Lent Term 2023: Highlights 2

Posted: 31st May 2023

The last half of the Lent Term 2023 at St Augustine’s Priory was awash with amazing achievements.  From the stupendous production of ‘Sister Act’ to the visit of Year 8’s penpals from Ste Marie de Neuilly in Paris, to the wonderful Mass to say farewell to Mrs Raffray as she leaves us for new challenges, we celebrate all that the community of St Augustine’s Priory has been during February and March 2023.

Community and Faith Life:  Leaving Mass for Mrs Sarah Raffray.

After eleven years as Headteacher of St Augustine’s Priory, Mrs Raffray’s departure was marked by a whole school Mass at Ealing Abbey on Thursday 30th March.  From the Nursery to Year 13, all pupils and staff gathered for the Mass, celebrated by Fr Thomas.  This was an occasion, which brought together the whole school community with participation from pupils, staff and Governors.  We welcomed parents, past pupils and past staff members to join us to celebrate all that Mrs Raffray had achieved during her time with us and wish her well for her and her family’s future.

An entrance procession of staff and Senior girls carrying emblems of the school began Mass and then we sang the rousing hymn, ‘Tell out, my soul’, featuring Year 13 trumpeter and Music Scholar, Daisy.  Our new Head Girl, Marija (Year 13), read from the prophet Isaiah and Mrs Costello and Elena in Year 4 read the Psalm, followed by Maia, in Year 7, reading the Gospel Acclamation.  After the Gospel and homily, the Prayers of the Faithful were read by staff, representatives from the Governors and Prep pupils.  At the end of Mass, our Chamber Choir sang the deeply reflective ‘Gaelic Blessing’ by John Rutter and the Preps and Pre-Preps followed this with a musical ‘Farewell Blessing’ for Mrs Raffray, and the Mass ended with us all singing ‘Guide Me, O thou Great Redeemer’.

This was a wonderful and memorable occasion, and we wish Mrs Raffray every success in her new role as Executive Principal of the King’s College International School in Bangkok.  As we prayed at the Prayers of the Faithful, ‘We pray for St Augustine’s Priory Headteacher, Mrs Raffray, and her family as they begin their new life in Bangkok; may they delight in their new home and their work.’  Looking to the future and to the new Headteacher, the prayer concluded, ‘We pray that Mrs Macallister finds true fulfilment in her role as new Headteacher of the school, building on the work of education begun nearly 400 years ago by extraordinary women of faith.

Spring Concerts

Musical events abounded in March as the Lent Term rejoiced in a festival of music with two Spring concerts taking place.  On Monday 20th March, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 gave wonderful musical and dramatic performances in their Spring Concert.  They dedicated their show to Mrs Raffray, in thanks for all her hard work and generosity of spirit.  This was a lovely event and was thoroughly enjoyed by all those who attended – a wonderful way to celebrate the coming of Spring.

In addition, on the evening of 30th March the Chapel filled with parents, staff and families as they all gathered to enjoy the Preps and Seniors Spring Concert!    Beginning with Year 5 playing ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ and ‘Stand By Me’ on their ukuleles, this was a lively way to begin the concert.  The Senior Strings followed with Haydn’s ‘Violin Concerto in G’ and the Prep Orchestra then played the ‘Procession of the King’, a very apt choice for Coronation year!  We were then treated to a blissful duet by singers Roza and Matilda, who astounded us all with the Countess and Susanna’s duet, ‘Sull’aria’, from The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart.

A change of pace then followed with the Junior Strings playing ‘Monday’s Minuet’ and ‘Cha Cha Bowing’ and the Prep Choir and String Trio entertained us with ‘Somewhere Only We Know’.  ‘Two Songs to be Sung of a Summer Night on the Water’ by Delius were brought to us by the Senior Flutes.  These two short pieces were written for choir in 1920. Originally wordless pieces they have here been made into a lovely flute arrangement.

The beautiful voices of the Chamber Choir then brought us ‘The Seal Lullaby’ by Whitacre, one of the world’s most well-known contemporary composers. The music sets Kipling’s text of the same name in which a mother seal sings softly to her pup.

Year 13 trumpeter and Music Scholar, Daisy, then returned us to Haydn by playing his trumpet concerto in Eb (iii).  This was a virtuoso performance and was relished by the audience.

