ACADEMY staff and pupils gathered to remember their inspirational former head.
Paula Williams, who was principal of Whitburn Academy, died on January 3 last year, after contracting pneumonia during the 2010/11 Christmas holidays.
Her death came just days before the top-performing former comprehensive school opened as an academy, a status she had worked tirelessly to achieve.
This week, Whitburn’s 967 pupils gathered for a special assembly to remember Miss Williams, who served as headteacher and principle for 12 years.
Reverend Ken Smith, chairman of governors, unveiled a plaque in the academy’s Septimus Hall to recognise her contribution.
Alan Hardie, who was appointed as principal in July, said: “It was important for us to mark the first anniversary of Miss Williams’ death, as she made an outstanding contribution to the success of Whitburn through her vision, drive and hard work.”
During the assembly, Mr Hardie told pupils Miss Williams’ legacy could be seen throughout the school community, and how they could each play their own part in the academy’s future success.
Miss Williams’ sisters Angela and Olwen Williams have donated a memorial bench for staff and pupils, and a cherry tree will be planted as a lasting tribute in the academy’s peace garden in February.
Miss Williams became headteacher of the then Whitburn Comprehensive School in Easter 1999.
The school became one of the highest attaining schools in the North East, and was judged outstanding after every Ofsted inspection during her leadership. Whitburn officially became an academy school last January.
Academy status meant the school was no longer under local authority control, with funding going straight to the school.
Mr Hardie added: “It is essential for us to celebrate the long-term legacy of Miss Williams’ work, which continues to have a positive impact as Whitburn C of E Academy moves forward.
“We continue to strive for the school motto, Excellence for All, so that each and every child really does matter and the whole academy community – pupils, staff and governors, will continue the philosophy that everyone is a learner.”