Open Day last Friday was another stunning success, which could not have been possible without the enormous contribution of staff, the girls, our families and Parent Support Groups.
If Speech Day is our culminating, dignified and most significant event of the academic year, Open Day is our most exciting and celebratory. Walking into the School on the Monday before Open Day each year, it is impossible not to detect the excited buzz among the girls. The lights go up, the preparations begin and the energy rises each day as the week progresses.
This year was particularly well-attended with an additional 1000 registrations on last year’s numbers.
The academic displays impressed–not only for the depth and thought that goes into them, but also for the variety and quality of the girls’ work. They provide a rare opportunity for prospective parents and students to learn, directly, what happens in the classroom, what questions are explored and how methods of teaching continue to evolve.
The House stalls, as always, generated a healthy rivalry, gave every girl an opportunity to be involved and reminded us of the importance of tradition and ritual. The continuity of some stalls—such as the famous Hirschfeld Hot Potatoes and Gibson Strawberries and Ice-cream—is something we all look forward to, but equally we celebrate the excitement of some new innovations—e.g., Woolcock. Who knew there was such an exciting thing as Bubble Tea?
The spirited involvement and generous contribution from our Parent Support Groups was outstanding. Such enthusiasm and goodwill bubbled over from the great effort, hours of hard work and willingness to support that was evident not just on the night but in the days and weeks before. From the delectable ‘edibles’ of the Mothers Group stall, to the quintessential Open Day experience–the Fathers Group sausage sizzle–and the welcoming P&F Association stand, it was a wonderful display of community. At its core, community is about relationships, a sense of trust and belonging and in an era when solitary engagement with screens and devices can sometimes impede our sense of connection, these foundations of community are so very important.
The girls, as always, were full of the joy of this special day. The Year 10 Tour Guides do so much to articulate the approach to education at our School and were fine ambassadors. The performances and involvement of the girls, whether through some extraordinary music performances, their athletic efforts or simply in explaining why they love the activities that they are involved in were exciting for all to see and explore. The sheer breadth and scale not to mention the depth in performance found in our co-curriculum activities continues to amaze and to have everyone in our School represented is essential to the success of Open Day.
We appeared to warmly absorb the great number of visitors to our School, demonstrating the high standards for which we are known, combined with intimate connections through one-on-one conversations and in small moments—such as seeing Millie in Year 8 proudly showing her Dad the dynamics of the car she had created in Technologies or the conversation between our Director of Humanities, Ms Alison Dare, and a former parent. They spent nearly an hour watching and discussing a recording of a Holocaust survivor, who had shared her story with our Year 10 History students earlier this year. This woman’s daughter had gone on to an incredibly successful career in London, but she has remained interested in, and no doubt grateful to, her daughter’s school.
I thank all of our families, particularly our Parent Support Groups, for helping us to generate such a strong sense of community within the School, and extend my deepest gratitude to all of our volunteers for their boundless energy and extraordinary commitment to making Open Day such a success.
Ms Jacinda Euler