Imagine being blindfolded, surrounded by a group of your peers and then trying to assert yourself and stand out from the crowd; this was just one of the weird assessments that the prefects had in store for us. Only at the end of the day did any of it begin to make any kind of sense. The objectives of the Lower Sixth Training day were manifold and ambitious; to build our relationship and team-working skills, challenge our leadership qualities and promote our personal responsibilities and principles. All that within one day!
The day commenced with talks from old Marlburians, including Mike Roberts who left Marlborough eight years ago, and has since attended Sandhurst before commanding a regiment in Afghanistan. At first, many would have looked on him as one of those less battle hardened soldiers due to his modest and unassuming manner. However, we couldn't have been more wrong as a very melodramatic video, with much resemblance to Call of Duty, was displayed on the big screen. He then went on to explain the meaning of leadership and how we should all attempt to work as a team - this comment seemed to have little effect on the rest of the day, however, as in some cases, some people were clearly out for themselves. The second speaker Antonia Packard, an ex-Summerfield girl, who was also in the same year as Mike, tried to convey a slightly different message, in that we should make the most of our opportunities whilst at school.
Mr. Dennis rounded it off very honestly, chatting about his training as a professional rower for the Olympics, as well as winning his gold medal in Sydney. He modestly revealed that he relied on his "natural talent" too much when still very inexperienced, and this realisation made him see how much he could achieve if he actually put in the hours of training. He finished his speech by saying that you "never know whether you will win, it's just about the work you put in."
Once the talks had finished, we were all taken off to various houses by the prefects, with the day consisting of a combination of activities and discussions about school life. The trickiest and easily most time consuming of the activities involved trying to form a circle with a knotted rope whilst being blindfolded. This proved challenging for many groups, especially those who had slightly more self-conscious characters in their team. However, thd activity was eventually completed, and the groups then had the opportunity to discuss any school issues that they had. The main focus of this discussion were communications and school rules. This was a useful exercise, as pupils were able to have enlightening discussions with various HMs across the school.
The day ended with a talk from Lieutenant Colonel Mike Smith, about his charity, Care for Casualties. In brief terms, this charity cares for the needs of injured British rifleman, and helps them redevelop their lives through aiding their families, as well as them, in their rehabilitation. Once we had been briefed on the details and the incredible effect it can have on a person's life, we were then given the £10 challenge by Mr. Hodgson. Every member of the lower sixth was given a £10 note, and our challenge is simple: we have to turn the £10 into £100, which we will then donate to the charity. Various ideas are already springing up for this, ranging from creating sweet shops in house to running sponsored marathons - our possibilities are endless. For further information on Care for Casualties please take a look at their website and read details of their latest event, at Chepstow Racecourse, at the end of this article; http://www.careforcasualties.org.uk/whatson.html.
The general thoughts on the day were positive, many people described it as 'good fun' and a surprising number found it a good opportunity to meet and work with people within the year group that they hadn't encountered before. Many also thought that it boosted their 'self-recognition' and 'self-awareness' and that gave them and others, who normally wouldn't speak out, 'a chance to voice opinions' about the school and also gain a 'broader understanding of what it takes to lead'.
Overall the day showed us how we can work in different roles in a team, whether that means leadership or simply being a motivated and attentive team player. It also gave pupils the opportunity to show off their individual skills and talents. As Mike Roberts said, "Every person counts".
Georgia McVeigh (SU L6) and Bernard Chalk (LI L6).