Dear Parents,
As we approach the end of the term and 2017, it’s a good opportunity to write as well as to look forward to what awaits us in 2018. I started the week by reminding the community that holidays always come a week too late and that we should be gentle with ourselves and others as we rush towards the finishing line. The assembly talk given by Shreshth on Wednesday was about the choices we make to grow or to give up. I think that we also make choices about how to respond to others, to be offended or disrespected and it is in the last week of a term, when we are often tired or stretched too thinly, that we sometimes make poor choices and react to the wrong things.

All of the competitive inter-house sporting activity for the year finished on Tuesday with the inter house basketball matches. You will be able to see the results, and many more things that have happened recently, by looking at the school’s Facebook page. We have since had a few days of time and space to catch up, enjoy each others company without trying to be faster, higher, stronger than the next man and to prepare for the holiday. Of course, there will be no homework set for the holidays other than the preparation that the boys sitting their pre-boards will have to put in before their return in January. The purpose of the holiday is to rest, recover and rejuvenate, a time to read for pleasure, reconnect with family and friends and to constructively spend and waste the time that you have enjoying yourself. I am looking forward to spending the time with my family in Germany who I have not seen since Founders. This will be the last Christmas holiday that we have with three children because, like some of you, I have a son who will be finishing his IB Diploma in May and moving on to study in another country as he enters the adult world.

Last weekend I participated in the 78th Indian Public Schools Conference (IPSC) Principals’ Conclave that was held at PPS Nabha. I learned a little more about the historical connection between The Doon School and the IPSC, which was established by Arthur Foot and some other heads of schools back in the late 1930s… I think that some of the retired heads I met might have actually been there at the time! The event was made more interesting and fun by the number of former Doon masters who are now running schools; Mr. Skand Bali at HPS, Mr. Vinay Pandey at Lawrence, Sanawar, Ms. Meeta Sharma at Mody School, Lakshmangarh, Mr. Neeraj Kumar Bedhotiya at Daly College, Indore. I found myself sharing a sofa with two of them whilst we watched the PPS equestrian team performing during one of the tea breaks.
Part of the service to a meritocratic India that Doon lives up to is providing Principals for other schools around the country. Very few of our teachers choose to leave to teach elsewhere, as is common in most schools, but they do get asked to lead others in their teaching and learning. Sometimes people ask why we don’t open another school or take over the running of a school somewhere else. To that idea I think that we should work at keeping things relevant, experimental and exciting here; there is still a lot to be done. We are not interested in growth by numbers or by expansion and are not motivated, like some school groups, by profit. We are, however, interested in having an impact and creating change and I think that the influence we have on schools around the country is spread when our people move on to leadership positions elsewhere.
On Wednesday night we hosted a local band who some of us had heard playing at the Orchard restaurant recently. After dinner most of the boys, masters and campus families came to the MPH for an informal concert, the type that you would find in any club or medium sized venue around the world, to sit, stand, mill around and move to the music on offer. It felt very good and I hope that it will be the start of more low-key visiting performers.
We were joined last week by our new Director of Administrative Affairs, Col. Gaurav Chaturvedi. He steps into Sameer Katre’s shoes with overall responsibility for the infrastructure, maintenance, catering, horticulture, security and administration of the campus. Gaurav has served this nation as a paratrooper, has attended Staff College and has recently been working as the director of security for a company in Mumbai. Many of you know that we were going through a selection process to appoint a new Housemaster for Jaipur House. After three rounds of interviews, including a common room meeting with the boys, we have great confidence in making Vidukesh Vimal the Housemaster and Mohit Sinha the Assistant Housemaster. They will assume these roles in January when we return from the holiday. We will also be joined in January by a new Chemistry teacher and a new Counsellor who will teach Lifeskills and introduce the school to Ultimate Frisbee.
The new Director of Administrative Affairs, Col. Gaurav Chaturvedi.
Over the holiday, we will be completing the renovation work on some of the older master’s houses close to Tata House and the kitchen common rooms that J, H and K houses have will be put into T and O houses. This will mean that the students have the means to prepare themselves snacks and that they have access to bread, butter, jam, milk and fruit as well as whatever treats their house chooses to give. The kitchens have induction hobs, pots, pans, utensils and a full set of house coloured crockery from which to eat. They also have aa RO water supply and a bin for all the mess that inevitably gets made.
Something that arrived yesterday in the office was the planners that we have created for the students to help them organize themselves and their work. I showed some advance samples to the prefects last week who thought that they would be very helpful to everyone… as long as it becomes a habit for everyone to carry them. This will be an expectation in class for what it means to be ready to work; pencil case, notebook and planner. The students’ planner is dark blue and the masters each have a red planner that I have already seen them carrying around and using.
Last night we had a staff dinner during which we shared our thanks and best wishes to Sameer Katre, our outgoing DAA and to John Xavier, the outgoing Housemaster of J House.
This morning the SC boys decorated each others’ white kurtas with messages, signatures and slogans before heading to the pavilion for a batch photo and some tea. This ‘senti change’ is something of a tradition that I have seen all over the world on the last day of classes for the graduating classes and it is good to see it alive and well at Doon. Tomorrow we will be doing the same in the Rose Bowl with the students and we will be awarding some of the prizes, colours and blazers that they have been earning over the term. Once that is done and our goodbyes have been said, they will start making their way home to you.
I wish you the very best for the holiday and look forward to what 2018 promises to bring.

Matthew Raggett

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