The past year has been for the Infants Department a happy and quite eventful one. We were delighted that so many parents were able to visit the school on the Open Days held during the Summer and Autumn terms.
During the year we have been pleased to welcome the staff and students from the Mater Admirabilis Training College at Rabat and one morning during the Autumn term a group of excited six and seven year old boys and girls drove out to the Training College where, under the expert guidance of Miss Instrell, they gave a delightful demonstration of Movement to Music. The staff and students who watched the demonstration expressed great appreciation of the children's work. For the children, however, the highlight of the morning came after the demonstration when they had a picnic in the beautiful grounds of the College, and afterwards played games with some of the students who seemed to have endless patience. The children returned to Verdala, in time for afternoon school, laden with flowers and with memories of a very happy morning.
We have also been pleased to welcome several teachers from the Army Schools who have visited Verdala.
In a large school such as this changes in staff are inevitable, nevertheless we are always very sorry when our friends leave us, so that it was with considerable regret that we said "Goodbye" to Mrs Eaton at the end of the Summer term. Mrs Eaton had been Head of the Infants Department for four and a half years. She was very much missed but we were all so happy to hear of the announcement of her marriage, which took place in December, and even more delighted to learn that Mrs Eaton was to become the wife of Mr S Vasey, Miss Vasey's cousin. We send our very best wishes to Mr and Mrs Vasey for their future happiness.
During May we were pleased to welcome back Mrs Harris who had been with us during the previous year. At the end of April we had said "Farewell" to Mrs Duxbury who had been at Verdala for some time and in October everyone welcomed the good news of the arrival of Mr and Mrs Duxbury's sturdy son, Simon.
As the year goes on, the number of children on the roll in the Infants Department continues to increase until all available accommodation is filled to capacity. We were very pleased, therefore, to have the help of Mrs Vine, Mrs Tomlinson, Mrs McLean and Mrs Thomas as more and more children were admitted. These teachers stayed with us until the end of the school year. Miss Holder, who had been at Verdala for some time, also left us in July.
In September the Infants Department re?opened with nine classes, many new children, and several new members of staff. We were very pleased to welcome Miss V North who came to take charge of the Infants Department. We hope she will enjoy her stay in Malta and offer our best wishes to her in her difficult task.
Mrs Davies came to take charge of I.2, whilst Mrs Birch and Mrs Brown took charge of I.4 and I.8. At Christmas, however, Mrs Brown and Miss Harris left us and Mrs Beech and Mrs Low joined the staff. Miss Harris returned to England to marry Lieutenant Hoggarth. Verdala staff sent greetings and good wishes for Lieutenant and Mrs Hoggarth's future happiness. Unfortunately, owing to her mother's ill health, Mrs Low had to return to England, so was only at school for three months. At the end of January when we started I.10 Mrs A Wicks joined the staff and after the Easter holiday we welcomed Miss Townsend from the R.N. School at Trincomalee and Mrs Keane who recently arrived in Malta from Mombasa. During the year we have been so grateful to Mrs Knight who has helped us by coming, sometimes at a moment's notice, to do "supply" teaching.
It would appear from this that the whole school staff is perpetually changing but this is not so and we realise the stability the Infants Department has enjoyed his year is due, in no small measure, to the hard work carried on over a lengthy period by Miss Batty, Miss Burke, Miss Instrell, Miss Lee and Mrs Smedley who are still with us with the exception of Mrs Smedley who before she left us became Mrs.Marriott. We said goodbye to Mr and Mrs Marriott as they set off on their overland journey to England and we all wished them "Godspeed and much happiness".
Just before Christmas children from various classes were seen practising in the hall during their lunch breaks and at the end of the term performed their Nativity Play for the other children in the Infants Department and some of the children from the Junior Department. The play was performed by these little children with simplicity and reverence and helped to remind us all of the true purpose of the Christmas Festival.
Christmas also brought much gaiety. The little children thoroughly enjoyed the very colourful pantomime performed by the Junior children and then came the Infants' parties which were held on two afternoons. Following fun and games in the hall the children feasted with true appreciation on the good things supplied by their very generous parents.
During the Spring term the staff and students at Rabat began some research into the various types of drawing and painting executed by young children. In order to carry out this research the students collected hundreds of pictures done by children in England and Malta. The Infants' Department, to aid this research, sent a selection of some sixty children's interpretations of "Someone Picking Fruit".
Also, during the Spring term several entries were sent from the Infants School to the Children's Art Exhibition held in Valletta. Twenty entries were exhibited. We were able to take some of the older children and all the children whose pictures were on show to Valletta. The children thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition and seemed very impressed with the skill displayed in the older children's work (sent from the various schools on the Island) but showed very little concern for their own efforts. It seems that whereas for the average adult producing an exhibition picture would be somewhat of an ordeal, for the very young, painting a picture, pattern or portrait is just a small part of a day's work.
At the concert, to be held at the close of
the Schools' Music Festival, a group of seven year old children
are performing a percussion band item. Already we are preparing
for Sports Day and so school life goes on.
However, Sports Days, Festivals, Art Exhibitions, though highlights, are only a very small part of the Infant child's very full school life. Incidentally, one of the most charming sights seen recently at Verdala was a group of five year olds returning from a nature walk, each child carrying a brightly coloured posy of flowers ? those beautiful wild flowers which grow so profusely in Malta and give so much pleasure to the young.