Voltaire and Dr Dre at Norwich High School prize giving

The new headmaster of Norwich High School for Girls managed a remarkable feat during the annual prize-giving yesterday as he mentioned philosopher and writer Voltaire and US rapper Dr Dre in his speech.

Jason Morrow quoted both as he presided over the annual event at St Andrew's Hall in Norwich.

He also paid warm tribute to his predecessor, Valerie Bidwell, who was in the audience having retired as headmistress in July after 25 years at the helm of the Newmarket Road school.

The event featured guest speaker Helen Stone, chairman of the governors at North London Collegiate School, who has over 30 years' experience in the construction industry, as a consulting engineer.

Proud parents, relatives and friends of 230 Norwich High School pupils gathered for the celebration.

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Mr Morrow said: 'It is difficult to know where to start in trying to capture a sense of Mrs Bidwell's contribution. For 25 years she guided and led the school community with vision, drive and an inspiring indefatigability. I am personally very grateful to her for her time and generosity in sharing her expertise and passion for the school.

'Perhaps, however, what is most admirable and valuable in Mrs Bidwell's legacy is that through all the changes in education and successive governments' meddling, she did not lose sight of the essentials – that a school should provide academic and intellectual challenge and fulfilment, a breadth of opportunity beyond the classroom in music, sport, drama and a host of other activities, support and encouragement for every child and the space to grow and have fun.'

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Mr Morrow highlighted the wealth of musical talent at the school, and mentioned an opportunity some of the girls had to perform at the Royal Festival Hall in London in a national choral competition in aid of Barnardo's.

He also spoke about sporting success and another bumper crop of examination results in the summer.

He told how he had been treated to a 'very dramatic rendition' of Dr Dre's 'I Like to Move it, Move it' by the girls from lower one.

And, when talking about how to strike the right balance between taking the school forward whilst 'not losing sight of what makes it such a happy and successful school', he used the analogy of learning about a new garden throughout the seasons before making major changes.

He quoted Voltaire, who said at the end of Candide: 'We have to tend our garden'.

The 400 prizes and certificates were presented by Mrs Stone, whose engineering work included Disneyland Paris and Britain's first mobile phone network, for BT.

She said: 'I find it incredibly exciting to think of the vast range of opportunities which are open to the students here. And, with your excellent academic ground, I hope you will be ambitious in your lives and that you will achieve much fulfilment, whatever your career.'

The girls received awards for academic excellence, initiative and enterprise, as well as for sporting and musical achievements.

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