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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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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