At Herne Juniors 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, heritage or ways in which they can affect others' lives.
We hope the following events give you a flavour of who we are and what we do.
Harvest Celebration at St Martin’s
During early October, we always celebrate Harvest with our own Harvest Festival service led by Year 4 and Revd Carol. Whilst virtually in 2020 in classroom bubbles, but normally in church, children and adults generously donate food items to the homeless support charity, ‘Catching Lives’. The whole school has the opportunity to reflect on creation and God’s provision but also think about those who are less fortunate than ourselves. Here, the school values of community, generosity, compassion and hope, are lived out in a real and practical way. Of course, we do not have to wait until Harvest to live out these values as well as our Mission Statement ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourselves’, since local Food Bank collection bins are dotted around school for anyone to donate to at any time.
Remembrance Service at St Martin’s
Every November we mark Remembrance Day with a special service lead by Year 6 for the school and Y6 parents, usually in church but during 2020, in school virtually, from classroom bubbles. After the laying of coloured-in poppies, the Year 6 children lead reflections and prayers on the topics of remembrance, sacrifice and love. The service concludes outside around the war memorial in the church yard as a bell is tolled and where the Last Post is played and the National Anthem is sung. Mindful of any members of school families who are serving in the Armed Services, this is one of our more formal occasions but helps children in their understanding of the wider community coming together to mark a special event in our history but to also learn from the past so we can look forward with hope to a world at peace, where reconciliation and justice are upheld by leaders.
Remembrance Service at Age Concern, Beltinge
Having led our own school Act of Remembrance, the head teacher and one Y6 class visits Age Concern where they repeat the service for up to 40 elderly people. Seeing the young and elderly together is a wonderful experience for both parties. With children engaging in conversation about war time experiences and seeing some veterans wearing their medals, this becomes a special learning opportunity which is real and brings history to life.
Remembrance Sunday at St Martin’s
Wanting to join with the local community on Remembrance Sunday to mark this national event, the head teacher invites house captains from Y6 and other families, to represent the school along with other uniform groups and local councillors and dignitaries, at St Martin’s church. Our children, in the past, have been asked to read out the names of the fallen as well as led prayers during the service. Being at the centre of the village, the road is closed off to accommodate large numbers for the Act of Remembrance around the war memorial.
School worships follow the Advent Diocesan plans so, with the changing of the worship table colour to purple, we use the Advent wreath with its 4 candles to explore Advent traditions and concepts of peace, love, joy and hope as we prepare for Christmas.
The upper school are involved in a traditional evening carol service with readings and carols, old and new, in the church with parents invited. Revd Carol shares a ‘Christmas thought’ and sends us out with a Christmas blessing. The retiring collection is given to the church who uses it in a way that suits them.
Year 3 tell the Christmas story in a fun, modern style in school with several performances to family and friends as well as Year 2 from our neighbouring school.
Carols around the Christmas tree
Mr Saunders likes to organise his staff and governors to sing carols outside around a decorated Christmas tree under the abri. With the piano wheeled outside, parents and children from both the infant and junior school are welcome to join in the festive singing at the end of the school day. It is great to also have the vicar and curate join us as well as staff from the infant school.
As a singing school, Christmas is the perfect opportunity to share the Christmas message in our local community so visits by the choir to care homes, Strode Park Foundation (a Kent charity, providing vital care and support for children and adults with a range of disabilities), Age Concern and Contact the Elderly, take place to the delight and benefit of both pupils and audiences.
School worships follow the Lent Diocesan plans with time for reflection as we journey towards Easter. This time often involves a charity event which lends itself to exploring school values and the theme of putting love into action with our Mission Statement.
Joint Easter celebration at St Martin’s
We join with our friends at Herne Infants to celebrate the Easter message in song, prayer and a short talk by the vicar. Squeezing 700 children and 50 staff into the church is a challenge but worth it.
Holy Week experience
Once again we partner with Herne Infants for activities that link to Holy Week. Buddying up with an infant class over several days, we visit one another’s schools for an hour to explore Palm Sunday, (The King is coming) Maundy Thursday (The Last Supper) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection).
Year 5 children and adults take the lead in our Pentecost celebrations and help us to explore the theme of the Holy Spirit in the church. Doves with prayers written on them are left in church.
Songs of Praise
We enjoy singing our favourite worship songs in an end of year celebration at St Martin’s church often with our infant school. Each year group votes for their favourite song from the year.
Y6 Leavers’ Service
Whilst not a festival, this event at church is a special time for Y6 pupils, their families and staff where memories of their primary school days are shared and they look forward, with a mixture of anticipation, excitement and sadness, to moving on to the next stage of their lives. With the head teacher and vicar giving words of encouragement, mugs and a Gospel presented to each child, the Y6 teachers announce the Sian Yeatman Endeavour Award to an individual who has shown remarkable courage and perseverance in their time at Herne Juniors. With the reminder that St Martin’s church is always ‘their’ church and that they are always welcome, the leavers’ service is a wonderful evening where good memories are shared and achievements celebrated.