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To Read & So...

Alumnae and Friends Spring 2017

and other news from Japan

Natasha Hughes year of 1985 in conversation with

Iona Tompkins Y12

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To Read & So... 03


It is an enormous privilege to be writing to JAGS alumnae via this inspiring edition of To Read and So… Hearing about the achievements of those who were here well before me and whose stories are so impressive and thought-provoking remains a real pleasure; I am also delighted to see the successes of current girls celebrated here. The senior school productions last term were a particular joy as we marvelled at the innovative ensemble work of Tristan and Yseult and bopped along with Sandy and the Pink Ladies as they made their appearance at Dulwich College. Please do get in touch if you would ever like to attend school performances of any sort. It is always a pleasure to welcome alumnae on such occasions.

14 Gayle Griffiths year of 2010, speaking of Japan 17 Pushkin Instiute Y12 Annie Sheriff

Alison Venn

Communications, alumnae, legator & donor relations


I am sure you will understand that future performances are very much in our thoughts right now, as we look out of windows and see the Community Music Centre finally becoming a reality. At the time of writing, the foundations are in place and we can imagine the scale of the hall and see where the new quad will be created, transforming both indoor and outdoor space for the girls. At such

18 Beatrice Tavecchio Blake 0n Dario Fo

Jo Denham, Marketing Manager: (020 8613 6369)

Yang Ming Ooi, Database/ Research Manager: (020 8613 6497)

Headmistress of JAGS

10 Clara Wooller year of 1998, on Hello Kitty and 21st Century Fox

We’re here for what seems a significant number of years, but it’s only a nano-second in the history of the school. What’s important is what happens next. Life beyond JAGS can be good! Do share your news with us, come back to see us. The back cover has details of events to which you are warmly invited, including two new ones: an Alumnae Medical Society Dinner and poet Roger McGough’s appearance at the JAGS Literary Festival.

Joe Ridge, Marketing & Communications Co-ordinator (maternity cover) (020 8613 6495)

Sally-Anne Huang

06 Talking pipes: Iona Tompkins Y12 meets Natasha Hughes, year of 1985

I’m becoming more aware of the passage of time. So much happens in the working day, it’s understandable that those of us on site are focused on the here, now and near future, especially as we see the foundations going in for our long promised Community Music Centre. Then I hear news from colleagues about former pupils, chance encounters lead to re-connections and I realise with a jolt that thousands of former JAGS girls – and staff - are busy making their way in the world, in marvellously unpredictable ways. It is a privilege to be able to tell a few of their stories in this issue, with an international theme, to link current JAGS girls with past pupils with similar interests.

19 Senior School

Productions 22 #inspiringwoman: Kadeena Cox MBE visits JAGS

Tristan & Yseult Grease

Alison Venn, Head of Communications: (020 8693 1181 ext 6440) Have you signed up to the alumnae website yet? Marketing & Communications, James Allen’s Girls’ School, 144 East Dulwich Grove, London SE22 8TE Lawton Print Design Ltd • T: 07932 624 218

Back cover: Alumnae Events

CMC: We're underway!

04 To Read & So... important times in a school’s history, we have every reason to look back and thank those who worked to get us to this point. Marion Gibbs’ vision for music was the driving force behind this build. In addition, we are also grateful to our donors, to members of the governing body who supported final plans as they took shape, and to Sarah Buxton, our bursar who so sadly lost her battle with cancer back in 2015 but whose determination and focus were particularly instrumental in turning Mrs Gibbs’ dream into a reality. Looking to the future, we have just under twelve months of the build ahead of us and Neilcott, our builders, will be working with pupils and teachers to make the most of the educational opportunities that affords. Never has such cooperation seemed more appropriate as JAGS continues to produce architects and engineers and, as you will see from this publication, technology is flourishing. However, it is really the opening of the building

To Read & So... 05 in early 2018 to which we are looking forward with such anticipation. Not only will music benefit enormously but new IT suites and multipurpose classrooms mean that all pupils from JAPS and JAGS will be able to take advantage of the new centre. Similarly, the releasing of other spaces across the site will afford greater opportunities for our community, and the wider neighbourhood going forward.

this. However, with pressure upon the maintained sector financially, and our proximity to less wealthy boroughs beyond Dulwich, we would love to be able to do more. Please do look out for further information in the months ahead and do not hesitate to contact Alison Venn or me personally if you would like to know more.

Looking still further ahead, with the completion of the Community Music Centre project imminent, we will be building towards a new vision - the expansion of bursary places at the school. As you will know, we benefit from the Dulwich Estate in terms of funding such places now and, in recent years, have used money generated by the sports club and raised by the parents association to supplement this. Sarah Buxton also left a generous legacy to fund two sixth form pupils at the school in her name. At present 16% of JAGS girls receive substantial bursary awards and we are incredibly proud of

In the meantime, thank you for your continued interest in this exceptional school – and we look forward to welcoming you to the Community Music Centre in the near future.

