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St John’s Academy chorus sang ‘out of their socks’ at Choir of the Year Competition
- The St John’s Academy Chorus sang ‘out of their socks’ last Saturday evening in the Finals of the Wiltshire Choir of the Year Competition, held in St John’s Church, Devizes. Four choirs had been selected from the heats held last Tuesday – Devizes Harmony (Devizes School), Staverton Primary School, St John’s Academy Chorus and St Mary’s, Calne.
After what had been only a good performance in the heats, the girls from St John’s really stepped up to the plate and gave an utterly compelling performance of their three pieces – Panis Angelicus, Johnny Todd and Fly Me To The Moon. The audience response was fantastic. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be our day. After a long delay, during which the adjudicators engaged in a lively exchange, the panel decided that we were to be runners up to St Mary’s, Calne. The girls of the Academy Chorus were naturally disappointed but Mr More, their Director of Performance, told them that they had given an exceptional account of themselves and could leave the venue with heads held high.
Several members of the audience – not parents of our students – came up afterwards and said that we were simply the ‘stand out’ choir of the evening, which was some consolation.
May has been highly successful month for choirs from St. John’s Academy. Mr More said that achieving 1st place with the Year 7&8 Competition Choir at Cheltenham, and then 2nd with the Academy Chorus in the Wiltshire Choir of the Year, is a record of which all those involved can feel justly proud.
Hungerford School library opened by Bear Grylls and author Gill Hornby
Hungerford School library opened by world famous author and TV star Bear Grylls is one of Britain’s best.
A HUNGERFORD school library has been hailed as one of Britain’s best as it celebrates its first year anniversary. John O’Gaunt’s £1.5 million Library was opened by Bear Grylls and author Gill Hornby a year ago, in the same year as students achieved record-breaking GCSE results.
With an abundance of natural light, thousands of new books, and a passion and encouragement to be the heartbeat of the school, the library is going from strength to strength.
Students are delighted to have such an inspirational centre where they can resource their studies, lives and even future careers.
Student Ciaran Morrison, aged 14, said: “This library is amazing. It not only is the place where we can read, find books and use the computers, but allows us to be creative and innovative and to even develop our careers. We also have a giant interactive TV that is well used.”
Librarian Nicola Chester, who started just over a year ago, said:
“This school is magnificent and the new library has been a massive boost to our aspirations as a school.
“Reading is central in cultivating independent learning skills – sought after by employers, colleges and universities alike. Enthusiastic readers achieve better results across all areas of the curriculum, whatever their level.
“Libraries have never been more important in the digital information age. ‘Knowledge’ is just a few clicks away. School libraries are vital in teaching students to filter, research and learn with confidence. In fact, Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell, urges parents to ‘compare the libraries of the schools they are considering, rather than look at league tables’.”
At JOG last summer 65% of students achieved A* to C in English and Maths, with 60% securing 5 A*-C grades including English and maths, representing a huge jump of 18% per cent on last year. A stunning 79% achieved A*-C in English, and 72% in maths, while in English 77% of students made expected progress and in maths the figure was 74%.
Children’s Author Enthralls JOG students
One of Britain’s best authors of children’s books has enthralled students at JOG this week. Peter J Murray inspired hundreds of students during a two-day workshop, talk and book signing.
Peter, author of the popular Mokee Joeseries and the chilling Bonebreaker trilogy, also took time out to share his own story of growing up on a council estate to becoming head teacher at the prestigious Cheam School – where Prince Charles was a student.
It is the latest in a long line of brilliant authors to visit JOG in recent months including Bear Grylls, Piers Torday, Jo Cotterill and Gill Hornby.
JOG believes in inspiring every child to have a love of reading and literacy. School librarian Nicola Chester said: “Peter literally had the students on the edge of their seats! His talk and readings were full of author tricks and tips to create suspense and atmosphere that our students our studying.
“He had audience members up on stage, acting parts in Bonebreaker and then left us on some chilling cliffhangers with his spooky short stories fromTen O’Clock Caller.
“The following day, he was swamped with students buying books and wanting them signed! One Year 7 boy said ‘I thought an author talk would be boring, but this was fantastic!’”