THE Bishop of Durham has led a dedication and renaming ceremony marking the start of a new era for a Gateshead school.
The Right Reverend Paul Butler told students at Grace College, in Low Fell, that they could be “people who changed the world” and urged them to have “high ambitions”.
He said the entry of the former Joseph Swan Academy into the Emmanuel Schools Foundation (ESF) family of schools was “a whole new start that builds on all the history that’s gone before, and new starts are really significant and important”.
Passing on greetings from Lord Michael Bates, who attended the school in the 1970s and is a former director of ESF, he said: “Keep your vision high about who and what you can be in this world.
“The most important thing is the kind of person you are, more than what you achieve. Be loving, kind, caring, forgiving; be tenacious, courageous and believe that you can be all that God made you and called you to be.”
The college, in Low Fell, also welcomed the Deputy Mayor of Gateshead, Councillor Dot Burnett, who performed the official opening ceremony of the new Joseph Swan Science Centre.
She revealed her own children also attended the school when it was known as Breckenbeds Junior High School.
“I am very proud of them and I’m sure your parents will be proud of you. Study hard and be successful in everything you do,” she told the assembled students, from new Year 7s to sixth formers.
Grace College Principal Mark Hall said the ceremony marked an auspicious and significant moment in the history of the school as a member of the ESF multi academy trust.
“I really believe it will enable each one of us to be excellent in all we do. As a family of schools we hold onto our core values and beliefs. Our sister schools will encourage us to hold on to everything that is honourable as we strive for excellence.
“As we move forward as Grace College, today is a chance to look forward and also to look back at the journey we have taken in the years as Joseph Swan Academy and even further back to Breckenbeds.”
The different eras of the school will be recognised in a display of photographs and memorabilia, in addition to the honouring of one of Gateshead’s most famous sons in retaining the name of Joseph Swan in the Science Centre.
Executive Principal Matt Waterfield said the scientist had shown creativity, ambition, innovation and determination in his work that led to the invention of the electric lightbulb.
“He achieved greatness for the benefit of others with qualities that we desire all the students within ESF to have, and to use,” he added.
Referring to high achieving science students from Grace College’s sister school, Emmanuel College, in Gateshead, he added: “My sincere hope is that there will be many in this room who will follow in their footsteps.”
The guests were entertained by a string quintet from Emmanuel College and the Grace College brass band, and head boy James Johnston and deputy head girl Faith Ramsay performed readings.