Community Music Centre at JAGS In mid-December, the builders briefly recruited some lady digger drivers. The pre-prep, prep and the senior school nominated their prospective engineers, architects, as well as musicians, members of the School Councils and Head Girls to take control of the wheel and to learn about hydraulics and excavating. The Headmistress, Headteacher of JAPS and Head of the Pre-prep seemed equally at home in hard hats and high-vis vests. We came back in January with the build underway! We’ve practised a new Fire Drill procedure and learnt new safe routes around the school, avoiding large holes in the ground where the foundations are going in. This artist’s impression hints at what’s to come. Walking through a combined entrance and foyer, we’ll reach the 500 seat concert hall with flexible seating and staging, Music teaching and rehearsal rooms, 17 practice rooms and percussion and string bases. The design of our landmark facility has been adjusted so that, when the multi-purpose classrooms and IT suites are added, we’ll have an attractive quad space for girls and staff to use and enhanced play areas for the girls at the prep school. It will make the whole site look more coherent. We’re taking photos from the Library every two hours. Perhaps not Oscar material, but a fascinating fast film animation one day.

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Natasha Hughes year of 1985

Co-founder of Game Trenchless Consultants, Montreal, Canada In conversation with Iona Tompkins Just before Christmas, I had the privilege of interviewing Natasha Hughes in school, a JAGS alumna with an unusual story. She currently lives and works in Montreal, as the co-founder of GAME Trenchless Consultants. The engineering company provides a more environmentally friendly and less disruptive way of inspecting water pipes, using specialized equipment. To have the opportunity to interview someone who has broken down so many of the barriers that women traditionally face was really insightful. Iona Tompkins Y12 Did you know from a young age that engineering was what you wanted to do? No, not at all! I’ve been through various career paths. I think what JAGS gave me was the foundation, the drive, the academic wherewithal. I perhaps wasn’t the most astute student but it really gave me a basis that I was able to carry through in my professional and my personal life. I’m grateful for that. I was here for many, many years, so that definitely helped me. But I didn’t think about engineering. It must be quite strange being back at JAGS. It is surreal. My parents are still in the UK. I’m grateful that I come back here to see them maybe 3 or 4 times a year. And every time we drive past the school, because it was big part of my life, my Dad and I make a trip down memory lane. It was very surreal after leaving here to be back in this environment, which hasn’t changed a lot. That’s really interesting to hear. I guess the spirit of the school must still be the same. Very much. The uniforms are (nearly) the same. Apart from when I was here we had hats. There

were straw hats for summer and a velvet hat for winter and you had to wear those when you stepped out of the car or off the bus or train to come into the school. You had to be properly attired. But the sweater and skirt looked exactly the same. So it was comforting, because a lot of decades have passed, to see the change isn’t that great. Do you have any particularly fond memories of JAGS? I have so many! The camaraderie with my school friends is the greatest. To be in an all-girl environment was exceptional. I still dream of playing under the willow trees in the grounds, which was a favourite place for us to go during the lunch hour. So it was pretty nice when I saw them again. I was able to reminisce. When you haven’t been in an environment for so many years and then to be able to walk the corridors again is an emotional journey in a good way and in a less good way. Time has passed. It’s a good chunk of your life when you’re young. It seems smaller than I remember. What is now your dining hall and café used to be my swimming pool. It’s strange to walk in there. Your Holst Hall is where we used to eat lunch – just all these little things.

Tell me about when you left JAGS and moved into higher education.

Did you ever consider when you were younger what you would do specifically?

I didn’t actually go to university here. I went to Orpington College and into the travel business. My mum had been in the travel business so it seemed like a natural fit. I worked in the travel business in London for several years. I left to go to Canada when I was 22 or 23. I’d met a Canadian man, so we started our own travel firm over there. We were looking after business clients. Our main accounts became interesting. We had the accounts of hospitals in BC; we were living in Vancouver at the time. We had the responsibility of moving organs for transplant around the world. So when an eye or a heart, for example, was required to be transported to BC, we would be the people to arrange for it to reach its destination.

I’d like to say I did, but I didn’t. I landed on the travel idea. It enabled me to travel a lot, meet some amazing people. Then I realised that perhaps it wasn’t for me. I then worked for a brokerage firm for many years, involved in finance. So it was a natural fit when my husband wanted to open an engineering consultancy and asked me to take over the business side.

I’m not an engineer, but I run an engineering business. My husband is the engineer. So I moved to Montreal in the late 1990s and we started an engineering company. I’m involved in all the financing, the administration. It’s good team work. It’s interesting to hear you say that, because you have skills in finance and in running a business, in both of which areas I feel women are, if not undervalued, then under-represented. I agree. But I do see a big change in the past 30 years. There are more women in those positions. I have a daughter myself. She’s 19. I’m looking forward to her going into the business world and representing women well. To come from an empowering allgirls’ school, it’s incredible to see the journey that you are going on now compared to how things were when I was at that stage. For your generation, doors are going to be open far wider.

