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Sixtine Alumni Graduate

Sixtine, who lives in Geneva, was a student at St. George’s between 1972-1979 and over 40 years on, still has regular reunions with other Georgentians and the strongest of bonds and friendship still exist today. In February 2020, seven of them met for the 60th birthday of Michele Taipale in Seville, Spain.  The photo shows from L-R – Sixtine, Juliet Bory, Philippa Cocker, Michele, Fiona Shaw, Jill Button &  Marta Villar.  (Fiona is the trampolinist from our February Newsletter!)

Alumni 1972

Sixtine’s two sons, Patrick (2007-14) & Declan (2010-17) are also St. George’s Alumni.  After graduating, Patrick studied at the Glion Hotel School before leaving for Canada’s McGill University, Montreal where he earned a BSc.  He now hopes to complete a Masters in Economics at UNIL, Lausanne.  Younger sibling, Declan is in his final year studying animation at Bournemouth University of the Arts, UK.

Sixtine is very happy having chosen for both sons to follow in her footsteps to study and board at St. Georges. After leaving St George’s, Sixtine studied at the University of Denver, USA for a Bachelor of Mass Communications including History of Art and History of Theatre.  Initially she worked in an impressionable high-level Art Gallery in Geneva, owned by Jan Krugier before moving to Australia where she met her future husband and remained for 11 years.

During her time in Australia, Sixtine worked for the Australia Council, Brown’s Mart Community Arts in Darwin, NT.   Working for the Australian Government in the Northern Territory was a very different scene from the wordly art gallery.  She spent time flying to different communities in the desert and experiencing life with Aborigines.  She returned to Melbourne where Patrick was born in 1995 and, among other things, Sixtine taught French at the Alliance Française.  It is there that she met Ken Armstrong and together they build a futuristic eco-tourism facility on Phillip Island. She then completed a Corporate Law degree from the University of Sydney, NSW.

Upon returning to Geneva with her family, Sixtine opted for a career change and was employed as a client relationship manager in a Private Bank working with high net-worth individuals and managing their portfolios.  This period included the introduction of the Euro currency and concerns relating to the Y2k/Millenium bug.  As part of the Bank’s training programme, Sixtine was given the opportunity to study at the Geneva Business School. This was the start of a long relationship that continues with the GBS.

In 2003, the bank was taken over, so she chose to return to the Jan Krugier Art gallery and became Managing Director.  It was during a business trip to Moscow to set up an Art show that Sixtine was asked to manage the event and she decided to leave the gallery once again to take on the new challenge.  After that, she was involved in the development of ArtbyGeneve, the Moscow and Salzburg World Fine Art Fairs, and Art and Jewels Baku.  She spent 12 years in this role involved in marketing, communications and promotions.  In August 2020, the Geneva Business School should have celebrated its 25th anniversary – Alumni were not able to celebrate due to Covid.  In November of the same year, a new MBA Arts programme was developed whereby arts specialists of the business side of the Fine Art industry will share their professional expertise with students who can attend courses online or in person in Geneva.  The MBA programme will commence in this September 2021. Sixtine who has developed the concept with the support of her entire professional network of more than 35 years will be managing it.

As mentioned, both Declan (born in Geneva in 1999) & Patrick Crutchfield-Tripet graduated from St. George’s and they enjoyed the same bonding and good connections as Sixtine herself had some 30+ years earlier.  Sixtine tells of a similar family link with Patrick’s good friend and Georgentian, Charles-Henri Marcellesi.  Charles-Henri’s mother, Sophie and his sister, Cecilia are also Georgentians Alumnae.  History repeating itself not once, but twice in two families in the same eras.

Sixtine was born in Basle and aged 3 or 4, the family moved to Geneva.  Her mother was German and Father, Swiss, so when arriving at St. George’s, Sixtine spoke no English and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) did not exist then. Her first English teacher was Mrs Dunkerley and initially she didn’t understand anything, but being in class with other native English speaking girls, Sixtine soon picked up the grasp of the language.  She recalls being closest to the French speakers and quickly became a member of the school Ski Team.  A fond memory for Sixtine, was appearing in her first school play in December 1973, called the Two Sandwich Men, photographed above with Margaret Ben.

