Alumna Professor Roseneil celebrates individuality at Northampton High

Northampton High School recently had the pleasure of welcoming alumna, Sasha Roseneil, Professor of Interdisciplinary Social Science and Dean of the Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences at UCL, as guest speaker to the annual Awards Evening celebrations.

As a Northampton High alumna, she was able to transport the audience on a journey from the school’s original home in Derngate, Northampton, to London via Yorkshire and Essex as she spoke about her ‘Places of Learning’. In an entertaining and informative speech that touched students and visitors alike, Sasha outlined her academic and professional journey, discussed memories of school, and – picking up on the theme of the evening – spoke of her own relative strengths and weaknesses, her interests and passions and of the unexpected events that have made her the person that she is today.

The event’s theme ‘Fearless Individuality’ rightly celebrated not only the excellent headline examination figures at GCSE and A Level, but perhaps more importantly the stories of individuals – the risks that they had taken, the hurdles that they had overcome and their unique pathways along the way.

Being an individual – especially in the teenage years – takes real courage. The school prides itself in valuing each girl, allowing her to trust and develop her own character and to take up the myriad opportunities on offer, including extracurricular offerings, from Debating Club and Ukelele Group to Cafe Sci and volunteering opportunities such as Big Bear Little Bear and Big Sister Little Sister mentoring schemes. Girls also relish providing academic support as Language Leaders or Number Partners, getting involved in outreach work as Young Philanthropy Ambassadors or Community Sports Leaders.

Personal growth is not simply about solo recognition, but also contributing one’s peculiar talents to work creatively and collaboratively in a team, essential for future employment and lifelong learning.

Not surprisingly, group accomplishments have been numerous, such unique trips to track exotic particles using data from CERN to the World Challenge expedition to Cambodia, language exchanges and the Erasmus+ digital competency project with other European Schools.

Achievements for these groups include the awards for the best customer service and best teamwork in the county Young Enterprise competition and a plethora of other team successes, especially in sport: as Badminton regional finalists, netball national finalists, hockey division champions, finalists in the IAPS National Swimming Finals and finalists in the prestigious national equestrian competition at Hickstead.

There were wider, whole school successes – sports days, the Gym and Dance Extravaganza, CATS the Musical and the hosting of BBC’s Question Time. For many, however, the 140th Birthday Gala Concert at All Saints’ Church was unforgettable. This event culminated a year of celebration and brought the High School community – both past and present – together. Professor Roseneil spoke of her treasured memories of the school’s centenary celebrations, yet also delighted in seeing her former language teacher and form tutor in attendance at the Awards event. She will undoubtedly return to give of her time and expertise and to absorb the very special atmosphere that is Northampton High School. We will welcome others, too, and will continue to celebrate individuals who make up this unique community.