Goodbye Mr Powell

PUPILS at an Ipswich school are bidding goodbye to their very own Mr Chips today.For 37 years Wolfe Powell's booming voice cloaked within his amiable manner has been a reassuring presence throughout the corridors of Copleston High School.

PUPILS at an Ipswich school are bidding goodbye to their very own Mr Chips today.

For 37 years Wolfe Powell's booming voice cloaked within his amiable manner has been a reassuring presence throughout the corridors of Copleston High School.

But now the much-admired deputy headteacher has closed the door on a major chapter in a life that has enriched so many others.

Mr Powell, who started as an English and PE teacher, has seen around 12,000 pupils benefit from his tutelage since he arrived in 1967.

Like the literary and film character Mr Chips, the 59-year-old has devoted his life not only to their education, but also their pastoral care.

Mr Wolfe said: "The great privilege of teaching is that it allows you to be part of the life of so many others. Life is like a game of snakes and ladders. There is often an expectation that teachers should be all knowing and have the answers to all problems. This is an absurd notion. We teachers are no different from other adults, except perhaps, we spend our working lives with the young and as such we share their ups and downs, their successes and failures, their joys and sorrows. This is truly the great privilege of being a teacher.

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"To the many young people who have allowed me to be part of their lives, I say a heartfelt thank you. You have been a credit to your families, your school and to yourselves. You have left this place and taken your places in society and you have made, and will continue to make, a difference."

Despite coming from a different era where rules were enforced far more stringently it is Mr Powell's genial nature and paternal guidance that have gained respect throughout the years.

He said: "If I were to say what's been good about 37 years here, it's the people I have got to know over those years. There have been some great kids, some great parents and some really good staff who have become good friends. The great joy for me is so many of my ex-students are also great personal friends."

As much for his teaching, it is Mr Powell's contribution as a mentor and friend, which will be his legacy.

Outside of school he was the founding chairman of Coplestonians football club in 1973 and remains its chairman today. He has also been heavily involved in rugby and has been the regional chairman of South Eastern Counties Rugby as well as being chairman of selectors for the England Rugby under 18 team and on the committee for the England A team.

But his favourite recollections revolve around helping his pupils to maximise their ability regardless of the level they achieve.

Mr Powell said: "I get as much satisfaction in seeing somebody get into Cambridge as somebody getting a job at a tyre fitters if that's what they want. It's not all about ability and academic excellence. It's about individuals fulfilling their potential."

His friend and colleague for 30 years, head of year Peter Dawson, paid his tribute to Mr Powell.

He said: "He's made a huge impact on the school. He will undoubtedly be missed. A lot of pupils consider they own a heck of a lot to him."

Headteacher Laurie Robinson echoed those sentiments. He said: "We are unlikely to see the likes of Mr Powell again. He will be missed a lot. He's made a very distinctive contribution which many pupils and families have valued."

Opinion - see page 4

1967 Flower Power sweeps the world

1968 Martin Luther King was assassinated

1969 Neil Armstrong is the first man to set foot on the moon

1974 Abba win the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo

1978 Roger Osborne scores the only goal as Ipswich beat Arsenal to win the FA Cup at Wembley

1979 Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain's first woman Prime Minister

1980 Prince Charles and Princess Diana married

1989 Berlin Wall comes down

1991 First Gulf War begins

1997 Tony Blair was elected Prime Minister

2000 Copleston High School achieves status as a sports college

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