Head’s Blog 7th December Friday 7th December 2018

It was fantastic to see so many children and their parents supporting the school at the Christmas Bazaar. The school was buzzing and it was great to see the huge effort made in the attire and accessories as so many people ferreted out their Christmas jumpers!

With so many different craft stalls and so many things to entertain children it was difficult for parents to extract their children and go home!

My favourites were the inflatables which had very happy children bouncing, running and jumping in turn.

The secrets room and Santa’s grotto all proved very popular as well as the food store and festive singing and playing in the dining room. Thank you to the enormous team of parents who spent their Saturday setting up, serving cheerfully and dismantling their stalls and especially Jules Benjamin, Jo Pennington Legh, Anna-Marie Mottram, Oliver Schneider and Tracey Ashton who masterminded it all. Congratulations and thank you to all the P & F for a wonderful day.

In the run-up to Christmas we can all share in the most fabulous feast of festive music. I’m interested at how powerfully music can create intense pleasure, joy and a sense of community.

Scientifically of course with the advent of brain scans and imaging we can now see what happens inside people’s brains when they listen to music. Scientists call what happens a deep full brain workout!

Music impacts all four of the brain’s lobes. We appreciate the auditory experience of pitch, volume, harmony and underlay. We enjoyed the interplay between the words and music. Our pleasure centre is stimulated and dopamine is released. Our response to rhythm is different again and it can result in an urge to dance or clap and blood pumped to our muscles. People are connected in their shared experience of performance whether as the audience or as a participant. Music makes a powerful link to memories and a tune can evoke intense feelings associated with a particular time of life.

This complexity and richness of experience lies beneath our constant focus on performance and shared music at St Michael’s and this week we have had every aspect of those emotions a-plenty.

The Kindy nativity showcased a great deal of enjoyment from the participants and some confident and perhaps penetrating singing from some, in strong contrast to timidity in the previous year. For many of us present we rejoiced in that progress!

Our visitor this morning looking round the school might have been forgiven for thinking we are a music specialist establishment, such was the extent of simultaneous rehearsals for Friday’s concert and what an amazing treat that turned out to be. All of the ensembles in the school performed and their Christmas accessories proved a visual reminder of the joy within that was communicated.

One of the unifying experiences of the audience was to feel the privilege of witnessing the extraordinary. The gorgeous duet from “The Marriage of Figaro” was in contrast to the jaunty and jovial “Feliz Navidad” from Treble Trouble, complete with Caribbean percussion and accoutrements and rhythmic and humorous choreography.

The teamwork in the choirs, string and recorder ensembles gave pleasure as well as seeing the impressive progress made by Little Big Band and orchestra. The show choir finale proved an excellent end to a classy music department triumph. Congratulations to all our peris who trained, led and inspired our pupils in these achievements.

The new format Nursery nativity song session was a masterclass in how to lead early years music which children, parents and staff all enjoyed and the Reception and Year 1&2 Nativities with their clever and inclusive scripts, opportunities for solo sensations and memorable lyrics and songs had three cohorts of children jigging irrepressibly with joy for almost a whole hour at a time. Yes, some future stars will say “It started at St Michael’s” and we will be privileged to say “We were there”.

At Wednesday’s Year 2 cakes and carols we enjoyed revisiting some old favourites along with a delicious cup of tea and cake. It was good to see so many children performing in harmony with evident ease on so many instruments.

Thank you to Sally Beesley, Gordon Baird and all the staff for the wonderful week that was.

In the midst of all of this music we were entertained dramatically with a riotous and energetic rendition of “Cinderella” the panto by Year 3. It was fabulous to see so many supporters for this exceptional event. The children have developed their ensemble work, timing, independence and confidence so much and from Year 3 onwards, when the lights go up there is just a prompt if they forget and it’s all down to them. Hats off to every single child involved. We loved to see your inner selves. Congratulations, too, to Mr Powell, his scholars’ team, Mr Baird, and the Year 3 staff for an immensely impressive performance.

 

Jill Aisher

Latest News

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

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!

With around 20 pairs competing, representing 9 schools, pupils S Taylor, D Booth, J Vanderlanh-McKeown and J McDonnell were proud to represent St Michael’s at the Sevenoaks Junior Orange Ball Doubles, held at the Sennock Centre in Sevenoaks on Saturday 7th March.

S Taylor and D Booth started their Orange Ball tournament well with a win against Lady Boswell’s, before losing to a very strong team from Sevenoaks Primary. They followed with a close match against Amhurst Primary which they lost 7-6 and needed two wins from their remaining games to make the final stage. They won the first quite easily against Russell House and then had a tight match against Sevenoaks Prep. It was neck and neck throughout, but they kept their cool and won 7-6.

Their tally of three wins to two losses saw our Year 4 pair through to the play-offs. They had two games against a Year 5 pair from Sevenoaks Prep and New Beacon. They lost both games narrowly, 7-6 and 7-5, finishing 6th overall, which was a good performance given they’re at the younger end of the Orange grouping and the standard of the competition was high.

J Vanderlanh-McKeown and J McDonnell both demonstrated strong teamwork, good sportsmanship and skills. They came up against some strong competition from the other schools but never gave up and kept competing to the end with some great saves, serves and volley. The boys also showed respect towards others and maintained a positive attitude at all times. Both boys really enjoyed the tournament and look forward to improving their position at the next one.
It was great to see both pairs supporting each other throughout the games! Very well done, keep up the good work!

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