Ratcliffian Association Reflection

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Reflections on year 13

It’s hard to summarise a year which had so much significance to the whole of year 13 in so many ways. From the jeers to the tears; the heartaches to the McDonald’s study breaks, each defining moment has lead us to where we are today and, more importantly, who we are. We have created endless channels of memories entwined with one another’s experiences – pieces of our past which attach to us like magnets so strong we simply can’t pull away. It is these strings which allow each Old Ratcliffian to reach their conclusion: their whole, resolved opinion of their Ratcliffe experience.

I therefore asked students to describe their memories of school in a few words which would encompass their view on life at Ratcliffe and the memories that shaped their final year there. However, since these new University freshers of 2017 only came up with ‘it was pretty good’, I’ll focus on the two themes that I think have been essential in underpinning our time at Ratcliffe.

  1. Companionship

The 2017 leavers undoubtedly faced some of the hardest challenges a year group has had to face. Without the security of each other’s companionship some of these tests would have been unbearable. But through this our hands remained bound together. It was in these moments that we, as young adults, became aware of the bond that had being growing inside us throughout the years we had spent together, like an unbreakable force which was reaching its full potential. Unbeknown to us, Ratcliffe had allowed this to blossom during our years at the school due to the strong sense of comradery between both teachers and students, effectively underpinning the teachings of compassion and community within the Catholic Church.

Yes, in year 7, we may have ‘hated’ that boy/girl who broke our heart or who didn’t invite us to that party, but in year 13 everything seemed to fall into place. Our differences dissolved and whatever tests came our way, we could face them together. And we did.

However, it is easy to look at this unit and forget to look closer. We may have connected in our shared respect for Ratcliffe, but a key essence of our strength was the acceptance that we are all unique. Which brings me to my second point.

  1. Individuality

Regardless of interests, intelligence and even language barriers, friendships among each type of Ratcliffe student thrived in our closing year (our final Immac being proof that the language of dance was all that was needed to bring the English and Thai students together). As we look closer into the friendships we made, we may realise that outside of our school these are entirely unconventional. The welcoming aura which pervades Ratcliffe allowed us to step out of our comfort zone and make these transitions between groups and even cultures. We learnt from each other, taught each other and we welcomed each other. All we need to do now is take a step back: reflect; remember and realise – it was the environment Ratcliffe provided which created the entirely unique person that each year 13 leaver is today.

So as our channels begin to separate, it is important to remember the core from which we all began. All Ratcliffians have had to leave something behind in their move to their next chapter in life, which may be the reason why we’re constantly drawn back to it. For the leavers of 2017, we had to leave someone very important behind. Therefore, in loving memory of Charles Evenden, I ask of our new Old Ratcliffians to look to the future; to aim for your goals, no matter how high. But in everything you do, look back to Ratcliffe and always remember where you came from.