For an independent school Abingdon is not a place with a great deal of “public school” jargon. However, one piece, unique to Abingdon, is its use of the term “The Other Half” to denote the extra-curricular side of school life. It encapsulates the notion that what a boy does in the classroom is only half of the reason he’s at the school and only half of what is going to be important to him as he matures.
Abingdon’s “Other Half” is impressive by any standards with its range of over 100 activities. Sport no doubt is of huge importance to many boys but there is also a vast range of pursuits for them to get stuck into whilst off of the sports field. For some, it is the excitement and comradeship of the CCF and DoE, for others it’s the cerebral challenges of Chess and Boardgaming. One really distinctive feature of life at Abingdon is that a boy does not have to dedicate himself to one thing: he can have a variety of identities.
In terms of the creative arts, opportunities outside of the classroom are legion. For the budding thespian, the past five years have seen an average of 8 productions per year - and you don’t have to be doing Drama at GCSE or Theatre Studies at A Level to participate. Almost all these productions are in collaboration with our sister school St Helen’s and the range on offer caters for those just beginning to take their first acting steps right up to those keen to take centre stage.
Or perhaps cinema is your thing? Formed in 2003, the Abingdon Film Unit has produced over 100 short films, a number of which have won awards and been screened at the NFT and at various festivals, in the UK and abroad. Boys benefit from tuition from industry professionals and the film presentation evening in the summer is a highlight not to be missed. Or maybe dance? Following a wildly successful production of “West Side Story” the Abingdon Dance Project was formed and boys and girls at both schools enjoy working with choreographers and other visiting dance practitioners: a great way to develop new skills, friendships and fitness.
If performance is not quite for you, the creative urges of nascent writers and journalists are well served by the writing opportunities available under the English department’s aegis. If it’s newspaper writing you’re after, then there’s The Blazer in Lower School moving onto The Martlet for Middle School and upwards. If you’re wanting something a little more edgy and magazine-like, then Words & That is where you’ll find yourself (there’s often a great parody of the Head’s Blog in there). For the real highbrow journos, there’s the official school magazine, of course, The Abingdonian, with its brief to act as a chronicle of the year.
There’s not room enough to cover the amazing range of musical and choral ensembles the boys participate in, or the stunning objects d’art crafted by boys caught by the Art or DT bug. When Abingdon changed its timetable three years ago, more time was put into the curriculum for the creative arts (Music, Drama, DT and Art) and it’s a delight to see them prosper with a vibrant, vivid life at the school. Abingdon is often associated with the strength of its sport, but it would be true to say that for many, many Abingdonians, their sport is only the ‘other half’ of their “Other Half”.