In my final Headmaster’s Desk of the term, I would like to start by wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas: surrounded by trees and decorations and having already eaten the first of several Christmas Dinners and sung a variety of wonderful carols, the season feels as though it is now in full swing.
The week started very seasonally, and although it is always a shame to close the School for a day, I do hope the boys and girls of Lyonsdown enjoyed the snow. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Sheridan for his tireless work on Monday and Tuesday, clearing the site of ice and snow and making the approaches to School as safe as possible.
But this is not only a week of Advent. On the day we returned to School, celebrations for Hanukkah began in the evening. I have enjoyed hearing the children tell me about how they had marked the occasion, and what they were looking forward to in the Festival of Lights. Of course, Hanukkah is not just a Festival of Light, and I hope it is a time full of hope, happiness and love for those who celebrate it.
The final three days of term were particularly festive. Wednesday saw Christmas Lunch being enjoyed by all: there was an amazing spread, good conversation and (new this year) the added excitement of crackers. As I have often said, communal dining and pupils sharing the same dish is a cornerstone of Prep School life, but Christmas Lunch is always that little bit extra magical. Father Christmas even made an appearance in the Library for a visit, after the FLS managed to persuade him to pop in before the rush on Christmas Eve. Santa and I could not decide who was more grateful to the FLS for making his grotto so spectacular (think Punchdrunk Theatre with added fairy lights), but he has asked me to thank them publicly.
The Carol Service was the highlight of Thursday. Christmas is a special time of year, both in the Christian calendar and at Lyonsdown School. The Service is a wonderful way in which to mark the occasion of Jesus’ birth and celebrate together, as a community. I am sure that the children lifted your spirits with their words and song, to send you into the Christmas holidays full of warmth and light.
Friday was a normal school day, of course. My assembly focused on family traditions at Christmas: we discussed how lucky we were to have presents, and thought of those who do not. How the Grinch Stole Christmas was a perfect poem to deliver the message that it is those around us who truly make the holidays so wonderful.
The afternoon was anything but normal, as the new Lyonsdown Christmas Scavenger Hunt went into full swing. Our House captains and vice-captains organised their teams, ably assisted by the rest Year 6 and Year 5. As Sherlock Holmes would almost say, the game was afoot. The four Houses pitted their wits and guile against each other as Years 1 to 6 (safely) roamed the school (with supervision) and hunted down the answers to a whopping seventy questions. The hall was tense as the scores were calculated, but it was Blue House, St Christopher who emerged victorious and were awarded the prestigious trophy.
We have also said an important farewell this week: as you know, Mrs Hirsch has left us to return to the Secondary sector. Mrs Hirsch was the driving force behind the amazing Carol Service I mentioned above, as was the case with so many assemblies and productions in her time at Lyonsdown. In January, we welcome Emma Roberts as our new Director of Music. Mrs Roberts brings a wealth of experience to Lyonsdown, from both the Secondary and Prep School sectors and I am sure you will join me in making her feel welcome in the Spring Term as she continues to develop our Music Department.
In closing, I wish all the members of the Lyonsdown community joy and peace at this special time of year. Christmas is an episode of one of our most important stories, and the modern festival brings with it many opportunities for celebration and the chance to spend time with family and friends. I hope that you are able to make the most of the break and look forward to seeing you all in the New Year, on Tuesday 9th January 2018.