Now, before you all start humming the melody of “Hark the Herald” etc, which is the understandable reaction on coming across the archaic word ‘Hark’, I refer to something altogether more modern but just as enduring, as the Christmas Carol we all look forward to singing outside our neighbour’s front door in the dimness of their low energy winter porchlight.
Sedbergh is an ancient institution, and for those of you who perhaps are not so up to speed with our hard-to-contain excitement, the School celebrates its quincentenary in 2025. The Headmaster, our no-nonsense sleeves-rolled-up Mr Dan Harrison, has set about his tenure with great gusto, and as part of this cyclone of activity (the man never stops), he has defined a set of values that is representative of the School, and in so doing, created a bridge between the past and the future as we come to cross the threshold of the 500th year of existence.
HARK is an acronym for Humility, Ambition, Resilience, Kindness, with the greatest of these, taking the words from Dan himself, being Kindness. Who would disagree? Of course, Sedbergh has imbued us all with a set of values, an inevitable consequence of spending time in such a close-knit society during our formative years, and I am sure there are other values besides those described which come to mind when we reflect in a quiet moment.
But by codifying such a set, suitable for the modern age, Dan has determined a moral direction of travel for the future generations that pass through the School. It is more than just a moral compass, it doesn’t just point the way, but provides an ethical travel pack for a journey through life, encouraging the holder to stride with certitude towards the peaks of opportunity, while being mindful of others who accompany them on the paths of providence.
Few things endure. By focussing on values, Dan has ensured that, as the School moves towards a new epoch, it stays true to the principles that have ensured its success over the years, and at a time when so many other institutions lie half broken like Ozymandias upon the plains of education.
Jan van der Velde
Chairman, OS Club