St Mary’s School, Cambridge celebrates students’ best selves at Prize Giving events

To mark the end of the academic year, St Mary’s School, Cambridge welcomed special guests in to school to celebrate students’ progress and achievements. From robotics to classics, serving the community to STEM, and dance to musical achievements, girls in Reception through to Sixth Form were recognised for their exceptional efforts and accomplishments in the school’s prize giving ceremonies.

Suzi Digby OBE, internationally renowned choral conductor, choir master and music educator, was the guest speaker at the Senior School and Sixth Form Prize Giving event on Friday 30 June. Having adjudicated at the school’s Young Musician of the Year and Young Pianist of the Year competitions in November, Suzi said: “the school is a wonderful example of a caring and enlightened environment that nurtures talent and personality. There is nothing I’m more passionate about than young people’s development as complete human beings. Each time you achieve something you go further down the path of knowing who you are, being comfortable with who you are and showing that version of who you are to others around you. I want to encourage all of you, above all else – and drawing on Erasmus’ wisdom that ‘It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is’ – to be yourselves”.

Headmistress Charlotte Avery said: “It is exactly this point – our students becoming their best selves, through discovering talents and interests, working hard and being resilient in the face of disappointment – that we seek to celebrate at events like our annual Prize Giving, which is why we award in each year group a Prize for Progress as well as a Prize for Excellence in each subject, and also award Special Prizes to students from any year group who have stood out from the crowd.

“Our youngest Special Prize winner was Year 7 student, Juliette L., for her poetic prowess. In recognition of Lower Sixth student Selena Y.’s outstanding academic achievement – securing a place as the only female member of the UK team for the International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics – we created a new Special Prize this year. Other talents have been equally celebrated, including: for her faultless solo performances and her support of other musical and theatrical productions year-round, Upper Sixth student Cherry C.; for her exceptional service to the school, our outgoing Head Girl Aisling H-B.; and for distinction in Science, our incoming Head Girl Natasha C-C. (Lower Sixth)”.

At the Junior School Prize Giving event guest speaker, Josephine Hughes, PhD student at the University of Cambridge who is conducting research within the area of adaptive tactile sensing for robotics, explained that she did not know at the age of 11 what she wanted to do or be when she grew up. She told the students: “I started doing some robotics and programming at school and was instantly hooked and then took part in robotics competitions – I am still taking part in robotic competitions now. I have been lucky enough to work with some of you in Year 5 and Year 6 at robotic events, and to see you learn to program in C++ in a couple of hours! I have seen such hard work, dedication and teamwork, and huge successes. But I have also seen how well you have recovered from disappointment, and this is what has truly impressed me about you. So my message is to carry on not choosing the easy path; find something you love and don’t be afraid to enjoy it, whether that’s art, music, dance, languages, or engineering!”

Charlotte Avery concluded: “Congratulations to every student who has progressed and excelled in – and most importantly enjoyed – academic and extra-curricular pursuits this year. As ever it has been an absolute pleasure to recognise such extraordinary efforts put in by our students through these celebratory end of year events”.


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