Head’s Round Up: Friday 7 February 2020
After several weeks of grey weather, what a treat to have some sunshine – the view from my office window of the bulbs peeping up in the Rose Garden and beyond are a hint of spring, despite the cold.
The Junior Boarders enjoyed a relaxed weekend last week. They explored their creative side with pottery painting in Farnham – a vast arrange of trinket boxes, bowls and money boxes were meticulously decorated and colour co-ordinated – and in the evening enjoyed a ‘Girls Night In’ with takeaway pizza, face masks and a classic ‘romcom’ with fizzy pop and dancing.
House Drama on Monday was as amazing as ever – judges Mark Parton, Head of Performing Arts, at St Hilary’s, Teresa Williams, Head of Drama at Manor House, and Amira Guettoch, a former student currently auditioning for drama school, were treated to a fantastic show of talent exploring the theme of ‘Love’. There were some beautifully assured performances, inventive use of the ensemble to create mood and location and an impressive sense of House spirit and community. A special mention for the four girls who led the organisation and direction for the Houses: Daisy E and Issie F for Frank, Abigail C for Austen, and Emma K for Pankhurst. Mr Parsons, who watched the final performance, commented that the Lower School girls showed unquestionable talent and collaboration. There were some fantastic individual, pair and group performances from Shakespearean monologues to group poetry. The three visiting judges were full of praise for all the Houses, and all girls should feel exceptionally proud. Results will be announced in March alongside those for House Music and House Art.
On Wednesday the Upper Sixth Biologists and Psychologists took part in the much anticipated and now annual Brain Day, run by Dr Guy Sutton, Lecturer at the University of Nottingham Medical School and Director of Consultancy Medical Biology Interactive. He has a contagious enthusiasm for neuroscience and girls and staff all really appreciated his ability to simplify complex concepts, at the same time as really stretching and challenging their knowledge of neuroscience and giving the girls the experience of university style learning. Dr Sutton delivered a fascinating day of tutorials on Neuroscience and the brain to our Upper Sixth Biologists and Psychologists, including a dissection of a sheep’s brain. Our Lower Sixth students also enjoyed listening to Dr Sutton, who presented to them a one hour lecture on the effect of drugs on the brain.
Another visitor on Wednesday was Dr Agnes Grunwald-Spier MBE, who was born in Budapest and survived the Holocaust. She gave the Fourth and Fifth Form girls a fascinating insight into her family experiences during the war, including her mother’s experience of having to give birth and protect her baby in the ghetto. Dr Grunwald-Spier, whom I had the pleasure to meet before she addressed the girls, also shared her research into a number of people who risked their own lives and those of their family to save others: an inspiration to us all at this time. She presented us with her book for the Library.
I made a visit of my own this week, to Milton Abbey school in Dorset. I was able to catch up with two of our Old Girls there and see how they are doing, which was a real pleasure.
As I mentioned in an earlier missive, twenty-six girls entered the UK Chess Challenge this year, which is a school record. After three rounds the joint leaders on 9 points are Phoebe T (Second Form) and Yusra D (Lower Sixth). Sophie M (First Form) and Dixie M (Fifth Form) lie joint 3rd on 8 points. There is a chasing pack of 6 girls on 7 points, including defending champion Emilia C (Fifth Form). After 5 rounds of general play, the top four players will go forward to the semi-finals, which will have a knock out format. The winner will be presented with the Chylikin Cup and the Chess Prize on Speech Day. She will also receive a smaller trophy to keep. There will be medals and smaller prizes for 2nd and 3rd places.
LAMDA results are in! All girls who took the exam in November either passed with Distinction or Merit. Special mention to our Upper Sixth girls: Emma K passed her Grade 8 Gold Medal in Speaking Verse and Prose with an incredible 94% at distinction level and Lidia P achieved a distinction in her Grade 6 acting exam, with English being her second language. Well done to all the girls and thank you, on the girls’ behalf, to our fabulous LAMDA teachers, Mrs Rogers and Mrs Venus for their continued support and encouragement. The next round of LAMDA exams are around the corner in March.
In Sport, many girls have been involved in matches this week. The U15A hockey team had a fantastic match against Manor House, winning 5:0. The player of the match was Iris W.
Last evening, parents, Fifth Formers and staff had what I hope were constructive and helpful discussions about the girls’ next steps on their journey towards their GCSE exams in the summer. Please remind your daughter of the support available in school. We are all working together to ensure that the girls achieve their goals and that they are proud of themselves on Results Day.
For the second week running, my Friday treat has been to watch one of the Sixth Form girls present her EPQ. This week it was the turn of Saffron G, whose EPQ was based on the influence of dreaming on art. She considered the work of Salvador Dali, Nicolas Bruno and herself. To say that the presentation was impressive is simply an understatement.
Next week we are looking forward to the House Music Final on Tuesday – always a highlight – and the Pastoral Evening on Wednesday. My best wishes go to the team of Second Form girls – Emma M, Ellie S, Emma S and Jessica J – who have reached the semi-final in the CyberFirst Girls competition, taking place tomorrow.
As you know, Open Day is also tomorrow and the school will be buzzing. Then we will be on the home straight galloping towards half term.
With best wishes