Christmas at Churchill 2018

I love Christmas at Churchill! The Academy has many traditions, from the Christmas lunches served by staff and accompanied by the staff choir, to the Sixth Form fancy dress and revue, the church services and house activities. This week’s blog is devoted to a celebration of all things Christmas! Enjoy…

May I wish everyone in the Churchill Academy & Sixth Form community a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. See you in 2019!

Advent: Acts of Kindness

Like many children up and down the country, my kids look forward to advent as the twenty four days of the year when they’re allowed to have chocolate before breakfast! We’ve hung our calendars and they are getting out of bed that little bit more willingly than usual, tempted by the lure of an edible treat.

It’s true that the consumption of daily confectionery is somewhat removed from the Christian meaning of advent. In the Christian faith, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, and advent is a reminder to prepare for this important religious festival.

This year, like last year, Mr Gale in the Maths Faculty has shared his “Kindness Calendar” with the school. The Kindness Calendar is a great way to mark advent by giving, rather than receiving, tied into one of the Academy’s core values. Each school day of the advent period, there’s a kindness task for students and staff to carry out. There are bonus tasks to extend it into the weekend too!

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Our Kindness Calendar

Why not try each of the daily acts of kindness on the days running up to Christmas? After you’ve had your chocolate, of course…

Christmas Concerts 2018

I love the Christmas Concert! I remember seeing my first one in December 2015, just before I started as Headteacher in January. I was blown away then, and if anything the standard just keeps on going up!

This year’s event was no exception. There were over 400 students involved over the two nights, with such an array of music on show – musical theatre, pop, folk, jazz and classical, and even a moment of metal from Churchill’s Young Musician of the Year, Kimi Powell on drums! Young Musician runner-up Bronwen Deane had the audience in the palm of her hand with a performance of her own song, “That’s what they all say” – she has a bright future ahead of her. Last year’s competition winner, Maddie Pole, is now in the final of the Fame by Fearless talent competition – you can vote for her to win here until midnight on Sunday 25th November 2018.

Gospel Choir introduced some fantastic soloists to the Playhouse this year: Ruby Polli, Cara Crozier-Cole, Benedict Pearce, Livvy Green, Olive Barnett and Freya Hinnigan-Chambers sang their hearts out, backed as ever by an incredible sound from the enthusiastic chorus. Many of the same students also sang in Chamber Choir, whilst a beautiful acapella rendition of White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes showed you didn’t need instruments to make a wonderful sound.

Instrumentalists, however, were in plentiful supply! Big Orchestra and Concert Band both gave excellent performances, including a suite from “Enter the Dragon” arranged by our very own Mr Spencer, and a spirited performance by the Jazz Band fronted enthusiastically by Sol Walker-Mckee and Arthur Burston.

The highlight of the show for many was the Junior Choir, as the massed ranks of Year 7 and 8 singers kicked off the festive period with a re-telling of the Christmas story through songs written by students. The soloists this year were fantastic, and the actions and performance level from the choir were brilliant – how they managed to muster the energy after a disco is beyond me!

The Christmas Concert is a real team effort. Weston Playhouse work with us every year, and over thirty Academy staff were involved behind the scenes and front of house. But what impressed me most – as always – was the leadership of our students. Students compered the show, conducted orchestras, led vocal groups, ran the stage management, arranged musical items, and sold programmes. Seeing the potential and promise of these great young people, and their joy in music making, is what makes all the effort and organisation worthwhile.

I’m calling it: Christmas starts here!

Christmas at Churchill 2017

The last week of term before Christmas is a magical time at Churchill. We keep our lessons going right up until the end, but on the final day we all get together to celebrate. The Sixth Form lead the way with their annual fancy dress parade, closely followed by the four Houses with their carol services, tutor events and mini-competitions. Enjoy the photos below, and I wish everyone in the Churchill Academy & Sixth Form community (and beyond) a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!

 

 

Christmas at Churchill

I’ve had a fantastic time enjoying my first Christmas at Churchill, witnessing all the traditions I’ve heard so much about first hand! We’ve got into the Christmas spirit with an array of spectacular festive knitwear on Wednesday and Thursday as lessons continued – it’s quite a sight to see a teacher dressed as an elf explaining the details of an exam mark scheme to a student wearing a fluffy reindeer jumper with a light-up red nose…

We also had a delicious Christmas lunch prepared on Wednesday and Thursday, with the main hall transformed into an elegant family dining room with crackers, streamers and squeaky blowouts!

Today, Friday, saw us celebrate Christmas proper. The day began early with the senior team in from 6:30am to cook and serve breakfast for all the staff of the Academy, to say thank you for all their hard work this year. I managed to grab some leftovers – it was delicious!

 

The day continued with our carol services at the Methodist and St John the Baptist Churches, alongside our in-school activities for students in the four houses. The Sixth Form did not let us down with their spectacular fancy dress parade around the Academy site at break time! See the website for some more photos of their amazingly creative costumes. They also put on a brilliant Revue performance in which I was honoured to play a small part.

As is traditional , the Sixth Form team had been busy putting on a little entertainment of their own. See if you can spot the teachers taking on Queen in our very own Bohemian Rhapsody:

I was also lucky enough to get a treat in the English Department’s Secret Santa draw which has set me up nicely for 2017…

A merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!

Why I love the Junior Choir

This year’s Christmas Concert was an absolute triumph, as you can read in my review for the website and all the lovely emails and messages which were sent in afterwards. The standard of music-making and performance was exceptional, and the variety of acts was joyous. But for me, and I think for most of the audience, the Junior Choir was the perfect way to close the show. Here’s why I love the Junior Choir…

Collaboration

By my count there are 237 students listed on the programme in the Junior Choir, including 21 soloists. This captures the ethos of the Academy – it’s inclusive, where all students are valued, where everyone has a voice. And what a fantastic sound 237 Year 7 and 8 students make when they’re together!

Confidence

The soloists – and the rest of the choir – who performed on the night were incredible. It’s important to remember that some of them had only been at Churchill for eleven weeks before they took to the Playhouse stage! To sing so skilfully, word- and note-perfect (or dressed as Elvis!) on a professional theatre stage is testament to all we do to build the confidence of our young people; it is this work that makes our students our best ambassadors.

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Creativity

The songs that the Junior Choir sang were all composed by Churchill students. This year we had new compositions from Finn Williamson, Lois Hart and Brooke Knight alongside some from previous years’ songwriting competitions. The chance for students to showcase their creativity on this huge scale is such a fantastic opportunity! And the songs are great too; a fantastic alternative to traditional Christmas carols.

Choreography

As well as the sound, the sight of all those students moving together is breathtaking! The choreography really brings energy to the singing, too, and brings the words to life.

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Continuation

The Junior Choir are the Youthful Spirit of tomorrow. Having the younger students in the Playhouse to hear the senior students sing, play, act and perform allows them to see where the performing arts can take them at Churchill. Our senior students are superb role models, and having the Junior Choir alongside them in the theatre ensures that this vital area of our work remains strong into the future.

Christmas!

Although our Christmas Concert takes place at the end of November, for me it marks the start of the Christmas season. It’s the first time this year – outside of shopping centres! – that I’d seen festive tinsel and it got me properly into the Christmas spirit.

You can watch and download a video of the Junior Choir, along with a selection of other performances from the Christmas Concert, at the Music Department website.