The Voice of st leonards junior school

Friday, 9 March 2018

Performing Arts: The beating drum of the School


“If you try to suppress the Arts, then you’re suppressing the deepest dreams and aspirations of a people” Barack Obama

When I show prospective families around the school, I always finish up on the top floor balcony of Hepburn House, and as I lead the visitors up the many flights of steps, I encourage them with the promise of coffee and biscuits after they have seen one of the finest views of any school (as seen below). I had the same conversation as I led a family up the stairs yesterday, and was preparing them for the breathtaking view of East Sands. However, upon entering the Year 7 corridor, we were thwarted by a last-minute rehearsal taking place for today’s ‘Perform in Perth’, with two of our Year 7s in full throttle of their performance. I didn’t think anything could trump the view, but suddenly we found ourselves utterly stunned and inspired by these two pupils intently preparing their piece for today. The power of drama.

This week, we have seen a huge number of St Leonards pupils taking part in ‘Perform in Perth’, an annual competition for children to present their solo pieces. To say we are proud of their achievement is a gross understatement, and if we take a moment to break down what they have done in preparation for this, we can understand the magnitude of their success. Firstly, the commitment, hours of practice and the concentration needed to learn their lines and prepare the performances. On the day itself, our children are propelled into this rather large theatre, to stand – on their own – on stage and deliver a monologue in front of a large auditorium full of complete strangers. This takes considerable courage, bravery and the determination and stamina to literally ‘find their voice’.

Fast forward a week, and our Years 4-7 pupils will be preparing for their productions. This takes a very different form, as the children will be performing as an ensemble on stage - with their peers – in front of parents, families and fellow pupils and staff. Very different, but no less daunting. We always see extraordinary talent from the children when they perform on stage, often seeing their unique characters and personalities coming through, but also real gems from children we possibly wouldn’t expect to be seemingly so comfortable on stage. For many, this is their opportunity to ‘find their voice’.

So, what do our pupils gain from their engagement in the Performing Arts, and specifically for the purposes of this article, Drama? First and foremost, they all absolutely love the experience of putting on a production, performing as a soloist, preparing for and taking their LAMDA exams, and working as a group in Drama lessons: it will generate some of the happiest memories of their time at school.

For every LAMDA exam, production and performance, the children will have learned a great deal about themselves, developed a sense of commitment to a lengthy project, been exposed to a range of different genres and forms of literature, gained confidence and learned to work as part of a team, where no-one is bigger or more important than anyone else. There will have been moments of frustration, boredom during rehearsals, moments of wishing you were outside kicking a ball around, great sacrifices to learn lines, and enduring the wrath of anxious directors in the immediate lead-up to a production. These are all equally healthy habits to acquire at a young age, and will stand the children in excellent stead for all walks of life later on.

For some, involvement in Drama is another feather in their cap, for some it is their chance to shine and find something they love have a real strength in. For some, their contribution will be on stage, for others it will be behind the lighting desk or in stage management: whatever their role, the contribution is equal.

I urge every single pupil to continue to develop their passion for Drama. Whether on stage, behind the scenes, or simply taking great pleasure from watching others perform in front of you, the Performing Arts broadens horizons, takes us into a magical world that shapes our imagination, and provides lasting friendships and memories.

Amidst cuts to Performing Arts in schools and clubs throughout the UK, it is so incredibly sad that many children will never get the opportunity to be exposed to such a key area of their formative years. The children at St Leonards provide the greatest inspiration possible in their involvement with Performing Arts (and of course the Visual Arts). They, in turn, get their inspiration from Mrs Stewart, Mrs Love, Mr Shiells, Ms O’Brien, Mr Bell, and our team of Music, Dance and Drama specialists. I am delighted that the children grab this opportunity, and I couldn’t be more proud of their achievements, hard work and enjoyment in this critical area. Performing and Visual Arts form the beating heart of this school, and I know our children will be richer for it.

My sentiments, with regards to Art, Dance and Music mirror this, and you may wish to revisit an earlier blog I wrote about Music. And, as I write this, I can reflect on the successes and achievements of all those who have taken ABRSM Music Exams this week.

Wishing all St Leonards families a happy weekend, wherever your adventures take you.

William Goldsmith

PS. A Year 6 Pupil has just bounced into my office with the proudest smile. 'Mr Goldsmith, I have come to tell you that I have been at the ‘Perform in Perth’ today, and absolutely loved it. I came second in my category. I felt nervous at the start, and I’m really proud that I did this.' This young man has found his voice today, and it will have been a defining moment for him.


PUPPET THEATRE | On Tuesday afternoon Years 1-6 were treated to a performance by Clydebuilt Puppet Theatre, performing the Native American tale ‘The Call of the Loon Bird’. We followed the life of one character, Little Eagle, who shows mercy to a magical bird, the ‘loon’. This bird then guides him through life and teaches him compassion and responsibility, until he achieves a state of wisdom, finally turning into a mystical loon bird himself.

