Civic Reception to mark HSOG’s 900th Anniversary 

A pupil from the High School playing the clarsach (Celtic harp) at the civic reception at Glasgow City Chambers for The High School of Glasgow's 900th anniversary.

On Thursday 18th April, around 200 current and former pupils and parents, staff and friends of The High School of Glasgow gathered at the City Chambers to attend a civic reception hosted by the Lord Provost Jacqueline McLaren and Glasgow City Council to celebrate the School’s 900th anniversary. 

Founded around 1124, the High School is Scotland’s oldest school, starting out as a ‘Sang School’ or choir school for boys at Glasgow Cathedral. Civic receptions are held by Glasgow City Council for a number of reasons, including marking city-wide organisations of either 50 years or centenaries thereafter of their founding. 

Guests heard from the Lord Provost who congratulated the School on its momentous anniversary. In his reply, Rector John O’Neill reflected on the School’s long history and its place within the City of Glasgow. John also made mention of two individuals: Norrie Thomson and Lord Macfarlane, who were key in sustaining and building the modern, co-educational school the High School is today. And with members of Lord Macfarlane’s family present, it was a fitting moment to remember the significant role he played within the story of Glasgow, with the City of Glasgow making him a Freeman of the City in 2007 in the very same room the civic reception was held. 

Music was woven throughout the evening, with guests treated to hauntingly beautiful music by Maya M (S4) on the clarsach, a Celtic harp, as they ascended the ornate marble staircase of the City Chambers. Just a few weeks earlier, at the end of the Spring Term, Maya was crowned the School’s Young Instrumentalist of the Year. 

Bringing to life the School’s choir school roots, the Chamber Choir performed: ‘Praise the Lord, Oh My Soul’ by Ken Burton, ‘Love Divine’ by Amy Summers, ‘Step We Gaily, On We Go’ arranged by Owain Park, ‘Praise His Holy Name’ by Keith Hampton, finishing with the ‘Selkirk Grace’ by Ronald Dellow. They were expertly led by Mr Frikki Walker, conductor of the Chamber Choir, who is due to retire at the end of the session.  

John O’Neill, Rector, said: “On behalf of The High School of Glasgow and all who are connected to the School, I wish to extend a sincere and grateful thanks to the Lord Provost and all at the City Chambers and the City Council for the honour and generosity of hosting a Civic Reception on behalf of the School, in recognition of our 900th anniversary.” 

To mark its significant anniversary, the School is running a year-long programme of events which began in January with a dinner at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum attended by 450 guests. Other plans this year include: planting 900 trees at Cathkin Braes (which pupils far surpassed, instead planting 3600 trees), a Gala Musical Concert at the Royal Concert Hall in June and a 900km sponsored cycle across the UK in September. There will also be a special 900 Commemorative and Thanksgiving Service in September at Glasgow Cathedral. A full list of the events taking place can be found on the 900 page.

In recognition of its significant anniversary, the School has launched a fundraising appeal, the 900 Campaign, to increase its Bursary Fund, to ensure its campuses are environmentally friendly places of learning and to further develop START, a design thinking and entrepreneurship programme, in partnership with pupils across Scotland. 

In 2023, 60 Senior School pupils received full or partial means-tested bursaries, allowing them to attend the High School irrespective of their families’ financial circumstances. Bursaries are awarded through the School’s separate charitable Educational Trust*. The fundraising appeal is aimed at raising money to increase bursaries in future years, ensuring inclusivity and diversity and enhancing the learning experience for more youngsters, leaving a lasting legacy from the 900th anniversary. 

*The High School’s Bursary Fund is established through The High School of Glasgow Educational Trust (registered Scottish Charity No. SC004394). 

Images taken on the evening can be found by scrolling through the gallery below:

900 Civic Reception