by Robert Davies, deputy head Archbishop’s School, Canterbury
Let me take you back to 1958. Prime Minister Harold MacMillan was opening the country’s first every motorway, the world cup finals were taking place in Sweden, the EEC had just come into being (minus the UK) and the Archbishop’s School officially opened.
During the following 60 years much has changed and in many ways the world we live in today would be alien to the people of the 1950s but there is at least one thing that stayed the same.
The Archbishop’s School is still welcoming young people through its doors (its fitting motto is “Enter to Learn and Go Forth to Serve”) and continues to nurture them becoming well developed and successful when they leave.
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The school was an amalgamation of two secondary modern schools (a boys’ school and girls’ school) situated near the city centre.
Its first headmaster, Mr Ratledge had been the head at the boys’ school at St. Dunstan’s. The school was built to provide much needed space and resources to ensure that the children of Canterbury were well catered for.
Since moving to its new home the school has experienced many years of stability whilst the world around it and British education in particular has not.
It is remarkable that in 60 years the school has only ever had four head teachers and retains close links to its ex pupils and staff.
This has been clearly demonstrated by the amazing success of the school’s Facebook Alumni Group. Set up last year to bring together ex-pupils and allowing people to share happy memories of their school days it has been an astonishing success with over 2,700 members.
From reading the comments written by its members one thing is very clear. The school has a special place in the hearts of those who have had the pleasure to be part of the school community.
The group has shared a variety of funny stories about school life, reunited old friends and allowed its members to upload hundreds of old photos (including many that contain a range of questionable hairstyles). It also came together last summer to mourn the sad passing of its long-term headmaster Mr Hogarth.
Today (Saturday), the school opens its doors to pupils past and present to celebrate its 60th birthday. There will be plenty of things to do to keep the young (and young at heart) entertained. Along with the display of 60 years of school archive material and tours of the school for ex pupils (taken by its current ones).
There will also be a classic car show, tours of the crab and winkle line tunnel which was on the school grounds and was the first tunnel in the world to take passengers by train, a ‘Have a go’ demonstration by the Canterbury Archers group and a wide variety of stalls and games.
The day will most certainly celebrate the school’s birthday in style. It will also give the opportunity to act as a reunion between ex pupils who have not seen each other in years and also allow the school to raise valuable funds for its future.
The school can be certain that its past has been golden, and its future is very bright (including a new state of the art classroom block being built this summer). Happy birthday Archies, and here’s to the next 60 years!