So what does your day look like as the co-founder of this business, GAME Trenchless Consultants? Oh my gosh! My day is very varied. We’re a small engineering business. We’re very specialised in what we do. Our clients comprise of municipalities - the cities across Canada and the United States – so North America. We’re only 7 people, but my team travel wherever there is the need for what we do. It’s civil engineering so we deal with things underneath the ground, mainly water pipes. We use a lot of specialised equipment that not a lot of people have that can detect leaks within pipes. We are known in the industry. It is really nice that word of mouth carries a lot of weight, when someone has a specific problem we can help them with. We do a lot of promotional conventions across North America. My day is about finance from the banking and invoicing to the chasing customers for money to payroll – anything to do with numbers. My husband looks after anything to do with engineering. We handpicked our team very carefully because with only 7 you have to have chemistry. It’s still a man’s world, but we have a female engineer. My husband teaches parttime at university in Montreal and I was asking him the ratio of women to men now and ten years ago. 25% of his students are now women, whereas 10 years ago it was probably 10%.

08 To Read & So... It must be rewarding to see that shift. Absolutely. Generally the women do better – so that’s great! Perhaps because they’ve had to fight more for it. How did it feel to start your own company? Daunting, because there’s a lot of investment. You have really to believe in what you are doing. We were both investors. We were fortunate because we don’t have any business partners. We have been approached by people wanting to become part of the business, but at this point we want to keep control of it. It may come to a point where we grow and we may need to have help. It was daunting, yes, but exciting. When you find a business partner who’s also your life partner, there’s magic in that too, no doubt. It works for us. It’s quite empowering. It’s the second time I’ve had a business. This is much more prestigious, but much more satisfying. Would you have any advice for JAGS girls at school now, on the commercial side, or about your journey having travelled to the other side of the world? Just go for it. Taking the education opportunities is essential. We have a different system in Canada. High School finishes at 16, then college 17 and 18, then university. There’s no doubt in my daughter’s mind that she should be finishing this educational path, whereas it wasn’t so important in my time. Unfortunately, qualifications are no guarantee of a job in exactly what you want. Pursue your education and have courage. You have to have courage and be gutsy and have something different about you that puts you over and above the hordes of men that are applying for the same job - and I think it’s possible. I think JAGS has given me such a good foundation of knowledge and strength to allow me to pursue directions where perhaps others wouldn’t go. I loved my time here and I remember it with enormous fondness and I’m really proud the school has developed the way it has. To walk around the school now and to see the Prissian Theatre… Miss Prissian was my Headmistress. I’m very proud to see the memorial to her. It’s an honour to have been part of this school, to have had the experience that has brought me to where I am today.

To Read & So... 09 Piero Salvo, President and co-founder of the 3 year-old business – and Natasha’s husband. He’s a civil engineer by trade and is also a part-time professor at university. Apart from the rise in the numbers of women students, how has the student intake changed? On our Masters course, we have a lot more foreign students than we do Canadian students. What’s interesting for me is that I learn how their water systems work, how they deal with their problems. They come from a different reality, so have a different perspective from ours. We’re so used to just turning on taps for water and pressing levers for water to go away. For some places it’s a challenge – they can’t have water. How they deal with the challenge is quite interesting. Why do you think engineering has been such a male-dominated field for so long? Maybe because of the construction side of it. Obviously there were originally men on the fields. But as things have progressed women are in project management and take higher roles as chief engineers. When we attend trade shows there are a lot more women present, which is good to see. How does it work with Natasha and you being President and Vice-President of your company? I call her the brains! (Natasha: I hold the pursestrings!) Having Natasha there to run the day to day things allows me to do what I do best, the PR, the engineering. What is your standard day? I travel a lot. We use technology that comes from England. When I’m in the office I prepare bids for clients and when I travel I’m going to conferences, meeting clients and doing a little bit of hands on. People might not think pipes are very exciting, but the places your job has taken you are really interesting. Your business is so integral to the way we live in the Eastern and Western world - you are providing a fundamental role. Which particular project stands out?

We worked at the Pentagon, a nuclear naval base, an Indian reserve, a prison in Alberta. We have created a niche in the market. We specialise in trenchless technology, which is innovative. We don’t dig. The UK is the leader in trenchless technology. British Gas was one of the first to use innovative re-lining. A lot of the technologies we’re using started in the UK. You are in a position where people will wait for your services. Do you see this industry expanding? Absolutely. Take London, I believe that there is a special tax if you have to dig. Where we work we are made to do at least 25% trenchless. It will increase because the costs are less if you don’t have to dig. It's eco-friendly, environmentally friendly, there are less gas emissions….it’s not affecting the consumer. If you’re digging up the road, the consumer can’t get to the stores. You have a greener way of fixing things? Yes. Our industry has ways to calculate carbon emissions in order to compare conventional digging with trenchless and the savings run at probably 65% -70% carbon saved.

JAGS has become a TeenTech Centre of Innovation and Creativity. Maggie Philbin, TeenTech founder says: “We have decided to formally recognise schools like JAGS which we believe are going the extra mile in both supporting students to engage in this kind of activity but also running extracurricular programmes both for the benefit of their students and those attending or teaching at other schools.”

