At the end of this week – on Saturday 23rd June – we celebrate our annual Founders’ Day at St Mary’s Calne. For me – for us all – it is arguably the most important day in the school;s calendar: a day when we remember the Founders of the school, and value their legacy. We are indebted to the men and women who had the vision that led to the creation of the school back in 1873, and who have contributed to the leadership and vision of the school since. None of the education for which the school has become known would have happened without the foresight of the original Founders and Governors of the school, who set out with the express intention of developing a school which provided an excellent education for girls. We owe them a debt of gratitude – without them this fine school simply would not exist – and this is why we honour them on Founders’ Day each year.
The day is a very full one, with a Church service, Leavers’ Concert, champagne receptions, a special lunch, our annual prizegiving and a special afternoon tea, followed by an emotional Leavers’ Service and – this year, for the first time – a farewell tea for leaving staff. The Lily Ball, for leavers, their parents and their guests, will round off the day. Whatever the weather, the day is normally an amazing one. It is an opportunity to congratulate our Year 13 Leavers, and to honour their achievements, as well as for all of us to take visible, obvious pride in the school. Moreover, we allow all of those connected with the school to feel the privilege that we feel to be part of this great school.
I remind the girls each year that we should never take Founders’ Day for granted, or see it is just simply another school event. Founders’ Day is extremely important for the school for two reasons: firstly, it is a day on which we celebrate achievement – our many achievements, individual and collective; second, it is an important occasion for the whole school to be together, to do things together, and to remember that we are an important and strong community – the whole is stronger than the sum of its parts. In the Founders’ Day church service, there is a section towards the end when the whole school stands and we pledge ourselves – we make a commitment to do the right thing, to be honourable and to carry out the intentions of our Founders, namely to respond to their goals for a real education, for the stretching of the individual, and for learning and preparation for a successful life. We say all that together because it is important to say it all together. We need this occasion in the year just to remind us that we do not work, or live or play in isolation. We do it as a school – a great school which has stood the test of time and which has a great, great history.
I am looking forward to Saturday.