage of an SVS leaver and hope that the service went some way to acknowledge their importance within our community, both now and in the future as Old Suttonians.