Fast-forward to my GCSE year and my journey to Bradfield began. I had been paging through multiple Sixth Form prospectuses and after a long week of back and forth we discovered Bradfield College and fell in love – well, my mother fell in love and I just felt relieved that we had finally unanimously decided on a viable option for the first time that week. Bradfield College – an education for life – well, it went on the list.
I knew going into this school that I was not the norm and frankly I was terrified. I knew only of boarding schools in the periphery of my mind, through the lens of the media: Wild Child, Little Princess and St Trinian’s School. But I pushed past this fear and applied. Like many of those currently applying to Bradfield, I wasn’t able to tour the school but every night, I would sneak downstairs, open the laptop and stare at the pictures on the website. I read and re-read the articles written about the IB programme or ‘What Makes a Talking School’ or ‘Why Co and Not Extra-Curricular’, Bradfield became my dream Sixth Form.
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A LONG WHILE, I FELT SEEN.
When I received my acceptance letter, I felt a sense of elation. Any feelings of fear quickly disappeared when I found out that I was going into Stevens House. I went to the website to watch the house video and, upon seeing the face of my Housemistress, Mrs van der Westhuizen, felt calm. This calmness only grew when I stepped into Stevens House, my home away from home. For the first time in a long while, I felt seen.
This was my chance to completely reinvent myself. Nobody here knew Naomi. I took that opportunity and ran with it. One of my favourite memories when I look back at my first year is sitting down with my Housemistress with the Co-Curricular booklet, a highlighter and a pen to mark all the activities and societies I could try. For the first time I suppressed my need for perfectionism and signed up for Gospel Choir where I got the opportunity to perform at the Michaelmas Concert, CCF in the Army section, girls’ football, LAMDA, ballet, jazz and street dance. I was even able to step out of my fortress to raise awareness about an important month which I saw was not being celebrated: Black History month.