Head’s Blog 5th July Thursday 5th July 2018

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.

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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