We were happy to celebrate this year’s tree planting as close to normal as possible. Our annual tree planting ceremony celebrates the retiring Head Girl and School Officers for the past year and introduces the new Head Girl and her team of Officers for the next academic year.
Last year’s tree planting was done on a much smaller scale without an audience due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown we were under. The event was filmed so the school community could see but it didn’t quite match what a real life event is like at the school. This year the school was happy to meet together and celebrate in a way that resembled normality. You can watch last year’s ceremony here.
Below are the speeches from both Head Girl’s addressing the school.
Luella McCarthy – Retiring Head Girl 2020/2021
As I stand in front of you all, preparing to plant a tree that I believe represents the leaving class of 2021 in some way or another, I cannot help but think of watching this very event occur annually during my time at Burgess Hill Girls. The symbolic handover of responsibility to a new team of school officers, whilst rooting the memory of your own, remarkable team within the school grounds, is something that I have watched, applauded, and discussed every year since I can remember.
I know all too well that at times, it can just feel like a break from the weekly timetable – a moment to catch up with friends in another class, but I think if I were to tell 12 year-old Luella that she would eventually end up planting her own tree, talking to the school about her time here, and trying not to ramble on or reminisce too much, it still would not have prepared me for the weight of this moment.
The tree I am planting is a Cherry Blossom tree. These symbolise the impermanence of life and new beginnings, which feels particularly fitting as we welcome the upcoming school officers for next year, and say our farewells to the outgoing Year 13 team who are all moving on to their own new beginnings come July. I want to say thank you to everyone in the Upper Sixth, I am wishing you all the best as you move forward in the world, and I know you will all go on to do great things.
Being at Burgess Hill Girls has taught me a lot over the years; not just academically, but on a personal level. This is where I made friends, found my interests, and began to decide upon my future – which seems daunting at first, but I promise you it’s also quite exciting. It’s easy to take it for granted at times, but looking back at the time spent here, and noticing how it has flown by, you really feel thankful to be part of this community.
I want to take this opportunity to leave you with some of the lessons that I have learned whilst being here, hoping that they might resonate with you.
Firstly, take the opportunities that come your way. We are all incredibly privileged to be given the opportunities we have, and to have a support system there to help us when we need it. This is something I would encourage you to utilise – you may end up climbing a mountain in Wales, leading a debate team to victory, or finding passion in a sport you never would have tried otherwise.
Second, say ‘thank you’ every chance you get. It’s a small gesture, but letting people know how much you appreciate them can go a long way. I want to take this time to say thank you to my teachers, my peers, and of course, Alan and the rest of the Catering team, who have all made my time at Burgess Hill Girls that much better.
Finally, I want to remind you all to be kind, and to be compassionate. The quote I have chosen for this tree was spoken by Amelia Earheart, and it reads ‘The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.’ And I hope that you will carry this forward with you as you make your way up through the school.
The team that will be taking our place is brilliant, and I know that you will do some fantastic things. We are wishing you the very best of luck, there will be some fantastic moments i’m sure. I speak for my team when I say we have loved being school officers for the past year, and we are so grateful for the opportunities we have had to make our mark on the school.
So thank you all for being here and celebrating this moment with us. I wish you all the best in the rest of the term, and an exciting summer to follow.
Florence Stapley – Head Girl 2021/2022
Thank you Luella and good afternoon everybody
I am delighted to have been chosen as your head girl and am exceptionally proud to be able to represent our school.
Despite the challenging circumstances this last year has presented, I’m sure we can all agree that the Upper 6th school officers have done an incredible job at bringing our community together in a virtual world. The ease with which you have faced these unprecedented times is inspiring. So on behalf of myself, the incoming school officers and the wider school community thank you for all you have achieved. We wish you all the very best as you take your next steps.
As COVID restrictions are lifted I look forward to the school body being able to come together to encourage, compete with and support each other at a variety of events. Upcoming dates to look forward to include sports day, founders day and Wellbeing Week. Having spent much of the past two school years at home the importance of community and the relationships we build between each other and our teachers has never been more apparent. I am honoured to be able to build upon this strong and unique network of relationships that exists at Burgess Hill Girls, and will endeavour to support the school and students in any way I can.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my school officer team for the phenomenal effort and dedication I know they will bring to their roles, I can not wait to work with all of you. You are an exceptional and enthusiastic group of girls brimming with ideas and I look forward to all we will accomplish together in the coming year.
Thank you again Luella and all of the upper 6th school officers. As you become BOLD girls you embody all of the qualities associated with the sixth form program, to go beyond, explore opportunities, take leadership and develop personally, you have demonstrated all of these qualities in abundance and acted as role models to us all. Good luck