I don’t know about you but seeing a little more of the sun this week and realising we’ve navigated our way almost a third of the way through term has given me a wee boost. One of the highlights in amongst the rain of recent weeks was a photo of a rainbow sent to me by Laura Duthie, Teacher of Geography: I’m too rational and cynical to think of it as a sign but in these times who knows? It brightened my day, however.
One constant that brightens every day are the pupils we serve. Over the last week I have been particularly struck again by how thoughtful, respectful and compassionate they are. As time marches on and generations move on, you can be fooled into thinking that it is maybe inevitable that those who lost their lives in World War I, World War II or subsequent conflicts are in danger of being forgotten.
Nothing could be further from the truth, however, while we have young people amongst us who take on the responsibility of marking their respect for the sacrifice that previous generations of Inverness Royal Academy students and staff made to ensure the freedoms we currently enjoy.
There have been a number of very touching tributes paid over the last week or so. School Captains Eve MacLennan, Sam Stubbs and Vice-Captain Emma King joined me- both at the old Inverness Royal Academy and the War Memorial at Cavell Gardens- to lay wreaths on behalf of the school. Eve, Sam and Vice-Captain Jamie Moir conducted virtual assemblies for all year groups where they focussed on some of the stories behind the names on our War Memorial boards.
The Physical Education Department had students create stylised poppies outside as we marked Armistice Day at 11.00 a.m. on Wednesday.
Perhaps the most poignant moment in all of these events was when Beth Hutchison (S2) stood- a solitary figure at the flagpole in front of the school- and faultlessly played ‘The Last Post’ to mark the beginning of the two minute silence.
A number of people spoke to me about how moved they were to see this young person standing alone playing a lament for the dead, her notes carried on a cold gale. Even those who couldn’t see her could hear her. As pupils weren’t told about Beth performance beforehand they were surprised and intrigued. Some people spoke about having tears in their eyes or a lump in their throat.
I think all of these things were made all the more poignant because one looks at all of these young people and realises that all of the names on our honours board were just like this present generation: they had hopes; they had dreams; they had aspirations. And all of those things were snuffed out by war. The light that they cast in their short lives, however, is reflected through successive generations and this present generation are as worthy as any of carrying the hopes we all now have for the future,
In every battle there are dark clouds and in every battle the sun eventually breaks through. I’ll grit my teeth and believe that rainbow was a signal.