Farewell to Smith Street
The culmination of our 140th birthday and Farewell to Smith Street celebrations took place on Saturday 6th July. We had expected over 600 visitors for a weekend of mixed emotions - farewell and hail! - but eventually received a thousand guests. This was everyone’s final chance to come back to school at the Smith Street and to say goodbye. The day brought together a diverse collection of people, including staff and former staff, governors and former governors, parents, friends, and of course many Old Girls and their families – some who had not been back in Warwick since leaving school many decades earlier. We had visitors from the USA, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Costa Rica, and all over Europe and the British Isles, keen to walk the corridors one last time. Current pupils were on hand to offer guided tours, with the options of self-guided tours for those that preferred to wander at leisure. Photobooths, videobooths, selfie sticks and a guest book were on hand to ensure that we captured all the moments from this very special occasion.
Throughout the day at Smith Street there were various events to display the rich variety of talent with school, including LAMDA presentations, Music concerts and dance performances along with modern languages presentations and an illustrated talk on Project One Campus, delivered by Mr Nicholson, which looked forward to the history we will be making for the next 140 years.
During the day Mrs Wellman and her team of helpers sold school merchandise (the umbrellas proved very popular during the short downpour that we had) to raise money for the house charities; over £1000 was raised. Meanwhile up at Old Shire Hall there was a wonderful Art Exhibition which showcased artwork by King's High and Warwick Prep children aged 3 to 18 which impressed all those that attended.
Later in the afternoon down on the playing fields there was a round robin netball tournament which saw Old Girls taking on current pupils in some excellent matches. A special mention must be made of 59-year old Celia who had travelled from Canada to play netball, fifty years after last appearing on a netball court. Teas were kindly provided by KHAPS and the school was grateful to Mrs Parkinson-Mills and her staff for organising the logistics on the day.
The Gala dinner on the Saturday evening again brought together a variety of people from all parts of the King's High community, but chiefly Old Girls dating from 1939 to 2017! Between four sumptuous courses lovingly prepared by Christophe Charpentier and his catering team, the guests heard short, witty speeches from seven Old Girls about school life in every decade from the 1950s to the 2010s, plus an affectionate response from long serving staff member Mrs Sue Lampitt. Friendships, the rolling up of one's school uniform skirt, and teachers Miss Greenwood and Mrs Hall had multiple mentions across the decades. Head Master Mr Richard Nicholson summed up the collective warmth of the gathering in his closing remarks, then accompanied the guests on the piano for a rousing rendition of 'Jerusalem'.
The weekend celebrations continued on Sunday morning as a hundred and twenty guests, Old Girls with their families, and past and present staff and governors, found the School Hall transformed into a beautifully-appointed breakfast room, where Christophe and his staff oversaw a splendid breakfast banquet of both Continental and Full English fayre. Some of our guests continued to Matins at the Collegiate Church of St Mary, where prayers were said for the school, giving thanks for its past and looking forward to its future. Others went to the Creative Arts Centre under the direction of Mr Alex Laing to form a choir for the afternoon's Gala Concert.
Meanwhile, the fifty or so guests we had expected to visit the school were swollen tenfold, as Old Girls and their families (and even an old pet spaniel) were keen to walk down the memory lanes of Smith Street for the final time. The King's High community orchestra assembled at St Mary's in the afternoon, joined after a light lunch by the Gala Choir. Meanwhile the blue door closed for the final time on the visitors, many of whom were keen to go to St Mary's for the Concert.
As we moved onto St Mary’s in the afternoon a huge and appreciative audience of Old Girls and their families, current and former staff and their families, and even enraptured tourists who followed the wonderful music into the church, attended the Gala Concert. Musical director Mr Alex Laing had not only put together a rousing choral programme, but had also moulded a hundred choristers and a large orchestra from the King's High community into a marvellous whole. The music, which decades of King's High choristers would have known well, included 'Zadok the Priest' (with a nod to the Champions' League), 'The Hallelujah Chorus' and of course 'Jerusalem'. Many present were former pupils of Miss Heather Wallace, Head of Music at King's High for over thirty years, and agreed that Mr Laing was her worthy successor. Everyone was invited back into school after the Concert for refreshments - the perfect end to a glorious weekend of nostalgia.
A huge thank you to those 1400 people who joined us in some part over the weekend, we hope we did the school proud in what was a wonderful celebration.
The Landor Association Team