At St Nicholas we have many celebrations and events which reflect and embody our overt Christian character.
Many of them follow the Anglican calendar and others are key events where the children and adults reflect on aspects of their life and identity, their place in our community or society or ways in which they can affect others’ lives. Below is just a flavour of what we have done this year so far.
What an amazing Harvest Festival we had this year. At a time when so many of our families are struggling with the cost of living crisis, the huge amount of donations that we received was deeply touching and demonstrated what a wonderful caring community we are a part of. Children led a beautiful service with some carefully chosen readings and amazing prayers. Every year group performed a Harvest related song, or poem, or showed some artwork or even did some drama. It was lovely. Over 700 people were in the church, which was full to bursting point and not even an audience of this size was enough to make the new reception children nervous as they sang their hearts out to a new song that they had learnt and then taught it to the whole school! All the food collected will be going to the Rainbow Centre, the Community Hub and local families in need.
On Ash Wednesday, children in Years 5 and 6 attended a service at church where they learnt about repentance and could get ashed to show the start of Lent. All the children wrote private prayers to say sorry to God, which were then burnt.
Whilst the children were at church, some worship leaders wrote a worship for children in KS1 where they explained about the significance of being ashed and the importance of saying sorry. They used charcoal to demonstrate what it would look like.
Candlemas at St Nicholas CE Primary Academy
We were lucky enough to have our first Eucharist service in school this term using the beautiful communion set which had been bought for us by the church. It was a beautiful service led by Reverend Chris and Reverend Jacky. It meant that the children who had been confirmed recently were able to receive communion in school for the first time with Lehel learning how to be a server. The rest of Key Stage 2 were able to choose to receive a blessing. It was a deeply moving and spiritual occasion when all the candles were lit and the school was silent in prayer. We are already planning our next Eucharist service in school. Later in the year, we are hoping to run more confirmation classes for children who want to confirm their belief in God.
Celebrating St Nicholas
The school choir were invited to sing in a special service held at Canterbury Cathedral again this year. It was a beautiful event and the children all sang fabulously. We also had a special service in the church, where, as tradition dictates, a child Bishop was ordained for the day. Children from Year 3, made a St Nicholas wall hanging which they presented to the church, to join the Advent one made by Year 4. When the children returned to school, St Nicholas had visited and left a chocolate coin in everyone’s stocking – children and staff alike!
Light Up New Romney Parade
As part of the Light Up New Romney celebrations this year, Year 4 was supported by members of the organisational team to make a giant lighthouse complete with waves and beams of light to walk through the town. The children loved the art sessions which were held at school and most of them took part in the parade and then went on the meet in the church where they had been invited to sing for the community. Being a coastal school, the significance of the lighthouse is important and is also the children’s favourite song.
The lighthouse, will now be a focal point in the school for reflection and prayer because as the children said, ‘ a lighthouse keeps people safe, and God is our lighthouse looking over us. Having it in school also reminds us of the special times we spend with our community.’
As a part of the celebrations, children from the school also won the KS1 and KS2 Mayor’s Christmas card competition and got 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the prayer writing competition.
Confirmation November 2022
For the first time, we had a group of children from Year 6 take part in confirmation. The children had taken classes during their lunchtimes once a week for a term and then were confirmed by Bishop Rose on Saturday 5th November and took their first Holy Communion. They were joined by the school choir on their special occasion. Some of the children were also baptised as part of the same event.
Children decided to take this step for a variety of reasons. One child said, ‘I have decided to be confirmed and join the church because I am Christian and I believe in God and follow him. Coming to this school, has inspired me to be a Christian. I will always remember the Ash Wednesday service at school where I got to ash Reverend Chris. Attending church and worship has changed my life. I really enjoyed the confirmation classes we did.’
Whilst another said, ‘I have been a worship leader at school now for a couple of years. With other leaders, we plan and deliver worship every week to the younger children in the school. My role has made me explore more about my relationship with God and Jesus and I know that I am a Christian so after attending classes with Reverend Chris, I decided to get confirmed and I’m looking forward to it.’
It was a decision that none of the children took lightly. ‘I have decided to be baptised and confirmed because it means that you become a part of God’s family. I became inspired by attending worship every day at school and then going to a Corpus Christi service at school. I have attended classes and thought hard about it and now I am ready to confirm my belief in God. I know my family will be proud of me.’
On the day itself, many of the children were nervous but ended up really enjoying the occasion.
‘On Saturday I was very nervous to go to church to be baptised and confirmed even though I had done the classes with Reverend Chris and I knew I wanted to do it. Once the service started, I became less nervous and enjoyed it; I would totally recommend it. At the end, we got a cross and a candle to take home to remind us of our special day. The best part was taking communion for the first time and knowing that I am now a part of God’s family.’
‘On Saturday I was confirmed. It was such a special day and I had been looking forward to it for a long time. I enjoyed it all but I liked taking the communion because it meant that I was at one with God. Bishop Rose put oil on my head and put her hands on me and prayed. I will remember this day for a long time. My favourite bit though was holding the candles together at the end. It was like God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were with us all. ‘
A tea party was held at school for all the children involved and their families. We will be having our first Eucharist service in school early next year using a beautiful communion set bought for us by the church.
Despite everyone struggling with the cost of living crisis, our families have never been more generous and we were able to support and help many of our families before sending the extra donations to the Community Hub. Children from our nurture group made Harvest wall hanging which they presented during the service.
On Sunday 25th September, children from St Nicholas’ CE Primary Academy supported Rev Chris in leading worship to celebrate Education Sunday. Forty children and their families joined the congregation to think about this year’s theme: ‘You are not lost.’
We used this as an opportunity to think about and pray for everyone involved in education but especially all of the schools on the Marsh. We heard readings from Luke 15: 1-10 about the Lost Sheep, which is one of the stories that supports our school value of perseverance, and the story of the Lost Coin. We know that we are never lost to God and that he will never turn his back on us. Our younger children led the singing including singing Wonderful Lord which was accompanied with British Sign Language.
A highlight of the service for many of the children was being able to watch the renewal of wedding vows. One of the choir said, “Being able to be a part of their special day was really amazing. I felt like we were singing just for them. I did think it was funny when Reverend Chris said that they had been married for longer than he’d been alive!’
We wrote our own prayers.
God of love and life,
On this Education Sunday, we pray for every member of our community, both close to home and globally, who are returning to school this month after the summer holidays.
We pray for their places of education to be overflowing with love, kindness, creativity, inspiration and opportunity for all.
We pray for your peace to fill the classrooms, the dining halls, the playgrounds, and the hearts and minds of those who are worried about returning to school.
We pray that you will equip the teachers and teaching assistants with the tools they need to help the children in their care to fulfil their potential both academically and to grow spiritually knowing they are loved by you. We pray for the parents and grandparents as they support their children through their education and into adulthood.
Lord, in your mercy ………. Hear our prayer
We remember that some children get lost in education because of the challenges they face but as Mr Dale reminded us, they are the ones who need our love and support the most and that we must not give up on them in the same way that the shepherd did not give up on his lost sheep.