Returning to normal

As the first half term is coming to a close, we thought that a nice way to sum up our progress during this time would be to look at what people missed before arriving, compared with all the measures we have taken to keep everyone safe whilst trying to return our school life back to normal: 

“I really missed seeing students back on campus and everybody having fun together offline. I love seeing people walking between buildings in breaks and between lessons” 

– Maggie  

“What have I missed most about Concord? Definitely not Saturday tests and UCAS applications! But other than that, seeing my friends again is definitely an upside, and I’m looking forward to actually meeting people from other year groups – it still seems illegal…” 

– Shaz  

“Joining Concord in Form 4, I have missed greatly the many trips that we had to Birmingham along with my friends. I look forward to being able to do that again this following term.” 

– Chester 

“The things I miss the most are the big trees, the students and my colleagues… (That’s pretty much everything really!) I look forward to meeting all my new classes and helping young people learn more about our incredible world.” 

– Mr Cale  

A wonderful thing about these little interviews is that we can proudly say that all of these goals have been achieved.  

We have finally been able to interact with one another without the worries of the virus. To keep everyone safe, we wear masks in public spaces, maintain good hand hygiene and we socially distance when necessary.  

This group effort to help keep the community safe has always been appreciated at Concord but I think this is now more apparent than ever. And so, we were able to return back to blissful normality.  

Ecaterina – 6.2

10 things I will miss about Concord when I leave for summer

Yes Concordians, it is that time of the year again.

We are in the midst of Term 3,
and while exam season is in full swing, one is tempted to drift off and dream of the
day in which we are free of the stress of exams, and the only thing on our
timetables are outings, holidays and results. And that day IS fast approaching, with
mere weeks until we take the plane (or car, if you’re a day student) back home, to
days of warm weather and reconciling with family members.

But we must pay homage to the school that connected us in the past year (whether
digitally or face-to face). And I find myself in the uniquely rare situation in that I am
one of the rare students who haven’t left Concord since September, giving me a full
perspective of the year as a whole. With that in mind, I’ll be counting down my 10
things I will miss about Concord, from certain desserts in the Dining Hall (’cause let’s
be honest, some of those desserts just hit different) to memorable events like
lighting the log on Christmas, to a whole fireworks display in honour of Chinese
New Year.

10. The “turning on” of the Christmas lights in the marquee
Starting off strong on our list, we have this fun little event marking the start of the
Christmas holidays. For many of the boarders staying over for Christmas this year,
it was a particularly sombre and demure affair. Boarders were either unable or
unwilling to return home for Christmas due to the pandemic’s severity around the
world, and Christmas dinners and presents were mostly replaced with revision for
January exams. So when Mr Hawkins unveiled the lights display decorating the
Marquee, complete with scenes of snowmen and reindeer, the gesture no doubt
helped to brighten an unusual Christmas for many “stay-cationers”.
The cookies and hot chocolate was a sweet little bonus too.

9. House events
Next on our list is not one event in particular, but rather an appreciation for the
various House events that have happened this term. Of course, many of these
events ended up cancelled, for obvious reasons (such as House Performing Arts,
which saddened me greatly), but the ones that did end up happening, which
include events like House Cross Country at the start of the year, to the upcoming
House Triathlon, were all fun distractions from the pressures of academic life, as
well as an opportunity to get to know the House better and work up a bit of a
sweat. With an opportunity to glimpse the energy in these rare events, I wait in
anticipation for the next year, with hopefully many more of the same events!

8. The bread and butter pudding in the Dining Hall
I could literally write an AS English length essay on the sublime genius of this
dessert, but most people at Concord probably know just HOW amazing this is. All I
can say is, if you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out. Big time.

