Visiting Our Sister School: Kents Hill travels to England
At Kents Hill School (Maine) we have a longstanding sister school relationship with Kent College Pembury in Pembury, near Tunbridge Wells, in Kent, England.
KCP is an all-girls, boarding and day school, elementary through seniors. Each year, KCP sends 2-3 girls to Kents Hill in the winter trimester, and we send 2-3 girls over to KCP in the spring.
In addition, the drama programs enjoy an exchange, with KCP bringing a drama production over in the fall every four or so years, and KHS sending their spring musical across the pond in late May. We have also sent our field hockey team over twice in the last five years to play hockey with KCP and other area schools.
This fall, I travelled with my husband, Varsity FH Coach Randy Richardson and 12 members of the V & JV field hockey team over to KCP during the Thanksgiving holiday to play – 11 girls and 1 boy (yes, Kents Hill has one boy on its varsity team.) We planned the trip for months. The team raised over $1,000 selling KHS calendars that they designed, sponsoring a dress down day, and selling snacks and hot cider at fall athletic events.
We spent spent the first three days in London – seeing such sites as Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, and the London Dungeon, with an evening spent seeing the musical Billy Elliot.
More important, however, were the building and rekindling of relationships with KCP students and faculty. It was absolutely wonderful seeing the school again, and at this point so many of the students know each other that it was a real KCP-KHS reunion.
Three of our team had experience at KCP as part of the drama and/or student exchange. Two KCP girls who had been with us in Maine are now Head Girl and Deputy Head Girl at KCP and we were reunited with our exchange students from last winter. Two more of our KHS field hockey players will be spending the spring term at KCP.
The team spent the rest of the week at KCP – practicing field hockey every day, going to classes and going home with KCP girls each night. Our KHS team played three games – KCP’s First XI – losing 3-0, KCP’s Second XI – tying 1-1 and another school, Priorsfield – where they won 4-2. In a longstanding KHS tradition, our team selected two players from each opposing team and awarded them KHS Sportsmanship Pins.
The team had a truly memorable ten days. They loved London, were awed by Westminster Abbey, and thoroughly enjoyed Billy Elliot- asking lots of questions about Margaret Thatcher and the miners’ strikes of the time. We celebrated Thanksgiving in a variety of ways with each host family. Our players shared American Thanksgiving traditions with KCP’s boarding population. Our team tried all kinds of new things with their host families and played some great field hockey. Their last game was truly a high point – for the five seniors it was the last time they would play together. Two of this group are our daughter and son.
Asked for their opinions on the plane back home, one player summed it all up: “My favorite memories? Winning the Priorsfield game; having fish and chips, crumpets and muffins; and walking around London.” And that’s what these experiences, these trips, these exchanges are all about.
About Anne Richardson:
Anne Richardson joined Kents Hill School in July of 1998, and currently serves as the Director of College Counseling and the Director of the International and ESL Programs. In addition to working as the Director of College Counseling, she was also the Academic Dean for 6 years and the Director of Communications for 5 years. Anne is also active in the New England Association of College Admissions Counseling (NEACAC), serving on the faculty and as chair (2006) of the Summer Institute from 2002-6, as Vice-President in 2007-8, and is currently serving as President-Elect of the association. Anne teaches ESL and serves as the faculty advisor to Kents Hill’s Amnesty International program.
Prior to 1998 she was Dean of Middle School Students at Hamden Hall Country Day School in Hamden, Ct. In addition to teaching English there, she also served as Director of Community Service and Director of the Summer School. Ms. Richardson earned her A.B. in English from Oberlin College and her M.A. in Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University.
Photo credits: Kents Hill School