Benenden School’s Centenary year was formally launched on Saturday with a spectacular opening event.
The leading girls’ school was founded in 1923 by a trio of innovative female teachers on a mission to create future leaders in a world just beginning to accept equal rights for women. One-hundred years on, the entire School community – students, parents, staff, alumni and friends – came together to celebrate the start of this milestone year.
Around 1,000 people, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Tunbridge Wells, gathered in the Rose Garden to enjoy a performance by the School band, Lime Ave Jazz, a Year 11 student reading her bespoke Centenary poem, speeches from the Headmistress, Head Girl and Chairman of Governors, and the unveiling of a beautiful bronze sculpture, which was specially commissioned to mark the Centenary.
The event closed with Samantha Price, the Headmistress, on the roof of the School’s stunning new Centenary Buildings inviting the audience to toast the School’s original Founders, which then triggered a spectacular display of fireworks above.
Mrs Price said: “This was a fitting way to start Benenden’s Centenary year, which provides the opportunity to celebrate the past 100 years while also looking forward to its extremely exciting future.”
The next event in the School’s year of Centenary activities will be a global conference for Sixth Form students from around the world on 28 September, held in partnership with the International Coalition of Girls’ Schools and in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal. A series of outstanding speakers are lined up for the event, including Princess Basma bint Talal of Jordan, Olympian Georgina Seccombe MBE and former MI5 director-general Baroness Manningham-Buller.
Elsewhere in the School, Benenden has launched its new Centenary Curriculum. Emphasising professional skills and helping to embed a lifelong love of learning, it’s part of Benenden’s Complete Education ethos, and will add to its proud academic record.
Benenden’s world-class facilities were enhanced last year with the opening of the new Centenary Hall concert venue. This has enabled the creation of a new commercial events brand called Hemsted Park, with events in the Hall and the School’s purpose-built Theatre, featuring a wide variety of shows and events open to the public. Full details are at www.hemstedpark.com.