This school year is the school’s Diamond Anniversary year, sixty years since its foundation in 1951 by Lady Elena Bennett and Bishop Chavasse of Rochester. We have a number of special events this year to mark the anniversary, and the first of them took place today. For the first time in the school’s sixty year history, and at the point where there are more staff and students here than at any time in the past, we arranged for a photograph to be taken of the entire school community. This is more complex in reality than perhaps than it sounds!
To achieve a photograph of 1600 people simultaneously, one needs a large tiered stand, which has to be erected in advance. Then, to optimise the way the photograph looks, and to ensure that everyone’s face is visible clearly, everyone has to be arranged in a special height order. Then there is the issue of getting everyone actually up on the stand, which took us about 45 minutes to do, which was pretty much as planned. Of course, the first people up have a bit of a wait till the last people are in place and everyone smartened up ready for the photo to be taken. Then everyone has to be got down again safely and back to lessons! We managed all this today without any hitches at all, thanks to my colleagues’ admirable planning, and students were patient and excellently behaved throughout. We were of course also blessed with dry and bright weather and, to the relief of those who had to wait for a while up on the stand, it was relatively mild, though there was a breeze, which caused some anxiety to those concerned about their hair!
I was interested to learn that the camera used to take a picture of this size is not digital, as commercially available digital cameras do not have a sufficiently high resolution yet to ensure a clear reproduction. So an old fashioned photographic plate is used, the results of which can be scanned in and digitally ‘tidied up’ before the photograph is ready.
Sitting in the front centre of this huge number of people, the whole school community, I felt at the same time an overwhelming sense of pride, and also of awe, humility and responsibility, that the lives and futures of so many people are in our hands; it was enormously reaffirming of our vocation to do the very best possible by all members of our Bennett community.
We took some of our own snapshots today during the assembling of students on the stand, and a few of these will appear on this blog tomorrow to give readers an impression of what it was like. The photograph itself will be hung with a commemorative inscription in the school, and smaller copies of it will be available for parents who would like to have this record of an important moment in the school’s history, and each student’s school career.