From its humble beginnings to its current standing as one of the country's top institutions of secondary education, Wycherley celebrated twenty five years remarkable achievement in providing a unique seat of learning.
As an alumnus that walked through its gates for thirteen of those twenty- five years, I feel an inevitable sense of pride, admiration, gratitude, humility and nostalgia, not to mention the countless fond memories.
Dr. Shiraz Badurdeen, MA. MB. Bchir (Cambridge University)
As Wycherley takes a bold step towards the future with a new management and a refreshed outlook, I look back in wonder at what in particular made that dingy old place shaded in blue and grey so special, why it is remembered so fondly by so many of us, and held in high esteem by many more…
I'm going to save you the ride down memory lane. I'm also going to save you the list of all the lovely, flowery, wonderful things one would normally say about his or her alma mater.
But what makes Wycherley special for me was not each individual item that would be on that list, but rather that unique collection of those items, the way they come together to give the place a certain je ne sais quoi, what perhaps is best referred to as the Wycherley 'culture'.
What do I mean by this special culture then? Let me explain through a few reminiscences. It meant that stepping into school punctually before 7.30 am was far more important than the BMW that got you there.
It meant that greeting your teachers in the morning with reverence and respecting their advice and instructions was more important than the funniest joke you could tell. It meant looking decent and presentable was more important than the latest Nike sneakers that your daddy had bought you.
It meant focusing your mind to learn, question and wonder about all that was taught to you was the reason your daddy paid so much of his hard- earned money for you to be there.
And no, it was not cool to be ostentatious or arrogant - it was far cooler to be the one who, despite the privileged upbringing, had not lost the common touch. It was not okay to talk behind your friend's back far better to be the one people could rely on, the one who was trustworthy and generous.
And I'm most proud to say that what never mattered was the ethnic background or religion of the person who sat next to you. And so we learned lessons not just in the classroom but also in life, lessons about respect, friendship, generosity, modesty, tolerance and many more cultivated through the culture within which we grew.
Someone once told me you don't create a culture, culture happens, it is serendipitous.
Looking back I'm not sure that's entirely correct. Creating the right culture takes effort and consistency, making clear what you stand for through the actions that leaders and members take. Culture is created the way a vegetable garden is created - by creating the right environment where the right things are rewarded whilst weeding out the wrong things.
If you encourage people to share, and you give them the freedom to share, then sharing will be built into your culture.
If you reward trust then trust will be built into your culture. It's the by- product of consistent behaviour that Wycherley seems to have got right, and we're left with an environment that is ideal to nurture aspiring young minds, and perhaps one that accelerates serendipity.And also the answer to what makes that crackly old place so special probably lies in the people who cultivate that vegetable garden, who enable that consistent behaviour and perpetuate universal values allowing those ' valiant knights' to be shaped.
What makes it special then are the teachers and Principal whose devotion and perseverance has built Wycherley up to what it is today. It's the parents and families that maintain those values at home and enable a sense of community and friendship at school.
It's really every individual involved in the school, from the sports coaches to the guest musical directors, to the staff (some who have served the school for over twenty years) to the canteen guys. And so on Wycherley's twenty-fifth anniversary year, we're really taking our hats off to you.
Thank you for everything you've done, for creating that wonderful culture that we were privileged to experience. Be proud, you deserve to be celebrated.
Shiraz Badurdeen who graduated in Medicine in 2006, from Cambridge University was awarded the Peter Brook Award for 2008.
The Award encourages research in Psychiatry and in associated basic sciences and is awarded to any member of Cambridge University pursuing Clinical studies in Cambridge. It is supported by the Frances and Augustus Newman Foundation.