Head’s Blog 2nd September Monday 2nd September 2019

Building for the Future; Some thoughts about community as we start the new year.  

If you had been lucky enough to have stood in front of the new church our friends in Chunyu, Tanzania are building, you would marvel not only in its construction but what it represents about community. Firstly each brick is fashioned by hand for the building. Secondly each brick has been laid with manpower from the congregation. Thirdly the church is being built because the current church can’t fit in everyone who wants to come. Fourthly some of the bricks have been paid for by money sent to our friends in Chunyu, from the village, from the church here and our schools.

In any relationship, there is learning and discovery, there are questions and sometimes difficult answers and there is growth and connection. Thus our partnership brings with it opportunities for us to learn, discover, ask questions, listen to the answers and be inspired to take action.

Mirroring in some ways the brick by brick growth of the church in Chunyu, in our schools and in our village, there is building happening for the future. In the village, crowd funding has enabled works to start on the new Learning Space for the school and the photos now give a little sense of what will be achieved once work is underway. Up on the hill we are converting a disused stable block into three new classrooms. Alongside the church is a splendid new extension, beautifully crafted with respect for the old and stylish designs for the new, which will help us meet the needs of all visitors, seeking the peace to say a prayer, wanting the company of other people, celebrating markers of the church and farming year, for those who are baptised or laid to rest and their families and those who marry here.

In all of these projects there is someone with vision and drive, and a whole team of volunteers and professionals who make the vision a reality. But what is much, much more important than the bricks and the space are the possibilities that these buildings offer for growth and connection.

A huge number of people have generously given money, time, talents to get these four projects going. New understanding is already growing about the potential to deliver a shared experience in each of our new spaces, whether it be as in Chunyu, enough space for everyone to attend a service, or in the village school, the possibility for children to make music and share their thinking in the Learning Space, whether it enables children to enjoy bright new classrooms at St Michael’s  or encourage community groups to be based in our church room and grow connections and opportunities. Whilst undoubtedly the bricks and mortar aspect are crucial parts of the projects, it is the people and what they might learn and do and share and how they might grow and connect which is really what the future is all about.

Jill Aisher (Tanzania Partnership team member)

 

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Sunsets and sizzling sausages set the tone for the new term last Friday as Year 7 pupils celebrated the start of their senior education journey.

The annual event, traditionally held as a Camp Out, was delivered as a fun-filled barbecue night which the children enjoyed with teachers including St Michael’s Acting Head, Mrs Bridges.

Throughout the evening pupils tucked into dinner cooked by Deputy Head Mr Wiseman, and toasted marshmallows on an open fire.

And to make use of their new term energy, games and group bonding activites were carried out, followed by a walk up the school’s famous Warren where the sunset was relished in all of its glory.

Reflecting on the sucess of the event, Head of Year 7 and 8, Mrs Shield, said: “Unfortunately, we were unable to camp this year, but that did not dampen anybody’s spirits.

“One of the highlights of the evening was our twilight walk to the top of the Warren where we marvelled at the beautiful site that our school occupies.

“We viewed the bats swirling the skies in the dusk of late summer and ended the evening with a well-deserved hot chocolate – not forgetting the squirty cream and yet more marshmallows.

“Life-long friendships were made and re-established after the long summer break.”

This month St Michael’s Prep is celebrating the opening of its new Astro Turf pitch.

Completed during Summer 2020, the state-of-the-art facility will provide a huge boost to the school’s sporting facilities and allow it to offer a broader range of activities including boys hockey and football to its pupils.

Its floodlights will also enable St Michael’s to host sports matches during evenings, as well as inviting external schools and clubs to enjoy the new pitch throughout the year.

Ben Bridges, Director of Sports at St Michael’s, said: “We’re really excited to use the Astro Turf for the first time this month.

“We feel extremely lucky to be able to offer this to our pupils in both Prep and Pre-prep and are thrilled about the benefits it will bring to our sporting curriculum.

“As well as hockey, the new pitch will allow us to offer many other sports to pupils and will prevent the children from missing lessons due to inclement weather.”

Planning for the Astro Turf began in 2014 and has seen St Michael’s grounds undergo a significant transformation since construction began last summer. During this time pupils were fascinated by the diggers, dumpers and bulldozers which visited the school, while nursery and kindergarten children were treated to close-up views of the machinery.

Mr Bridges added: “Although it was a slightly delayed start due to the poor weather we faced, this feels like the perfect time to put the incredible space to good use.

“This is really going to move sport at St Michael’s to the next level, as well as providing us with opportunities to engage with the local community. We’re excited all round.”

 

The Governors of St. Michael’s Prep School take pleasure in announcing the appointment of Nik Pears as our new Head Teacher with effect from January 2021.

Nik was educated at St Dunstan’s College, London and is a graduate of Cambridge University. He is currently Head of Prep at Kent College Pembury, a post he has held since 2016. Prior to that, he was Headmaster of the Junior School at Sevenoaks Prep for 5 years. Nik is also an ISI inspector and a governor at Dulwich Prep, Cranbrook. We believe that he has the experience and qualities required to lead St Michael’s into the next chapter of its history.

Nik represented Kent U18 group at rugby and has a love of all sports. He is an accomplished musician and has performed at The O2 and Wembley Arenas. He is an Ambassador for “We See Hope”, a charity working with orphans and vulnerable young people in sub Saharan Africa. Nik devised The Social Entrepreneurs Project an initiative that challenges young people to turn £10 seed capital into £100 or more with their profits going to support the work of the charity.

We feel very fortunate to have secured Nik’s headship and welcome him and his wife Emma and two children, Jessica and Josiah into the St. Michael’s family from the start of next year. Nik has said

“I am delighted to have been appointed the next Head of St Michael’s Prep. Having lived in the area for the past twenty years, it is a school I have known and long admired for its ambitious and child-centred approach to learning. There is a very special atmosphere in the school and I am excited to become a part of the community, getting to know the children, parents and staff over the months and years ahead. St Michael’s is privileged to have an experienced and committed Senior Leadership Team and I very much look forward to working together with them as we embark on an exciting future for the school.” 

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

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