Buxton Community School’s first alumni event was top class

Former pupils from Buxton Community School who attended the Alumni Day organised by physics teacher Greg Smith.
Former pupils from Buxton Community School who attended the Alumni Day organised by physics teacher Greg Smith.

Former students returned to their old stomping ground to tell current pupils about the jobs available to them when they leave school.

The sports hall at Buxton Community School was packed out as 40 ex-pupils told every student in the school about the career path they had chosen and why.

Natalie Wild, left, from Lomas Distribution, chats with year 11 pupils.

Natalie Wild, left, from Lomas Distribution, chats with year 11 pupils.

Greg Smith, a physics teacher at the school, also co-ordinates PSHE and is a former pupil - the alumni event idea came from him.

He said: “To have people who sat in the same seats as our current pupils and have gone on to great things, it acts as inspiration to them, to show what jobs are available and what they can go on to become when they leave.

“I never had anything like this when I was student and through organising it I have been surprised at just how many career options there are out there that I never knew about.”

The initial idea came about in April last year but the planning only started properly in November with Greg first calling on those ex-students in his year.

Lawyer, Nick Rouke, chats with pupils during his visit back to his old school.

Lawyer, Nick Rouke, chats with pupils during his visit back to his old school.

Richard Leigh, 26, left the school in 2007 after staying on at sixth form, and is now a trained accountant.

He said: “I always knew I wanted to do something involving maths, but for those kids out there who don’t know what they want to be we are all here to tell them what our job is really like.”

There was plenty of diversity for the pupils to explore, from midwives to electrical engineers to people working with the county council and lawyers.

Student Tim Knowles, 16, said: “I don’t know what to do when I leave school so I think it’s good I can chat to people about their jobs.”

Freelance designer, Tim Peck, shows off some of his work done for sports giants Puma and Storelli.

Freelance designer, Tim Peck, shows off some of his work done for sports giants Puma and Storelli.

Throughout the day every year group came and spoke to the alumni.

Headteacher Craig Yates said: “Greg should be very proud of himself as this is a very successful day and we want our students to leave with aspirations and inspirations.

“I am astonished by the generosity of people who have given up their days off or booked holiday time to inspire the next generation.”

Some students have a clear focus and ten-year plan, such as Scott Godwin, 15, who wants to work on a farm and is playing on going to Reaseheath College in Nantwich when he leaves school.

Mark Wagstaffe and Sam Lomas, from Tarmac, on their stand at the Buxton Community School Alumni Day.

Mark Wagstaffe and Sam Lomas, from Tarmac, on their stand at the Buxton Community School Alumni Day.

However, Hattie Beal, 16, knows she wants to do something business-related, but is not sure what avenue to pursue and found the event very informative.

Former student Chelsea McCarthan never thought she would become a role model to current pupils.

The 26-year-old said: “I was a bit of tearaway when I was at school and had no idea on how to make something of myself.

“I took time out and tried a few jobs before going back to college at 20.”

Now she is a qualified beautician who loves her job and could not imagine being anything else.

She added: “It’s okay if you don’t know what you want to be straight away - just always make the best decisions for yourself at the time.”

Buxton Community School Alumni Day.

Buxton Community School Alumni Day.

One of the schools most recent graduates, William Lomas, 19, is training to be an officer of the watch with the Merchant Navy.

He said: “Most people in here have never heard of the Merchant Navy, so this is a great chance to widen horizons and introduce them to jobs they may never come across.”

A lawyer who left school a decade ago said it was strange being back. Jessica Savage, 30, said: “I loved school and was involved in lots of sporting clubs and the orchestra.

“I keep telling the children how much I enjoyed my time here and that even if it doesn’t seem like it now you will look back fondly on the place where you grew up.”

Greg was pleased with the day’s events and added: “Even if people talk to someone and go ‘that’s not the job for me’, at least they are gaining focus.

“Everyone needs a job they enjoy and I just hope some of these ex-students have given the pupils a spark that they want to follow up on.”

Beauty therapist, Chelsea McCartan, seated, passes on her experience to interested pupils at the Alumni Day.

Beauty therapist, Chelsea McCartan, seated, passes on her experience to interested pupils at the Alumni Day.

Natalie Kirk, from Optical Distortion, took along some of her pieces which she creates for the film and theatre industry as a freelance face and body artist.

Natalie Kirk, from Optical Distortion, took along some of her pieces which she creates for the film and theatre industry as a freelance face and body artist.

Victoria Coultas, seated, from Wall Flower Dance, chats with year 11 pupils Kaitlin Harrison-Moore and Katie Knowles during Alumni Day.

Victoria Coultas, seated, from Wall Flower Dance, chats with year 11 pupils Kaitlin Harrison-Moore and Katie Knowles during Alumni Day.