Tree Planting 2020

Posted: 18th June 2020

Every year at Burgess Hill Girls we hold a Tree Planting Ceremony to mark the moment our School Officers hand over responsibility to the newly appointed school officer team. As you can imagine, the event was very different to how we usually mark this occasion, but despite the social distancing, we still wanted to say farewell to the retiring Head Girl and her School Officer Team and celebrate the appointing of the Head Girl and School Officers for 2020-2021 and from this academic year.

It was lovely to see the students’ happy faces representing the warm community we hold here at Burgess Hill Girls.

Retiring Head Girl Olivia Gunn made a touching goodbye speech, referencing the bizarre circumstances we find ourselves in, with her two retiring Deputy Head Girls, Mia Arditi and Sofia Comper-Cavanna, by her side (2 metres distance, of course). Olivia, with the help of her deputies, then planted her chosen tree to represent her time at Burgess Hill Girls.


Watch the ceremony below.


Congratulations to the new Head Girl, Luella McCarthy and her deputies Birdie Griffiths and Elana Cook. Luella followed Olivia with a speech of her own, highlighting the success of the previous School Officer team, and sharing her hopes for the coming year.


Head of Sixth Mr Bill O’Brien-Blake said: “Even at a distance, it was wonderful to celebrate the achievements of the Upper Sixth, and mark the moment the mantle of leadership passes to a new year group.”

The speeches from Olivia and Luella are below.


Olivia Gunn, Retiring Head Girl 2019-2020:

Hello Everyone,

It is such a shame that we couldn’t be here together today for the tree planting, as it is a great way to mark the transition of the old school officers to the new ones. I hope everyone is keeping well and enjoying the sunshine.

It has been a privilege and an honour to be Head Girl over the past year. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to work closely with the school officer team and the teaching staff.

The school officer team has been outstanding throughout the year and it has been a pleasure to work alongside such talented individuals and to get to know each of them better.

For me, when choosing a tree and a location for the event I wanted to make sure it had strong connotations of what I felt reflected my time here over the past 14 years. Therefore, I wanted to plant the tree in an area of the school in which I had extremely fond memories. I chose the volleyball field as it is where I have enjoyed a lot my time in the summer over the years and I owe a lot to the PE department for being an incredible support and wonderful role models to me throughout my time at school. The teaching staff and Head of Sixth Form at Burgess Hill have been inspirational and I cannot imagine having reached my potential anywhere else, without their unfaltering guidance and individual support.

I chose a bay tree, as it is a symbol of courage and strength, which I feel is particularly pertinent. I feel it reflects onto the ethos of being at the school and I believe the school has embedded within me the strength, courage and a strong work ethic to prepare me for university and the future.

The school has tirelessly provided me with encouragement and the belief that I can achieve outside of my comfort zone, motivating me to pursue my ambitions alongside my academics and encouraging me to seek out challenges and push my limits. I will always look back on my time here as being such a happy and exciting experience. 

Additionally, I would like to congratulate Luella and her new school officer team on their appointments, I know that you will all do an amazing job and make the school proud. I would also like to wish good luck to all the year 11’s and year 13’s for their results this coming August.

To conclude, I would like to leave you all with a quote that has resonated deeply with me. Robert Kiyosaki once said Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.” Everyone is afraid of stepping outside their comfort zone but to be able to succeed, one has to take these risks and not be afraid to make mistakes along the way. Burgess Hill is a place that celebrates taking risks and learning from your mistakes, so be tenacious and have courage with everything you do.

I hope everyone has a wonderful summer, thank you.


Luella McCarthy, Head Girl 2020-2021:

Thank you, Liv.

I would like to start by thanking the school for giving me the opportunity to rise to the role of Head Girl. It is such an honour and I hope to do you all proud. 

Secondly, a huge thank you to the preceding school officers. You have been such a benefit to the school, leaving us with big shoes to fill and a strong foundation from which to build. I truly feel that watching you throughout the past school year and seeing all the work you have put in has taught me about what the role of a school officer entails, and how rewarding it can be. I wish you all the best as you move forward in the world, and I know that the mark you have left on this school will gladly remain. 

With a lot of uncertainty in the air surrounding the current pandemic, it has been such a benefit to see the community at Burgess Hill remain strong and supportive, and I have been lucky to be able to continue being part of the school environment from my home. It is more important than ever that we continue to help each other in any way possible, and I have no doubt in my mind that this year’s school officers will endeavour to do so.

On that note, I would like to thank my fellow school officer’s for already rising to the occasion, and I cannot wait to work more with each and every one of you. You are such a wonderful group of girls and I look forward to the year ahead.

Thank you again to Liv, Sofia and Mia, and all the other school officers. You have been outstanding role models, and we wish you all the best for what I know will be exciting times ahead.