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

Prep pupils treated classmates and music teachers to a variety of musical performances this week in their half termly concert.

Performed in three instalments within their bubbles, the musicians showcased a variety of pieces, varying in both genre and instrument.

And although parents were unable to attend the concerts due to Covid-19 restrictions, the pupils’ families received a recording of the event.

Gordon Baird, Director of Music, said “We were delighted by how these first concerts of the academic year went despite the absence of the children’s parents. It was a lovely intimate experience for the children to play or sing to their friends and we heard some confident, accomplished performances.

Mr Baird added: “For some, it was their first time playing in a concert in the Prep school and we look forward to organising many more opportunities for them to perform throughout the year.”

A montage of the three music concerts can be found on the St Michael’s YouTube page at https://youtu.be/Bj_Wx4P9heg.

 

 

Spooky spiders and plump pumpkins sparked Halloween fun at St Michael’s this week.

Supported by the school’s Parents and Friends association, pupils enjoyed two games which offered great prizes to winners.

Coordinator of the Halloween competitions and P & F committee member, Kelly Downey said: “Given the restrictions currently in place, the P&F are focusing on strengthening the school community for parents and children this year.

“The competitions are a simple way for the children to have some fun in the week before half term, while raising some funds for the P&F.”

Children in Pre-Prep were tasked with guessing the number of spooky spiders in the jar, while Prep children were asked to guess the weight of a pumpkin. Pupils made a donations to the P & F in exchange for each guess they made.

And the winners of the games, Herbie W (Pre-Prep) A Ward, M Little, L Lutzow and H Owen (Prep), were awarded Halloween hampers which will help them celebrate this year’s festival in spooktacular style.

Kelly added: “The funds raised for the P&F will go towards funding activities and facilities for the children to enrich their time at the school.”

For more information about St Michael’s P & F association visit stmichaels.kent.sch.uk/parents-friends

 

Strawberries and sunflowers were just some of the items celebrated in last week’s harvest assemblies.

 

The annual Pre-Prep event, performed as three instalments this year, saw Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 pupils sing, dance and give prayer for the harvest while learning about the festival from their music teacher, Mrs Raveyeh.

 

 

Reflecting on the success of the events, Louise Raveyeh said: “I am quite moved by the children’s enthusiastic singing in our harvest celebration.

 

“It was a wonderful opportunity for the children to realise that there is joy in giving and sharing what we have and happiness for those who gratefully receive it.

 

“Their singing and eagerness to share with others was heartwarming.”

 

 

During the assemblies pupils sung songs about harvest time, nature and the variety of fruit and vegetables grown in this country.

 

Louise said: “I wanted the children to be thankful for what they have by realising what an amazing rainbow variety of food we have, created with individual characteristics just like them.

 

“I wanted them to realise the sense of joy that there is in sharing what we have.

 

“The songs reflect our celebration of what we have and realisation of the process of planting, harvesting and sharing.”

 

 

And it wasn’t just songs that helped the children express their thanks. Helped by their generous parents, Pre-Prep donated hundreds of food items and household essentials to the Swanley branch of Trussell Trust food bank.

 

 

Head of Pre-Prep at St Michael’s, Zerrin Leech, said: “We had tables, cupboards and bags festooned with food last week as our families gave very kind donations of food and other items.

 

“A huge thank you must go to the pupils’ parents for their wonderful generosity once again this year which will be gratefully received by the Trussell Trust.

 

“Thank you also to Mrs Ravayeh for leading our three harvest assemblies. They have been lovely with lots of new songs as well as my all-time favourite, Cauliflowers Fluffy.”

 

 

 

 

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.”

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