After the show, Steve from Clydebuilt answered the children’s questions about the show and the loon bird itself. Then Year 2, who have been making their own puppets, stayed behind to look more closely at Steve’s hand puppets and see how he creates different effects with his shadow puppets.

Everyone learned a lot from this experience, and had a wonderful time!


BABA MARTA | Year 2 continued their exploration of the ways in which different cultures use stories to explain the world around them with a fascinating visit from Sandra Romenska, Marko's mum.

She shared 'The Tale of Baba Marta', or 'Granny March', with the class. In the past, in Bulgaria, people saw the months and seasons as characters, and Baba Marta is a warm, kind character who loves babies, which explains why so many young animals are born in Spring. However, the boys and girls heard how sometimes her naughty brothers, January and February, sneak back while Baba Marta is sleeping, bringing the snow. According to Bulgarian tradition, this is the reason we often have such unpredictable weather at this time of year!

The 1st of March each year is Baba Marta's Day, when people gather to celebrate the coming Spring. They exchange 'martenitzi', made of red and white threads, to wish each other good luck, health and wealth. Typically, you wear this thread until you see the first stork, swallow or tree in blossom. You then tie your martenitzi onto a blossoming tree and make a wish!

Thank you to Sandra and Marko for bringing in a martenitzi for everyone in Year 2. The children are all wearing them with great pride!


QUIZ MASTERS | On Wednesday afternoon, Nicholas, Angus, Katie and Corinne attended the Rotary Quiz at Greyfriars Primary school. It was incredibly close throughout the ten rounds, and by the end St Leonards were just four questions behind the winners, Greyfriars, and were in joint second place with Lawhead.

In a very tense tiebreak, St Leonards held their nerve and won 12-6. The team will go through to the next round in Dundee in May. Congratulations!


DRAGONS' DEN | One of Year 5's Homework Heroes tasks was to come up with a company idea and pitch it to the rest of the class, a la Dragons' Den. Ting was first to stand up and present her pitch for a free-from baking company called The Baking Llama. Ting gave an excellent presentation to the rest of the class, who then asked lots of brilliant questions.

Roy then went into Chief Executive mode and spoke about how to make a profit in business! He gave a short talk about the importance of pricing your product higher than the cost to make it, so that you turn a profit and can reinvest the money.

Ting took her project a step further, baking some dairy-free lemon shortbread for everyone to taste and even made her own packaging label!

Next up were pitches from Alanya and Sal. Alanya explained the idea behind her fruit kebab cart, which she would have in local parks or at visitor attractions. These locations would enable her business to reach her target audience - children who need healthy snacks whilst out and about with their parents.

Sal pitched her concept for a home baking company, which would offer bespoke cakes with a focus on Money cakes. She made two examples for the class to try and explained that if a customer had dietary requirements, she could make free-from cakes too!


COSTUME PARADE | A busy week, or indeed fortnight, of World Book Day celebrations culminated in the most spectacular Costume Parade in St Katherines Hall on Thursday morning. It was wonderful to see all the boys and girls - not to mention staff - arriving at the Junior School dressed up as characters from their favourite books!

We met Fantastic Mr Fox, Horrid Henry, the BFG, Willy Wonka, Luigi (complete with his own car) and the Cat in the Hat, to name but a few of the famous faces around the School yesterday!

The votes are being counted with the winning outfits due to be announced at Celebration Assembly on Monday morning, so watch this space!


BRILLIANT BANNOCKS | This week, the boys and girls in Year 2 have been exploring the Scottish fairytale, 'The Wee Bannock'. They created story maps and compared it to the well-known tale, 'The Gingerbread Man'. Next, it was time for the class to make some of their own wee bannocks, which everyone tucked into while they were still warm from the oven! Delicious!


LIFE CYCLES | Year 1 have been very busy this week learning all about animals that lay eggs, and those that don't. They have been making their own life cycles on paper plates to see how animals change as they grow!


The following pupils received certificates at Celebration Assembly on Monday, 26 February:

Grace for designing and producing a superb information poster on hieroglyphics.

Nikolas for taking it upon himself to design a wonderful poster giving information on the many varied places to visit in York, following a visit to the city. Nikolas explained his poster to the class with great enthusiasm and knowledge.

Amber for being a good friend to others in the playground and making sure no-one feels left out.

Mia for outstanding Maths work, an example being tackling the 'Chilli Challenge' with confidence, achieving outstanding results.

Edward for hugely positive interactions with a guest speaker, for asking pertinent questions and engaging so well in the talk.

Harry for outstanding focus and hard work in all tasks.

Katherine for showing great thoughtfulness and kindness. Having heard an appeal on the radio, Katherine donated some of her own clothing to raise money for an incredibly worthwhile cause.

Scott for becoming ever more confident and eager to have a go at written tasks.

Shelagh for her continued pleasant and courteous manner, both inside and beyond the classroom, and for displaying an awareness and understanding of others' feelings in many different situations, remaining kind and positive at all times.

Bronze Stars for 50 House Points were awarded to Brendan, Ewen, Finn, Isha, Lucca, Luke, Melissa, Paddy, Polly, Ruby, Sam and Tom.