A surprise encore brought this year’s Spring Concert to a fitting conclusion with the Prep, Senior and Chamber Choirs joining together to sing ‘Move On’ by Abba, a tribute for Mrs Raffray, as she embarks on the next stage of her adventure!

‘Like a roller in the ocean, life is motion
Move on
Like a wind that’s always blowing, life is flowing
Move on
Like the sunrise in the morning, life is dawning
Move on
How I treasure every minute, being part of, being in it
With the urge to move on.’

Year 6 visit Côte d’Opale.

Ms Assemat reported on an action-packed visit to the north of France, which took place in March.  ‘From Wednesday 22nd until Friday 24th March, Year 6 visited Côte d’Opale.  On the first day, the pupils visited the largest aquarium in Europe, the Nausicaa in Boulogne-sur-mer, which was an entertaining, educational and scientific visit to this, the largest aquarium in Europe, which raises public awareness about the need to act responsibility towards the world’s oceans.  On day two Year 6 went to the Paris Plage market in Le Touquet and to a farm called La Haite d’Autrefois, a goat farm, where the girls learnt how to make bread and everything about the making of goat’s cheese (‘’le fromage de chèvre’!). The highlight of the visit was petting the kids who had been born two weeks before.  The farm is eco-friendly, where everything is recycled  and re-used and where they avoid using and producing what is unnecessary.  Our school theme of ‘Sustainability’ certainly became more relevant as the girls saw how this works at first hand.

‘Waste is only waste if we waste it’ seemed a perfect quote for the day at the goat farm.  As George Sand, French novelist of the nineteenth century and a pupil at this school when it was in Paris, said, ‘‘’La nature est éternellement jeune, belle et généreuse. Elle possède le secret du Bonheur…’’ (Nature is eternally young, beautiful and generous.  It holds the secret of happiness).

After this, Year 6 enjoyed two hours of a circus workshop, followed by a visit to the supermarket at Berk.  On the final day, our pupils met pupils of the same age in Wimereux, a small seaside holiday town.  The Catholic primary school of l’ école Jeanne d’Arc welcomed the girls with breakfast, followed by a walk along the beach, and games in the playground. Even if both groups were only beginners in French or English, they were able to communicate with each other. Year 6 are to be congratulated on their curiosity and willingness to participate fully in every activity.  They are amazing!’

‘Sister Act’

What a show!  The St Augustine’s Priory sell-out production of the musical ‘Sister Act’ at the Watermans Arts Centre, from 22nd to 24th March, sizzled with energy, enthusiasm and comedic ability.  The ensemble cast, drawn from the entire Seniors, threw itself with great verve into the show and sing, dance and acted their way throughout with immense talent.

The main characters alternated between the first and last and second nights, and all are to be congratulated on their magnificent performances.  The orchestra, under the direction of Dr Higgins, was a wonder in itself!  The Director, Ms Brown, and her backstage team of stage managers, costume, make-up and hair, sound, light, set, marketing and choreography produced a truly wonderful show and are to be congratulated on their achievement.  Both pupils and staff contributed so much to the well-deserved success of this production and audiences were enthusiastic in their appreciation.  What a show!

Visit of penpals from Ste Marie de Neuilly.

After the visit of our Year 8 pupils to their penpals at Ste Marie de Neuilly in Paris in February, it was their turn in the middle of March to visit us!  The school of Ste Marie occupies the building where our school was located from 1862 – 1911, when our community left Paris for England, and we have run a very successful exchange programme with the school for several years.

After spending their first day at St Augustine’s Priory, the pupils from France were given a warm welcome by their host families.  On Thursday 16th March, the pupils from both schools joined in a visit to Windsor Castle.  Although blustery, everyone enjoyed the day in the magnificence of this ancient castle.  The girls toured the State Apartments, eating lunch afterwards, and then walked down to St George’s Chapel.  This was a very moving experience as we were able to file past the side chapel where Queen Elizabeth II is buried.  On leaving the castle, we looked up and saw that the Royal Standard was flying – the King had arrived! On Friday, the girls from Ste Marie visited London, seeing the sights before departing for home on the Saturday.  It was wonderful to be able to welcome our friends from Ste Marie, thank you to all our host families and the teachers from both schools who made this visit possible.

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