Head’s Blog 15th December 2017 Friday 15th December 2017

I have to confess that I’ve shed a few tears this week. The nice sort. The sort you cry when you have an overwhelming sense of the beauty of something, of the privilege of a moment, of the talent exuding from the people before you. The sort you cry when your faith is strengthened, you are brought closer to colleagues and children, and when you feel proud.

The richness of the carol service will be one of my highlights of 2017. As a service it was meticulously planned to take us through the background and full meaning of some very well-known carols. The children who spoke did so by heart and from the heart and it was no coincidence that the whole service ended with a song called the “Heart of Christmas” which sums up what we are called to do at all times but especially at Christmas.

“Will you find a way on this holiday to share with someone, a child with no home, a person alone, a family hungry for love?”

My own heart was moved by the eloquence of the children leading prayers, by their thinking and writing captured and shared, and by the polished and eager performances from choirs, ensembles and staff. Our pleasure came from theirs as well as the quality of what we heard.

Through poetry, prayer and music sung in four languages we were reminded of the need for a spiritual compass in our broken world, of the many nations, in which people worship and we experienced the powerful ways that music and worship bring people together.

We remembered that Jesus was in fact a kind of refugee and that he was displaced, born outside marriage and had the humblest of settings to start his life.

Perhaps the most important gift we can give this Christmas could be to someone like him, poor and far from home who needs our help.

It was an extraordinary service and words truly do not do justice to how special it was. Nonetheless it’s thank you to all who created it and made it perfect; to Rev Di, Laura Shield, Jack Bennett, Rob Maslin and Emily Balcombe, to the Estates Team who ferried equipment and instruments and cleared it all up, to Danny who played the organ and Liz and Ann who opened the church and welcomed us and of course a magnificent chorus of thanks from on high for Gordon Baird who year on year lifts this celebration to a new level.

On Monday our snow procedures were tested and worked. Congratulations to the Estates Team, who worked tirelessly to salt and grit and clear the snow.

Tuesday’s play in the snow day saw a lot of wet, happy and tired children going home at the end of it.

Our Christmas lunch on Wednesday was fabulous, festive and fun.  In our final assembly we thanked all of our Admin, Catering and Estates staff with a gift from us all.

Then as we draw to the end of a busy term, we say goodbye and thank you to the fabulous Anna Collier who has been an exceptional maternity cover teacher in Kindergarten, to Sarah Stokes and Sophie as they move to Copenhagen and Jill Coulstock as she moves house and begins a new life by the sea.

In the New Year we will celebrate the extraordinary explosion of creative talents of the pupils in Years 3 to 6 as some of the best of the first homework challenge presentations are shared with the school in my assemblies.

I’m delighted and almost overwhelmed by the energy, variety and creativity of our first homework challenge and I know for certain that this new element of our homework policy is a life changer.

Today as a foretaste, I watched Georgie explain, present and perform her homework challenge, “Malala rap” delivered with style and by heart. Georgie’s rap took her small audience through Malala’s life story, through the politics and the brutality of the Taliban and the bravery and hope of someone who fought for what she believed and nearly lost her life so doing. Tomorrow we will watch another challenge in our final assembly as Sophie expresses her conflicting emotions on leaving the school through a devised dance piece that she’s been working on and will perform. I can honestly say that something extraordinary happens at St Michael’s every day and this makes me and everyone here so proud and happy.

To all the children and parents I extend my very best wishes for a peaceful and happy Christmas with lots of music and time together. To my colleagues I extend my very deep gratitude for their excellent and unstinting work. They all deserve a complete rest.

Happy Christmas, everyone and a very happy New Year.