Iona Tompkins and Isabella Edsparr, two of the 2015 and 2016 TeenTech winners, are now in demand as ambassadors, speaking in public on behalf of young people everywhere, as Iona explains. “Over half-term in October, Isabella and I had the amazing opportunity to talk live on Radio 1. We were given guest passes and access to the BBC’s Broadcasting House in central London. Along with two other young people, we had an hour long discussion with Gemma and Dr Radha on their weekly show, the Surgery. The week’s topic was Tech for Good, and we were invited as we had both won a category in the TeenTech national awards. They were wonderful hosts, making us feel at ease straightaway and asking thought-provoking questions. It was fascinating to learn about everyone’s projects and what they had been working on, as well as answering questions listeners had asked us using the show’s #techforgood on twitter. A week later, Isabella and I also talked at the 2016 Global Innovation Forum, with TeenTech’s founder and Tomorrow’s World presenter, Maggie Philbin. The two-day forum brought corporations together to discuss trends in innovation and new product development. After watching numerous speakers from companies such as General Electrics and Kinneir Dufort, it was our turn to take to the stage. We discussed as a panel how companies could try and reach out to more young people and encourage them to feel empowered by technology. It was nerve-wracking talking to such a large group of professionals, but we received some great feedback. Members of Ikea and Airbus even took the time to come up to us afterwards to exchange contact details and congratulate us, which was incredibly kind of them. I would love to run my own business when I am older, so having the opportunity to interact with so many different companies and people has been a huge privilege. I still cannot believe I talked live on a national radio station. It is definitely something I will never forget!” Iona Tompkins Y12

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Clara Wooller year of 1998

Head of Marketing for Sanrio In conversation with Alison Venn Clara is in charge of marketing for Sanrio across Europe, Middle East, Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand. She decides the direction for the brand in each country and how that works across events, collaborations and partnerships, social media, PR and promotions. It calls for a mix of creative and commercial thinking and her success is basically measured in how what she does affects sales of Sanrio products. They are a small team in London, 15 people: a mix of sales people, designers, product approvals, legal, finance and marketing. Sanrio is a Japanese company that designs, licenses and produces products focusing on the kawaii (cute) segment of Japanese popular culture. Their products include stationery, school supplies, gifts and accessories that are sold worldwide. Sanrio's best-known character is Hello Kitty (a.k.a. Kitty White), a little anthropomorphic cat girl. With her red bow and no visible mouth except in most of the animations, she is one of the most successful marketing brands in the world.

Not everyone knows exactly the direction they want to head in when they leave school and further education. After reading English at Oxford University, Clara had a couple of years working for a newspaper, in shipping and in marketing with web start-up companies, unsure of what she really she wanted to do. It was a wise move to step back. A Masters at a French business school gained her some useful, marketable skills and then the recruiters were knocking on her door. Banking and other offers didn’t appeal, but then

came the call from Marvel Comics and Marvel Entertainment, which sounded a lot more fun, as Clara explains: I’ve been in entertainment marketing for the past ten years. I’m probably not as well off as I would be in banking, but I’m having a good time. I worked at Marvel for a few years, then I went to work for a start up on a pre-school animated show called Chuggington, which did quite well. Then my old boss at Marvel headhunted me because she knew I was a huge

fan of Hello Kitty and I’ve been here for the last couple of years. I think I’ve had a couple of very lucky breaks. I have had a good mentor, which has helped enormously. I can’t take all the credit for Hello Kitty’s success, given that she’s older than me, but part of what I was hired to do was to try and reposition her, because she had had 5 years, so there was some saturation of the market; she was the hottest thing ever, if you were into pink lunchboxes and little pyjamas, but for me Hello Kitty has never been about pink. She’s very classic, she’s very retro and the simplicity of the design lends itself to different interpretations. So what I’ve been doing for the last two years is repositioning her character and really tapping into that nostalgia and adult fan base. I think I haven’t done a bad job! We get personal stories all the time. Hello Kitty appeals to men and women and anyone who has a fascination with Japanese culture would recognise that Hello Kitty is a real emblem and a real ambassador. She’s very flexible because she has no mouth, so you can suggest whatever messages you want to on her. The really fun part of my job is thinking up collaborations that would attract new audiences. I love to talk to creatives, be they fashion designers or entrepreneurs, about ways we can work together to amplify both of our

companies, both of our brands. Tangle teezer has been a great success, the hairbrushes that fit into the palm of your hand. They’re a kind of Great British success story. That was really interesting. Something that people may not know about Hello Kitty is that she’s a London girl, so there seemed to be a natural synergy there. It’s a great product. It sits in the palm of your hand and it does exactly what it says it’s going to do. We asked ourselves how we could make it cuter by applying a Hello Kitty design to it. And it sold really well, which is really exciting. Another project that I worked on last summer was a pop-up café with a company called Cutter and Squidge, based in Soho. I approached them to see if they’d be interested in a running a café with us, which they did for three months last summer. They transformed their basement into a garden paradise and sold Hello Kitty afternoon tea. It got so much PR and people were very excited about it because it’s the first time it’s been done in Europe and in London, which is the city of Hello Kitty’s birth. So that was very cool. I’ve been very lucky in that my boss and mentor, who has now moved onto a different company, saw the passion in me and that there was a really good fit here between person and brand. She’s really given me free rein to extend my vision. It’s exciting to see something go from just an idea on paper to something that people can touch and feel. I haven’t had any specific training. My role is really a relationship with business,

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knowing how to listen to people and also knowing how to tell a good story and how to bring people into your story. Something is said in improvisation workshops: if someone throws you a line, build on it, don’t knock them down. I always keep that in mind when I’m working on my projects. You don’t have to own all the good ideas – they can come from other people too.

