Today’s theme is a single word, but a powerful one. It is a word that carries so many meanings that its entry in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary takes more than a page, spread across ten separate primary meanings, and 56 secondary meanings. Here’s the primary top ten:

  1. To produce by combination of parts
  2. To cause to exist
  3. To entertain in the mind
  4. To amount to
  5. To gain, acquire or earn
  6. To bring to a specified condition
  7. To cause to be
  8. To cause to happen
  9. To work a miracle
  10. To behave as if

The word at the heart of all this, and, it could be argued, at the heart of the human experience, is: to make. And it is the theme of the day because today, in the Senior School, for the first time in two years, we saw the extravaganza that was House Music and Drama and the incredible work made by students across the school.

Last year, of course, the event could not take place. This year we have heavily adapted for Covid safety, including live-streaming across five separate venues – but we could go ahead. Writing as someone witnessing this event for the first time, it is hard to put into words what a joyous experience it was. Simply as a spectacle, the four shows made by the four houses were exhilarating, hilarious, beautiful, uplifting, inspiring, delightful in equal measure. When considering that the astonishing range of classical and contemporary dance and music, gymnastics and performance was entirely student-led – watching students conduct orchestras playing music that they had arranged and written; watching them accompany soloists, operate lights, manage the stage; looking through elaborate, beautifully designed and handmade programmes – in that context, it was beyond impressive, and profoundly moving.

The capacity of these young people to create ideas, commit to practice, lead by example and take part whole-heartedly – their capacity to make something from nothing – is genuinely extraordinary. To cause to exist, to produce in combination – to work a miracle – all this seems genuinely apposite to what we saw today.

Increasingly it is clear that the future is about the makers. As machines do more and more, it is the capacity to see opportunity, to fashion something new, above all to work together in celebration of all it means to be human – that is what we must all work towards. Above all we must make a sustainable future in which all of us, no matter our gender or orientation, no matter our race or our way of thinking, can play a full part, and of which we can all be proud. Judging from today, that great work of making is well underway, and in the best possible hands.

Will le Fleming, Head