At St Helen’s, we take being silly very seriously and ensure students have the opportunity to take a break. Challenge days, dressing up days and ‘Silly Olympics’ – or simply a hot chocolate around the campfire – give students the chance to go off-curriculum and take part in activities which are different from their academic studies. This is just as much a part of a fully rounded education as what happens in the classroom.
St Helen’s is often brimming with fun and laughter. It’s not uncommon to hear pop anthems beaming out from lunchtime busking in Old School Hall or witness competitive limbo in the Quad. We organise obstacle courses and bouncy castles at Church Farm for our Upper Sixth leavers’ celebrations and host cake decorating competitions to raise money for our annual school charity.
The ‘Benedict Social Committee’ arranges activities from ‘café karaoke’ and ice cream Fridays to a summer solstice party with volleyball, barbecue and music in the Sixth Form Quad.
During form time, tutors arrange group activities that entertain and foster friendships – whether it be a Just Dance competition or a light-hearted and silly lightning-fast quiz.
A lot of our students’ joy can be attributed to our popular House system. Our four Houses – Benedict, Duffield, Hayward and Paterson – provide students with a sense of community and connectedness as students make friends beyond their form and year group while going head-to-head for House points in a range of fun activities and competitions throughout the year.
St Kate’s Day
Fuelled by plentiful KitKats, St Kate’s Day is the annual celebration of our school’s patrons – a particularly special event in our calendar. The traditions of the day have grown over many years and the whole school community is involved, including alumnae and former members of staff. It is a testament to the strength of the St Helen and St Katharine spirit that so many HelKats continue to mark the day in their diaries even after they have left school.
Once quite a solemn tradition with a long chapel service and formal dinner-dance, nowadays festivities involve fun and camaraderie. As well as a whole-school Eucharist in the morning, during which our (slightly bonkers) school hymn is sung with gusto, we hold a charity fair to raise money for our chosen school charity. We add to this fundraising total with the ‘2p race’ – a unique St Helen’s tradition which involves each form group laying out as much small change as they can collect into patterns along lines on the netball courts.
In the afternoon, our 1st lacrosse team faces Abingdon School’s 1st rugby team in a good-humoured yet hard fought game of lacrosse – which is usually won by St Helen’s! Sports kit is swapped and chants exchanged, while the PE Department does a stellar job of refereeing this epic contest.
The key to St Kate’s Day is joy – in our school, in our friendships, in our creativity and work, and in coming together for a bigger purpose.
Another of our famed traditions takes place after the final assembly of the academic year. The entire school assembles in the Quad and, forming an enormous circle around the Upper Sixth leavers, performs a gigantic hokey-cokey. For our close-knit community we could not imagine a better way of marking this rite of passage with such exuberance, togetherness and joy.