My peer group was so incredibly smart and that kind of prepared me and dragged my own standards up a little bit. I think women in the work place can be quite competitive and nasty, without knowing it. But it was never really the case at JAGS. We pushed each other’s standards up. That’s something that I try to reflect in the workplace with my own reports.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

What message would you give to Y13?

I’ve accepted a role with 21st century Fox to be a Director of Brand; a big move! I think theatrical marketing, marketing of movies is very interesting. There’ll be big budgets. Hopefully some nice travel too, though I’ll be based in London. Travel has been a big part of my life. I go to Japan twice a year and it’s such a source of inspiration and fun.

The world is truly your oyster. Go get it!

a French menu at lunchtime on Friday (Oh la la!), frenetic Zumba Latina dancing, the Great Russian Bake-Off cake sale, fundraising for SOS Children’s Villages, a guest speaker, Leila Segal (advocate and writer) talking about her debut novel, ‘Breathe’, inspired by her time in Cuba, a hotly-contested cultural quiz, full of MFL teasers.

What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had?

What significant JAGS memories do you have? Theatre stuff was very important. Having the theatre was a great facility. I remember a trip to Jerez and that was fun. My A level English teachers were very influential, Mr James and Mr McClafferty, who were amazing. I also did Politics, but I was rubbish at that. No reflection on the teacher, Mrs Barton, who was brilliant.

You have to be quite tenacious and not afraid of rejection - move on from the Nos and focus on the Yesses. You need a lot of energy.

We love languages! This is how we celebrated the 2016 European Day of Languages -

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox is the world’s fourth largest international media and entertainment company. 21st Century Fox Company purchased Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation in 1985 and the studio has since produced many award-winning films, including the two top-grossing films of all time: Titanic and Avatar.

I spent time at the Hello Kitty theme park to see how costume characters work. And occasionally I have been the figure in the costume. So when you see a photo of Hello Kitty in a newspaper it could be me! People just want to hug and interact with you; it’s a very willing suspension of disbelief.

What qualities do you need to succeed at your job?

Clara (left) as Ariel in The Tempest 1996

In their lessons, Italian students from JAGS and DC worked together towards producing a video on all things Italian, French students enjoyed a French Literature seminar and to clinch it all, Spanish students engaged in videoconferencing with author Pilar Orti on her ‘A-Z of Spanish Culture’. Not to be outdone, the teachers were challenged to introduce as many different languages as they dared into their lessons for the week. Well done to winner Mr Hicklenton. In assembly, sixth form linguists extolled the virtues of learning languages at A level. Finally, guided by Mrs Arora and Mr Okura, girls of different ages shared their native languages in a short video.

The Y9 Japanese taster group met Clara by chance (she recognised the JAGS uniform) at the Christmas HYPER JAPAN Festival, which brings the best of Japan to London, celebrating J-culture with traditional and contemporary exhibitions, performances and cuisine. The girls loved sampling chicken katsu curry with Japanese rice, dumplings, pumpkin, waffles and tofu cute, (really cool Japanese candy and sweets). They listened to J-Pop on vinyl records, got to dance and played interactive games in an arcade, including fighting with virtual swords. There were big clothes brands for window shopping and a tree where you could write your dreams and wishes on leaves. Y9s Betsy, Isabelle, Beth, Madeleine, Nina and Zahra have a soft spot for Hello Kitty, but also went gooey for another Sanrio character, Gudetama, a cute, but lazy egg yolk who lies around under a blanket!

eTwinning is a programme co-funded by Erasmus+ of the EU and managed in the UK by the British Council. It allows schools around Europe and beyond to work in digital collaborative projects to promote learning through digital learning and cultural awareness and understanding. Last year the project “Twins in Contact”, a collaboration between JAGS Y9 Spanish students with 2 ES0 students at C.C. Montpellier school in Madrid, was awarded the UK Active Language Learning 2016 National Award.

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Gayle Griffiths

What inspired you to want to study languages further?

year of 2010

Translator & Interpreter In correspondence with Alison Venn

Here’s an idea for what to do with a Languages degree. It takes all sorts of skills to create sporting events worldwide. Gayle is an official Spanish to Japanese translator, working with the JET scheme in Japan for the last 15 months, in a region called Fukuoka, with the Sports and Culture council.

I always had an interest in languages, but didn't realise at the time how lucky we were at JAGS to be offered such a diverse range of languages and to have so many teachers who were native speakers. The Japanese teacher, Okura Sensei, even offered us lunch time classes so that we could fit Japanese into our schedule alongside A Levels. The enthusiasm of all the teachers went a long way in helping me decide to continue languages and to have confidence that languages could lead to a number of career paths. How did you choose your university course?

Did you take a Gap year?

Gayle (centre) with the Japanese group in triumphant mood following their award for ‘Cake Song’, the best international original song in the UK 2008. Gayle went to Leeds University to do Japanese with Spanish, achieving a First Class Honours degree with Distinction in spoken Japanese and Spanish.

