Tag Archives: music

The Sixth Form Prom in Pictures

I wanted this to be a quick picture post about Harry’s Sixth Form Prom night. They say every picture tells a story and I think that is especially so in this instance.

There are three classes in Harry’s sixth form, with about ten students per class. All students are invited, along with their families, to a sit-down meal followed by a disco. Attendance at the meal is optional and people can just come along for a dance if they want. This suits those students who have difficulties around eating in public.

DJ Ashley finds a fan

The highlight of the evening for the students is undoubtedly the dancing.

“You look good on the dance floor”

Like last year, Harry couldn’t keep off the dance floor.

Take your partners for the tango!

The more confident boys like asking their teachers to dance.

Grace gets a dance partner

The teachers weren’t the only ones getting asked to dance.

Even the shy ones get up to dance

These guys are best friends and both leave school this year. J finds big social occasions very difficult and his teachers were amazed that he even turned up. A very big deal.

L has fun with a balloon sword

L won this year’s prize for the leaver who most clearly demonstrated the school’s ethos. He had a great time celebrating his achievement at the prom.

Everyone takes to the floor

The evening was scheduled to end at 10pm but dancing went on until 11pm.

A lovely way to end the school year and say goodbye to the class of 2012.

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The Joy of Achievement Assembly

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.

Harry receives his certificates

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.

Bring Me Sunshine

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.

The Choir Get Soaked

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.

Music is a Universal Balm

On Friday night Harry and his dad went to a gig. A proper outdoors, lots-of-people gig. Most teenagers have probably been through this rite of passage with or without their parents long before reaching the age of 18 but Harry is not most teenagers.

Harry loves music. Almost as much as he loves TV. He knows the words to songs that we have never heard of, from contemporary pop songs to middle-of-the-road classics from the 1950s. It helps that he spends a lot of time on the road. Harry’s taxi run to school is roughly 45 minutes each way with the radio tuned in to BBC Radio 2. He knows (and sings along to) all the jingles that get played between 7.45-8.30am and 3.30-4.15pm. He will also sing along to TV commercials. So, really, what is the point in me muting the ‘Webuyanycar.com’ advert if Harry is going to sing it anyway?

So, when we had a letter come home from school saying that they were planning a trip to take Harry’s class to see Will Young perform at Dalby Forest we jumped at the chance for him to go.

The full cost of the tickets was £35.00 but the school subsidised part of the ticket price so that Harry’s ticket cost £20. Staff were going to accompany the students on a one-to-one basis to act as carers unless parents wanted to go… My husband will take any chance to go to a ‘proper’ gig and so he decided to attend as Harry’s carer and his ticket was free. How cool is that?

The idea was that students would travel from school to the venue and have a picnic tea in the forest. As things turned out, this aspect of the trip was cancelled due to staff shortages so instead, kitted out in wellies and waterproofs, ‘the boys’ travelled from home together. The venue – Dalby Forest – is only a 30 minute drive from home but the queue to get into the forest was long and slow-moving.

Having parked the car, the queue to get into the concert area was also pretty horrendous. Harry isn’t too bad with the concept of queueing but there is always a chance – more so in a forest – that he will start to scout around for sticks. He didn’t. Perhaps the amount of people around put him off because he held on tightly to his dad’s hand until they had passed through the security check.

We had done plenty of research before they set off, so they made their way to the Disabled Stand, an area set aside for wheelchair users and their carers. There was plenty of room for Harry to sit down or stand up and dance as the mood took him. At one point he was really jigging about and my husband was worried he was bouncing about too much and disturbing others around him. He was just about to put out a restraining hand when the young lady sitting next to him prevented him. She put her hand on his arm and said, “It’s alright. Leave him be.” How lovely.

Harry at the Will Young gig

The support act was Nerina Pallot, an artist my husband had never heard of, although he recognised several of her songs once he heard them. Harry knew many more of them and happily sang along.

At the interval food was procured. Canadian BBQ steak sandwiches, lemonade and coca cola which Harry wolfed down and ended up with sticky fingers – that’s rock ‘n’ roll!

When Will Young appeared the place really came to life. Two elderly ladies suddenly became extremely animated and were up on their feet, singing and swaying along to the music. Harry needed no encouragement to join in and was soon completely absorbed. So much so that he was oblivious to a nasty fight between a man and a woman which suddenly started up, only feet away from where he was standing.

Fours hours later the boys were home and buzzing with tales of their night out. Harry’s verdict was: “It was fantastic!” And my husband was vowing to attend more outdoor concerts with him.

The value of music as a form of therapy cannot be underestimated. I am always taken aback by the effect it has on Harry. It brings him to life in a way that few others things do. He seems suffused with joy and it brings a smile to his face which is transfiguring.

Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form (Plato).  (Wordsworth Dictionary of Musical Quotations, 1991, p. 45).

(I found this quote on the Voices website and hope they don’t mind me using it here).