The Show Must Go On
We find ourselves campus-bound once again. No fixtures. No off-site activities. No weekend trips and tours.
It’s a shame, of course, but we are very conscious of how fortunate we are to have such an expansive campus and such wonderful facilities to enable us to continue delivering our wide-ranging co-curricular programme.
What’s more, the campus is absolutely buzzing with our community all in one place and the site thronging with activity. Not being allowed off campus hasn’t dampened our spirits; in fact, quite the opposite. Vibrancy and vitality abound, perhaps more than ever before.
We are doing things differently, of course. I shan’t waste words going into the detail of all those adjustments and the control measures in place to ensure that we can do all we’re doing safely and carefully. Needless to say that this is all happening, as is our responsibility, but alongside all the care and attention that has gone into it, in equal measure has been an extraordinary level of innovation, creativity and energy from staff and pupils alike to ensure that we keep on going.
And this isn’t a case of just ‘ticking over’. Rather, we continue to strive to ensure that the pupil experience is truly exceptional, that we see opportunity in the challenge and seek creative and collaborative means of finding solutions to problems.
Take our mountain-bikers. As you’d imagine, this activity tends to attract a hardened bunch of adrenaline-seeking adventure-seekers, downhill demons whose thirst for speed is normally sated by the nearby Stiperstones or Welsh mountains. Somewhat harder to get your fix when you’re campus-bound, you’d think. Not a bit of it- our intrepid bikers (ably supported by biking enthusiast Mr Kaye) have transformed a patch of ground on the peripheries of the school site into our very own ‘pump track’.
They’ve designed it themselves, and with spade and shovel have constructed it over the past weeks ready for some action during the forthcoming Field Day.
This event, whilst normally seeing our pupils head off site (as the name suggests), will be delivered entirely on campus next Thursday but a cracking day of activities await. A great deal of thought and imagination has gone in to ensure that this is a varied and meaningful day for our pupils.
Sport continues with the same sense of purpose and energy. Last weekend we enjoyed a full afternoon of knockout football with the 1st House competition getting underway. This is always a fiercely contested competition for a trophy that is older than the FA Cup and this year will be no different (other than the lack of crowds…). Our hockey players have likewise carried on with invention and enthusiasm, and our team have come up with an innovative concept for virtual competition against local rivals such as Denstone College. Keep your eyes peeled on Twitter for the results.
The new Barnes Theatre sees its very first House play this weekend with the gentlemen of Severn Hill performing The Real Inspector Hound closely followed by the girls of The Grove and their version of Pride and Prejudice, both of which will be filmed and made available for viewing. Toby Percival (director of The Real Inspector Hound) reports that “the play will hopefully encapsulate all the best qualities of a house play- definitely short, hopefully funny and probably silly, with pupils spanning all years involved.” I, for one, am greatly looking forward to both productions and we’re pleased to be able to make these available for wider viewing through the filmed versions.
The Barnes Theatre has also been the venue for our wonderful ‘Thirty in the Foyer’ weekly concerts where a small and distanced audience has been treated to a fantastic array of musical items from across all year groups- one of the absolute highlights of the week. We have likewise got a number of musical events to look forward to in the coming weeks with this weekend’s St Cecilia concert (recordings taking place simultaneously in the Alington Hall and the Maidment building), a Carol Service recording taking place next week (released to the Salopian community on the evening of Sunday 6th December) and preparations well under way for the grand finale of the term: House Singing (just not as you know it…). This event will be live streamed on the evening of Wednesday 9th December and promises to be a real treat- get it in your diaries!
The pupils continue to inspire, and each week the Headmaster and I have the great privilege of joining with a select group of individuals for the Floreat awards. Whilst meeting online at present, this weekly gathering is an extraordinarily uplifting event as we are reminded of the incredible range of areas where our pupils are going the extra mile and the devotion and dedication they bring to all that they do. There have been those who have reached the very highest level, such as the likes of cricketers JJ Fielding (England Young Lions), T Wylie (Warwickshire Emerging Player programme), H Shuker (U17 Warwickshire captain) and A Marshall (ECB disability programme). Or rowers M Gruen (4th in the Junior Trials at the German national rowing trials) and T Manka (winner of J17 Eights event at Swiss national rowing Championships) and I Lickley (GB international dressage). Their achievements are hugely impressive and we are very proud of them all. As impressive, however, are those whose endeavours are perhaps less in the limelight. The charity fundraisers. The editors of pupil publications. The young man who had the decency and empathy to spot a fellow student in difficulty (on crutches amidst a downpour) and offer them his umbrella and his company as they walked to lessons. This last, perhaps, the most admirable of all.
So things are different, for sure. But the Salopian spirit prevails. Our pupils remain busy. They remain active. They remain dedicated, determined, diligent. And, above all, they remain decent. It is our privilege to continue supporting them as their teachers, tutors, house parents and matrons. As their painters, grounds-keepers, caterers and cleaners. It is our privilege to remain a part of this very special community. We are Shrewsbury, after all, and the show must go on!