Head's Blog - Words From Pupils Present And Past

Posted on: 15/09/2023

Rather than write a blog this week, I would like to share two things with you.

The first is the speech given by our new Head Boy and Head Girl, Aiden and Samara, at our St. Helen's Day assembly this afternoon. They wrote the speech themselves and delivered it beautifully, with enormous confidence.

The second is a poem, written by two of our Old Helenians and performed last night at our alumni centenary party and again today at our St. Helen's Day assembly.

I hope that you will enjoy these as much as we all did, and I hope you will agree that they show that the St. Helen' s College school values remain as strong as ever!

Head Boy And Head Girl Speech

Ladies and gentlemen, teachers, students and esteemed guests.

Today, as the Head Boy and Head Girl of St. Helen's College, we stand before you with great pride and gratitude as we celebrate a momentous occasion – the centenary of our beloved school. Over the past century, St. Helen's has been a beacon of light, shaping countless lives and instilling values that continue to guide us today. 

First, let's say thank you to our wonderful guests for sharing their amazing stories with us all.

Let's start with a fun fact about the school. St. Helen’s College was founded in 1924, even before TV’s made their first appearance! Imagine a class with no smart board!

At the heart of St. Helen's College lie three core values that have remained unwavering throughout our journey: to strive for excellence, help others achieve, and care for one another.

Firstly, we are a school that strives for excellence. We set high standards for ourselves and constantly push the boundaries of our abilities. Whether it's in academics, sports, the arts, or any endeavour we pursue, excellence is not an option; it's our way of life. Let us continue to embrace the spirit of excellence, always aiming higher and achieving more than we thought possible.

The second fact of the day is this. During the Second World War, the school's first building got bombed. But guess what? Mrs. Hempstead, who was in charge at that time, didn't give up. She moved the school to a new place at 223 Long Lane, and they kept having classes even during the war. That's some serious dedication!

Secondly, St. Helen's is a community that believes in helping others achieve. We understand that our individual success is linked to the success of those around us. Whether it's lending a helping hand to a struggling classmate or volunteering in our local community, our commitment to lifting others up is what makes our school truly special.

Lastly, caring for others is a value that defines us. We are a family that looks out for one another, offering support and compassion when it's needed most. Let us carry this spirit of care beyond these walls and into the world, making a positive impact on the lives of those we encounter.

And for the third and final fact. In January 2017 Ducklings opened, just for little children who are 2-3 years old. That's where the youngest St. Helenians go to have fun and learn. That was before I joined the school!

As we celebrate this centenary milestone, let us reflect on the incredible legacy of St. Helen's College. Let us honour the generations of students, teachers, and staff who have contributed to its growth and success. And let us, the current attendants of this legacy, pledge to carry these core values forward into the next century, ensuring that St. Helen's continues to be a place of excellence, help, and care for all who pass through its gates.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this remarkable journey. Here's to the next hundred years of excellence, achievement, and compassion at St. Helen's College. Thank you.

School Poem

Mrs. Green and Mrs. Ruffle are sisters, who attended St. Helen’s College as children. More recently, they have been parents of pupils at the school, with Mrs. Green's daughter Charlee completing Year 6 in our centenary year. They wrote the following poem.

When we were asked to speak today,
We thought long and hard about what to say;
We discussed our memories for such a long time; 
In the end we put them in a rhyme.

In the seventies the school was so much smaller. 
For one thing the building is now so much taller.
A one storey building was all that we had,
But back then it didn’t seem all that bad.

In the morning we would start promptly at nine,
Mrs. Stockwell in charge of the bell that would chime.
We’d line up in height order and make our way 
To get ready for morning assembly each day.

Classes 1, 2, 3 and 4
Lined up patiently at their class door.
It was only when we heard the head call 
That we’d make our way into the hall.

Assembly took the same format each day:
Three hymns we would sing, a verse from Psalms we would say. 
It was the one time of day the whole school was there 
And we would always finish with the Lord’s prayer.

If you had something exciting to share,
The head would invite you to stand on a chair 
To tell everyone your piece of ‘news’;
We were always encouraged to share our views. 

Lessons were taught all morning long,
Reciting our tables or singing a song,
Reading our work that was written in chalk,
Full of concentration – no one dared talk.

Every year each class did a play.
In the lead up to performance we would rehearse every day,
Learning our lines off by heart,
To make sure we did justice to our given part.

The costumes were a sight to behold:
Goblins, fairies, baubles made of gold;
Proud parents forced to watch one and all,
As we performed our shows at the Winston Churchill Hall.

We didn’t do much in the way of sport.
Now there so much extra curricular taught.
However, Sports Day was still a big deal
And the excitement we felt was definitely real.

The events were …. creative, let’s say!
The ‘slow bicycle’ race a highlight of the day.
The aim of the game was to cross the line LAST.
It was never about who could ride fast.

Honestly, the memories are too many to share;
Things you cannot explain, you just had to be there.
But one thing is certain, at the heart of all …
Was Mrs. Evans, the Headmistress of the school. 

She was the one who ran the show,
Ensuring every pupil had the chance to grow,
She ran the school with a firm and fair hand:
Every lesson, show and Open Day meticulously planned.

Open Day was always an exciting event,
With hours and hours often spent
Painting our ‘Big Pictures’ to grace the walls,
All the way round the main school hall.

We would work all term long with enthusiasm and glee,
Mrs. Evans’ frustration not always easy to see,
But the pictures we left before the weekend
Were often doctored by her black felt tip pen!

‘My daughter, the teacher’ was a regular comment;
Her pride in her family was always apparent;
An inspirational woman who shaped many young minds,
Imparting her wisdom and dishing out lines.

So much is so different now, so much is the same,
But at the heart of the school core values remain.
Mr. & Mrs. Crehan then took on the challenge
To grow and expand the whole of St. Helen’s.

All we can say is they must have done okay,
As both of our daughters have thrived here in their own way.
All pupils leave confident and articulate children,
Blessed with a strong foundation of knowledge to build on.

So let's raise our glasses and give a loud cheer,
Talk to the back of the room – so everyone can hear.
To St. Helen’s the school and the memories it holds,
As we celebrate her being 100 years old!