Yes, as I couldn't see a clear path for myself and didn’t want to choose something I might not enjoy. By the end of Sixth Form, I had realised that I wanted to study Japanese and Spanish and worked in London for six months while applying for university. I then studied Japanese at a language school in Osaka before participating in a volunteer programme in Spain. When I look back I can't believe that I decided to go by myself to Japan with only a basic knowledge of the language, just after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. However, I received a lot of support from the school even after leaving and was surrounded by peers who were also challenging themselves at university or on other adventures, so it seemed a natural progression at the time.  What do you remember of your time learning languages at JAGS? I have many fantastic memories of studying languages at JAGS, from dressing up and singing an eighties Spanish song with my classmates at the Multicultural Evening, which we were taught by Señora Sanchez in our A Level class, to class trips to Madrid, Seville and Paris.

There are not too many universities in the UK which offer both Spanish and Japanese so it was relatively straight forward to apply. I chose to study at the University of Leeds, since it would

offer me the most time abroad, while still being academically challenging and internationally well-known. The university has many well-established exchange programmes and, during my course, I spent one year in Japan, three months in Spain and six weeks in South Korea as an exchange student. The course also offered great flexibility in modules and I chose to mostly study history and international relations, on top of the core language modules, as those were my interests.

What was the biggest leap you had to make in studying languages at university level from A level?  JAGS prepares students very well for the academic aspects of further education, such as essay writing and independent study, so for me the main challenge at university was to adapt to having much more free time and keeping an equal balance between two languages and two teaching departments.  Did you have any work experience while you were at university? I took a ten-week internship in a car parts manufacturing company in Japan. As part of that, I translated training materials for trainees from factories overseas, assisted in the holding of an international skills competition, went on a number of factory visits and even took a five-day welding course. I learned a great deal from the experience since, despite having lived as a student in Japan for a year,

Grupo fabuloso de A-level with an 80s Spanish song for Multicultural Evening 2010

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I hadn't encountered much of Japanese business culture and made a number of embarrassing mistakes in my first few days. It was also a new experience living in a company dormitory and commuting to a rural factory surrounded by rice paddy fields, which I enjoyed but am not in a hurry to repeat.

second and third languages and my work is still far from perfect, but it is very satisfying to be able to improve both languages through my job. At the moment, there are a number of paths I am looking into for my career. I am keen to stay in Japan until the Olympics in 2020 but after that would like to try a new challenge in a different country. 

Can you describe your current role? I have been working for 18 months in Fukuoka Prefecture in southwest Japan, as a CIR (Coordinator for International Relations) on the JET Programme, a programme run by the Japanese government to foster grass roots globalisation through English teaching and international exchange. With the Rugby World Cup 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games being held in Japan in only a few years, there are many initiatives taking place to facilitate the arrival of people from all over the world and to make the most of these once-in-a-lifetime events. While there are a few hundred CIRs from different countries working in local city halls

What would your advice to the leaving Y13 be? Don’t worry if you are unsure what to do with your life after JAGS. Taking it one step at a time can still lead to many exciting and unexpected opportunities. It is worth challenging yourself and doing something that scares you.

and regional governments in Japan, I was the first to be hired directly by a sports department solely for sports-related work, so I didn't have anyone to turn to for advice or to share ideas. It was very challenging in the beginning, as I felt my Japanese level was not high enough and my co-workers were not used to working with someone from outside Japan, but I feel much more at home now and part of the team. I usually work translating any necessary documents and materials related to the Rugby World Cup and Olympics. I also sometimes interpret for guests from abroad, such as rugby or Olympic officials who come to visit Fukuoka, both a nerve-wracking and exciting task. I have had the opportunity to travel through my work, the highlight being a trip to Rio during the Olympics.  The most exciting part of my job has been working with both Japanese and Spanish, as my department is starting to establish sports exchange links with countries in Latin America. I am responsible for all contact, translate all documents from Japanese to Spanish and have interpreted during meetings on trips overseas. It is much more challenging to translate into my

Pushkin Institute in Moscow ‘Courage: Great Russian word, fit for the songs of our children's children, pure on their tongues, and free.’ Anna Akhmatova Congratulations to Y12 Annie Sheriff, selected as a winner of the Pushkin prize, in a competition designed to extend crosscultural dialogue in 2016, the Russia-UK year of language and literature. Annie explains that the competition allowed her to plunge into reading texts which were new to her. “First they gave us an extract from the poem Eugene Onegin by Pushkin and I read more, which unleashed the creative flow for a piece of descriptive writing on the hero. Then I read a poem called To the Londoners by Anna Akhmatova, a highly esteemed poet in Russia, written during WW2 and answered comprehension questions. The third section was probably the hardest. I watched a very old black and white film in Russian and deduced from earlier questions that it must

be a version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which I hadn’t read or seen before. I love the Russian language and I want to be a fluent speaker one day. What’s also special is the history, some of which I had studied for GCSE, the literature and culture. This competition widens the remit of my learning. I found things in Eugene Onegin that are relevant to today. I really enjoyed doing it. Anna Akhmatova is such an amazing figure and we should know more about her. She will have seen so many changes in Russia, living before and after the revolution, the First and Second World Wars. It’s been good to build the context and the character of Russia through this independent study of literature.” As part of her award, Annie will be studying on a language course at the Pushkin Institute in Moscow this summer.

