Thursday morning saw the ceremonial planting of an oak tree on Chapel Lawn. This act was to acknowledge the exceptional times during lockdown that our pupils have endured, and comprised a blessing and a few words delivered by Izzy Mitchell (R), Head of School. The College Prefects and members of the Black History Week Committee attended.
We give our thanks to Commercial Grounds Care who kindly donated the Quercus Oak Tree, which can live to 250 years.
Head of School, Izzy Mitchell’s, Speech
This year has been an extraordinary experience for everyone. The pandemic our generation continues to face is affecting the lives of us all. This year will go down as nothing short of momentous. As a community at Epsom College, we have adapted to the ‘new normal’ impressively and with the minimum of fuss. Not only has every individual – pupils and members of staff alike – shown a willingness to adapt, we as a College have approached changes with an enthusiastic and optimistic outlook.
This term has seen a dramatic shift in routines, behaviour and what it means to be an Epsom College student. When I was appointed as Head of School, I was fully aware that this would be the case and it was vital to me that the initial focus was on learning to adapt with a positive approach.
This time last year, none of us could have possibly foreseen that all members of the College would be wearing masks, following one-way systems and keeping their distance from each other. This challenged our normal lives in a way they have never been challenged before. My main priority when returning to school after the lockdown, was working towards the reconstruction of our school’s inimitable, friendly spirit. This was going to be a significant challenge given the unusual circumstances. However, I believe we have achieved this and, therefore, we decided to plant this oak tree to serve as a commemoration of our experience.
As this tree flourishes, we will reflect on the exceptional lockdown experience, and how our generation has coped during these times. We should be proud to have lived through such a time.
The Quercus oak tree is a symbol of strength, courage and wisdom. To me, these three words beautifully describe the way in which Epsom College has dealt with the abnormalities we have faced due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Strength to persist through the continuous uncertainty that the virus is causing.
Courage and bravery to proceed with daily life, even though fear may be within us.
Wisdom to make the right choices and to act to make a difference.
The College also portrayed these qualities during the lockdown period, opening Granville House to NHS workers and looking after key worker children. This tree will be an enduring representation of the unity at Epsom College during 2020, which should never be forgotten.