An assembly for the start of the school year
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to consider our hopes, dreams, fears and targets for the new school year (SEAL theme: Motivation).
Preparation and materials
You will need a leader and four readers.
Optional: you may wish to read or retell the parable of the talents, which is found in Matthew 25.14-30.
Leader: Today’s assembly is, unsurprisingly, all about new beginnings. I’d like you to imagine four scenarios.
Reader 1: It’s my wedding day. I’m looking forward to married life and the chance to take decisions together with my partner, set up a home and have children. But I am going to miss so much about the single life, especially the total independence and being able to focus on myself. It’s a brand-new start, but it’ll be hard leaving the old life behind.
Reader 2: I don’t know why I entered this marathon run. All I can see are 26 and a bit miles of agony. I’ve not trained enough and I know I should have lost some weight. As I stand here on the start line, I’m absolutely dreading what’s to come.
Reader 3: I’m so excited. We’re moving into a new house and I’ve got the chance to do my room exactly as I want it. No more traces of childish wallpaper and chipped woodwork from the toys that I played with. I’m going to plan carefully, take my time and achieve the result I want, something that expresses the person I am. So, let’s get started.
Reader 4: I’ve never tried to navigate a maze before. I can’t see over the top of the bushes, so every turn is going to be a gamble. I wish I had some idea of the way to go. What if I get totally lost? Do they send someone in at the end of the day to gather up the sad remains of those who never made it out? Well, here’s the start. In I go.
Leader: How do you feel today? How do you feel about starting a new school year? Some of you will be like our first character. Yes, there are aspects of the new year that you’re looking forward to, but it was fun being on holiday, too. Today means the end of freedom, long lie-ins and pleasing yourself about how to spend your time.
Others of you will feel like the marathon runner. It’s a long time until next July and the months are filled with hard work. School seems like a long slog and you’re not looking forward to it at all.
Hopefully, there are some of you who feel like our third character. You’ve got ambitions for this year. You want to achieve certain results, maybe in exams, maybe in sport or music or drama. There are experiments that you want to do, you want to try out something new. You can’t wait to get started.
Finally, there are those of you who are facing the unknown. You’re new to the school and haven’t had a chance to develop friendships. Where will you fit in? Possibly, you’re feeling a little anxious about each new situation you’re going to face. How will the staff react to a newcomer? Who do I ask when I have a problem? It’s a new start.
Time for reflection
Leader: The first thing to say is that we’re all at the same start line together. Many of us probably share a mixture of those emotions: the regret, dread, excitement and uncertainty that our four characters separately illustrated. So, we’re in this together.
Jesus told a story (Matthew 25.14-30) about three characters who had different attitudes to starting a new phase in their lives. In the story, a businessman was going to be away for a while, so he entrusted some of his wealth to his three servants. One of them was given a lot, another was given a smaller amount and the third was given a single portion. The three characters must have had varied reactions to this unequal sharing, but, nevertheless, they each made their plans. The first servant invested his share and made a huge profit. The second put his smaller share to work and made a modest profit. The third servant couldn’t be bothered and simply hid his share away. When the businessman returned, he was very pleased with the first two, who delivered their profits to him, but he was angry with the third servant, who had simply lazed around and not achieved anything.
What does this have to do with us? We all have something to invest in this new school year. Some may appear to have been given more than others, such as academic ability, sporting talent, a great singing voice, instrumental skill or team leadership. Nevertheless, everybody here starts the new school year with some ability, skill, gift or talent. No one starts empty-handed and what matters most is how we finish. Next July, how will we feel about the way we used the time, resources and opportunities that lay before us in September 2017?
So, if you’re looking back with regret that the summer’s over, now is the time to start looking forward. You can’t turn back the clock. If you’re dreading what lies in front of you, make use of the support that’s available in terms of staff, online resources, friends and family. If you’re excited, make a plan that paces how you act so that you don’t burn out after an initial, enthusiastic spurt. If you’re uncertain because everything’s new, remember that we are all here to help you! We’ll do our best to help you feel part of this community so that we can all work together towards a great year.
Thank you for new opportunities.
Remind us of the resources that we have to start the year.
Help us to invest them wisely so that we feel pleased with ourselves at the year’s end.
‘I can see clearly now’ by Johnny Nash