They flock out onto fields like crows
Blazers flapping in the summer breeze
And felt tip pens held aloft, a sword
To swoop and slash across the whiteness
Of the shirt. And soon they’re covered
In garish writing, names and memories
Of five years spent with some
They’ll never see again, a poignant time
That fades as quickly as the midday sun.
Our Year 11 students have their shirt signing afternoon arranged for next week. For those outside the UK, this is something that we all do on our final day of secondary school – I still have my shirt from 22 years ago.
Basically, the Year 11 students finish their final day and they are then allowed to spend an hour getting their shirt signed by everyone in their year – and a lot of teachers get in on the act too.
It feels like such a special time and it is really poignant as some of these students will never see each other again. After spending five years with each other, some will go to college and others to work, and then they may go onto universities all over the country.
It is one milestone that seems to mark the passing of childhood and the beginning of their new lives as adults. I wish them luck, and I do wonder how many of them will keep that shirt tucked in the back of a wardrobe for thirty years, and look back fondly at those signatures every now and then?