December 11 2013 Latest news:
Dereham Church Infant and Nursery School is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Head teacher Karen Gay (left) with deputy head Bex Sedgewick in front of the stained glass window installed to mark the event. Picture: Matthew Usher.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
With its centenary preparations well under way, a Dereham school has encouraged former pupils, staff and parents to help celebrate the special milestone later this month.
Dereham Church Infant and Nursery School will commemorate the 100th anniversary of its building on St Withburga Lane with a service at the neighbouring St Nicholas Church on October 22.
It will be followed by the dedication of a new stained glass window in the school hall – depicting St Withburga, the church tower and the deer from which the town gets its name – and a landscaped “reflective garden” which has been created outside.
The dedications will be led by the Bishop of Thetford, the Rt Rev Alan Winton.
Headteacher Karen Gay said she wants as many people as possible to join the staff and pupils for the celebrations – and she hopes they will bring in their old photographs and school records so they can share their memories with others.
But while the event marks the long history of the school, she said it was also a time to celebrate its recent achievements and look ahead to the future.
“I think it is really important that we are putting in things that will last,” said Mrs Gay. “We are forming our own part of history, which our current students can look back and feel a part of. People will come back here in the next 10 or 20 years and they will see the things that we valued and celebrated.”
Chairman of governors John Gretton has helped to research the history of the building, which was originally known as St Withburga’s School, after Dereham’s patron saint. It was built on land belonging to the church in 1913 for a sum of £1,500, with a capacity of 150 children.
He said: “What we are aiming to do is not just look back to the past, but also to celebrate some of the things we have done recently, like the reflective garden and the stained glass window.
“It is amazing to think that the pupils of 1913 wouldn’t recognise the classrooms of today. They had a coal fire in the corner, while we have interactive whiteboards!
“Recent years have seen considerable improvements in the amenities of the school, with a new brick classroom replacing the old mobiles, the self-contained nursery grounds, the school garden and the outdoor gazebo. It is a lasting legacy for the future.”
Another subtle recent change is the renaming of the school as Dereham Church Infant and Nursery School, replacing the old name of Dereham Church Infant School and Nursery – a move aimed at reflecting the nursery’s position at the heart of the school.
Mrs Gay said: “It is a play on words, but to me it means a lot. The nursery shouldn’t be seen as a tag-on. If we get that right, we get it right across the whole school.”
Any former students, staff and parents are welcomed to the church service from 9.30am on October 22, and the dedication of the reflective garden which follows it.
For more information, or to get involved in the centenary celebrations, contact Karen Gay on 01362 692727.