My challenge this week will be to not exhaust you with superlatives! The final week of the school year is a time of celebration and reflection.
Last Friday’s Prep school sports day and campout were fantastic events, marked by huge community spirit, supportive and encouraging behaviour and lots of people having a really good time.
For many parents for whom this was their first sports day, they were astonished at what was organised for them and for their children and recognised the hand of an experienced team, ably led by Cal Wade, in providing this seamlessly well organised event. My favourite memories were watching children encouraging one another at moments they were being challenged and I think this combination of support in competition and recognition and understanding of struggles, when they happen is the most wonderful thing to behold.
Later in the evening as we moved into the campout and barbecue phase the atmosphere continued to be social, fun relaxed and very enjoyable.
I congratulate Fraser Wiseman on his meticulous organisation of sleepers, tents, food and drink and for staying up all night which frankly I am unable to do. Also to Steve Wade who kept us company overnight and the huge team of staff who served and cooked the evening barbecue and the diehard remainers who were still doing breakfast in the morning.
On Monday evening we were treated to the finest end of year concert in my time at St Michael’s. For me what made it special, apart from the glorious music, was the fact that so many people were involved and the fact that the standard was exceptional. The music department is an incredible team and an event like Monday showed not only how much pleasure they give and take from leading children in performance and ensemble work, but also how much they support one another. I know of no other school, for example, where on sports day music peris are dressed up in school sports staff uniform and helping on events!
The chance to tour as a group of course builds this team work but on Monday we witnessed not only an even higher standard of music ensemble making than ever before but also even more joy in the making of it. So thank you to Emily, Jack, Matt, Rob, Debbie and Jackie. The exceptional contribution you make to the life of the school is never taken for granted and is a source of great pleasure and delight to me as Head. The second half of the concert finished with a complete performance of Vivaldi’s “Gloria”, a gorgeous work that in rehearsal, week in week out, revealed itself to all the groups learning it, in its full glory. Intense, beautiful, lively, complex and rich in Latin and dedicated to shouting about God, what’s not to like?
To say that this was ambitious is somewhat of an understatement, but the cheerful, energetic and inspiring work by Gordon Baird took this idea and made it fully expressed in the most wonderful community experience. First class soloists, a professional orchestra, incredibly well trained choirs of children, parents, staff, former staff, former pupils, tenors and basses from Judd, and other people who just like singing. The singing was extremely precise, full of joy, and confidence born of meticulous rehearsals.
I am deeply grateful to Gordon, Jack, Emily, Tracey, Louise who led us through all these rehearsals and to Jackie who led the orchestra and brought along many of her friends to be in it. I could not have been prouder of everyone involved. Thank you.
On Tuesday I very much enjoyed the Pre-Prep production and, yes, there was a great buzz created in our sports hall marquee. Pleasure in performance for so many children oozed out of them. The theme of the show was how important each individual bee is within the hive and this transfers well as a theme for them to take away. We certainly saw how important each one them was in putting on that whole show. Word-perfect singing, some amusing dances, comic lines delivered with assurance and good timing, incredible costumes organised by parents and some fine solo performances from Year 2 and some great collective singing from all the children, trained by their teachers and Mrs Beesley. Wonderful work.
On Wednesday evening the same space became the focus of our end of year Prize Giving in Prep, which is both a solemn and joyful moment in our calendar. We celebrated a huge diversity of excellence, from those who have worked to achieve the highest marks, to those who have struggled but made progress and those who set an example by their fine behaviour and kindness to others and many other skills besides. We were delighted to welcome Lizzie Thompson, Old Michaelian and now an engineer with Williams working in the F1 world. As well as being a delightful, engaging, and a slightly self-effacing visitor in classrooms and the staffroom all day, she gave a very interesting speech about how engineers work, what they do and how maths and science feeds into this career. We were extremely fortunate to share so much time with Lizzie, and we were delighted that her dad was able to come too. It was wonderful to share Luke Brightman’s cheeky film to round off the year, which surpassed previous versions offered in its explicit humour. I congratulate Luke on this fine achievement and wish him well as he moves on. Last night we said an official farewell to all the leaving staff and today the children will be offering good luck wishes in assembly this morning. With any event such as Prize Giving there is a huge team and a great deal of time spent in advance of the evening getting everything ready and I’d like to thank, Ian and his estates team, Ben and Tom in IT, Jane, Karen and Sara in Marketing, Kathryn, and the office staff and Mary for sorting out the prizes, flowers et cetera, Mark and his team for the delicious canapés and refreshments, and Fraser for organising pupils and staff. I’d also like to thank my secretary, Helen, who ensures everything is ready for me.
Kayla and Jake in the closing speeches spoke both eloquently, confidently and with a certain refreshing honesty about their journey through St Michael’s and I was proud of the people they have become and the achievements of all our leavers.
Wherever you’re heading this summer, go safely and have some fun and a rest. I congratulate all the pupils and staff at St Michael’s on a fine year and look forward to sharing a formal round up later in the holiday in my Head’s Review.
Wishing everyone a happy summer holiday.