The Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle British Section celebrates its Platinum Jubilee the same year as the Queen’s!
To mark this anniversary, celebrations were held and allowed for beautiful intergenerational connections.
During the afternoon, current students of the Section discovered its (hi)story, narrated by Eric Simon, former CPE/Head of Year who worked at the Lycée for 26 years. Anglophile and outright London lover, historian and author of books about the city, its secrets and even its ghosts, E. Simon knows how to share his knowledge and passion. The lucky few who attended the talk learnt that when it was founded in 1952, the British Section was the first co-educational (and no uniform) school in the UK. Students were thrilled with this trip back in time.
Later in the day, guests gathered in the refectory after a brief visit through the archive photo exhibition displayed in the main reception at 35 Cromwell Road. British Section Alumni – students and staff alike – met with current pupils and personnel, as well as with LFCG staff members working for both the French and the British Section.
Didier Devilard, Headmaster, opened the series of official and warm speeches which all emphasised how unique the British Section is and how well it epitomises the strong links uniting our two countries, our two languages and our two cultures.
Subsequent speeches given by Simon McNaught, Head of the British Section; Salima Triki, PTA/Association des Parents d’élèves du Lycée (APL) President; Jihane Schmitt, LFCG Alumni President, herself a former British Section student as well as the parent of current BS pupils; and Bertrand Buchwalter, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy & Director of the French Institute; all highlighted the Section’s amazing sense of community combined with its outstanding bilingual academic strength.
Eric Simon, rightfully introduced by Mrs Schmitt as the Section’s pillar and champion, then summarised seven decades of history, underlining the heritage and the evolution of the Section, paying tribute to its founder, Proviseur Augustin Gaudin and its successive heads. Mr Simon even read the moving letter addressed to the audience by Alan Harrison, former Head of the British Section before Mr Devilard concluded the speeches inviting all guests to enjoy the rest of the evening’s programme.
After these heartfelt tributes to the people and values at the origin and core of the British Section, students took over the microphone for a lively concert starting with City of Stars performed by Jian A. (voice) & N’Sira D. (voice & keyboard) from 3GCSE class. They were followed by the rock’n’roll performance of the 1ere and PAL students’ group (Céleste T.-P. bass & vocals; Charlotte L. vocals; Eléa L. keyboard; Emile C.-O. drums; Kayeen J. guitar; Omar H.-M. bass & vocals; Thomas N. bass & guitar) who performed Take me out by Franz Ferdinand; Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix and R U mine by Arctic Monkeys.
The audience left the refectory to join tours of the British Section’s buildings and of the Lycée’s iconic rooms guided by current students (Gheeta A., Franck C., Louis F., Sofia R., Florian D. K., Eden L., Inès B., AlexiaB., Alexei C.O’N., Elisabetta M., Noor M.).
These visits were a lovely opportunity for former staff and alumni to reminisce or witness modernisation and for BS students to hear anecdotes from the past.
Beyond the British Section and wider LFCG community members, guests included representatives of French and British media in London. All present enjoyed the evening’s programme to the end: a lovely buffet, catered by the Lycée’s Chef and his team, which allowed for emotional reunions and lively intergenerational discussions – the age range spanned from current 15-year-old students to an inspirational former Italian teacher aged 91 with many stories to share – whilst a slideshow displayed the video presentation of the British Section, archive photos and British Section’s Art students’ works gathered by their teacher, Harriet Macaree, who happens to be an alumna!