Royal Grammar School


Building excitement

Building excitement

There’s always a buzz around Jesmond at this time of year. The Hoppings start today. My morning runs and the odd evening walk have been taking me across the Town Moor as it gradually fills up with what is still (I believe) the largest fair in Europe. It’s fair to say that local residents and businesses tremble a bit, because the vast crowds who flood in naturally bring with them the risk of a range of problems. I must say that I’ve never encountered any, and find the lively atmosphere, even the noise, quite exhilarating for 10 days.

We have our own excitement building, of course. RGS Day arrives next Saturday, that day of celebrating everything that’s good about the school and (far more important) about its students. So we have Prize-giving Ceremonies running all through the morning of Saturday 27th, none of them painfully long (there can’t be many schools that get a prize-giving over in 30 minutes!), but all executed with dignity and proper ceremony. We really shall be honouring the excellence that our students achieve, and we mustn’t short-change them on that.

But beyond those formal if brief ceremonies, in typical RGS fashion, the rest is pretty informal and enjoyable. There are things to do and to see, and as usual there will be excellent refreshments in the marquee.

So what’s new to see this year? First, the new building which we finally took over in its entirety yesterday, the Bursar and the Site Foreman christening the pool! So visitors will be able to see around the whole building and appreciate just how magnificent it is, and what an amazing additional facility has been provided for our students (who, I never tire of saying, deserve nothing but the best). If you have a look inside, be sure to go upstairs to the new sports hall – partly to see that great additional space, but also so that you can see the school’s F1 in action, those model Formula 1 cars that form part of a competition we’ve entered for the past two years, with notable success both times.

And now having two sports halls means we can still have the by-now-traditional gymnastics display in the “old” sports hall: it’s also worth popping in there if you haven’t yet seen the outstanding climbing wall that has transformed the school’s climbing programme this year.

The Junior School Fair will be in full swing all morning, of course. You don’t have to be a Junior School parent (or student) to enjoy it! Go over there and try some of the excellent food, try a few of the games and competitions and even (if they are on usual form) hurl a wet sponge at one of those heroic and long-suffering Junior School teachers who put themselves through the misery of the stocks!

Oh, and I suppose I should plug my own Headmaster’s Address on RGS Day. Those attending prize-giving ceremonies are spared a formal speech from me (and I might go mad if I had to deliver it four times in a morning!). Therefore I am speaking on the state of the school, if not the nation(!), at 11.00 am in the Main Hall.

Please don’t miss one other highlight of this weekend, the performance by a small group of Year 9 students of the hilarious stage adaptation of John Buchan’s swashbuckling spy novel, The 39 Steps. Half-way between spoof and respectful homage to the Hitchcock film of that stirring tale, it makes one of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen: everything suggests that this cast and production will do it justice. Performances are Friday (26th) at 7.00 pm: RGS Day itself at 2.00 pm; and Monday 29th at 7.00 pm, all in the Studio Theatre. It’s easy for a production like this to be overlooked at the hectic end of a busy term, but it shouldn’t be: please give it the support it deserves and get ready for a rollicking piece of entertainment.

Don’t forget also that the Junior School’s Sports Day is this coming Wednesday, 24th June: the Senior equivalent is offsite at Gateshead International Stadium on Wednesday 1st July. Let me just remind everyone that Senior School parents are VERY welcome to come and watch a great day’s sport, whatever their children tell them!

So I think we can look forward to the last week-and-a-half of term in anticipation of still more achievement, celebration of excellence (as I’ve said above) and – as always at the RGS – a huge amount of fun.

Bernard Trafford