It is with mixed emotions that we say goodbye today to our esteemed Headmaster, Past Pupil and friend, John Rafter. Though sad to see him retire, we are envious of the exciting times he has ahead of him in retirement; travelling, cooking, learning Spanish and spending more time with family and friends, to name but a few. John’s dedication to the school throughout the years and the legacy he leaves behind is incalculable. We wish him well in all his future endeavours. John has been an outstanding teacher, coach, mentor and leader over his long career. We have had many celebrations over the past few weeks to honour John’s time in the school – all the way back since Form 1 in Morgans. The Staff, Students, Past Pupils Union, Parents Association and the Board of Governors have all had the opportunity to reminisce and pay tribute, as well as many past staff who joined us at the Staff party here in the school. The King's Hospital School is a community in all senses of the word and no one ever truly leaves the KH family. We look forward to seeing John at many school occasions in the future and catch up on how life is treating him beyond the school gates.
A presentation was made to John at the Annual PPU Dinner Dance on Saturday the 2nd of November by President Myles O’Donoghue. In his presentation speech Myles said ‘Johns contributions were not just limited directly to the School, he is also a valuable member of the Past Pupils Union and has been extremely supportive to me in my role over the last two years, thank you John’.
Board of Governors
At the final Board of Governors meeting of 2018 on December 4th, past and present governors wished John a very happy retirement with a reception in Brooklawn. Chairman Ken Peare thanked John for his dedication to the school throughout his career, and in particular the outstanding leadership he has provided over the past 5 years. Ken said ‘the school has seen many positive changes and introduced many new initiatives in education under John’s stewardship and he leaves a legacy to be proud of.’ Governor and long time friend of John's, Inez Cooper, also spoke a few words about her long association with John.
The Parents Association took the opportunity to mark John’s retirement with a presentation at the Annual Prefects and Mentors dinner held on December 6th. Chairperson Caroline Whitley thanked John for all his support over his time as Headmaster and particularly for the last 3 years during her time as Chairperson. She said ‘his door was always open. He was a willing listener at meetings and open to affecting change based on feedback given to him by the Parents association. John has had a long association with the school and has taught here for 40 years. In that time he taught many, many students and hopefully his love of maths, basketball and education will be passed on by all those students to their children, nieces, nephews and families and hence his legacy will continue."
We all enjoyed a magical evening in the transformed Wilson Wright Hall on December 14th to wish John well. Many past staff joined us and it was heartwarming to watch all the reunions. John’s family were also delighted to be there, having gotten to know many of the staff over the course of John’s time in the school, and of course being past pupils themselves. John's long time friend and past colleague, Norma Clarke delivered a wonderful speech, regaling us with stories from times past and covering all the facets of John's long and varied career at KH. John himself then spoke and has kindly agreed to let us publish his retirement speech here, which is a fascinating story, with his association to KH dating all the way back to 1967.
And last but not least the students. We knew that this would be the emotional one coming at the end of a very busy month and week with John still writing school reports and all the other non-stop business of being a Headmaster. One of John’s favourite chapel performances was Jack Daly singing American Pie accompanied by Helen Roycroft and Jack was honored to perform it again for this occasion. You can watch this beautiful performance on YouTube https://youtu.be/ZPGHtvvwbIY . After presentations and speeches from the Head Boy, Luke Harris, Head Girl, Emma Bowie, and the President of the Student’s Union, Eve Dowling, filled with emotion John got up and made an incredibly heartfelt, impromptu speech to the students. You could have heard a pin drop! The students then all gave John a standing ovation and took with them some very poignant words to live by and carry in their hearts forever.'"One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child." Carl Jung