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what's happening at Chesham Grammar
Well, here we finally are, at the end of a very long and very busy term. I mentioned to the students in assembly this week that we have now done 15 weeks - which is around 40% - of a 38 week school year. Those in Years 11 and 13 who will leave us in May to go on study leave, are now half way through this crucial year. Given it is customary at this time of year to think about what has gone before and make resolutions for the year ahead, I encouraged students in assembly to think about what they have done this term and to consider what, if anything, they wish they had done differently. This should help them formulate a plan of action for the new term in January. Your sons and daughters have made an enormous contribution to the school over the course of the term. They make the school what it is. Whether it has been on the sports field, the stage, in the classroom, in a House event, I thank them all. I would especially like to thank our Prefects, Senior Prefects and Heads of House who have done a huge amount in and around the school. Our Head Boy and Head Girl, Jamie Lloyd and Kate Jameson, have been outstanding. They have masterminded a Sixth Form social and Christmas jumper day, co-ordinated the charity events which have taken place and spoken at Open Evenings and prizegiving in addition to attending and helping at just about every school event. They are hugely supportive and I would like to say thank you and well done.
Last Saturday, as you know, was our Christmas party for the elderly of Chesham. What a marvellous event it was. Watching our students chat away to the old people and serve them their food or generally help them, I felt enormously proud. Thanks to your generosity, we were able to send every one of the guests - over 100 in total - away with a present and a raffle prize. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Mrs Baillie and Mrs McKenzie did much of the organising of the event and I am very grateful to them for their hard work.
On Wednesday night, we held our Senior Prizegiving. Students who left Year 13 in the summer came back to receive their A level certificates and, in some cases, their subject prizes. Current Year 13 students whose AS work was rewarded were also present to collect their prizes. The evening was wonderful thanks largely to Mrs Armstrong who organised it superbly. It is usual at these events to have a guest speaker. For the last few years, we have invited an ex student, believing that this means more to our students than someone who may be well known but who has little relevance to most 18 year olds! Our guest speaker was Dr Sophie Harman. Sophie left here in 1999, going off to Manchester University where she completed her undergraduate studies, followed by an MA and PhD in Politics. She is currently Reader/Associate Professor of International Relations at Queen Mary University of London where she teaches and conducts research into Global Governance, the Global Politics of Health and Africa and International Relations. She has worked as consultant to UN agencies such as the World Health Organisation and United Nations Development Program, and is trustee of the Tanzanian-based NGO Trans Tanz. She has published 6 books, provided expert commentary to media outlets such as The Guardian, The Independent, TEDx and The Economist, and is currently making her first feature film about women and the politics of HIV/AIDS. As you can imagine, she was inspirational. Her message, which resonated with my own core beliefs, was that you can do anything if you believe you can and are prepared to try hard enough and that making mistakes is not something to be afraid of.
On a related note, I would like to share with you news about another of our ex students. Rebecca De Hoest, who left in 2009, has been called to The Bar and is now working with the Bank of England. Rebecca came back to talk to students herself last year and her message was a similar one to Sophie's: that if you are determined enough, you can achieve even more than you ever thought possible.
Last night, we held Christmas in Words and Music. This was in a different venue this year as St Mary's Church could not accommodate us on our preferred date. I am sure those of you who were at Broadway Baptist Church last night will agree that we will be going there again! It was a truly superb evening of readings and music. For me, this event is when I start to feel festive and this year is no exception. Our retiring collection, which raised over £700.00, was for Chiltern Foodbank and we will add this to the money we collect today during our 'Christmas jumper day'. Thank you to the English department who rehearsed the readers as well as to Ms Newson and Mrs Lewis for their many hours of hard work. Mrs Haynes was, as ever, behind the scenes working hard to make everything run smoothly; thank you to her too.
I was delighted to hear that Rafael Pollitt in Year 8, has been invited to train with the Senior Olympic Fencing Team. What a remarkable achievement. Very well done.
This week I have met Ellie Lothian, Ava Luker and Jamie Valentine in Year 7 and Thomas Rose, Zoe Lack, Stuart Quinnell and Annabel Mansfield in Year 13 for birthday tea. I enjoyed their views on the pros and cons of having a birthday so close to Christmas! Happy birthday to you all.
As we finish the term, I would like to pay tribute to the staff of CGS. They are committed, hard working and dedicated, going the extra mile to give students a broad and enriching experience beyond the curriculum and to get the best out of them academically. Any outstanding school relies on the goodwill of its staff in all it does and I would like to extend my personal thanks to them all. Miss Julie Allan leaves us today to take up a post at Berkhamsted School. We wish her all the best in her new school. Mr Steve Wood and Miss Mel Asquith leave us too, to quite literally, fly off into the sunset together! Mr Wood asked Miss Asquith to marry him a few weeks ago and they are going to live in Australia, where Miss Asquith is from. By the way, Miss Asquith said yes! We wish them a very happy life together. Mrs Alison Kopieczek, our receptionist, also leaves us today. She has been the first point of contact for all of you when you have visited the school and I know you will have found her warm and welcoming. We wish all our leavers good luck and thank them for all they have done for the school during their time here.
So, as I sign off for 2015, and think about heading home (we move house today so it is a different home I head to from that I left this morning!) and finally doing some Christmas shopping, I would like to thank you all for what you have done for the school this term. Parents are a vital ingredient in any school and we are incredibly lucky to have a hugely supportive and committed parent body. On a personal note, I would like to thank you for your support during my first term of Headship. I have thoroughly enjoyed it - even more than I thought I would! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year and look forward to working with you all again in the new term.