14 July 2020

An important lesson: Fear is an incompetent teacher

With no big farewell for this year’s A-Level students, outgoing Head Boy Husain Abedi writes the speech he delivered at the end of term online assembly, focusing on the work of the Student Council, and wishes his best to the new Head Boy team.

2020 has presented challenge after challenge for the John Lyon community. The COVID pandemic has forced our physical school to shut down, forced our teachers to find an inoffensive wall to start classes in front of and forced us, the students, to find creative ways to stay motivated. Normally, I would champion the progress we would have made and remind everyone here that the ideas discussed now form the foundations of our collective futures.

The light at the end of the tunnel keeps flickering, however. The tragic and wholly unnecessary death of George Floyd and his haunting plea to breathe remind me that there will always be a cause you can fight for. You can build toward. You can be a part of. We can waver between hope and fear unsure of ourselves, doubting that things can truly be better. Trapped in the impasse of inaction yet secretly waiting for others to make the crossing.

To that, I want to wholeheartedly commend the Head Boy Team that has aided in making the past year one of the more eventful in John Lyon’s recent history. Liam Velani for his resourcefulness, initiative, and drive to always be better. Your professionalism is something I admire and will continue to attempt to emulate. Shiv Lakhani whose generosity and humanity define to me the greatest compliment a person could receive: you, Shiv, are a good person. Patrick Miles has been my closest confidant and when I might get ahead of myself, it’s him who has kept me grounded. You have extraordinary talents and I wish you the best in realising that potential, Paddles. And now to Vivek Nanwani, or as Mr Pepperman once referred to him: the friendly face of John Lyon. Your dedication to your work and ability to mobilise Prefects at a moment’s notice with a level of organisational discipline that far exceeds your paygrade cannot be understated. Thank you all. Thank you all so much.

Student Council and the Constitution it is rooted in have achieved a great deal, though spanners have been thrown into the works. I know that many of you might not feel as confident as I do now about what you have achieved but remember that this was the first year of the Constitution and standardised elections. Certain mistakes and missteps were bound to be made, although I must say we did tremendously well. Holding a meeting remotely was not something I expected to go smoothly, and yet many of you participated, contributing feedback, and debating ideas. Suggestions were made ranging from community projects to greater digital integration. This, by the way, only weeks after the fast-tracked rollout of a system that was designed to be launched next year. Be proud that your voices are finding their way into senior meetings and your ideas being centrepieces of exciting upcoming projects.

Which brings me to the future. I mentioned earlier that we might waver between hope and fear when looking ahead. Looking back though demonstrates an incredibly important lesson: fear is an incompetent teacher (Picard, Jean-Luc, 2399). Daniel Wong thoroughly impressed me and the rest of the panel with his application for Head Boy and I am assured that he will lead John Lyon to the next era with distinction. By his side are Rex Baldwin, Alpha Kolajo and Rayaan Bhatti who will be fine Deputies and serve the school with aplomb. It’s easy to play the cynic and say things won’t improve. It’s much harder to be the one to dream and keep boldly pressing forward.

Thank you all for listening and stay safe.

The Sixth Form Farewell Video 2020