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)

 

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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