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The music you have been listening to is my favourite piece of music and has been since I was a pupil here. Not many students still at school are Wagner addicts, but I was and still am! The music was the Pilgrims' March from "Tannhauser"; we are all pilgrims, through life, through this school and our paths have met and moved together here.

When you come here to school, you become part of a school family. My school family has been in existence for many years and has moved on continuously - my home and school families were even merged, while my daughter was at school here. I am celebrating today my years here as a pupil, teacher and parent, as I move into another stage of my life, so we will sing together the celebratory hymn, "Jerusalem".

As I have already said, we are a family here and I would like you to join with me in the family prayer, "The Lord's Prayer".

I have been thinking about the changes I have seen in school, over the years, and thought you might like to hear a little about them:

Uniform: We wore a navy blue pinafore dress, with navy leather belt (red in the Sixth Form) and pale blue and white striped blouse, with the school tie; navy jumper or cardigan with optional red stripes on the jumper; navy blazer, with school badge (the one on the present sweatshirts) and gaberdine mack. Outdoor shoes were black or brown and we had to wear black indoor shoes. We had shoe lockers under our pegs, which were in the first years' cloakroom and then in a designated place in the main cloakrooms; Ferrers and Stafford were in the present Senior Cloakroom and I remember that my number was F223. We put our house numbers on all sorts of things, the hymn-book I am using today is the one I had at school and contains my house number!

In the summer we wore blue dresses with black, patent leather belts and white collars and cuffs, short white socks and sandals. We wore panama hats with the school headband and badge; in winter they were black velour hats. We had to wear or carry gloves, leather or wool in winter and white in summer.

Our books etc were carried in brown leather satchels. Everyone wore a house button - like the one you still receive in year 7. When you had amassed enough house points - usually about the end of the third year - you wore House Colours (a plain bar of your house colour). In addition, there were deportment buttons and bars and Sports Colours - I am glad that the latter have recently been reintroduced.

Behaviour: There was no talking in the corridors or on the stairs and we had to move around the school in single file. At the end of each lesson, which was 40 minutes long, there were two bells. The first was the signal to end the lesson and move, the second was the silence bell and we were expected to be in the room for the next lesson! If the member of staff had not arrived and we were talking, Miss Scargill would appear at the door and just tap the glass. There was instant silence; she was only small, but had an incredible presence!

Excellents were awarded for very good work; after I came back to teach, I found that Merits had appeared and the system became what you know today. Order marks were for forgetting things, conduct marks for bad behaviour and detentions were for very bad work, very bad conduct or an accumulation of bad marks. House points were accumulated and the House with the best average each term was awarded the St. George statue.

Some years later, a Britannia statue was made by Mr. Stanyer, husband of the then Head of Art, as a junior award. When St. George got broken, the school then reverted to one award, the Britannia we use today. I am now going to award Britannia for this term. The new House Captains have not yet been appointed, but there will be someone here from each house - the last Captain might possibly be here. Today's winners are Stafford House. (A cheer from the platform, as last year's Captain, Naomi Denton, placed the name onto the statue).

Rooms have changed names several times. When I first came, the senior and junior cloakrooms were just being finished. They had been where HI and H2, MA1 and the admin office are now. The main English room is now MA2, the main History room is now MAS. HI and 2 were a junior library and needlework room. The walk in cupboard in H2 was built to store sewing machines. Ml was the cookery room, RS1 was the Music room, together with Mrs. Thomas's office, known as the "room under the stairs". E4 and E3 were Chemistry and Science labs, T6 was Biology and MA4 was Physics. LI was the art room, until we had a new head of Art, who did pottery and so had Ml, because there was room for a kiln in the walk in cupboard at the back. Cookery moved to where it is today.

Tables were put up in the Hall and Gym for lunch. Audley and Paget ate in the gym and Ferrers and Stafford ate in the Hall. We all had set places and wore blue or green check aprons. A bell rang, the member of staff on duty said Grace, and the whole school ate at the same time. After clearing away, there was time for sports or Music, as we had an hour and a half for lunch.

A lot of rehearsals were after school. We did not have all the Music groups of today. When I first came to school we had only the orchestra and a choral society for those in the third year and above. Later, we had a junior choir and I was a founder member of the Ensemble. No-one played anything other than strings -I still remember the novelty of our first flautist!

Now, we have wonderful achievements in Music and I must mention one of year eight, Ella Harold, who has been awarded the Ralph Bassett prize for the highest grade 5 on the violin, in the whole of the Wolverhampton area. I am delighted to present her with a cheque. She really is an outstanding student, who has grade 5 Distinction not only on the violin, but on clarinet, piano and in Theory. Well done, Ella!

Assemblies always started with a hymn, then one of the Senior Prefects read a passage from the Bible. We had to take in our own hymn- books and Bibles and follow the readings. There were then two short prayers, the Lord's Prayer and a Blessing. At the beginning and end of term, we always had Hymn 333, "Lord, behold us" or "Lord, dismiss us with Thy blessing". In addition, we always sang Hymn 194 at the end of term. I love the words to this, "Our Father, by whose servants this house was built of old," and always intended to teach it to all of you, before I retired, but the time has gone. Some of the choir, who are sitting on the stage, are now going to sing it with me.

There were three different kinds of Prefect, House, Sub and Senior. House Captains were elected from the Senior Prefects, by members of the Houses. I have been proud to be a member of Ferrers House and, in recent years, its House Mistress. I am now going to hand over the House and my book to Miss Stew, who will be the new House Mistress for Ferrers. When a student was made a prefect, she was given a copy of the Athenian Oath, the oath which the people of Athens made to their city. It represented the loyalty of the prefects to the school, their city.

In 1957, when I was in the middle school, Maggie Deans of the upper Sixth, and a group of her friends, set the oath to music and it became our School Song.

You are all part of this school and always will be. You are what makes it what it is. Remember that you are part of its family, so maintain the family spirit and be there for one another. So, looking to the future: I hope that your results are all that you wish. Have a very happy summer holiday and return safely in September. Good luck to you all.

Please join me now in the School Song. (Speech by the Headmistress)

For the last time, I am going to conduct the choir, as they sing for you, "Climb Every Mountain' (Exit to "So Long, Farewell").

E.R.T.

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