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Prior to joining Christ’s Hospital, my perception of boarding schools was based on the TV show Malory Towers and Harry Potter films, so I was very excited. My primary school education had been disrupted by my dad’s job with the Foreign Office, so my parents wanted my secondary education to be steady and consistent. They chose CH as it treats people as individuals, unlike some boarding schools that seem to turn out a certain kind of person.
Some girls in my boarding house became great friends, but you can become so close that you’re more like sisters, which means you argue too! There was one night when I felt homesick, but I overcame that quickly and never felt going to boarding school was a mistake. My mum also works at the school, so it has become an important part of family life.
In my Grecian year (Year 13), I was second in command of the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) and in charge of the Army section. CCF provides opportunities to do things you wouldn’t normally experience. For my Duke of Edinburgh gold award, I had kayaking lessons with the army. I’ve also attended leadership courses and been on camps with different activities. On one occasion, our section was attacked during a training exercise, and we had to organise a strategic defence using blank ammunition and smoke grenades!
I have loved music and sport during my seven years at the school. I played tennis and netball for the first teams and was vice-captain of the hockey team. I received an award for contribution to hockey, which I’m proud of as it was in recognition of attitude, commitment and dedication. My hockey highlight came in UF (Year 10), when I was asked to play for the first team, which is usually just for girls in GE (Year 11) or above. Playing with the seniors was terrifying, but also a great honour.
I played alto sax in the Band. The Band has changed since Mr Carter arrived. Mr Whittingham, the former Bandmaster, had a repertoire of hundreds of marches and would write down a list of what we would be playing on the whiteboard at lunch. If you didn’t have the score to a march, you would have to photocopy one quickly, so it could be disorganised sometimes! Although we don’t play as many tunes now, we perform them all very well and get to fully appreciate each piece. One of my favourite moments was performing on the 150th anniversary of the Band, as we had a big crowd watching and a ‘150’ sign lit up to mark the occasion.
As well as the Band, I played in Big Band and a saxophone quartet, alongside a baritone, tenor and soprano sax. Big Band concerts are incredible, as they are held in the theatre, which has brilliant sound and lighting. Performing with the quartet is fun too, as it gives you a chance to perform solos and test yourself as a musician.
I enjoyed being a monitor. I was responsible for overseeing events like the Christmas Fair, held in aid of charities including Crisis, helping people living in poverty in the UK. The Head Teacher volunteered to go in the stocks and I couldn’t resist the chance to throw a wet sponge at him. Did I hit him? Yes! How did it feel? Great!
I don’t know what I want to do as a career yet. I know I want to help people and leave the world a better place, but I don’t yet know what that will entail. However, by studying languages, that will hopefully present opportunities to travel.
Ella heads to Edinburgh to study French and Spanish.