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

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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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