On Sunday 13 February an extravaganza of young talent was on display at Hassenbrook School in Stanford-le-Hope as nine schools gathered to celebrate education together.
The brainchild of Rev John Guest of St Margaret’s in Stanford, and supported by the Balstonia Trust, the Schools’ Celebration involved the very young just starting out in their school careers, and young adults nearing the end of secondary education.
The event’s programme said it all, sporting the adage: “Children are not vessels to be filled; they are lamps to be lit”.
The presentations were introduced by John and opening words came from Cllr Diana Hale, Portfolio Holder for Education at Thurrock Council.
The Hassenbrook School Singers got the afternoon underway with a vivacious performance of part of the musical, The Wiz. This was immediately contrasted by the East Tilbury Infants’ Choir with a wonderful rendition of One Golden Rule, the lyrics imploring, “Love one another as I love you too”.
Then the Stanford Primary Reception Storytellers brought an enthusiastic rendition of that classic tale among members of the 5-year-old community, We’re Going On A Bear Hunt. The story was told in unison, with actions to accompany. Superb.
At this point Deborah Weston of the Thurrock SACRE gave a brief talk about the Labyrinths for the up and coming Celebrating RE Month in March.
Then we saw the St Joseph’s Primary Dancers perform a lively piece of choreography, before the Arthur Bugler Junior Orchestra played for us. The effort shown by both groups was enthusiastically received by the packed-out hall.
This was followed by former Aveley School English teacher David Tweddle reading from Gervase Phynn a poignant and challenging piece that began with the cynical premise, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach”. It ended with a response worthy of the ‘Big Society’, a true teacher’s mantra – “I make a difference; what do you make?”.
St Clere’s Singers sang Oh Happy Day and a couple of other songs. The lead singer had a powerful voice and it was obvious she was inspired by Sister Act. Not to be outdone, it seemed, the Horndon on the Hill Choir then sang three songs of their own, including the nostalgic Disney hit, Dippity Doo Da, Dippity Day.
The East Tilbury Juniors’ Band then came on and did a beautifully sensitive and simple version of Let Everything That Has Breath Praise The Lord.
Carla Taylor from the Stanford Boiler Room Community then gave a short illustrated talk about the work of Prayer Space for Schools. She read out some of the comments made by children after they’d been in the Prayer Spaces; one that stood out was, “I like the sorry zone best because you can let out the truth”. Fantastic.
Closing the presentations were the Gable Hall Singers who sang True Colours. Then the Gable Hall Actors performed a section of a play they’re going to be putting on in the near future.
Finally, Fr Paul Dynan from St Joseph’s, Stanford, closed the event with a blessing. Afterwards there were refreshments and people were able to loo at displays by Prayer Spaces for Schools and Healthy Schools.
John Guest was immensely pleased with the incredible turn-out and the standard of participation, syaing, “Thank you so much for your contribution to the event at Hassenbrook School. I so appreciated your willingness to give up your Sunday afternoon for our local school children. I shall be writing to all heads of participating schools with a more formal acknowledgment in due course.