What A Great School Reunion!
A School Reunion is always a fantastic event and this one was no different. Fun, memories, laughter and a few tears of joy when people who had not seen each other for years and even decades came together!
This impressive Grade II Victorian building has always been at the heart of its community. It was built in 1898, opening as the Gipton Board School — and it soon became the place to educate the children of workers at the world famous Montague Burton Suit Company just around the corner. Over the years, the school went through several names and played host to primary and eventually secondary children as it closed in the mid 1990’s while carrying the name: Harehills Middle School.
While it is an impressive structure, its importance in the community is derived from everyone’s experience inside its four walls. People make places come to life.
It was this truth, ‘people make the place’, that led a small team of social entrepreneurs hailing from England, Ireland, and the United States to embark on a mission to refurbish and reopen the former Harehills Middle School in 2007/8. It is fitting that entrepreneurs from abroad played a key role in the redevelopment, given the history of Harehills as the landing place for immigrants in Leeds for 150 years.
Shine, established 2007.
With a new name (Shine) and purpose (meeting, office, cafe, and catering) the building is no longer a traditional school, but the team operating Shine today borrow heavily from its history. This includes introducing local primary school children to the arts through free, amazing drama productions by our long time tenant and world renowned production company – Tutti Frutti. And we give these same children the chance to grow gardens of food — learning valuable life skills. Shine, positively impacts the lives of dozens more children through our ex-offender programme. Without the aid of government funding, Shine employs women ex-offenders who are often mothers. Our efforts work to break the cycle of recidivism and restore families.
Yes, we’re proud of how the building looks, but we love our purpose even more. We work every day to raise aspirations and create opportunities for local children, budding entrepreneurs, and the community through our integrated impact business.
Sharon Watson – Artistic Director Phoenix Dance Theatre – “I have so many memories that feel like they only happened yesterday. The Tuck shop, the school discos, being a prefect, The Great Trophy events for sport. The memories go on and on. But of course my love and true passion for Harehills sits within the dance activity. I was fortunate to experience this from the moment I entered the school. The school was transformed from its daily class room activities to a theatrical experience for all the pupils, staff, parents, friends and all that came to see the wonderful shows offered out to one and all. It was more than a school experience. It captured community values that have stayed with me today. The many hours spent in the gym practising, debating and listening to the exciting stories we as ‘dancers’ were tasked with realising. Very proud to have been a pupil of the school.” SW