18 To Read & So... Congratulations to Beatrice Tavecchio Blake, Head of Italian at JAGS between 1989 and 2011, on the recent publication of her book on Dario Fo: A Theatre of Activation and Communication, 1950-1973. The thesis considers influences and originality in dramatic structures in Fo’s theatre from its beginning - Poer nano, Cocoricò, Chicchirichì - through his first political review, Il dito nell’occhio (1953), to the maturity of his political theatre in 1967-73. My interest in the theatre of Dario Fo started in Milan, when I was a student at the Bocconi University. It was the time of the student revolution which started in Paris in 1968. By 1974 Fo had occupied a disused liberty building La palazzina Liberty which sat at one side of a public park. There, sitting on the grass, I saw him performing Il mistero buffo, one man on a long rectangular platform in the open air in front of thousands of people of all ages. It was a thrilling experience for the content of the play as well as for the unusual massive response of the audience. My interest in theatre stems from there. When I came to England as a Lettrice d’Italiano at the Mayfield Comprehensive School in Putney, I started to write reviews on the British theatre for the Italian theatre magazine Sipario. The PhD research on the theatre of Dario Fo began after a few years at the University of Lancaster, where I was teaching, supervised by late Professor Lawrenson. It developed slowly mainly because of the birth of my children and from 1989, the full time post at JAGS. In 1997, thanks to JAGS governors and the then Headmistress, Mrs Gibbs, I was given a period of sabbatical leave to undertake research. When I retired in 2011, I decided the right time had come to revise, update and complete a research on the theatre of Dario Fo, a dramaturgist who in 1997 had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. I enrolled for a PhD at UCL in 2011 and became a Doctor of Philosophy in 2015. What I look for in a play is if it presents a valid idea and debates it consistently on stage. That is with the use of the visual, acoustic, sensory,

To Read & So... 19 spatial, three dimensional resources which single out the theatre from other mediums of communication. Therefore I like plays like War Horse, and all of the Complicité Company theatre. I am particularly interested in updates of plays by directors like Robert Icke, Marianne Elliott, Emma Rice and in contemporary plays because they embody and represent themes which are problematic in our society and relevant to our time, as in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time or in the forthcoming production of Kushner’s Angels in America.

Beatrice Tavecchio Blake is currently theatre critic for: Publication: Teatro di attivazione e comunicazione 1950-1973, Milano, Mimesis, 2016 ISBN 978-88-5753-804-4

Title text Text

Senior School Production: Tristan & Yseult Kneehigh Theatre Company are known for their stunning, inventive work. Giving an extra twist, the JAGS & DC joint production of the Kneehigh version of Tristan & Yseult was set beneath a Big Top. Lucy Edwards Y13 who played Yseult shares some of the journey: The process of creating such a highly physical and complicated piece of theatre was an exciting challenge as the cast worked cohesively to transfer the text onto stage in an innovative way. In order to create a circus setting that was believable, we took part in a workshop from a trained circus performer who taught us how to juggle, walk on stilts and perform various acrobatic movements which featured in the final production. The directors worked extensively with the cast, introducing us to the different Commedia dell’Arte characters in order that we could create circus types who told the story of the lovers. I enjoyed working and developing the character of Yseult into a more rounded person; one who is spontaneous and enjoys the thrill of following her passions, yet is firm and in control. At first this task was extremely

difficult! The story is one of heartbreak and revenge: it focuses on the passions of those who are loved and their relationships as well as the bitterness and desperation of those who are not loved. The use of props, costume and make-up helped form the piece immensely. The props were made in a way that was typical of a circus: balloon flowers, a trapeze and coloured scarves for juggling. This helped further the sense of exaggeration and comedy as well as create vivid stage pictures. Being dressed in harlequin print enforced the circus theme and so aided the physical performances which was furthered by the creation of freaky clown make-up. Both costume and make up helped us create the unsettling atmosphere: one which entices the audience yet keeps them wary of what is to come. Perhaps one of the most impressive features of the play was the music; entirely composed by Alice Hopkins Y12, it brought a new atmosphere to the piece – one of discord, disconcerting interactions as well as one with moments of calm and excitement! Lucy Edwards Y13

20 To Read & So...

To Read & So... 21

Senior School Production: Grease It seemed like everything fell into place for the cast in the last few days of the Grease rehearsals - just as everything falls into place for Sandy in the last few moments of her story. We weren’t so sure during our first rehearsal when we were learning Summer Nights. When you’re working with a song so familiar to everybody, it’s fair to say the pressure to get it ‘right’ hung heavily over the company. However, as the process moved along, we found that when we went with our instinct and came up with fresh, new ideas, a new confidence took hold. The first time we read the script we were shocked to find the play Grease is quite different to the film. Rather than be intimidated, we used this to achieve a greater freedom and began to explore our roles, developing them into ones which were new, independent of our pre-conceptions, without losing touch of the characters the public love. Playing Sandy was particularly challenging but equally as exciting. It is easy for her to coast through the storyline as the two-dimensional, innocent outsider, who becomes ‘cool’ just to get the boy she wants. I really didn’t want her to be so simple, and felt it was crucial to give Sandy depth from the very beginning, so that she did not only become interesting as her new alter ego at the play’s climax. It was the introduction of costume and props which really helped me find levels to Sandy. Before the transformation, I often felt isolated and ‘apart’ in Sandy’s dress and cardigan, designed to contrast with the Pink Ladies’ rock and roll trousers and jackets, but of course this was the point. Sandy’s later sartorial transformation – surpassing the Pink Ladies cool - really helped me to channel the confident side of Sandy. In all honesty, I felt a boost of confidence in myself and became aware that her journey of discovery was now mirroring my own. Grease is not only the word; it is the whole story. A story not a single member of the cast will ever forget. It was an experience of which I am enormously proud. Mancie Baker Y13