Silver Stars were awarded to Harry, Ollie, Riya and Rachael.

A Gold Star was awarded to Alastair.


ABORIGINAL STORIES | Year 2 were treated to a visit from Meredith's mum, Mrs Munro, this week, who came in to read some Aboriginal Dreamtime stories to the class. The children learnt how the kangaroo got her pouch and why frogs can only croak.

To round off the visit, Mrs Munro very kindly shared some homemade damper, which is an Aboriginal campfire bread! Yum!


YEAR 3 DONATION | Anna and Jonny very kindly donated their winnings from a STEM poster design competition to the boys and girls in Year 3. The pair won a £50 Amazon voucher for their poster, and after much discussion, the class decided to spend Anna and Jonny's generous donation on circuit-building kits, Play Dough, and a bonus purchase - walkie talkies!

Year 3 will be building circuits next week in order to create sounds when investigating Morse Code. The children will also be using the walkie talkies to explore how we communicate over long distances, and the Play Dough went down a treat during Golden Time!


TOPPINGS TRIPS | As part of the World Book Day festivities, each class in the Junior School has enjoyed a trip to Toppings bookshop in St Andrews. Armed with a £1 World Book Day token, and in many cases some extra spending money, the boys and girls headed along to the shop on Greyfriars Garden to choose some new reading material. Here they are en route and browsing the magnificent selection of books!


EXTREME READING | We have thoroughly enjoyed receiving your snow photos, and particularly those showing the boys and girls reading in the extreme conditions! Here are two more of our avid readers getting stuck into good books outdoors!


After the unscheduled ‘snow stoppage’ of last week, both children and staff have returned to exactly where we left off and launched into another busy week fueled by amazing tales from the ‘great snow’. There has been much sharing of adventures, activities and photos from our snowbound days. All Book Week activities have continued apace culminating in our delayed Book Day Parade with the extra planning time clearly having been a huge benefit for some! There were some truly super outfits on show!

The Lower School key objectives this week have been;

Year One

  • Mathematics: To be able to identify odd and even numbers whilst understanding what defines an odd or even number. To be able to count in twos as the basis of beginning to develop knowledge of the two times table.
  • English: Collaborative non fiction writing about animals and their young. The children are encouraged to independently sound out words in their writing and use correctly spelt high frequency words where applicable. Phonemes ‘ou’, ‘ow’ and ‘ar’.

Year Two

  • Mathematics: To be able to read and measure length in centimetres using rulers. Organising data by means of a Venn diagram.
  • English: To be able to make story comparisons: ‘The Wee Bannock’ and ‘The Gingerbread Man’. Using ‘The Lighthouse Keepers Catastrophe’ as a stimulus, the children have written their own messages in a bottle. Phoneme ‘ea’.

Year Three

  • Mathematics: Investigating symmetry – children are able to identify lines of symmetry and use these lines to continue and create their own symmetrical patterns. Using multiplication knowledge to link to division, extending their understanding of the concept of division.
  • English: To be able to proofread a variety of texts. In grammar they are consolidating alphabetical order and honing their dictionary skills. Phoneme ‘oi’.


All Lower School children have been introduced to the new word for the month ‘naissance’ with Mr Donlon putting the winter snow behind him and beginning a one man mission to embrace the new life that Spring heralds. It is a delight to hear children conversing in French in the corridors, greeting one another exchanging pleasantries, as well as the occasional breaking into French song as their confidence grows.

As we all look forward in joyful hope to Spring eventually springing, thank you to those who have provided waterproofs and alternative waterproof footwear. The snow and rain temporarily scuppered our plans, but we shall not be thwarted and are determined to forge ahead with as much varied outdoor activity as possible. As the famous quote states, ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing’ or to put it another way, as apparently oft quoted in Norway ‘when the weather turns sour, you shouldn’t blame your clothing'. Do please continue to furnish your child with whatever outdoor kit you have, in order that they can make the most of every opportunity.

I wish you all a pleasant weekend where foraging for milk and bread are not on the agenda.

Claire Boissiere, Lower School Coordinator


THE GREAT ST LEONARDS EGG HUNT | The Great St Leonards Egg Hunt, organised by the St Leonards Parents Association, will take place this year on Sunday, 18 March, from 11am to 2pm at St Leonards Junior School. Join us for an egg hunt with clues around the school grounds, and collect a chocolate egg at the end! There will also be Spring Bonnet and Decorated Egg competitions, so please do come dressed for the occasion if you want to enter!

Teas, coffees, soup, hotdogs and delicious home baking will be available to buy. Tickets cost £3 per child. Booking is essential via www.trybooking.co.uk/2584.

We look forward to seeing you there!


ADVENTURE MORNING - NEW DATE | Please do pass on details of the new date for our 'Morning of Adventure' to anyone who might be interested in finding out more about St Leonards for Year 1 entry in 2018.

We wish the following a very...

We wish the following a very Happy Birthday for the week ahead: Esme, Molly, Rachael, Mia, Mohamed

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