Year 8 can be at once exciting and daunting. In talking to the Year 8s about their experience of starting an new school, some of the things they enjoyed about the experience were:
- Making new friends (this was at the top of almost everyone’s list.)
- Doing new subjects
- Getting new teachers
- Better facilities (especially in sport.)
Some of the things they found more challenging about the experience were:
- Leaving old friends
- Leaving former teachers
- Having more homework
- Heavier schoolbags
- Trying to find classrooms
At the top of each list the importance of friendship came to the fore. God made us for friendship.
We spent each day exploring with each group the qualities that Jesus displayed. We know he was friendly because he talked to people all the time, even people others thought he shouldn’t talk to, like the woman at the well, or Zacchaeus. We know he was helpful because he asked Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” He was courageous because he wasn’t afraid to stand up to the powers of his day, even though it was getting him into trouble. He was forgiving, even to those nailing him to a cross. In fact, to list all the qualities of Jesus would take quite a lengthy blog post.
One of the things our Year 8s realised quite quickly, was that all the qualities they look for in their friends are to be found in Jesus. Jesus has all of them to perfection. He is the ultimate friend. When we or our friends show kindness, consideration, love, acceptance, forgiveness, trust, honesty, generosity and understanding, we are reflecting the light of Christ to those around us.
To notice this light in yourself or in others is a great gift. It is wonderful to recognise the presence Christ in yourself each time you behave in a way that Jesus himself would have done, and when you notice others doing good things, it is wonderful to praise them, encourage them and build them up. We took some time to acknowledge the good qualities in ourselves and each other. Each person paid a compliment to another person and received a compliment from someone in return.
The Year 8s were a great bunch and thankfully they didn’t keep their qualities hidden, which is why we had 7 great days with them. We will be keeping them in our thoughts and prayers as they begin their journey through post-primary school.