THE ALEXANDRA SCHOOL MESSAGE TO STUDENTS FROM PRINCIPAL
Dear Alexandra Students, Let me first begin by saying that my professional happiness and my sense of achievement are inextricably linked to your success, your comfort and your happiness. I see it as my uncompromising duty to challenge and overcome anything and anyone that seeks to deny you those fundamental rights as a student of this school and as a citizen of this country, the country that has its future totally tied to you and your contributions both currently and into the brave new world that you will fashion. Today, all of you in your own personal ways are being asked to confront the real issue of bullying. It may not have touched you personally and, hopefully, it never will. Unfortunately, one of your classmates, contemporaries from another school or a family member may not be as blessed as you are and may be quietly suffering in the hell-‐hole trap of bullying, either as victim or as perpetrator. You, like me, have a responsibility to understand what is bullying, appreciate the warning signs, accept its lifelong negative impact and commit to equipping yourself with all that is necessary to eliminate this clear and present danger. You have to care; you have to love; you have to respect, and you have to be sensitive to differences. School life is not and cannot only be about academic success. Yes, that is important, but character development and memory creation must also be a significant focus. What do you want to be the significant recollection of your school life fifteen, twenty or even thirty years after you would have left? As your principal, I commit to doing everything that I can to ensure that your memory is filled with the positives that result from good classroom moments, supportive interaction with staff, expressive involvement in sport, culture and service, wholesome and confidence building relationships with classmates and others of your age group, be they study buddies, mentors, inter-‐school competitors or simple friends. You must be able to openly look back and with a deep sense of pride say, “I attended the best school to be found anywhere on earth or mars.” Your memory should be devoid of fear, anger or regret. Each of us must play his or her part!
Be very sure that bullying hurts both the victim who may become withdrawn and afraid to fully realize his or her true potential; who may be forced to suffer great emotional anguish and live a life defined by lack of self esteem and self worth as well as the fear and pain of actual threats and physical aggression. The perpetrator also suffers by forcing his or her way to positions through no true intellectual effort or performance standards, and which are therefore not sustainable. This person can never look back with pride at any genuine achievement because there would have been none. You are better than that, and our motto, “Per Ardua Ad Astra” focuses you on being better than that. Let it be your guide as you proudly reminisce and speak of your effort that landed you among the stars in your chosen field of endeavour. It is also true that the latest research statistics have shown that sixty percent of students identified as bullies between ages eleven and fifteen end up with a at least one criminal conviction by age twenty four. My children, this is not what I want for you and not what you want for each other! As we plan our efforts to eliminate any and all real forms of bullying from our school and, by extension, our society let me share three thoughts with you. •
Bullying is always linked to a power imbalance between people. There is a difference between power and authority which is a legal and agreed structure. You can fashion your own power structure (as Ryan Brathwaite has) based on intellect, values and personal achievement. Earn it and you need fear no one.
You do not have to pull down or hurt others to achieve anything worthy in life. Remember, whenever you light a candle to brighten someone else’s path, you also illuminate your own.
Never accept the notion that bullying cannot be experience through words. It is not true that as the saying goes, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never do.” Words do hurt and they do break your feelings, your confidence, your self-‐ esteem and your appreciation of self and worth. That is not what you want for yourself, and it is not what we want for our classmates, colleagues and nation.
As I end this letter, I encourage you and even directly instruct you to reject and report any identified incident of bullying. You have strong support systems such as your prefects, student counsellors, favourite teacher, form teacher, year head, Guidance Counsellor, Deputy Principal and me. I want you to know and be sure that I love you dearly. I am here as an advocate, supporter and guide for you. Let us commit to each other, to our school and to the outstanding legacy builders who came before us. Let us accept as a mantra: LOVE AND CARE YES! BULLYING NO!
MESSAGE TO STUDENTS FROM PRINCIPAL