We are delighted to announce the winners of the first Magis Award, which recognises the girls' engagement with charitable causes over the last year, and has been made possible by a generous anonymous donor. The entrants wrote up a project about service or volunteering activities they had undertaken or supported, and they were then interviewed. Some had worked with people in poverty, others with underprivileged children, or with women for medical causes. The prize for each of our five winners was a £1000 donation to a charity of their choice. Congratulations to all of those girls, and to the charities that will benefit from their work.
We spent much of the Michaelmas term commemorating in various ways the centenary of the end of the First World War. One of our major projects, run by the Art Department, was the making and installing of a large commemorative cross, decorated with poppies made from the fingerprints of all the girls and staff in the school, and the inscription 'war has made us wise', from a poem by Siegfried Sassoon. This cross now hangs on a wall in the Chapel as a permanent reminder of all that the War has come to mean to us.
The official opening of the new Upper Sixth Courtyard took place before nearly 1000 people on Saturday 30th June 2018. 18 months in the building and 6 years in the planning, the Courtyard provides 64 en-suite study bedrooms for the Upper Sixth in five beautifully-appointed townhouses, together with accommodation for residential staff. The Courtyard also includes a light and spacious Pastoral Centre, with a lecture theatre, reading room, meeting rooms, and a studio space that is used for dance classes, yoga, society meetings, and entertaining. The Courtyard opened to its first Upper Sixth residents on 9th September 2018.
St Mary’s riders have been triumphing in the equestrian world this autumn, having reached the finals of the 2018 Windsor Horse Show. One of our Year 11 girls competed in the international Osberton Horse trials on 29th September, placing 54th in a field of 130 that included some of the best riders in the world. On 8th October, one of our Year 8 girls won the 80-85cm eventing at the NSEA finals, followed by the Connemara Pony Society eventing finals. On 4th November, one of our Year 9 girls won the 1.10m competition at the international Sevilla Standard Show. In November, the St Mary’s team qualified for Hickstead, taking first and second places in the 100cm at Pontispool, and came 6th in the NSEA championships, with one of our Year 9 riders coming first as an individual.
St Mary's turned into Hogwarts over the weekend of 10th-11th November 2018, with the arrival of Professors Dumbledore, Snape, and Sprout, Harry and Hermione, and even a late appearance by the dreaded Voldemort, in the midst of our feast in the Great Hall - the 'butterbeer' desert was a particular highlight. Other delights included the Ford Anglia flying car, wand and potions-making workshops, a visit to the sinister Sorting Hat, and a remarkable owl display in the Sports Hall. The weekend finished with a Giant Harry Potter Quiz, and magnificent fireworks display.
One of our very talented Upper Sixth musicians has achieved a distinction in the LRSM over the summer, the third diploma in Music Performance of the ABRSM board. The diploma consisted of a 45-minute recital of high-level violin repertoire, accompanied by written programme notes; sight-reading; an oral examination on the musical scores and on the history of the violin and its repertoire. Rosanna is the first St Mary’s girl to reach the Licentiate of the Royal School of Music, the equivalent of a BA in music performance. She has been taught since the age of 5 by her father, who is a violin teacher at the school.
Four of our most eminent Sixth Form chemists entered the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge run by St Catherine’s College over the summer. It was our first time in this competition, which attracts about 8000 students from around the country annually, and aims to test the ability of chemistry students by taking them significantly beyond the syllabus and testing their ability to think in the way that they would be required to at university. Our girls all returned home triumphant, flying the flag for science at St Mary's, and bearing Copper certificates for their excellent achievements.
St Mary's sportswomen continue to make their mark on the county scene. In September 2018, two of our talented young hockey players, one in Year 8 and one in Year 9, were selected to join the Junior Academy Centres for Berkshire County Hockey. Another of our Year 8 girls has been selected for the Berkshire Netball Satellite Academy in the Under 14 age group, a year above her current year group.
During the summer holidays, one of our talented Lower Sixth pianists entered the 9th Hong Kong Virtuoso Music Competition. Participating in the Solo Diploma class, against a field of entrants from across China and Hong Kong, she gave an outstanding performance of Chopin’s Nocturne in B Flat Minor, Opus 9, which earned the prize for Overall Winner of the competition. We were all thrilled to hear her perform the piece again as a highlight of the Music Scholars’ Concert on 12th October 2018 to a packed and appreciative Chapel audience.
A large number of our Year 7 and 8 girls took part in this year's Junior Maths Challenge run by the UK Mathematics Trust. This is the UK’s most popular Mathematics competition, with over 300,000 students taking part each year. Two of our Year 8 girls performed brilliantly to achieve Gold Awards.
St Mary’s continues to produce excellent prize-winning scientists. Three teams of St Mary’s girls took part in the Talent 2030 National Engineering Competition for Girls 2018, their challenge being to use engineering to solve one of the problems that face us in the 21st century. Two of our Year 9 girls took first prize in the 11-14 age category with their system of automated robots designed to clean up oil spills at sea. One of our other Year 9 teams scooped second place with their project on sustainable living. Both teams went up to the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham on 17th March to present their projects and receive their awards. The winning team received a cheque for £500.
Girls from the Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth returned on 16th February 2018 from their half term trip to Washington. The girls visited Congress, and had the exciting opportunity to witness the Senate in action, as well as taking a tour of the Supreme Court. The trip also involved a visit to Tysons Mall, the Hard Rock Café, and the all-American experience of a basketball game. The trip finished with a visit to the National Constitution Centre and Independence Hall, where the American political system was born, and a viewing of the iconic Liberty Bell.
Congratulations to two of our Year 8 girls who have won £100 for the school in the Windsor St George Rotary Club Bright Ideas competition. The competition invites entrants to submit plans for innovations that could make life better in the borough, and attracts participants from schools all around the local area. They have decided that the money will go towards improving our Pet Shed.