THE JUNIOR SCHOOL  Summer 1959

 Last September I came to Verdala to take the place of Miss Vasey, and was given a warm welcome by the staff, who did so much to help me and the other newcomers to the Junior Department, Miss Billard, Miss N Roberts and Mr. Carroll, to feel at home at Verdala, that we all soon felt as if we had been there some while.

Prior to our arrival the staff had said goodbye to Mrs Van Dook, Mrs Barkaway and Miss N Roberts.   Mrs Van Dook's help at the piano was missed by Miss Rowe's Ballet Club, but Miss Billard was persuaded to take her place.  Those staff remaining returned for the Autumn Term to find the promised Romney Hut had been erected, giving us four more classrooms which were much needed to cope with the rapidly increasing numbers.  The fifth room was put into use as a Junior Reception Class. This kind of class is very valuable in a school like this at which groups of children arrive at intervals throughout the term.  Now all these children go first of all to the Reception Class, where they are welcomed by Mr Wilsher and given a chance to settle down and become acquainted with the school, before being tested to determine their right class out of the twenty in the school. The quickness with which their natural worry at finding themselves in such a large school is dispelled and the way in which they settle down is a sign of the success of this class and a tribute to Mr Wilsher. We shall be sorry to lose him from this work when he leaves us to return to the United Kingdom at the end of the term.

We had hardly settled down to the work of the Autumn Term before we welcomed Commander Brookes who came in October, but this meant we had a very sad farewell to say to Commander Paynter.  His happy personality was known throughout the school, and it was with great regret that staff and children said goodbye to him.  It is good to know from letters that he has not forgotten us.

In January, Miss Hodgson came out to join us, while Mrs. Preston came onto the permanent staff after helping us out as a supply teacher during the previous term, after the departure of Mrs Male.  Here I would like to thank our supply teachers, Mrs Male, Mrs Preston, Mrs Knight and Mrs Hicks, who have so often come to our rescue at very short notice, and whose ready help and willingness to fit in anywhere they are needed have been such an asset to the school. We have been particularly fortunate that Mrs Preston has been ready to take an interest in Brownies, as this has helped in the formation of a Brownie Pack to match the Cub Pack.

During the year we have been pleased to welcome two parties from the Mater Admirabilis Training College.  These were very interested in the work and activities of the children and in the apparatus which helped to bring reality to their Arithmetic.

Visitors to the school at some times of the year would undoubtedly meet a few surprises.  Just before Christmas a 'plague of ratsí appeared in the school, as children rehearsed enthusiastically for their parts in the "Pied Piper'', the Christmas pantomime; while the staffroom became a workroom in which many teachers spent all their free time making the costumes. Both children and staff worked as a team to make the pantomime a success. This term every dinner hour sees children painting scenery under the direction of Miss McMeeking or rehearsing in the hall with Miss Stinton or Miss Kernahan ready for the operetta which is to be performed shortly.

At Christmas there was also a Nativity Play which was performed on the last day of term by the choir.  This was a very sincere, moving performance and both the children who watched and those who took part joined in the Carol Service which followed, realising more fully the true spirit of Christmas and the meaning behind the parties and the fun.

Throughout the year, the usual activities of Cubs, Brownies, games, ballet and choir have continued successfully and added their share to the rich life of the school.  The school continues to grow in size and every week new faces appear, but all soon settle down and become part of Verdala.

P. Collins