I spent this morning in the high school, soaking up the excitement and energy of the kids on the last day of term. I was there for a whole school assembly — a first, and a brave move by a new head whose last school was somewhat more sedate.
The kids were great, not least those in the drama group who had prepared an alternative nativity skit on very short notice. (Mary and Joseph on the streets, car broken down; taken in by a homeless man and cared for by a prostitute. You know the sort of thing…)
Yes, the boy in front of me was behaving less than well as the choir sang; but for anyone with eyes, it was clear that he was desperate to get up there and sing with them, but just didn’t have the nerve. Yes, they kept applauding at all the wrong moments and ignored the head teacher’s request not to, but I was not in charge and didn’t need to let it bother me.
The skit went well, and I had the good luck to come next: God-slot, just as the meaning had begun to sink in. For a moment silence fell, and I had several hundred teenagers hanging on my every word. There’s magic in that moment, when so many restless kids forget themselves for long enough to listen.
Then the choir came back, the tension broke, and the normal raucous laughter of teenagers resumed.
It was a good day.
And perhaps when we do our next whole school assembly in Lent, I’ll talk about how I learned to forgive them for planting the new and horrid version of Hallelujah so firmly in my head that neither Maddy Prior nor the Office Hymn have come close to dislodging it.