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As we move into 2017

From left to right: Lynn Wood (Deputy Head – Secondary), Leene Soekov (Head), Maeve Mc Carthy (Deputy Head) and Robin Holcombe (Bursar)

Photograph by Keith Barnes www.photographersworkshop.co.uk

22nd December 2016

To all members of the school community.

The Christmas season is upon us again. Christmas trees are decorated and Christmas music is heard everywhere you go. It is an exciting yet somewhat stressful time, not only for families but also for staff and students, especially our S5 and S6 who have been busy with examinations over the last month.

Christmas is a time for noticing the needs of all the members of our community. It is a time for giving and sharing. Every year we try to reach out to our local community and those further afield, especially during the Christmas period.

Over the years, our RME team has initiated some activities at Christmas to help people less well off than ourselves. Pupils have made up shoeboxes full of gifts to be sent to families living in poverty in Eastern Europe. Last year, they supported the Radio Oxford Christmas Appeal, and collected new socks which were given out to homeless people around the city.

This year it was agreed to support the Gatehouse Project, which provides soup and sandwiches each evening for homeless people in the centre of Oxford. In lessons, the pupils learned about the realities of being homeless.

In order to spread the word about our project among the student body, Mrs Groth worked with the pupils’ Interact group. Charlie Sayers and Lydia Wright stepped forward to co-steer the project. They wrote a letter about the project to all parents and students and the group also made posters and advertised the project widely around the school. Our students responded in a typically generous and warm-hearted way and we collected ten big boxes full of lovely things, including home-made cakes, which homeless people appreciate so much.

A team of 28 students, staff members and parents participated in the Santa run in Oxford in aid of the Helen & Douglas House Hospice. Mrs Sladden and Mr Schmidt coordinated our school team.

The ESC Interact Club is raising money by selling Christmas cards for a Stonebridge School in Dhangahdi in the north of Nepal very close to the Indian border. The school has poor conditions and our students have decided to support the school.

We had our 8th ESC annual Readathon in November. This project encourages good independent reading habits and also highlights the part we all can play as global citizens. All sponsorship contributions will go toward the school’s Zambia Project. This year, the school raised about £500.

Other students have shown their community spirit by volunteering as bus monitors. The bus monitors look after younger children, monitor the use of tickets and keep an eye on behaviour on the school buses. This project is working well and I am grateful to Ariadna Maltas, Camille Darby, Margot Antignac, Maya Neveu-Kringelbach, Caroline Winkel, Anna Viehhauser and Lidia Supinen and staff members Mr D’Haens and Mr Le Guern for their involvement. The bus organisers would be happy to have new volunteers to join this team.

Apart from the above-mentioned charitable activities, we had a packed schedule of extra-curricular activities this term. S7 students participated in the Paris Model United Nations conference (PAMUN) accompanied by Mr Little and Mr Bounet. Feedback was very positive with the group being highly praised for their active engagement. The S5 year group were all involved in the annual literary competition. The standard of writing was commended by their language teachers and the winning entries will be uploaded later on to the school website. The musical soirée was organised by S7 and Ms Smith.

At the end of term, staff members performed a wonderful Christmas pantomime, Cinderella, produced by Mrs Dalton and Ms Smith, enjoyed by students, staff and parents. This was a high point in the large range of activities enriching day-to day school life.

Our students and staff enjoyed their Christmas lunch last week provided by our caterers, 2Dine4. I congratulate 2Dine4 who recently received a 5-star hygiene rating from South Oxfordshire District Council.

Looking forward to 2017, I would like to draw your attention to the Culham European Festival which will take place on Saturday 20th May 2017. Further details will follow but I hope you will join us on the day to celebrate 39 years of our school. A book to commemorate those 39 years is also planned and we will ask former and current students, staff and parents to contribute their memories and reflections.

I am grateful to our whole school community for everybody’s contribution to a happy and vibrant school. ES Culham continues to maintain a positive atmosphere and high standards. This all stems from the hard work of our students and staff and support from our parents.

I look forward to continuing fruitful cooperation with all the stakeholders of our school community in 2017.

I wish the whole school community a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Enjoy your holidays and have a relaxing break.
Yours sincerely,

Leene Soekov