The Spring term has drawn to a close today, after a most special week in which we have held our Lenten assemblies, our Spring Concert and a truly beautiful Festival of Peace. The assemblies ensured that, in this final school week before Easter, we have focused on the Lenten message. We have reflected, prayed and looked forward with hope towards Easter.
Most of us will no doubt also have reflected on the fact that last week saw the three-year anniversary of the first national lockdown: something that would have been almost unimaginable until it happened. We remember that it was a time of fear, of uncertainty, and of sacrifice being made by so many in the medical community, whose safety was jeopardised each and every day as they treated others. It was a time of turbulence in hospitals, and yet quiet and stillness in the streets. It was also a time of loneliness for numerous people and of enforced separation from loved ones. The Holy Father wrote of his vision for the time beyond the pandemic in ‘Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future’:
“To come out of this crisis better, we have to recover the knowledge that as a people we have a shared destination. The pandemic has reminded us that no one is saved alone. What ties us to one another is what we commonly call solidarity. Solidarity is more than acts of generosity, important as they are; it is the call to embrace the reality that we are bound by bonds of reciprocity. On this solid foundation we can build a better, different, human future.”
The ways in which our pupils show solidarity certainly go beyond the generous – although once again this term we are proud to see the ways in which they have embraced fundraising causes, right up to and including the very last day of the term. They have truly embraced the ideas of unity, reciprocity and of shared human experience in the celebration of our second annual Festival of Peace. This week-long exhibition featured displays from every subject area throughout the school on the theme ‘Peace: Light and Hope’, from the Science Department’s ‘Periodic Table of Peace’ and its display linked to diffraction and the spectrum of light, to the English Department’s poetry on the theme of peace. The MFL students’ peace doves complimented their ‘Hands Around the World’ and UN displays and the History Department created many beautiful stained glass windows, linking the themes of peace, light and hope. Our Public Services pupils created origami Japanese peace cranes and in RE, pupils created displays of peacemakers, as well as a peace tree, wreaths, flowers and symbols related to peace. In addition, every single one of the fifty nationalities in the school had a stall in which items of cultural significance were displayed and many of our pupils took the opportunity to wear clothing representing their cultural identities. Pupils throughout the school visited the exhibition on Monday and Tuesday of this week, and on Wednesday we were delighted to welcome a range of visitors including the Lord Lieutenant, the High Sheriff, the Cabinet Member for Education, Governors, clergy, representatives of the Local Authority and the Legion of Mary, visitors from other schools and many more. The visitors viewed the exhibition before enjoying refreshments and a programme offered by our wonderful choir, who began their programme by reminding us that diversity is what creates beauty: “if we all sang the same note, we would never have harmony; harmony is beautiful and diversity is to be celebrated.’
After school on Wednesday, many parents, carers, grandparents and members of the community enjoyed the opportunity to visit the exhibition, guided around it by our pupils who explained the context to the displays with great pride. On Thursday evening, the Festival stalls formed the backdrop for a most vibrant and entertaining Spring Concert. From musicians to dancers and singers, our pupils showcased their talents and the hard work they have put into nurturing them.
Finally, today we have held the Festival closing celebration, an occasion to which our pupils have looked forward all week – in fact all term! With dance, music, cultural dress and further offerings from all nationalities within the school, the Festival closed on a fittingly harmonious note, and with a powerful reminder that difference can indeed be celebrated, alongside the values that bind us together as a community living and learning together each day.
To those of our pupils preparing for external examinations next term, we wish you every success (and we hope that you continue to find your revision gift packs useful!). For all of those interested in hearing more about the past term, our Easter newsletter is published here and our Spring Reading Recommendations newsletter is linked here should you wish to read them during the break. We wish all of our pupils and their families a blessed and peaceful remainder of Lent, a joyful Easter and a relaxing holiday.