20 October 2023
Southend High School for Girls celebrated its 110th Birthday today in a celebration assembly led by Headteacher, Jason Carey and an array of events including the Sixth Form Pantomime! Staff and pupils were joined by members of the Old Girls’ Association, governors, the Parents’ Association and past pupils and teachers.
SHSG began the tradition of celebrating its birthday from its first days in Boston Avenue, Southend on 23rd October 1913. The birthday has been celebrated every year since, with more events having been built into the celebrations and becoming part of school tradition. Headteacher, Jason Carey said, ‘It’s a wonderful day and a quirky tradition, something that the SHSG community love and past pupils always talk about fondly.’
The day involves a Headteacher’s assembly; a huge birthday cake designed and made by students; everyone singing the school song ‘Jerusalem’, with pupils shouting the key word ‘fire’ as loud as they can; singing happy birthday; and an array of cards and presents presented to the school. The assembly is topped off by the Chair of Governors, Alan Bacon, leading everyone in assembly to shout ‘Hip, hip hooray!’ so that Kent can hear them. Yes, this is also part of the tradition! This was Mr Bacon’s last SHSG birthday assembly and prefects presented him with gifts from the school for his many years of service as governor and chair.
There is even a special ‘Birthday Club’ for those pupils who also celebrate their birthday today too. This club also included Mr Carey!
From left to right (with Mr Carey in the centre) Sixth Form students Imogen, Maddison, and Tilly with the birthday club:
Lexi, Annabel, Emily, Ella, Lilia, Didi, Aayah, Christine
However, the highlight of the school birthday celebration is always the Year 13 Pantomime, performed to every pupil and staff member. This year, it was an alternative take on ‘High School Musical,’ complete with SHSG’s very own Gabriella, Sharpay, Troy and the SHSG Mandem.
Head Student, Carissa Baxter, starring as SK in the SHSG Mandem in the pantomime said: ‘It was an amazing and surreal experience to finally be a part of and organise the traditional panto that I have watched since I was in Year 7.’
The Year 13 Pantomime cast, including Olivia Hurley, Adria Baraboi, and Calypso Bailey with others in the star cast.
Head Student, Carrissa Bazter pictured third from left to right with Princess Kunadu (first left,). Then Jillo Ntim, Carrissa and Lauren.
Year 7s complete a Colour Run, and Year 8s and 9s a Recycle Fashion Show.
Today’s celebrations have focussed very much on traditions, roots and legacy, celebrating the past, present and future of the school. Excerpts from old school magazines dating as far back as 1913 were shared in the whole school celebration assembly. One extract written by a Year 7 student at the time of the school opening in 1913 refers to the school moto, ‘Ad Dei Gloriam’ (To the glory of God). At the time, objections were raised by some members of the public in Southend who felt that it was impossible for schoolgirls to live up to such expectations! The then Headmistress, Miss Lewis, drummed it into pupils continually that they were forming the traditions of a new school and that she expected a high standard. Those traditions and expectations remain firmly embedded in the Southend High School of 2023 and are epitomised in SHSG’s annual school birthday celebrations. Pupils were reminded today of the trail blazing pupils and headteachers of the past who paved the way for future generations of SHSG pupils.
All pupils and staff have thoroughly enjoyed the celebrations today, Sophie Potton (Year 12) said ‘It is always something to look forward to; it’s something I can remember celebrating with my friends from Year 7. It’s the opportunity to embrace our school traditions and reflect on community. I still remember my first school birthday, singing Jerusalem, and being a bit shocked when everyone shouted ‘Fire’. When I hear the words of the reading of Ecclesiastes, it really makes me think about the journey we are on in school and the transitions we go through; ‘a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them.’
Aled Cole (Year 12) said ‘I really like hearing all the musical performances. I was so taken aback by the talent we have here. I love watching the younger years sing Jerusalem and think about the traditions they are learning about which we learnt about to; especially shouting ‘Fire’. It’s a lovely way to end our first half team at Sixth Form here.’
Evie Taylor (Year 12) said ‘I like having the time in forms to get to know each other and bond. The school birthday gives us a time to get know each other and feel bonded as a community.’