Students and teachers cheered in celebration this week as their village school began preparations to mark 400 years of education.
This month marks Steyning Grammar School’s landmark anniversary that will see a series of exciting events in 2014.
Headteacher Nick Wergan, who took up his new position in September, said: “I don’t think there will be many comprehensive schools that can claim a 400 year pedigree.
“We like to think we have a heritage of excellence but very much a forward looking school.”
Excitement travelled through the school community after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, sent an endorsement of support.
The Most Reverend Welby said: “I send my best wishes and prayers to you all as you celebrate the milestone of the school’s 400th anniversary.”
The celebrations were launched in the parish church of St Andrew and St Cuthman at a candlelit service. The readings and performances by students were representative of each century since 1614.
Head boy of Boarding Tonye Dokubo, 16, said: “I think it’s a massive privilege. Not many people can say they’re a part of something like that.
“We have a whole range of activities planned and we’ve got some of the old boys coming back. It’s a community event, not just a school event.”
The school will be hosting two further church serviceslater this year.
On May 25 the theme is ‘creation’ and will see the dedication of a handmade quilt which all sections of the Steyning community have contributed, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The second service, on July 19, is for the Old Grammarians and will be attended by Bishop Warner.
Mr Wergan said: “I am thrilled about the acknowledgement from Lambeth Palace of the worthiness of this milestone and should like to express the school’s extreme gratitude to the organisers of the Steyning Festival who have chosen to base their theme for the two week Arts Festival, to be held from May 24 to June 8 working closely with Steyning Grammar School, Steyning Museum and Wilton Park.”
The school will be holding its ‘Reunion Day’ at the Church Street site to past students and the public on May 24.
Archive material on the school’s 400 year history will be displayed and guided tours of the historic Church Street site will be given.
The Church Street school grounds will be open for those wishing to picnic and enjoy some of the Steyning Festival entertainment taking place within the grounds.
For further details on all celebrations in 2014 visit the school website: www.sgs.uk.net and the Steyning Festival website: www.steyningfestival.co.uk.