☰ Norfolk House Alumni Blog - Leela Marie Hidier

Norfolk House Alumni Blog - Leela Marie Hidier

Posted on: June 22nd 2017



By Leela Marie Hidier (aka Violet Beauregard)

On September 4th 2016 at precisely 8:15 am, I stepped outside my door at 38 Muswell Avenue, ready to turn left as I had done for seven years of my life, and walk up the sidewalk to number 10. But now I had to turn right, and then right again onto Alexandra Park Road.

It felt strange walking away and not towards…

I headed down Alexandra Park Road with a blazer too big for me…like when I started Reception at Norfolk House in 2009 (though this time the rucksack wasn’t bigger than me!). I strolled past St Andrews Church where I had had many Norfolk House yoga lessons, indoor cricket sessions, and harvest festivals (“oats and beans and barley grow...”). I then passed Zebra Café to my right, where I first visited as a five-year-old with my friends from primary, and painted dinosaurs. After crossing three streets, I entered Durnsford Park …where I had learned tennis and rounders with Norfolk House during the summer terms.

But I wasn't here for that today.

I was here for my first day of secondary school.

Walking through the gates into APS was scary…but exciting, too.

And I didn’t walk in with a few other students, as I had for so many years in primary school… but with hundreds. At first, I wanted to turn back. But then I realised I wasn’t the only one nervous about this big moment. And I remembered how Norfolk House had made my star shine (or, shown me it was shining all along), and taught me confidence and resilience. For example, when I sprained my right arm and had to wear a sling in Year 4, Mrs Bolton told me: Well, you’re going to have to learn to write with your left hand. And I did (and am still kind of ambidextrous!). From being a shy little four-year-old girl when I started, I grew into an eleven-year-old who was brave enough to run for (and make) Student Council, and audition for (and get!) the role of Violet Beauregard in the Year 6 production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. My friendships, my teachers, my family all had nurtured me. And I had learned to nurture myself as well.

And that is why I didn’t turn around and head back out the gates.

I wasn't turning away from something, I realized. But rather, I was heading towards a bright and exciting future.

(And, luckily, I still get to see Norfolk House as it’s right up the road from me…and my sister Zoe Rani is in Y2!)


My favourite subjects so far are Drama, DT, Science and Mandarin.


I love Drama because it’s a class where you can be anything and anyone (heroes, villains, etc.). You can also act out different feelings such as fear, rage, anger, sadness, happiness, depression, contentment, confusion, joy, anticipation. You can turn sadness into happiness, fear into courage. So far, this year we have covered improvisation acting and theatre scripts. Improvisation is a terrific way to express yourself and teach you to think on your feet. In this topic we did a lot of activities where we had to pretend we were everyday objects. We had to think about how the object would feel and act. For example, we had to be rocking chairs and have other students sit on us, and rock! And I love reading scripts. You have to think a lot about the 5 Ws (What, Where, When, Why and Who) to help you inhabit the character, and we were put in pairs to act them out.

I also started going to Drama Club. And I just got some great news: I have been selected for my ‘exemplary’ behaviour for BAFTA Kids Big Schools Day where I will be doing all-day workshops on television and film! As I want to be a photographer and filmmaker one day, this is very exciting for me.

I have no doubt playing Violet Beauregard in the Y6 production at Norfolk House launched me in this direction!


If you look around and pay attention, you will notice that a lot of the things you see are the products of technology. In fact, recently at APS one of the structural engineers who worked on the Shard came to talk to us (Roma Aggrawal) and she explained how engineering is part of our everyday life. She said she still thinks it is a miracle you can turn on the tap in this country and have clean water to drink (which it is, come to think of it!). This year so far, we have studied Electronics, Structures and Food Tech. In Electronics, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that I had made a lamp (building the circuit, designing the lamp itself, and putting it all together)! And even better: when I pressed the switch, it turned on! In Structures, we built different types of bridges in groups of three or four. We then held a competition to find out which was the strongest bridge. It was a fascinating exercise that also allowed us to build friendships and teamwork skills. (By the way, Roma Aggrawal was part of an engineering team of seven, and was working with hundreds of builders, architects, and technicians throughout the process.)

In Food Tech, when I heard we were going to be working in a kitchen, I was Mary Berry happy (ha!)! We baked pizzas and cookies. I love this topic because you have so much independence and are in charge of how you manage your time. Also, you are with your friends (and we continue to cook and bake outside of school together!). It’s like magic seeing what happens when you put all the different ingredients together and end up with something different. Presto! (Or should I say pesto?)

In SCIENCE, using chemicals, acids, heat and science equipment was an amazing new thing for me. This year we covered space, energy, particles, acids…and even went through a bit of dissection (that was not my favourite lesson, and I don't think it was the chicken’s either!). During this term, the Science Department organized a Science Week where all the lessons from Arts to Mandarin were centred around science and after-school clubs allowed us to learn a range of activities, including ice-cream-making.


你好 ! (Hello!)

This year I have been learning Mandarin (and just got 100% on my speaking exam!). I love learning Mandarin because it’s the first completely foreign language I have learnt (Spanish, which I’m also learning, has some similarities to French, and I am half-French). Our teacher believes imagination and curiosity are the key to not only learning, but to LIFE. He always finds memorable and fun ways to learn by letting us imagine and create what the Mandarin characters remind us of visually.



Dear Year 6,

Congratulations on all your hard work, and on now knowing where you’ll be going to school in September.

I know as the day comes closer you might be a little bit nervous, too, which is completely normal. Remember, you will not be the only one feeling this way on your first day of secondary school. Your future friends may be too.

On the topic of friends, I know it can be hard to move on from your primary school friends… but try to remember: you are not losing them, but only gaining new ones.

I never imagined making new friends at secondary school. But I did. It started with one friendly girl, Layla, who walked through the gates with me on the third day of school. And now, for almost all of Year 7, Layla, Orly, Mackenzie, and Elina and I have been a group of five fast (and funny and supportive) friends, still meeting great new people all the time.

And, importantly, I have not lost contact with my Norfolk House friends. (I see some every week, and others at least every month!)

A piece of advice: When you start a new school, just remember sometimes friendships aren’t going to form so quickly unless you do something about it. So be bold and step forward. Say hello to someone new. Sit next to them at lunch. Ask them how they are doing, how they like the class you just had. Before you know it, you will find your kindred spirits.

The same goes for subjects. You may discover whole new areas you are passionate about in your new school. And you can continue to develop the ones you already knew about.

So, think of secondary school as a ‘Once Upon a Time’ instead of a ‘The End’. (Though I still know you will ‘live happily ever after’!)

Before I end this message, I would like to thank Norfolk House School for having helped make me confident enough to achieve this smooth transition to secondary school.

And for having been not only a house…


…but a home.

Good luck!


Leela Marie Hidier

Always a member of the Norfolk House family


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