This year's Lower School Prize Giving event gave pupils, parents and staff a wonderful opportunity to join together in person to celebrate the end of this academic year like no other.
The carefully organised Covid-secure event began with a Prize Giving ceremony in a marquee on Doncaster Close, with musical performances by pupils Faith and Millie playing a violin duet and George giving a solo on the saxophone.
In his speech, Headmaster Henry Price expressed his pleasure at welcoming the audience of Lower School pupils, parents and staff to a Prize Giving in person, saying: “I thank you not only for being with us here today, but for being with us every step of the way this year. Any Prize-Giving is a chance to celebrate individual pupil achievements, but this year more than ever, it is a celebration of teamwork, of travelling a road together and finishing together.”
He also thanked the “countless Support Staff in vital roles - front of house and behind the scenes - as well as your wonderful tutors, teachers, HMs and Mr Morris to whom I am hugely grateful. They have all played their part in keeping us safe, keeping us learning and keeping us connected.”
With references to many classic family games such as ‘Snakes and Ladders’ and ‘Monopoly’ that families enjoy playing together and where we often learn our “earliest and hardest lessons in how to win and lose with grace; where we learn about the need for luck as well as skill, and where we learn that it is the joy of playing and making it fun for others, not who wins that really matters”, Henry concluded by wishing Lower School families safe travels over the summer and expressing the hope that “we all find the time to look up from our screens and get down to some games. Get out the cards, set up the board, roll the dice… it is the journey where the fun lies, with people around us that we love, sometimes winning, sometimes not, but being in the moment, together.”
In his speech, Head of Lower School, Adrian Morris, expressed his pride for every Lower School pupil, saying: “It has continued to be an unprecedented time for learning; however, it delights me that we are gathered here today as it is important that everyone’s efforts are acknowledged, in particular the hours and hours spent on screen, as well as the efforts being back at school with routine, expectations and fun!”
He continued: “Most poignant from this extraordinary and lengthy experience is the way we have understood ourselves better and not least through more time for reading.”
Before introducing the winners of prizes in each of the three different categories, Adrian read from a story that he had enjoyed reading during lockdown: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horseby Charlie Mackay – “a story with a message that speaks a universal language about love, friendship and kindness.”
Echoing Henry Price’s words, Adrian paid tribute to all the staff who had worked so hard over the past year and took the opportunity to wish good fortune on those valued staff members who were leaving Lower School to start new adventures elsewhere, in particular Head of Lower School Boarding, Matthew Powell and Housemaster of Sargants, Ashley Denman.
Mr Morris finished by advising the audience to follow the advice of The Boy, the Mole and the Horse: “Spread your wings, follow your dreams, be kind, love and eat cake!”
After the Prize Giving ceremony, families enjoyed socially distanced picnics on Doncaster Close, followed by Sports Day relay races on Farside.
This year the competition comprised a series of track races with pupils representing their Houses and there were even mixed relays with the pupils of Lincoln and Peterborough Houses joining together and the pupils of Ancaster and Sargants joining together in friendly competition.
Director of Athletics, Trefon Vandoros, who masterminded the event, gave this report of the afternoon’s events:
‘The long-awaited Lower School Sports Day did not disappoint. Adapted and fit for purpose, track relays proved to be competitive and thrilling. Nothing like Hurdle relays to start the day off with excitement and exhilaration. With athletes running in all directions, it definitely captured the attention of the audience.
The Mixed 8 x 50m was equally exciting, with runners of all abilities and from both the girls’ and boys’ Houses – what an opportunity to show off the true nature of the Lower School.
The distance relays highlighted the incredible talent of our middle distance runners and displayed the intensity and effort that these athletes have put into training to perfect their technique and endurance.
The finale of the 4 x 100m relays was also extra special. Typically, Sargants filled every available lane with every possible runner, and in true spirit, runners ran their hearts out and performed to their parents who have longed to see their children compete regardless of result.
The results speak for themselves. Added together, you could not have put money on it, but a tie is just what it was and what it should be. Everyone gave their all, everyone earned points for their House, but the finish was down to the last race, and it was simply a perfect ending to a perfect day.’