BRGS Centenary Reunion by Georgina Chick, Year 11

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Saturday 5th September 2013 saw the Centenary Reunion of BRGS. After a century’s worth of eager, bright eyed students had passed through its doors, it seemed to be time to welcome students and staff both past and present into the proud old building to reflect on the progress that has been made since its opening in 1913. The atmosphere on the day was amazing and the hall, as promised, was overflowing with the individuals that have worked together over the years to create the school that we know and love today. It was heart-warming to see people from all generations, ranging in age from 11 to 91, come flooding back to their roots to reminisce with old friends on the years that formed the foundations of their adult lives. It was fascinating being able to speak to people that had experienced the school throughout the century and begin to build a more complete picture of the changes that have taken place and the way in which they have affected the population of the school.

Great care had been taken in decorating the school for the occasion, with the canteen having been transformed into an afternoon tea parlour complete with vintage tablecloths, delicate china and an array of cakes and scones. The hall had been adorned in a Hogwarts like manner, with banners hanging from the balcony displaying the four initials of the school in calligraphy lettering. And the balcony itself had been decorated with blue and gold balloons alongside ‘Happy Birthday’ streamers that reached down into the hall amongst the assembly of people.

It was wonderful to see BRGS making such an effort to welcome back the people that have played a part in the history of the school, and being so eager to show off the changes that are constantly being made to enhance the learning experience given to the current pupils.; all ultimately to increase every opportunity which the pupils gain from their educations there. Some of the opportunities that have been offered to transform the students into well-rounded individuals include: the Lionheart Challenge, the Youth Philanthropy Initiative and all three Duke of Edinburgh awards. The driven attitude of BRGS also continues to extend beyond the current pupils and out into the local community.

The community spirit that BRGS instils in its students has benefits both ways though. Ex-pupil Lucy Ashton reminisced on her time at BRGS with fond memories of the Upper Sixth leaving party, a long standing tradition where all the students and their form teachers dress up to celebrate their last day of school in style. Since her days as a school girl, Lucy Ashton has progressed through university to become a lawyer for the CPS and is now returning to the school to help coach some of the Upper Sixth Law students through their upcoming mock trial. Lucy believed that her days at BRGS helped her achieve highly in life so she wanted to give something back and help current students to do the same.

The Law department was bursting with past students in all different capacities, including Emma Isaacs who attended the school from 1989 to 1996. Filled with fond memories of language lessons with Mr Ward and Mr Parkinson, alongside proud moments of winning music awards, Emma Isaac progressed through further education to arrive back at BRGS a few years later as Mrs Taylor. She is now one of the schools very dedicated teachers, putting her all into the Law department by coaching students through numerous mock trials and assisting them in achieving the very best grades possible.

As well as the countless BRGS past pupils that returned to see their old school, there were also several past teachers; amongst these was Janet Helm, whom worked as a Geography teacher at the school from 1985 to 2006. Mrs Helm reminisced about her time at BRGS and the “endless hardworking students” that she saw pass through the school. Some of her fondest memories of her time teaching at the school included: field trips to Iceland, multiple Year Nine camping trips and helping referee a netball match that was played continuously for fifty-five hours. She also spoke of the many changes that she saw the school go through such as the building of the Clark Building, Newchurch Wing and Sports Hall, as well seeing the whole school increase from a four form entry to allowing five new forms to enter each year.

It is clear that BRGS has a fascinating history filled with the success stories of the students that have passed through its door, and this is reflected upon with even more emphasis as it reaches the centenary. It can be seen that through occasional alterations to the traditional running of the school, BRGS has developed into a centre of excellence, inspiring its pupils to achieve the very best that they can and go on to be the pioneers of the modern day. These accomplishments are ever at the forefront of the minds of all that are associated with the school, and it is with these in mind, that it proudly strides on, looking hopefully into the future towards another 100 years of triumph.