On the last day of term, Seventh Form pupils, whose time at Oakham was brought to an unusual end as a result of their examinations being cancelled, gathered together to take part in a poignant Leavers’ Service.
Under ‘normal’ circumstances, the Leavers’ Service is held in Chapel, and it is always a bittersweet occasion full of emotions. Although the service was virtual, it certainly wasn’t remote or distant – so it was fitting that the usual emotion came to the fore as pupils sat together ‘in spirit’.
Following the now-familiar style of Oakham’s virtual Chapel services, Oakham School Chaplain, Father Tim, officiated at the event, leading the prayers and introducing two favourite hymns – “Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer” and “Jerusalem” – that we are sure viewers sang along to with gusto from wherever they were viewing.
In his address, the Headmaster, Henry Price, stressed to pupils that although examinations have been cancelled, “be sure that your education remains in place. Your knowledge and skills, your experiences and friendships will keep on serving you as you tackle the fresh and more important examinations of life beyond Oakham.”
He encouraged pupils not only to think ‘what do you want from life’, but ‘what do you want to give to life?’ He also thanked the leavers for all they have contributed to the School, and he wished them all well as they pass on the torch of life to the next generation of runners at Oakham.
As is traditional, the Heads of School, Alex and Catherine, gave readings as part of the service. Earlier that day they could be seen giving their valedictory speeches in the virtual Speech Day ceremony.
Although the usual end of school rites of passage have not been possible for the Class of 2020, the School has tried as far as possible to adapt and provide a lovely, albeit different, end to our leavers’ schooldays. In addition to the Leavers’ Service and Speech Day, there was a virtual Leavers’ Concert, on 5 June and pupils are warmly invited to pick up their Leavers’ Book and Leavers’ Bag from Wednesday 22 July.
The Leavers’ Gift – which this year is a beautiful engraved Chilly’s style water bottle – is presented to Seventh Formers from the Old Oakhamian Club (OO Club) to officially mark their transition from Oakhamians to Old Oakhamians. All pupils automatically become members of the OO Club when they leave School and it is through the OO Club that they can keep in touch with fellow OOs over the years to come.