Miss Wake was Headmistress and there was no weekly boarding.  The girls only returned home each half-term.  Sixtine was told that she was cheeky and was “gated” (disciplined) from time to time.  Mrs Kathleen McHugh was a French teacher who arrived during Sixtine’s A level studies.  She was not a native French speaker, but the three pupils in the A level class were, and Sixtine recalls that between them, they were most likely to have given Mrs McHugh a challenging time. Years later, when Patrick became a St. George’s student, Mrs McHugh recalled that his mother was not the best behaved student.

The Matron and English teacher, Miss Batten was a young teacher who lived in the chalet with the girls.  From the beginning of their A level studies, more freedom was given, the wearing of uniform wasn’t enforced and being resident in the chalet meant more independence.

The Swimming pool provided hours of fun including diving competitions, house races and unauthorised secret midnight swimming – very brave given the pool wasn’t heated!

Two security guards were employed to keep things in order.  Sixtine believes the students were more mischievous than nowadays, and although naughty and rules were broken, the danger levels were very low.

Sixtine recalls enjoying Biology classes with Mr Gapper and Maths with Mrs Zund-Cooper, who later became Principal as well as French with Mrs Ravussin.  Her favourite was art teacher, Mrs Ross-White. Like a previous Featured Alumna, Batya Beigun-Yahav, it was due to the inspiration of Mrs Ross-White that led Sixtine to choose both O & A Level History of Art and Art at A level.

The girls enjoyed sleeping in the chalet and the art studio was downstairs.  She was permitted to paint in the studio outside of school hours.  Liberal arts were popular as was singing in the school Choir.

During her final year of A level studies, Sixtine tells of sneaking out and changing out of school uniform to visit the White Horse Pub in Montreux.  During the school holidays she worked at the Montreux Jazz Festival, so knew many of the pub’s staff well.  She spent time studying at the nearby Maladaire beach (also not permitted) and revising for A levels at the Palais Oriental restaurant where she would buy a cup of tea and ensure it lasted for a few hours!

Over the years, Sixtine has maintained strong connections with the Georgentians.  During Mrs Zund-Cooper’s term as Principal, St. George’s was run by a board of Shareholders and Sixtine was the Alumni representative on the Board.

Professor Kahn who owns the Geneva Business School bought St. George’s and took over from the Shareholders around 2002-2003. Sixtine was requested to step down from the Board, but remained a link for the Georgentians.  She tried to create regional chapters and Ann Maurer volunteered to lead the US group, whereas others continued the momentum in the UK.  One Georgentian Malika Sabbu, who manages a hotel in the Maldive Islands suggested a reunion in her resort.  This is still pending!  Sixtine recalls receiving mail from students who attended St Georges before and during WWII.  “It is so exciting to meet other Georgentians of all generations” she says.  After a while, she had to step down due to lack of time.

Former school friends, who sadly are no longer with us include Sarah Hood née Brudnell-Bruce who had a daughter called Tara.  Phillipa Cocker is in touch with Tara and says she is just like her mother was. Sara was from a family of horse breeders in Newmarket, UK. Also, Ana-Luisa White, the daughter of Gordon White, a famous UK entrepreneur during the Thatcher era. AnaLuisa lived in London and was friends with the cricketer Imran Khan.  She eventually moved to LA with her daughter.  Sixtine recalls, “I remember Ana Luisa did ballet classes and danced at the 50th anniversary celebrations with her older sister, Carolina”. Only a few years later, Alicia Arranz née Villadierna sadly succumbed to cancer leaving a family of 4 sons behind.

The school taught useful life skills and solidarity was very important.  In preparation for University, as a boarding student, learning to be independent was very practical.   Sixtine was Head of Minerva House and also became a Prefect.  She is proud to have kept both of those school badges as well as her PE skirt!  Sixtine remembers so many of her friends fondly and it is impossible to name them all.  In Geneva, there is a small group who include Charlotte Martin née Bory, Nausikaa Konstas, Leila Aciman née Bencuya, Marion Brunschwig who is responsible for Riviera Tourism in and around Montreux as well as Lisa Hollander who live in New Orleans, Akiko Takahashi in Japan, Liz Charal née Rylands in Toronto, Rita Simonian in Teheran.  Thanks to various social media networks keeping contact is easy and fun, she says, and no matter what; the bond is so strong, it doesn’t matter if you lose touch for a while, it is always possible to rekindle.

Huge thanks to Sixtine for her time and dedication to this Feature.  I know that she’ll retain her close contact with St George’s and is very proud to be a Georgentian.