Big birthdays should always be a cause for celebration and this year – the 140th birthday year for Northampton High School GDST – is no exception. Earlier this year, we shared our ambitious programme of events to mark this special anniversary, and it is now time to report on an amazing year as we look forward to our final event – a Gala Concert at All Saints’ Church, the School’s former spiritual home. Our concert features girls and staff from the High School, performing alongside Concert Master and violinist, David Le Page, and Rebekah von Lipinski, Opera Soprano, with the internationally renowned Orchestra of the Swan.
Our Birthday Receptions in May and September took us to buildings in Derngate, which were the school’s previous home: 78 Derngate (Charles Rennie Mackintosh House - the only home he designed in England) - and 44 Derngate (courtesy of The Dental Practice). These events were wonderful opportunities to reconnect with many distinguished Alumnae and to express our appreciation to many friends of the School. It was fascinating to go down memory lane with Alumnae as they tried to reconstruct their old haunts in the buildings and delightful to see that many of the treasured features of school were still there!
The Anniversary Charity Ball in June, kindly organised by the Friends of Northampton High School, was a huge success, with parents and staff coming together in splendid surroundings at the Marriott Hotel for a glamorous mix of dining, dancing and entertainment, raising over £2,000 for Cynthia Spencer Hospice.
Our extended Arts Festival, in late June, attracted record numbers of visitors, bringing together a Literary Festival, (with poetry showcase and food focus), Music Recital, Cinema Private View, a full-scale Musical (The Sound of Music), and a Dance and Gymnastics Extravaganza, alongside the customary Arts Invitational, in an exuberant demonstration of the rich artistic life of the School. We were delighted to welcome authors Annie Gray, Monica Withrington and Robin Stevens to share the secrets of their writing lives with us and, in our cinema showcase, we were able to celebrate the successes of our student filmmakers in national competitions (including private viewings at the Northampton Filmhouse and the Barbican).
Highlights of the year have been threefold: firstly, the excited looks on the faces of our pupils as they gathered in the Hall on 2 May (the birthday itself) to cut a cake and receive a present. Secondly, the conversations with scores of people (Alumnae, parents and staff) sharing their own particular stories of what the High School means to them; and finally, the connections made with many neighbours and associates of the School, including many from the business community, who value the High School as a centre of educational excellence, as an employer, customer or resource. Consolidating old friendships, broadening our horizons, having fun - it has been quite a year!