Kineton High School turns 50

Pimms, football and Shakespeare will bring together pupils old and new at Kineton High School's 50th anniversary celebrations next week.

An abridged performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream by some of the younger pupils will entertain onlookers, together with music shows, art displays and a five-a-side football tournament.

Former pupils and Kineton History Group are currently working on a bandstand display which will be about the history of the school featuring old photographs and memories.

There will also be a garden party with a pig roast and Pimms tent, and the minister of St Peter's church Rev Charmaine Host will be leading a thanksgiving service.

Headteacher Julia Morris took charge of the school six years ago. She said: "I am the fourth headteacher in 50 years, which I think says something quite remarkable about the school.

"It's a great achievement that this school has been at the heart of the Kineton community for 50 years and has touched the lives of so many different people."

She added: "Yes, schools are about academic progress and getting good results, but much more than that they're about community - we operate the school as if it is a family.

"The other thing that makes Kineton High School unique is that it is a sports college.

"I think the whole mentality of how sports players approach life - keeping physically fit, having a healthy diet, working towards goals and practising skills - applies to life in general.

"Excellence is not just a matter of luck - it's about your attitude to life, and that sporting attitude is what we promote here to all our pupils and staff."

The 64-year-old Stratford resident was attracted to the familial atmosphere she thinks exists at the school, although she has previously admitted that the building itself was in desperate need of repair.

Speaking to the Courier in October last year, she said: "The school was never supposed to last this long. It's worn out, crumbling and it leaks."

She also said it had the worst building of any of the schools in South Warwickshire.

Karen Seymour has been assistant headteacher at the school for 20 years. She said: "The school has grown and developed over that time, but its core principals are as strong as ever - that's why this event is so important to us.

"The school is and has been a very important part of the village life - a lot of social networks operate through us because of where we are, in the countryside.

"It will be absolutely wonderful to see so many people come together."

* Rachel Mander, nee Gardner, 61, was one of the school's first pupils when it opened in 1958.

She came back to the school as an adminstrator in 1994 and now works there as a part-time exam invigilator.

She said: "It was a brand new school when we came here. We had all come from village schools - I remember it smelled new.

"We were really glad to be here. I have really good memories and I am still in touch with many of my school mates from that very first class - some of whom I stayed friends with since then, some of whom I met at the reunion ten years ago.

"The school had a very nice atmosphere and a warm, friendly environment - and it has not changed since then."

* Fort Parisi, 52, was a pupil at the school from 1967 to 1974 and is currently a physics teacher there.

He said: "I have got lots and lots of memories.

"The one thing that struck me most of all was that, back then, pupils who went to Kineton High School went as 11-plus failures, but we were never made to feel like failures.

"Many of us went on to university and I think it was all down to the hard work of the staff and the school.

"I can remember when the swimming pool was built in 1972 - lots of parents and community groups mucked in together to dig it out.

"The whole school had to raise money. We all took part in a sponsored 20 mile walk around what used to be Gaydon airfield and is now the Aston Martin test track. We all had blisters by the end ot it."

* Joseph Davis, 17, is currently taking A-levels in government and politics, English language and photography at the school.

He said: "There's a great atmosphere here - not just for learning but also for engaging with other students and teachers.

"I hope to go to university to study politics - I have a very good politics teacher, Mr Smith, this year and really enjoy lessons. I'd like to pursue with that in the future."

Former students, staff, governors, supporters of the school and Kineton villagers are all invited to join current staff and pupils at the event on June 28 from noon to 3pm. Call 640465 or visit www.kinetonhighschool.org.uk