This has been a big week in the School as we celebrated Founder’s Day and we named the Performing Arts Centre in honour of Wendy Ashley-Cooper, Head of School from 2001 to 2016. Founder’s Day is remembered every year within the cycle of significant events within the School. It gives us the opportunity to look back and consider the best of our tradition that has contributed to the wonderful school we now enjoy. Clearly, the past has people of vision, determination and the capacity to build community. These qualities have all mixed together to play a role in creating the reality of the School. We aim to find inspiration, and also ground our values in ideas that matter across generations.
This year has had its challenges. As we live through the uncertainty of a virus that has changed the school year, it is worthy to remember that those who have gone before us had often experienced uncertainty. At the start of the School, they had the uncertainty associated with building using debt that was sustained by confidence that the School was needed and valued by the community. They built a reputation where no traditions existed. They faced a world war within the first decade of the School’s existence. Then a pandemic, the Spanish Flu, and a decade later a world depression. Another world war a decade after that and within five years, there was a regional war in Korea. The 1960s brought social revolution, yet the School developed through each age and confronted each complexity of local and world affairs. There has always been plenty to focus the minds of those who have loved and led the School. No generation has escaped challenges. I take the view that schools do not so much face challenges but they help many confront challenges.
At the heart of the day our Deputy Principal, Tonia Gloudemans, presented the official address. It is worth reading and can be found in Rev Sharon’s eNews article. This Founders’ Day we celebrated the leadership of Wendy Ashley-Cooper with the naming of the Performing Arts Centre. The dedication read:
This building was originally opened in 1997. The Glennie Parents and Friends’ Association contributed significantly to its construction.
In 2020 the School Council decided to name the building after Wendy Ashley-Cooper, Principal of the School between 2001-2016. This was a recognition of her deep commitment to the music tradition within this school and her belief in the value that music plays in the education of all girls.
In her response, Wendy displayed humility and grace. She is naturally proud of the School and her time as Head of School. She continues to acknowledge the wide contribution of many to the leadership and success of the School.
In naming the centre, we have continued to honour the importance of The Arts to the life of the School and the role of the P&F in the original support of the construction of the Performing Arts Centre. On the day, the story of the PAC was honoured by the following words:
The Performing Arts Building standing before us was opened and blessed in 1997. In the time since, hundreds of Glennie girls have rehearsed and performed, laughed and I expect to shed a few tears. It has been a home away from home for many, a place of acceptance and challenge, a place to express personality and individual talent and a place to join with others in the pursuit of delightful harmonies, and stunning orchestral sounds. If you are a performer you probably understand intuitively what I’m talking about, for those whose passion lies in other fields, imagine how you feel when you run a personal best, your team wins a tough game, or you achieve an A in an exam you studied really hard for.
We acknowledge the significant contribution of the Glennie Parents & Friends’ Association to the finance and development not just of the building but their continued support of The Arts and in particular PASA – the Performing Arts Supporters Association. Without parents willing to drop us at school at 7:30 in the morning or pick us up at 6:00 at night we would not have the amazing music, drama and dance program that we do. So today we thank you as well for all the time, patience and persistence you offer to us girls in The Arts.
Today we have the privilege of re-naming this building in honour of former Head of School, Mrs Wendy Ashley-Cooper. Mrs Ashley-Cooper led our school from 2001 – 2016. She was a passionate supporter of The Arts and music in particular, building a community which gave voice and confidence to the girls through performance and opportunities. During her time of leadership, Glennie flourished, growing the Junior Years, building the Science Centre of excellence, rediscovering faith traditions and developing a culture of respect and spirit. It is our privilege to re-dedicate the Performing Arts Centre in her honour.
Overall Founder’s Day was a perfect time to celebrate and honour our traditions which will continue to give us strength for the challenges of community living and guide our clear goal of having a strong school with high aspirations.
Mr Peter Crawley