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Head’s blog

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun..

I am not sure where this week has gone to, but it’s Friday again and there has been so much to celebrate in every aspect of School life. It’s as busy as ever! On Monday I attended the final of the Instrumental competition – a superb showcase for music at Mill Hill and one which saw Ellen B (Murray) take home the newly named McClure Music prize in the Post grade 8 category. That’s not to say that it was a breeze, for she was up against stiff competition in the form of Yasmin A (Weymouth), Artem E (School) and Shlomo L (Priestley)- all hugely accomplished musicians who made it extremely difficult for our judge for the evening, Old Millhillian and internationally recognised conductor, Ben Glassberg (McClure 2012). Each piece was breath-taking and left me with the feeling that music at Mill Hill is stronger in both breadth and depth than it has ever been. Congratulations must go to all the finalists for their wonderful performances in what is fast becoming a rather popular niche event.

On Tuesday morning I met with a small group of podcast enthusiasts to discuss their initiative for creating pupil led podcasts on a range of themes. Although in its infancy the project, headed up by Maia B (Cedars), Cameron R (School) and Paris Q (Murray), promises to be an exciting one and we will make sure that we keep you up to date as the 20 minute podcasts are released.

The Old Millhillians’ Management Committee met on Tuesday evening. Four Young Old Millhillians (YOMS) presented their ideas for engaging the Club with those pupils who have recently left to ensure that the strong links forged by past generations are carried into the future. With the current Upper Sixth reflecting on just how close they are to the next stage in their lives, such initiatives are invaluable and will, I am sure, become increasingly important in the coming years.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s ninth annual joint choral and orchestral concert at Mill Hill County High School was a midweek highlight, and one which sparked many ideas for future musical collaborations. I was most grateful to Geoffrey Thompson, longstanding Head Teacher at the school, for his invitation to attend. Geoffrey retires at the end of this academic year and I would like to wish him a long, happy and fruitful retirement. I look forward to welcoming his successor and to continue to develop our partnership, particularly through our long-standing joint CCF venture.

Sticking with the CCF, I was delighted to travel down to Yeomanry House  yesterday to witness Major Anthony Norrington receive his award as Contingent Commander of the Year. Major Norrington is certainly a worthy winner, dedicating many hours to ensuring that the boys and girls at Mill Hill, and Mill Hill County High School, access myriad opportunities of the highest calibre within this important co-curricular area. Well done Major Norrington! However, that wasn’t the only important event on my calendar for Thursday; the Annual Jazz Soirée, organised ably by the Parents’ Association, and well supported by pupils, parents and staff, took place in the large last night, and it certainly didn’t disappoint! A huge thank you must go to the join efforts of the MHSPA and the Music department for putting on yet another wonderful event.

The Art department, too, showcased their work this week with an exhibition of Lower Sixth artwork. Although I was unable to attend the actual event I was treated this morning to a private show by Miss Randell, Head of Art. The quality of the pieces was exceptional and I can only imagine just how hard the pupils must have worked on these unique and ambitious projects. Yesterday was an opportunity to see their final pieces on display and the evening attracted many art enthusiasts, teachers, parents and supportive friends who were amazed by the work. Well done all!

One event that didn’t take place this week but last, is certainly worthy of a mention- The Big Sing- which brought together pupils, staff, parents, OMs, to launch the new Mill Hill hymn book- a wonderful tribute to the spiritual history of our school and chapel- a place that welcomes people of all faiths and none. What an event! As we galloped through our most cherished hymns, coupled with poignant readings from this wonderful Mill Hill treasure, I was both uplifted by the opportunity to sing my heart out and reminded of the importance of this priceless feature of Mill Hill life.  A huge thank you must go to the Chaplain for bringing to life this labour of love and to Mr Kyle for leading us so enthusiastically on the night, as he does each week in Chapel.

Which brings me to this morning, and Friday Chapel; the Chapel Choir sang Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’ – the first movement of the work which will be sung in its entirety on Monday the 25 March at the Mill Hill Foundation Choral Society event. Joy L (New House) sang The Scientist by Coldplay, Daniel H (School) and Yasmin A (Weymouth) spoke on the size of the universe and the importance of gene editing -the very large and the very small. Supported by Miss Fox, Head of Physics, the service brought science and religion together as part of National Science Week, as it does every year. The hymn was “God is our strength and refuge” to the tune the Dambusters March. Miss Fox underpinned the service with one of Stephen Hawking’s quotes from his last book, Brief Answers to the Big Question “I have been enormously privileged through my work, in being able to contribute to our understanding of the universe. But it would be an empty universe indeed if it were not for the people I love and who love me. Without them, the wonder of it all will be lost on me.” For the Chaplain, this is just one of the areas where religion and science interact -the importance of love – and why we believe religion and science are friends not enemies and also why it is important to celebrate Science Week in Chapel. Miss Fox powerfully and eloquently drew attention to the 15,000 questions that will be asked in school each week, and that we should, “Make them good ones. Think about what you are learning and what you can ask to add depth to your understanding. Seek the truth and do not fear failure.”  She also finished with a great quote from Stephen Hawking: “Be brave, be curious, be determined, overcome the odds. It can be done.” What a great clarion call for us as learners and as human beings! We ought to have that statement mounted somewhere within the school!

Three other activities worthy of mention include the 1807 Society meeting with Mr Dickinson, Head of History and Politics, to plan the next edition of this high quality and popular School publication and the Mill Hill MINDS “Decorate and Conversate” event that took place yesterday lunchtime. Seeking to bring together pupils and staff in a creative environment to discuss mental health, the group explored the practical steps we can take in school to raise awareness, offer support and create opportunities to connect- something we shall be doing in abundance during the Foundation Wellbeing Week from 29 April to 3 May. Wellbeing was also the focus of an initiative lead by the Senior Mentors the aim of which is to promote integration between our boarding and day communities. This week it was the turn of New House to host a Mocktails and Manicures evening; pupils thoroughly enjoyed the pampering experience with full ambiance including scented candles and spa music. The next events are to be hosted by Collinson House (Quiz evening) and Ridgeway House (Sports extravaganza). Today saw another installment of General Knowledge, which is live streamed every Friday on our YouTube Channel. Congratulations to Murray House who are now through to the quarter finals having beaten Weymouth.

Finally tomorrow sees a full fixture list for boys and girls so I look forward to rounding off what has been an extraordinary week with some fresh air and sport!