Festivals and celebrations have an important role in the school year. They encourage a feeling for, and an awareness of, the seasonal rhythms. The following are examples of festivals and other events which have traditionally taken place during the course of the school year.
The first festival of the school year is the festival of Michaelmas on the 29th September. It is a festival of “strong courageous will” for the whole Lower and Upper school. Kindergarten also have their own Michaelmas celebration. At this time of the year we find ourselves gathering in the harvest. All children are encouraged to bring offerings of garden produce and home baking which are placed together in a display. This is later donated to local charities. In recent years, most classes have spent the day after Main Lesson walking and picnicking in the local woods.
The festival of Martinmas is celebrated on November 11th by younger children. The children carry lighted lanterns in a procession to bring light into the darkness of winter.
The Advent Fair is held on the Saturday on the weekend before the beginning of Advent. It heralds the approach of Christmas with its beautiful goods and carefully decorated stalls. It is the major fund raising event of the year. All parents and friends are encouraged to work together in a variety of ways to make the day a success.
The Advent Spiral is held on the first Sunday in Advent for younger children – Classes 1, 2 & 3. Parents and siblings are invited to attend. During Advent there are special Monday morning assemblies for the Lower and Upper school. These are a chance for children to share time together and to carry light from the Advent wreath in the assembly to light the wreaths in their own classrooms. The four candles on the wreath symbolise the four Sundays in Advent.
St Nicholas visits the young children on December 6th. He encourages children to behave properly and kindly towards others. Some children may receive at this point gifts or challenges for the coming years. At Christmas time the teachers and friends perform the Oberufer Shepherds’ Play performed on the penultimate day of the Michaelmas term, and sometimes at the beginning of the New Year the Kings’ Play for Class 5 upwards. There are evening performances of both plays for parents and friends.
At Easter the Easter Hare brings a surprise egg hunt for the children in the Kindergarten to emphasise Spring and nature. Other classes may have a special event.
The last festival of the school year is the Parents’ Midsummer Festival in June. This is a social occasion with cream teas and stalls in the afternoon. The festival continues with the lighting of the St John’s Bonfire followed by singing around the fire. St John’s Bonfire is also celebrated within school by children and teachers during the Summer term.
Sports Day towards the end of the Summer term is an opportunity for pupils, parents and teachers to participate in a mainly non-competitive way in a variety of sporting events.
On the last Saturday of the Michaelmas and Easter terms there is a Parents’ Festival. The children present work from the term to an audience of parents and friends. In the Summer term the Midsummer Parents’ Festival is held on the Saturday nearest to Midsummer. All children are required to attend as these festivals form an important part of school life. However, at the discretion of the class teacher, Class 1 may not always be involved in the Michaelmas or the Easter Parents’ Festival. There is no fixed rule for this, and the class teacher will inform parents prior to the event.
An Open Day is occasionally held in the Easter and/or Summer terms and provides an excellent opportunity to view children’s work throughout the School and to introduce new parents.