It’s so important that our children’s achievements (no matter how small) are celebrated and given the recognition they deserve.
Harry’s school holds an ‘Achievement Assembly’ at the end of every school year and it is a joyous (and tearful, but for all the right reasons) occasion for students and their families.
This year was no exception. I was glad that I had Grace for company. I felt like I needed all the support I could get, having lost Bonnie on Monday. All parents go to these events equipped with tissues, prepared for tears and I was liable to be ‘off’ at the slightest thing such was the heightened state of my emotions!
Harry’s is a tiny school and the hall is simply not big enough to cope with all those who want to attend, so the assembly is held in the playground under a marquee. It still wasn’t large enough to hold everyone, so the school choir – of which Harry was a part – had to sit just outside. You can guess what happened… But more of that later!
We started with a song. The kids (all of them) love music and singing and they learn bits of sign language so that they can sign as they sing. Audience participation is an absolute must but three lines in to Happy Talk, the song from the musical ‘South Pacific’, and I was tearing up:
You got to have a dream… If you don’t have a dream. How you gonna have a dream come true?
The students were so enthusiastic and the song seemed entirely appropriate for them.
The second song promised to be just as much of a tear-jerker. We All Stand Together by Paul McCartney, complete with prop lily pads for the children to wave.
Win or lose, sink or swim. One thing is certain, we’ll never give in. Side by side, hand in hand. We all stand together.
We had a lot of fun doing all the accompanying bullfrog noises which helped lessen the chance of tears.
The first presentations were for swimming. For the Primary children they were for gaining water confidence; for Secondary they were for things like floating independently, self-awareness in the water and gaining breathing control. Six of the thirty Sixth Form pupils gained their 25m badge – a fantastic achievement.
Then, more fun with a children’s Sunday School song I had never come across before, “Praise Ye The Lord”. The Head divided the audience into two sections with one half standing up and singing ‘Praise ye the Lord’ and the other half standing to sing ‘Hallelujah’, a bit like this. It was utterly chaotic and hysterically funny.
Time for the Head to present Secondary school pupils with their AQA certificates for achievements such as: growing plants from seeds with assistance, listening to a short story with physical prompts, matching the correct name to a photograph and writing your own name.
After that it was the turn of the Sixth Form pupils to receive their AQAs and ASDAN awards. Harry got 9 certificates in things like: Identification of basic ICT equipment, Independent Living: Problem solving, Introduction to paper making and Cooking & serving a meal for a peer group. As you can see, he was so pleased with himself.
And then, another chance to cry, Bring Me Sunshine by Morecambe & Wise. I know it sounds strange but we played this at the end of my father-in-law’s funeral in 2007. Harry absolutely loves it and within seconds he was up on his feet waving his arms and jigging about wildly. He was the only one! Bless him. It was an act of pure unbridled joy and you couldn’t help but smile.
Then the teachers gave out their Endeavour Awards to two students from each class who had strived their hardest to overcome obstacles this year. For one student it was for making and maintaining eye contact; for another it was for finally being able to communicate through writing and drawing. It was truly heart-warming to applaud these young people for what they had accomplished. Four pupils got 100% Attendance Awards which is astonishing in itself.
The Sixth Form Choir were assembled at the front of the marquee to sing and then the heavens opened (not the name of the song). I have completely forgotten what they sang because I was so concerned about Harry and his friends getting drenched. They sang on regardless but Harry was not at all happy about getting wet, flicking rain off the back of his neck and his arms. Although he doesn’t look at all concerned in this photo.
Then it was time to say goodbye to the Class of 2012 Leavers. The Head had gathered quotes from pupils and staff about each of the students leaving this year and had them individually laminated & put in a ‘Quotes Bag’ with some other goodies. She ‘interviewed’ each student and asked their permission to read out the quotes. Another lovely and very poignant moment.
Of the ten leaving, six will be going to the nearby college to follow a newly-instituted “Personalised Learning Pathway“. One was going to a work placement, one to day services and two to residential colleges.
The final two songs continued in much the same vein, partly making us want to burst into tears and partly filling us with hope and joy. As We Go Now was another song that I had never come across before, but is a popular ‘Leavers Assembly’ song. Proud is a song that Harry’s school uses at the end of many of their events and we know and love it (and quite often sing along in the style of Stevie from ‘Miranda’).
A fitting end to a brilliant Achievement Assembly.