School Birthday 21st October 2016
Not just another day at Southend High School for Girls.
Today is Southend High School for Girls' 103rd Birthday. It is a day of celebration where students take a break from study and have time to reflect on what the school has meant to the thousands of students who have passed through its doors over the years and to say thanks for the opportunities that it gives them today. The celebration service that started the day concentrated on the experiences of students in 1938. Although the language and activities were different the ambition of the school - to develop young women (and more latterly young men in the sixth form) into independent, curious, learned young adults with a keen sense of personal and social responsibility - shone through in the stories that were told. The emphasis on tolerance and the need to be informed citizens aware of the political, social and economic issue of the time was just as important in 1938 as it is now. This year the birthday celebrations had two main focusses. Firstly, to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust charity via a 5 mile sponsored walk around our local streets and secondly to raise money to buy small yet useful presents for the school.
During the celebration form reps and their deputies took their turn to present their gift to the school. This was followed by a gift from out SHSG old girls, the Staff and the Governors. Some the more eccentric presents included: a fake decapitated head for the history department, a complete set of clocks (one for each teaching room), some dressing up costumes for the drama departments, a disco ball and even some air fresheners for the PE changing rooms! After prayers and a rousing rendition of Jerusalem the traditional three cheers for the students, the staff and the school itself rang out across the estuary. Some say that it was so loud it could even be heard in Kent!
The birthday also gave our sixth formers an opportunity to showcase their skills in writing, singing, dancing and acting through the Pantomime that they are challenged to write, direct and perform in. This has become quite a competitive endeavour over the years with each year trying to out do the previous one. This year's offering written by group of yr13 students (taking a break from the stress of final year A levels and UCAS applications) was a Disney inspired plot with all of the normal audience participation and sweet throwing stunts from the best Cliff's Pavilion performance! It did not disappoint and was heralded as the 'best ever' by many of the veteran birthday goers who saw it.
As the day drew to a close and the last tired walkers returned from their adventure they passed the stained glass window that has welcomed all comers to the school for many years. I hope that as they did they took a moment to reflect on the significance of the words included with in it, words that were also used to end the birthday celebration ceremony.
"So enter that daily thou mayest become more learned and thoughtful, so depart that thou mayest become more useful to thy country and to mankind."