We also pay homage to the JAGS cast of 2001. Some of the original cast might be reading this! How brilliant to have achieved two such excellent and very different interpretations, one at JAGS and one at DC. Congratulations to both companies for two sizzling versions of the high school musical, 15 years apart. © Nobby Clarke

22 To Read & So...

#inspiringwoman British Paralympian Kadeena Cox MBE

To Read & So... 23 so I could stand here and show it can be done, even if you have set-backs.” This is an aspiration we can share: take whatever life throws at you and turn it to your advantage.

“Set-backs are a part of life. You have to keep moving forward.”

‘Pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again,’ as the song goes. If ever anyone had some dusting off to do, it’s Kadeena Cox. A stroke victim in 2014, Kadeena was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis weeks later. “Game over. My whole world turned upside down in a matter of minutes.” Yet her performance was so impressive in Rio she was the chosen GB flag bearer at the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games. Kadeena is the first British paralympian to win Golds in multiple sports since 1988. She came home from Rio with four medals: Golds, Silver and Bronze in Paralympic Athletics and Gold in Paracycling. Now how does a 23 year-old athlete turn her life around like that?

A couple of hours with Kadeena showed the GCSE PE pupils something of what it takes to become elite. Perfectly in tune with their course, Kadeena chatted about nutrition, somatotyping, health and fitness, types of training, periodisation, international competition and media in sport. (Actually, she was just as happy to take part in a mannequin challenge and to reveal secrets about her eyeliner!) “Kadeena led us in a spin session. She starts her races in a higher gear than most of her competitors, meaning she needs to generate a lot of power to get herself away from the line. As a result, her training mostly consists of high intensity drills. It was a lot harder than we expected! Now we realise the strength it takes to be a Paralympic athlete.” Julianna & Millie Y10

We heard the answer at JAGS. It was always going to be a special Monday, with Kadeena Cox joining us, but the girls and staff were totally blown away by her story. In assembly Kadeena explained the impact of her immobility on a talented athlete. Can you imagine not being able to do anything for yourself, your mum having to bath you, aged 23? Determination, coupled with a stubborn refusal to give up on her dreams, spurred Kadeena on. A day later from her hospital bed she was asking how soon she could get back to training. “I don’t know how much more time as an athlete I have. By Tokyo 2020 I might not even be in a position to take part in one event,” said Kadeena. “I wanted to succeed in Rio so badly

For the Prep and Pre-Prep, seeing Kadeena in her GB hoodie and holding her medals was

thrilling. Y6 Maya said, “I found it fascinating that the medals, if you shake them, make a different sound, so that blind athletes know which medal they are receiving.” Kadeena’s words will have resonance in years to come. Individual athletes of our own made strong connections in conversation with Kadeena. Y13 Sophie, an international champion racewalker, confided that “Hearing about Kadeena’s transition from an able-bodied athlete to a Paralympian and seeing how all her hard work and commitment rewarded her with such phenomenal achievements has made me even more motivated to reach this high level in my own sports, and hopefully win an Olympic medal one day too.” Y13 cyclist Georgie voiced a response shared by many: “What stood out to me was her infectious, positive attitude about working hard and sacrifice and this is what I took away from meeting her. I was proud to hear such an outstanding woman talk and encourage a room full of girls who are still trying to figure out who they are. I could not help but think what an amazing role model we can look up to.” Alison Venn

Shaping the Future

Events for Legators and Alumnae ❈ JAGS Alumnae Medical Society Inaugural Dinner

James Allen’s Girls’ School Banker’s Standing Order Form

Lunch for Legators and Donors Monday 26 June 2017 David Quarmby Reading Room, JAGS Invitations will be posted

Guest Speaker Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones 7pm Friday 17 March 2017 Please contact to check availability of places

Anita Brookner Art History Memorial Lecture

Orchestral and Choral Concert

Guest Speaker Gabriele Finaldi 5pm Thursday 29 June 2017 at Dulwich Picture Gallery All welcome | Booking details to follow

St John’s Smith Square 6pm Sunday 30 April 2017 All welcome Box Office: t: 020 7222 1061 or book online:

Founder’s Day

Saturday 6 May 2017 at JAGS Invitations will be posted

Afternoon tea party on JAGS playing fields Saturday 1 July 2017 All welcome Programme of events will be posted on the alumnae website

Alumnae Reunion Lunch

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To Read & So Feb 2017  

Magazine for alumnae of James Allen's Girls' School - February 2017.

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