Famous alumni unveiled

29th June 2007 at 01:00
FOR WOMEN of various ages, poring over the decades-old registers at the oral history exhibition of Edinburgh's James Gillespie's High in June, it is the memories they appreciate - old report cards, past uniforms, listening to alumni stories. But for the pupils who have been leading the pound;50,000 project and helped make the exhibition happen, it is the skills learnt that matter.

"There were 10 to 15 of us who were part of the Oral History Committee,"

explains Kimberley Park, who has just completed her final year but returned to help out at the exhibition. "It was really good for us. We did a workshop on interview techniques and then began interviewing people. It really helped with my confidence and my ability to talk to people."

The project, which began last September, following a Heritage Lottery Fund award, will run for a further 18 months. During that time, Flora Johnston, an oral historian, will guide pupils on how to gather past pupils'


Some memories touch on the school's most famous ex-pupil, Muriel Spark, whose The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was based on a real teacher at the school, Miss Kay. But the exhibition also reveals other surprising past pupils, such as actor Alastair Sim.

It is hoped that students will continue to contribute memories as they leave, creating a comprehensive school oral history.

"There is a really strong sense of school at Gillespie's because it has such a long history dating back to 1803. This project has really brought that out for current pupils," says headteacher Alex Wallace. "It has been great for them to see the project develop."

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