7. The “Chinese New Year” fireworks display
If there was one word in which I could describe this event, it would be this- chaotic.
From the abrupt departure from the Dining Hall while many people were still on
their second round of the Chinese New Year buffet, to the crazed singing of Katy
Perry’s “Firework” to keep our minds off the -5 celsius weather, the entire event had
a comedic chaos to it. But all that changed when scenes of gold, green and red
littered the night sky, the highly anticipated fireworks display finally beginning. The
display lasted all of 20 minutes, and was a dramatic and wild celebration of the new
year, personifying the very spirit of 2021 itself.

6. Ghost stories with Mr Hawkins / lighting the Christmas Log
With such a historical, unprecedented year happening, it was time to go back to the
rich history of Concord itself for a source of comfort and entertainment. And this
was exactly what happened on Christmas night, where “stay-cationers” were
treated to a rare sight: the brief revival of 2 of Concord’s old traditions. The lighting
of the Christmas Log in Main Hall, not done for at least a decade, and the re-telling
of some of Concord’s famed ghost stories. Mr Hawkins even brought in the famed
Concord Bell, notorious for allegedly being involved in the deaths of 2 students. In the end,
many people were more than a little spooked by the tales, but it was also a day in
celebration of the rich history of Concord and the surrounding area.

5. A large pizza and a milkshake when my residence was under lockdown
Was this a major event in Concord? No. But did it slightly lessen the pain of
spending half term stuck in my room? Well, kind of. To date this is still one of my
happiest memories of my year here. Call me a glutton, but food truly is the way to my heart.

4. Every free period ever
We are close to the top 3, and I’m sure everyone will agree with me that the
presence of free periods in Concord is an absolute lifesaver. They literally solve
everything. Feeling worn out from that Triple Math lesson you just had? Free period.
Have some last minute essay to finish off before the deadline today? Free period.
Need to catch up on the 2 hours of sleep you had last night? Free period. (but don’t
forget to make it in time for the next lesson.) It is a universal fact that free periods
probably sustain half of Sixth Form here in college, and the library has literally
become my habitat for the past year.

3. The veeeeeerrryyyyy rare town trips to Shrewsbury
Yes, the pandemic has made these trips rarer than diamonds in this school. I myself
have probably gone for less than 5 in the course of the school year. But as every
economics teacher will tell you, less supply makes the value of the good increase,
and indeed every trip to the wonderful town of Shrewsbury has been a much
needed getaway from the school, and an opportunity to catch up with friends
outside the school setting. With the new academic year coming up, more town trips is definitely
a priority on my wishlist, especially as the pandemic meant that I apparently missed
out on many attractions within Shrewsbury itself, but also potentially even trips to
other parts of the UK.

2. The Christmas Formal
Ok I PROMISE this is the last of my Christmas events, but the Christmas Formal was
probably the best event planned by Concord the entire year. Everything, from the
unlimited supply of wood fired pizzas (a welcome break from Dining Hall food) to
the pulsing dance music and casino games, were a strong reminder of the fun spirit
of Concord and a purely fun event that was both simultaneously enjoyable and
nostalgic. And if any of the formals in the future are anything like the one in the
Christmas holidays, all I can say is: sign me up!

1. My friends
And we finally come to the end of this list. Although much of this list has been a bit
of a joke, all things aside, it is truly the people I have met in Concord that have really
defined my experience here. It has been a long and arduous year in the UK, I cannot
lie, but having people to talk to and connect with has definitely alleviated some of
that burden. The shared experience of such a wild year definitely bonds people fast,
with people coming and going in a blink of an eye and many of the friends I have
made here I have met from time as short as 2 weeks to a whole year. But all of
them have shaped my experience in Concord in one way or another, and with this
being my first time boarding, and overseas at that, I would just like to give a shout
out to all of you guys, who have somehow collectively acted as therapists, coaches
and teachers in the 3 terms I spent here.

And yes, although I will see many of my friends back in Malaysia, to the many going
off to other countries, have a great summer, good luck for exams, and here’s to a
better, pandemic-free year!

  • Ethan, 6.1