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Teachers, parents and pupils gathered in the Saturday morning sunshine on 27 June, to celebrate the close of another successful year with the annual Speech Day.
The day began with a school assembly, during which Dimil Patel (Upper Sixth, Montgomery House) and James Harvey (Upper Sixth, West House) were presented with School Colours – the highest accolade a pupil at St John’s can be awarded. The House Shield was also awarded to South House. Speeches and prize giving then followed, in a packed marquee on the School Quad.
The Guest of Honour at this year’s Speech Day was the Honourable Mr Justice Coulson, who went to school at Lord Wandsworth College in Hampshire, where he was a Foundationer. After reading English Literature and Law at the University of Keele, he was called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn in 1982. He spent just over 20 years as a barrister at the Construction and Commercial Bar, taking Silk in 2001. He was appointed a senior circuit judge in 2004 and a High Court judge in January 2008. He was a presiding judge on the North Eastern Circuit between 2011 and 2014 and is currently the judge in charge of estates. He is a member of the board of the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, one of the leading chamber orchestras in the world. He is also a trustee of the Orchard Vale Trust, which provides fulltime residential care for adults with learning and behavioural difficulties.
In his speech, Hon. Justice Coulson spoke about the private education system and how a school like St John’s can give pupils a broader understanding of the world, as well as “proper humility” and the realisation of both the possibilities and responsibilities that life as to offer. As a Foundationer, he reflected on his own life at school and how such inclusive schemes as foundations and scholarships add to a school’s vitality. In reference to prizes, he posed an intriguing thought to the audience. He remarked, “Ultimately, it isn’t prizes that matter; it is what you do with the biggest prize that all of you could have been given: the chance to be educated here” - a thought we hope our Upper Sixth Form will take with them as they leave St John’s.
The Headmaster bid a heartfelt farewell to an Upper Sixth Form who led the School with distinction. He congratulated pupils on another fantastic year, praising both sporting prowess and charitable commitments. The first St John’s School Community Holiday was just one such highlight of an extraordinary year. This year the School celebrated 25 years of girls at St John’s and five years of being a fully co-educational school. Such a milestone is signified by the 2015 leavers, the first Fourth Formers to experience full co-education at St John’s.
At the close of the 2014-15 academic year, the School looks forward to an exciting new chapter. Work on the Lower School transformation is set to begin in January 2016.The opening of the School’s new Science Centre and the installation of a magnificent new Chapel organ will take place during the summer holidays, ready to welcome pupils back for the 2015 Autumn Term.
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