Page 5 - 6 July - Final
P. 5

A quick signal to the children as they waited patiently on the steps initiated
      the well-practised removal of our distinctive red caps, re-velcroing them to
      their wrists as a respectful gesture to enter a place of worship.

      As the door creaked open, our party of 83 entered the depths of the abbey’s
      magnificent setting where a service was in progress, verses being sung in
      Latin, and a congregation of worshippers gathered on simple wooden pews
      before us, the sunlight streaming through the immense windows. A sign
                                      before us indicated ‘No Photographs’, but
                                      my camera was focused on the awe and
                                      wonder on our children’s faces. In those
                                      moments I suddenly reflected on the school
                                      values of past months’ assemblies rushing
                                      around my head, as I saw them being lived
                                      out before me: responsibility, perseverance,
                                      curiosity, friendship, respect, peace,
                                      equality, charity – in fact I saw our entire
                                      repertoire that week. Not a whisper had to
                                       be uttered, the sense of occasion clearly
      impressed itself boldly upon them and as I walked in front to lead them to the
      side exit, I felt strangely elated and immensely proud. These are primary
      school children: expect them to perform magnificently and they will.

      Our week was action-packed, not a moment wasted; whether parading our
      crocodile of red hats through busy cobbled streets between coach and
      venue, applying focused concentration to sketching and watercolour artwork
      to the wonder of so many passers-by, greeting our French pen-pals, hunting
      for answers in museums or just simply settling down to sleep (in mass
      sleepover style) in the lounge of the overnight ferries, our children performed
      brilliantly. There are dozens of moments from the week that stand out for me
      and make my heart leap and my eyes sting with proud tears, but perhaps one
      to match the abbey was our last visit.

      With echoes of the children’s earlier squeals of excitement playing in my
      head, as we had played games on a sports field after lunch, we gathered at
      the gates of Bayeux cemetery, the busy road we had just crossed in such a
      disciplined and orderly fashion, behind us. No need to raise my voice,
      because they knew how to behave. Caps in hand, we assembled slowly and
      respectfully at the memorial to pay homage to those that had served in WWII.
      We laid our wreath on behalf of all of our CSPA children and staff, repeated
      the line “We will remember them”, then spent a few minutes to read some
      inscriptions on the immaculately kept graves. Outstanding.

      The visit to the cemetery is always a slightly sombre one, but this year, it felt
      more so than ever, as it brought my thoughts to the end of my leadership of
      this trip and this amazing school.

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