I don’t know if I’ve been walking around the school with blinkers, or if the corridors are usually too blocked with teenagers to notice the walls, but something freaky happened as I was strolling about during a free period yesterday, trying to look busy because I couldn’t be bothered to do any more marking. I glanced at a few of the photos stuck up on various walls, of the pupils’ great achievements: fully aced exam results, competition winners, sports teams topping their leagues… the photos showed gaggles of pupils brandishing certificates, some grinning and others looking slightly embarrassed. The next time I passed the display cabinets I looked in to see the latest batch of trophies and pictures, and this was when a strange shiver rippled down my spine, and not just because the heating system is on the blink again.
For I noticed, as my eyes flicked from one picture to the next and the next, that the same ten or so kids appeared in each set of photos – there they were as key players in a hockey or football team, next they were members of the debating team, here they were waving exam certificates, there they were at the summit of Ben Nevis… it was like we were at Stepford School, or the biology department is doing more advanced cloning than they’re letting on. But it made me think of a truth that hadn’t really bubbled up from my sub-conscious before: out of hundreds of pupils, only a few ever get the trophies and medals of life.