Salopian Inspiration: Initiative
Adapting to the ‘New Normal’
School will feel a little different for our pupils right now as we adapt to the new circumstances we find ourselves in. It is perhaps interesting, therefore, to cast our eye back to a period in Shrewsbury’s history where the school population likewise needed to adapt, finding creative solutions to an unusual and unprecedented scenario.
Michaelmas 1939. The entire school population of Cheltenham College decamped to Shrewsbury with the onset of war. The logistical operation of fitting in two schools is described by Basil Oldham in his History of Shrewsbury School as “a marvel of organisation”:
“As one school came out from work or Chapel the other went in…. The Alington Hall became Cheltenham’s hall of assembly, the room above the Shop their masters’ common room, the boat house their bursar’s office, the old museum their band practice room and Kingsland House stables their armoury.”
During a period of particularly severe weather in March 1940, the whole of Top Common was covered in ice. The opportunity for a sporting encounter was too good to miss- Oldham reports that “Shrewsbury and Cheltenham each hurriedly created a new office, that of Captain of Ice Hockey, and a match…was played on the 1st XI wicket, and, like the Tucks Run, duly reported in the sporting columns of The Times to the amazement of many Old Salopians who could not understand this sudden desecration of so sacred a spot.”
Alas, the Shrewsbury School ice-hockey team only ever played one match (where they were soundly beaten!) but it’s a wonderful example of pupil initiative, a trait that remains a strong characteristic amongst our current generation of Salopians. Alongside Salopian creativity, pupil initiative and endeavour continues to abound in the co-curriculum during the remote period.
Perhaps one of the most interesting options in our virtual co-curricular programme is a weekly Magic Masterclass run by one of our Sixth Form pupils- Rohan McC- who is generously giving his time (and his secrets) to fellow Salopians and developing their skills in this artform. Rohan is an exciting young talent; those of us who’ve had the privilege of seeing him perform live can testify to his mesmerising skills (an example of his work can be seen in this short clip). A class act!
It has been great to see senior pupils such as Rohan take an active role in initiating and delivering a number of the activities this term. Meaningful pupil leadership has always been a strong feature of a Salopian education and this continues through the virtual programme. MUN continues to see pupils playing an active role in its delivery with Salopians joining the weekly live debates from as far afield as Japan and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, sixth former Thomas J has offered to help lead a junior debating group, passing on his skills and experiences to the next generation.
Pupil initiative likewise abounds in the Individual Projects strand of our co-curricular programme with some exciting work being undertaken across a wide sphere of areas, whilst the popular ‘How to Become an Adventurer’ group are busy working on their plans for future expeditions and micro-adventures inspired by talks from, amongst others, explorer Charlie Walker and former pupils and recipients of Miles Clark Travel Scholarships Felicity Hayward and Tessa Scott-Bell whose cycling expedition in South America provides another fine example of Salopian initiative.
Get Your Skates On!
We might not be experiencing the sorts of temperatures that Shrewsbury saw back in March 1940, but we’re certainly seeing plenty of the same Salopian initiative. We may face different circumstances but the positive spirit and enthusiasm for initiative and endeavour continues and will no doubt persevere through the months ahead. Thin ice? No- we’re on firm ground when it comes to the Salopian spirit of initiative!
Deputy Head Co-Curricular