Jill Aisher

Latest News

As Y5 pupil, C Hunter, explained during Monday’s assembly, Sevenoaks School has organised weekly food/supply collections for those in need during these very uncertain times.  The collections have benefited local organisations such as One Big Family: Helping the Homeless, Friends for Families, The Hygiene Bank, Sevenoaks Food Bank: Loaves & Fishes, Community Cupboard, area primary schools and others.  Miss Cat Davison, the School’s Director of Service and Social Impact, updates its online social media feeds (@sevenoaksimpact on Twitter and Instagram) with the items needed each week.  We hope that you will consider helping with this effort.  Together we can make a huge difference for those living right here in our community!
The details of the collections are provided below.  If you do wish to participate, please ensure that items are unopened and handled with washed or sanitised hands, and that social distancing is strictly adhered to on delivery.
What: Food, Supplies (check social media links for current needs)
When:   Every Tuesday, 9am – 12pm
Where: Outside Claridge House, Sevenoaks School,TN13 1HU
(Claridge House is just to the right of the main entrance of Knole Park on High Street)
On Monday our community-minded pupil also discussed a book collection which took place earlier this year for children in Ghana.  Below are photos of EduSpots centres where the books are available for local communities throughout Ghana.

We’ve been amazed by the phenomenal success of the Art Department’s recent challenge “Painting without Paint”. Set as part of our remote learning programme, children were asked to select a work of art of their choice and to recreate it at home – but without using paint!

The Art Department has been overwhelmed by submissions, which Miss Rodwell, described as “creative, humorous and inventive”. She added “Staff have been impressed by submissions that showed how carefully the children have looked at their chosen artworks in order to create such brilliant responses.”

Posts on our Twitter account have received positive responses from prestigious art galleries, such as the Tate and the National Gallery, with The Lowry in Manchester commenting “Wow, we love this!!” on T Neville’s version of L S Lowry’s “Man Lying on a Wall”. But it’s not just art galleries in the UK, who have responded to the children’s art; their work has been liked by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden and the Mauritshuis in Den Haag. One Year 3 pupil, who was inspired by artist Aja Trier, even reached New York, as permission was sought to post an image of one of her paintings. She was delighted to allow us to feature her work and on seeing J Gagg’s interpretation commented “Oh my gosh that is precious! Please tell the artist I love it! I will post on my Instagram and Facebook. Thank you!” She went on to tell us “I am always so humbled when kids are inspired by my work, but this is next level!”

In order to show you all the wonderful work our pupils have done, we’ve put together an online gallery of the work. Talking about the project and the reaction, Mrs Barratt declared “This is wonderful!” and reactions from other schools included the comment “Excellent work St Michael’s Art Department this is a really fun activity”.

Mrs Bridges told us “I am absolutely delighted, and inspired, by the way that the children have responded to these challenges. Creativity is keeping us connected, not only within our own community but across the world too!”

We can’t wait to see what the department comes up with next. Miss Rodwell is keeping us in suspense “I’ve been working on a new one today …”. We’re sure that our pupils will have even more opportunity to excel!

Click here to view our online gallery of more ingenious images.

Some of our super St Michael’s Swimmers have won an array of silverware at recent events.

At the Sevenoaks Swimming Club presentation evening, I Pennington Legh was presented with the Kingsbury Cup for U10 girls; A Green was awarded the Kingsbury Cup for U10 boys; E Green received runner up plate for the best U9 boy; S. Taylor was awarded the Mike Radford Trophy for most improved U9 boy; A Ashton was presented with the U9 Individual Medley Cup and U9 trophy for most improved swimmer; B Tovey and J Taylor were both awarded plaques with their positions from the recent Sevenoaks Club Championships.

At the Black Lion Gala, Gillingham, at the start of March our swimmers again came away with medals. A Ashton won three gold, one bronze, one fourth and one sixth medal; A Green three gold and two silver medals; E Green four silver and one bronze medal; S Taylor one silver and one fourth medal and J Taylor a fourth position medal. V Medlen also came away with a medal from the gala.

Well done to all those swimmers; your hard work and dedication is certainly paying off!

Mrs Denton

Swim School Manager

Well done to our doubles girls, E Julio and S Savidge, who also played in last weekend’s Junior Orange Ball Tournament in Sevenoaks. They played four matches, won two, beating Sevenoaks Prep and Lady Boswell’s and lost two to the eventual finalists Amherst and Granville.

This was a great performance by the girls, particularly in the light of little experience of Orange Ball competition.

Well done!

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