How Reptonians are celebrating the festive season – and helping others to celebrate – despite the coronavirus.
Since UK schools re-opened in September, Repton School has been doing everything possible to safely welcome students and staff back to campus and reunite its House communities. This hasn’t been without challenge; the second lockdown has placed huge pressure on schools to control infection in high-footfall classrooms and stick to tough regulations. Despite this, Repton has approached the second wave of the coronavirus with remarkable resilience and managed to uphold all areas of education and extracurricular learning. Entire year groups have attended races, solved murder mysteries, cooked pizzas in the House pizza ovens, and hosted sports tournaments – all while sticking to the rules.
Here’s how Repton has ensured that COVID-19 won’t stop students from having fun this Christmas.
In Repton Prep’s most recent move to inspire students over the Christmas term, the school has launched its Starlights Theatre Group, a performing arts society that helps student actors and scriptwriters to develop their creativity, teamwork skills, and confidence. Repton launched the group following the first COVID-19 lockdown, attracting over 30 students who now enjoy working together to produce complete performances to share with their peers. It’s refreshing for the students to finally be able to work together in a social environment after such a long period of academic isolation. The students meet weekly in the school’s purpose-built theatre, where they develop performances in their year-group bubbles under the supervision of Mrs Sekhon, the head of London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), and Mr Hayes, drama teacher. Repton has offered LAMDA tuition since the beginning of 2020, and the school received LAMDA examination status in June.
‘Both LAMDA and Starlights have had a springboard success since launching at the School,’ says Mrs Sekhon. ‘I am delighted that the oversubscription and waiting list for LAMDA has been catered for and the appetite for LAMDA is ever increasing. Both LAMDA and the Starlights Theatre Group allow pupils to refine their performance skills and develop lifelong skills and friendships within a supportive environment.’
Learn more about Repton School’s Starlights Theatre Group.
Last month, Repton’s Director of Art, Mr Whitfield, set an interesting challenge for the school’s art enthusiasts by asking students to capture this turbulent year in multimedia art entries for the 2020-themed Michaelmas Art Competition. Mr Whitfield was inspired and delighted by the impressive and poignant entries, which opened an insightful window into the students’ feelings on the coronavirus.
‘I felt we had to invite Reptonians to delve deep into their ideas, emotions, and talents again during this second lockdown, in which – by contrast to the first – we have been able to be together as a supportive community,’ says Mr Whitfield. ‘So much has happened this year that I was certain there would be a powerful and diverse response from our pupil body, and I was right!’
The competition has showcased many fresh perspectives on the pandemic, with entries that are both melancholy and sophisticated. Repton has used the winning piece – Harriet’s ‘Through the eyes of a child’ – as the cover of the latest issue of Creative Arts Magazine.
‘This image is of my baby brother and shows how he has lived his whole life seeing no expressions or smiles on people’s faces and how he’s been shielded behind true life,’ says Harriet. ‘He sadly knows no other. He has metaphorically lived behind a mask all his life. For me, the monochrome image is powerful, and I think his eyes looking directly into the camera creates a very strong and meaningful image. The tight crop focuses on the detail and adds emphasis to the emotion.’
Christmas at Repton isn’t just about celebrating together – it’s also about looking outward to support others. Every year, Reptonians and their parents come together to donate to the school’s chosen charities and support those who need help at Christmas. Despite COVID-19 and the financial pressures that many of us are now under, this year has been no different. The students and their parents have shown considerable generosity when donating to Repton’s 2020 charities – Derby City Mission and Burton YMCA – chosen as the pandemic has forced so many below the poverty line.
Derby City Mission helps to reduce poverty in Derbyshire by providing funding for those who have lost their homes. Some of these people need support to overcome drug and alcohol addictions, tackle mental health issues, develop new skills, or reform from criminal lifestyles. Repton’s donations have helped to fund Derby City Mission’s Social Enterprise and grants, which offer a lifeline that many need to get back on track when left in a crisis. Meanwhile, Burton YMCA provides shelter, practical/emotional support, and a Food Bank to support those in crisis across Derbyshire and Staffordshire. Reptonians have donated food tins and packets, sauces, rice, tea bags, coffee, spreads, biscuits, crackers, cereals, and toiletries to keep the food bank running.
As Reptonians enjoy the final weeks of their Christmas term, students and staff continue to think outside the box to make their usual festive antics happen amid the pandemic. The school has even put together a Life in Lockdown video to share students’ festivities.
Learn more about life at Repton here: www.repton.org.uk.