There is a definite air of excitement in the classrooms and corridors of Oakwood school at the moment.
Well-known for their creative streak, pupils and staff will next year be letting their artistic side shine to mark the school’s centenary.
Since it was established on May 4, 1912 at Summersdale Lodge, the school has been on an incredible journey over the decades, even moving to Cornwall during the second world war before settling at its current site in 160 acres of parkland between Chichester and Fishbourne.
At the moment the school is busy organising a host of events which will mark this momentous milestone. The programme will include the symbolic planting of 100 trees, with pupils and teachers past and present given the opportunity to sponsor a tree which will remain part of this well-loved school for many years to come.
The school’s famous cedar tree has unfortunately suffered a lot of damage during the past few years because of heavy snowfall and there are concerns it may not survive this winter.
Because so many pupils have memories of trying to climb it (with the occasional fall), there are also plans to plant a new cedar tree in its place which will hopefully last the next 100 years.
One of the main things the school will be working on is a celebratory book, as head of marketing Sarah Mayhead explained: “I would particularly love to hear from anyone who might have photographs or documents from their time at Oakwood which we could scan, or anyone who has memories, anecdotes or tales they could share with us.
“I know our current pupils would love to hear what it was like to come to Oakwood in previous years.
“We are looking for people to contribute their memories, school reports and photographs.
“We are encouraging children to look back and we have been going through archives with them.”
On May 26 the school will also host an Edwardian Olympics in period costume, to link in with its Summer Fair, and on July 15 a Founder’s Day celebration promises to involve as many former pupils as possible.
They hope to show old cine film footage and provide tours of the site as well as provide a delicious lunch to members of the public who are interested in the history of Oakwood.
An idea is in place to have areas to represent different decades.
Mrs Mayhead said there was also an idea for pupils to interview past students which could possibly be filmed.
For the celebrations, pupils and staff will be composing a special centenary song, as well as working on a commemorative art project involving the whole school to put on permanent display.
One of the school’s past pupils, Daisy Harris-Burland, who creates couture pieces of clothing using recycled materials, has also been invited to make a piece for the school.
“We try to encourage whatever the child is interested in, or has a passion for,” said Mrs Mayhead.
“We are about trying to give every opportunity, whether it’s art or music or science.
“We’ve had someone in the final of a languages competition, and we’ve have lots of pieces entered for the Pallant House gallery portrait competition.
“Pupils have also taken part in a maths challenge and we’ve got someone playing football for the Sussex under-11s, so whatever it is, we really try to get them involved in whatever they are passionate about.”
Past pupils and staff who would should contact Sarah Mayhead by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01243 575209.
They can also register their details on the Oakwood school website.