Mrs Bennett’s Bulletin, Tuesday 23 March 2021

Good morning, Prep School family,

I hope this Bulletin finds you happy and well.

Can you believe that on this day, one whole year ago (23/3/2020), the whole country went into national lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. We were all told to stay at home unless absolutely necessary to leave. Schools had been shut the week before and the country had been thrown into a state of panic and disbelief. We have been through so much in the past year – both individually, within our families, as a school community and as a nation and what a year it has been.

Today we are supporting the National Day of Reflection on the first anniversary of the UK lockdown. We will be having a one-minute silence in school at 12 noon to commemorate and remember all of those who have been affected by the pandemic. We will remember those who have lost their lives but also those who have helped us through the past year. We will reflect upon the hope that the vaccine is bringing us and also that there are brighter days to come. It is hoped that people all over the country will help create a nationwide “beacon of remembrance” on their doorsteps by shining mobile phones, candles and torches into the night sky at 8pm this evening.

So in light of the above day of reflection, I have been doing some reflecting of my own! I thought I would share with you the top ten things that I have learnt throughout the last year – a year of a virus called Covid-19, a global pandemic, 3 national lockdowns and 2 periods of remote learning.

10. I don’t like banana bread! Pure and simple. There I have said it. I don’t like the national food of lockdown.

9. I have discovered a drive-thru Starbucks on my commute to work. Life changing as it is open from 6am. Happy days.

8. I love musicals. From Seven Brides for Seven Brothers to Oliver to Mary Poppins to Phantom of the Opera. I just love them. They make me happy.

7. I buy a lot of orange KitKats!

6. I miss real-life staff meetings. I miss our Wednesday night get together, in person, not over Zoom. I miss the banter, the laughter, the professional conversations, the companionship and the human connection. I miss the ideas that are generated through the ‘off the cuff’ discussions, I miss the smiles and I miss the silences. I miss just being with my colleagues and having time to sit and talk.

5. Zoom or pre-recorded events! This time last year I hadn’t heard of Zoom let alone run a school through this medium. I couldn’t have imagined a merit assembly through Zoom or a virtual Prize Giving. Who would have thought that the Swans would graduate virtually or that the Nativities would be akin to Steven Spielberg productions. We did it though and boy were they good! I mean, who can forget the teacher’s Zoom end of year parody or the ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ Christmas surprise.

4. Our periods of remote learning have been some of the most challenging times in my whole career. Education is not meant to be delivered via a computer screen. Schools should be full of children and laughter, not bubbles and hand sanitizer. Having said that, remote learning has also provided some of the most rewarding moments in my career as well. I have never been so proud of the wonderful team we have at Highclare Prep – from the teachers to the TA’s to our Pre-Prep staff and to the support staff. They have all been amazing. These wonderful human beings completely pulled together in a time of crisis. From sacrificing their Easter holidays to adapting all of their planning to an online curriculum to late night training sessions to sharing good practice when someone discovered something that would benefit the children to coming into school to look after the key worker children when everyone else was staying at home to putting the children in their classes needs before their own family at home. This year has really shown that teaching isn’t just a job – it’s a vocation, it is a way of life and it is a passion. I am so privileged to work with these people on a daily basis.

3. I am a panic buyer of toilet paper and pasta. No one needs as much of either of these products as they think they do. I am ashamed to admit this one!

2. Laithwaites online ordering and home delivery service. Life saver.

1. Highclare Prep School is the best school in the whole entire universe! Parents you have been so supportive and generous with your thanks. You have been understanding and kind. Your help with remote learning has been immense – I really don’t know how some of you have done it with all of your other commitments. Total respect to you. Finally, our children have been utterly amazing throughout this past year. They have been adaptable, patient, resilient and conscientious. They have worked so hard, even in the face of adversity and challenge. They have looked after each other and formed friendships that will last lifetimes. They have made us teachers smile daily and have been the light at the end of some dark tunnels. We couldn’t have got through it without them. Our sense of a true school family has really been cemented within this past year and I am so proud to be part of the wonderful Highclare Prep School family.

Thank you for the memories. March 23rd 2020 – March 23rd 2021 is a time we will never forget – thank you all for being part of my lockdown journey and for making it very special in so many different ways.

Days of the year themes for the coming week:

Tuesday 23rd March – Puppy day, Melba Toast Day, Dip and Chip Day (this is a favourite day for Mrs Quigley and myself!), Ravenclaw Pride Day and Near Miss Day

Wednesday 24th March – Chocolate Covered Raisin Day and Flatmates Day

Thursday 25th March – Waffle Day, Pecan Day and Tolkien Reading Day

Friday 26th March – Good Hair Day, Purple Day, Spinach Day, Make Up Your Own Holiday Day and Nougat Day

Saturday 27th March – Earth Hour, International Whiskey Day (Fact for you – my horse was called Whiskey), Paella Day, Quirky Country Music Song Title Day and World Theatre Day

Sunday 28th March – Weed Appreciation Day, Black Forest Gateaux Day (YUM), Something on a Stick Day and Neighbour Day

Monday 29th March – Lemon Chiffon Cake Day, Pay It Forward Day, Niagara Falls Run Dry Day and World Piano Day

Quote of the week: “No matter how long the winter is, spring will always follow.”

Jokes of the Week: Thanks to Mrs Harding (HPW/HPP) for these jokes:

Which is the most musical bone?
Trombone!

What do you call a gnome who lives in the city?
A metro-gnome!

Why was the musician starting at the orange juice bottle?
Because the label said concentrate!

Facts of the Week:
The most difficult-to-pronounce town is in Wales: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch (imagine having to learn to spell that and write that as your address!)

A tsunami can travel as fast as a jet plane.

There is a 50% chance that in a group of 23 people, two will share the same birthday. In a group of 367 people, it is a 100% chance, but only 70 people are required for a 99.9% chance.

Mindful March calendar task (this month’s activities are based on being in the present):

Tuesday 23rd March:
Tune into your feelings without trying to change them
Wednesday 24th March:
Appreciate your hands and all the things they enable you to do
Thursday 25th March:
Focus your attention on the good things that you take for granted
Friday 26th March:
Notice when you are tired and take a break Saturday 27th March:
Have a device –free day and enjoy the freedom it offers Sunday 28th March:
Appreciate nature around you, wherever you are

Monday 29th March:
Notice what is working today and be thankful for that

Sleeps til Santa: 277 days

Five things I am looking forward to this week (thanks to Mrs Hinch for the inspiration): Can you try this each day? Remember, it focuses your mind on the positive and reminds us to show gratitude for things, no matter how small!

This week I am looking forward to: our End of Term Merit Assemblies, Virtual Open Day on Saturday, driving to school and home in daylight, trying out a new recipe tonight and reading my book.

Have a super week,

Stay safe and take care,

Lots of love

Mrs Bennett