Quaker Schools Week 2018
Quaker Schools Week started bright and early on Monday 1st October with a Collect from the Sixth Form fundraising group, Amicus
Dedicating their session to highlighting food poverty the speakers raised awareness of the deprivation which exists across the UK, even in ostensibly affluent areas such as Berkshire. Students and their families contributed dry goods and non-perishable items to a Food Bank collection throughout the week which Amicus then delivered to the Reading Food Bank to help those in need.
On Monday afternoon, author and Quaker, Sally Nicholls, visited the school to discuss her latest work with Years 9 to 11. Sally’s book. ‘Things A Bright Girl Can Do’ is about three young women caught up in the fight for women’s votes and the onset of the First World War. The book resonates with relevant themes for Quaker Schools Week – equality, peaceful protest, being a Quaker in wartime – and links to two significant anniversaries we are marking this year – the 100th anniversary of both the end of WWI and of some women gaining the vote. Following her talk to all three year groups in Main Hall, Sally led a workshop for fourteen students from across the middle school in the Library.
It was cupcakes galore in Food Tech on Tuesday afternoon as the Cookery Club dedicated their weekly session to the creation of some delicious bakes for a local care home. With sprinkles and buttercream offering endless possibilities for colourful designs, students from Years 7 to 11 enjoyed getting messy and preparing gifts for the elderly overseen by Anne Fitzsimons, Maths teacher and masterchef, and Annie Carolan, our new Food Technician.
Wednesday saw Year 10 welcoming a group of refugees aged sixteen and seventeen to the Park for lessons and sport, whilst on Thursday Year 7s ventured to Reading Meeting House to learn more about Quakerism.
Also on Thursday, Director of Music, Rosemary Scales, led a group of eight students to the Mulberry House care home on the Wokingham Road to deliver the scrumptious goodies baked by the Cookery Club. In addition to handing over the sweet treats, the students delivered an aural feast with musical performances of modern classics and old favourites.
The week was rounded off with a whole school themed mufti day with students wearing international dress or colours of a country. It was a colourful sight for authors Annemarie Young and Anthony Robinson who made a memorable impression on the Lower Sixth and Year 7s talking about their recent book, ‘Young Palestinians Speak’ which resonates with the Quaker values of peace, equality and respect.
The highlight of the week for Sixth Formers, Emma and Faye, was their trip to North Yorkshire with English teacher, Rosanna Jaharangard, and students from three other Quaker schools, Sibford, Sidcot and Lisburn Friends. Exploring the roots of Quakerism through a walking tour, visits to sites of historical significance and attendance at Quaker meetings, Emma discovered that “Quakerism can be what you make it but at its heart it is wanting to be there so that you can connect. We held a lot of outside silences for five to ten minutes and I did find myself reflecting in that time on what people said”. “We met some supernice people.” added Faye, “I’m not really a hiking kind of girl but it was fun and we made a lot of new friends that we’re keeping in touch with through a groupchat.” “It was a really different atmosphere,” concluded Emma, “Because everyone wanted to be there, it was really special.”