The Oakham School community celebrated being back together again in the first in-person Speech Day event since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Parents, Trustees, staff and pupils enjoyed Oakham's many successes and talents, both in the classroom and in the wider curriculum, at the annual event.
As the School’s connected curriculum flourishes once again following the pandemic, the event was a celebration of not only a return to ‘normal’, but also of the School’s “tradition of innovation” as it marks 50 years of co-education and 20 years of offering the IB Diploma.
The day began with an excellent choral concert in the School Chapel. Opening with a new work to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and concluding with Parry’s extended anthem, Hear my words, ye people, an appreciative audience in Chapel enjoyed a wide variety of music performed by the Chapel Choir and Chamber Choir and leading Form 7 soloists.
The exhibitions and displays were thriving during the day, including a stunning showcase of Art and Design Technology pupils’ works, a nostalgic 50 years of co-education quiz hosted by The Oakham School Foundation and an important presentation by GCSE Citizenship pupils focusing on issues they are currently studying including the Mallard Pass Solar Farm.
Before the House picnics started, the Chemistry department hosted a spectacular demonstration with a focus on energy changes. With a freezing flask endothermic reaction and plenty of combustions the Chemistry team took students and their visitors from bioluminescence at the disco through alchemy and onto the world of Harry Potter.
Drama also put on a show by performing extracts from their sold-out performance of Singin’ in the Rain hosted in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre during the Winter Term.
Pupils and parents also enjoyed watching the T20 Cricket match, between the 1st XI and OO XI on Doncaster Close.
The focus of the speeches was not only on the celebration of being back together after the pandemic, but also on the School’s core values of Care, Courage, Contribution and Connection and how these are underpinned each day at Oakham.
Oakham School’s Chair of Trustees, Neil Gorman, took the opportunity in his speech to thank staff, pupils and parents for their efforts in ensuring the continuity of education throughout the pandemic.
Whilst in his third year as Headmaster, Henry Price spoke about the joy of being able to stand “at last” before the School with a full Speech Day tent after Covid-19 restrictions over the past couple of years.
“We are here to celebrate not only the contribution and achievements of our pupils, but also the connection that unites us as a School community,” outlined Henry in his speech.
The Headmaster went on to talk about particular highlights of the return to normal following Covid, including the return of Chapel services which have been a “precious feature of this year”. In particular, the Decem Chapel service was praised for its focus on friendship, adventure and joy, which Henry echoed as being “all intrinsic to life at Oakham”.
The Headmaster addressed parents by saying “Oakham School is not just a place of education, it is the village in which our children grow up, and it is a great privilege, responsibility and joy for us to be mentors and guides, as well as teachers to your children.”
Many prizes and awards were given out during the ceremony - for academic, artistic, extra-curricular, musical, service and sporting successes. However, whilst the prizes are a fantastic celebration of pupils’ achievements at Oakham, the Headmaster was clear that the contribution of each individual pupil and the joy they receive in service to others are what makes Oakham so special.
After a fantastic day of speeches, prizes and exhibitions, the event ended with a comical, but also at times emotional, summary of the year by Head Girl Izzy and Head Boy Tom, looking back at their time at School as they prepare to leave in the Summer.