Parents, pupils and staff of Oakham’s Lower School came together, albeit remotely, to round off this extraordinary academic year with an uplifting Prize Giving ceremony, full of musical performances, video montages, speeches and, of course, prizes. It was also an opportunity to celebrate our Form 2 pupils who ‘graduate’ up to the Middle School.
Normally held the same day as Lower School Sports Day, with families gathering for picnics at lunchtime, this year’s Prize Giving was, understandably, different. However, the show absolutely ‘went on’ – and the virtual event certainly captured life in the Lower School and celebrated the range of successes pupils have enjoyed, both in and outside of the classroom.
As the Headmaster, Henry Price, outlined, “It is understandable that we think about what we have missed in the last three months, particularly on a day where we are celebrating achievement, but I hope we can also reflect on all that we have gained. Ultimately, I believe that this period will cause our children to be more resilient, more creative and more reflective of what really matters in life.”
There was an array of wonderful musical interludes during the event. These included two contrasting performances by members of the Lower School Choir, who had recorded themselves singing in their homes with Director of Music Peter Davis providing the direction, piano accompaniment and seamless mixing. The first piece was a thought-provoking and moving rendition of ‘Can you Hear me? by Bob Chilcott, followed by an uplifting performance of ‘Gonna Rise up Singing’ by Don Besig.
Despite the fact that we were unable to stage the Lower School Production of The Wizard of Oz, members of the cast performed two of the most memorable songs from the show – Liv gave a timely and poignant interpretation of ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ and Adam, Patrick, and Evie exercised their comedy acting skills as they performed ‘If I only had a Brain/a Heart/the Nerve’ in their respective roles as the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion.
Interspersed between the prizes were recordings of the four Houses performing their songs from the Beatles-inspired Interhouse Singing Competition, held earlier in the year with photo montages showing the Houses in action throughout the year.
The prizes were divided into three categories: academic, extra-curricular and community. Before announcing the prize winners, Head of Lower School, Adrian Morris, commended all the children on their academic progress and development over the year. He also took time to celebrate successes in what he describes as the ‘Total Curriculum Triangle’: Sport, Music and Drama. Sporting successes were celebrated – not just the teams and individuals who reached regional and national finals in hockey, netball and running, but the successes of all pupils, as every child has represented Oakham in at least one fixture or event over the past academic year. Mr Morris also highlighted how impressive it is that throughout this year there has rarely been a musical performance of any kind that has not involved children from the Lower School.
In his concluding remarks, Mr Morris congratulated the Lower School “for your sense of resilience” during this time, for the overwhelming sense of community that has emerged. As well as announcing the School’s Community Prizes to individual pupils, he thanked and praised all Lower School children for taking part in the wonderful ‘off screen Fab 4 challenge’, which raised over £8,000 for Rainbows and Liv Village.
The ceremony finished, in a nod to the Richard Curtis film Love Actually, with the Heads of the four Houses holding up signs featuring words that summed up what Lower School has meant to them; among them were Loyalty, Respect, Family, Teamwork, Charity, Belonging and Opportunity, values that they will carry with them as they continue their Oakham journey in the Middle School and beyond.
Do watch the event here to join in with the Lower School celebrations and to enjoy their musical talents.