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Thursday, 12 September 2013
Quoting Shakespeare’s Polonius in Hamlet, “To thine own self be true”, Professor Jennifer Clack, ScD FRS (Professor and Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge), returned to Bolton School as Guest Speaker to offer wisdom and advice at the Girls’ Division Sixth Form Presentation Evening. Professor Clack, who was the subject of a recent BBC documentary, “Beautiful Minds”, impressed upon the girls the importance of not bowing to pressure from others and to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. In an entertaining speech entitled “School, Science and Serendipity”, Professor Clack reflected on her own life, recalling how, at key moments, it seemed she had been in the right place at the right time, whether this had been in procuring employment, finding love or making life-changing discoveries which gave her a worldwide reputation in palaeontology and have rewritten our understanding of how fish made the move from sea to land. The speech was also laced with fond memories (from 1959-1966) of too much time spent playing guitar in the Common Room and obsessing about the Beatles.
Students, parents, teachers and friends of the School gathered to enjoy this evening of celebration, which was opened by Mr Michael Griffiths, Chairman of the Governing Body. He congratulated the girls on a set of outstanding A level and GCSE results and also on achievement and growth in so many areas that stretched beyond the academic. He looked forward to an exciting future for Sixth Form students in the newly built Riley Centre and thanked the kind benefactors, many of them Old Girls and Old Boys, who had helped finance its construction. He told the audience that whilst the School emphatically believes in single-sex education, the new centre does allow girls and boys to come together socially and will help prepare them for university life and beyond. Mr Griffiths also thanked the “generosity of strangers”, many of whom remain anonymous but help boost the bursary fund so that one in five Senior School pupils now receives financial assistance.
Headmistress, Miss Sue Hincks, praised the girls for their hard work throughout their time at the school and was delighted to announce that A level results had bucked the national trend, improving whilst the country had seen a decrease in the number of top grades. On top of this, a large number of girls had once again shown their intellectual rigour through pursuing and passing with Distinctions and Merits the AQA Baccalaureate qualification. Miss Hincks also lauded the commitment of their teachers and the support of their parents, many of whom she had seen again and again supporting their daughters at netball and lacrosse fixtures.
Whilst there was much celebration of exam results, the Head also reminded the audience of all that the girls achieve beyond the classroom. Their dramatic skills had been showcased in the School production of The Hypochondriac and there had been numerous high quality musical performances. Three Sixth Form students, Katie Hurt, Holly Holt and Natasha Lomas have all been selected for the Halle Youth Orchestra in 2013-14. Two girls, Hermione Britten and Seren Davies, sing in the Halle Choir, while Vashuda Marthi was accepted as a member of the National Children's Orchestra last year. Jessica Ryan participated in the National Youth Musical Theatre programme over the summer, and Sally Cowling and Fay Wan both attend the Junior Royal Northern College of Music.
Miss Hincks said she could not help but be impressed by how much extra-curricular provision, including travel opportunities, is on offer to girls and how much success had been recorded throughout the year. Pupils were congratulated for their participation in a wide variety of sports – with 9 students involved in the U18 lacrosse A team and 7 girls in the B team and 7 girls (including the captain) involved in the U15 lacrosse A team and 7 more involved in the U15 B team. Emily Harper, Jessica Melling and Ellena Owen, had all been in the U19 North of England Lacrosse squad and Emily Harper played with the England U19 Lacrosse squad. The Senior Lacrosse squad were the Division 2 National Schools’ Champions in 2013. At netball, there had been much success in local competitions; Ellena Owen had joined the Cheshire U18 county netball squad and Georgina Owen played for the Greater Manchester U15 county squad. At hockey, Hannah Pike had been in the England U18 team; three girls had achieved national rankings in tennis; Nalisha Patel played in the England U19 Women’s Development squad; Bethany Hodkinson had been in the England Taekwon-do team; Georgina Roden had been in the GB junior dressage team; Rebecca Anderson had taken part in the Horse of the Year Show 2012-13; Elise Middleton had been in the U15 North-West Girls’ basketball team; and Rhiannon Fox-Rothwell had played in the Lancashire U18 rugby team. The U17 Athletics team had been Bolton Schools’ town champions.
The girls had also committed many hours to helping out in the local community and beyond, with Year 10 girls visiting Tanzania and helping young children through the LivLive charity. Many girls had enjoyed school trips around the world from San Francisco to Peru to Poland and a range of other European countries. Other girls had taken part in Duke of Edinburgh activities in the Lake District and in Scotland.
The evening ended with a Vote of Thanks from Head Girl, Annabel Ault, and a stirring rendition of The School Song. Celebrations continued in the School’s Arts Centre where pupils, parents, staff and guests swapped memories and enjoyed refreshments.
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