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Opening Assembly Address from Ena Harrop, Head of School

At this year’s annual opening assembly, Ena Harrop, Head of School, delivered a powerful speech to our students and community. Watch her full address here and read an excerpt from her speech below. 

“As we start this academic year, I want us all to keep two inspiring women in our minds: Jesse Gordon and Shabana Basij Rakish, the head of SOLA, the only girls’ boarding school in Afghanistan, with about 200 students from 28 out of 34 provinces, aged 10-18. Separated by 124 years, from different backgrounds and very different life experiences but both with a common cause, girls’ education, a cause that continues to be more relevant than ever, that in fact will never stop being relevant while we live in a world where women and girls’ needs and achievements can still be invisible or go unnoticed or dismissed outrightly. A cause that requires everyone’s effort and everyone’s commitment, but particularly ours as members of the CHS community. 

These women are both in their own way incredible examples our school values of courage, creativity and citizenship, values which I know will continue to guide us this year. 

So this is my message to you today: you have a precious gift and an immense privilege in the education you are receiving at this school. Never take it for granted, and hold in your mind the people who made it possible for us to be here today and the many girls and women who still have to fight for their right to an education. 

But most importantly, use your education every step of the way, starting now. Use it generously, use it kindly, use it collaboratively to bring about positive change for everyone in our communities. 

And that means above anything, ensuring everyone is seen in their full humanity. Not allowing anyone to be invisible or their rights to be dismissed. At school for us, it means first and foremost, everyone of us playing our part in making everyone feel seen, understood and valued. 

And beyond our immediate community, it means taking the time to remain alive to the struggles of women, girls and other marginalized groups across the world and standing up for their rights in any way we can, however small. 

So let’s take some time to reflect on what this might look like for us as we start the year. 

I cannot think of a better way to honour JG’s legacy and Shabana’s work at this particular time in history.”