We bid farewell to the busy Autumn Term on Friday 15 December. The concluding weeks of term are always filled with an abundance of festive fun and high spirits.

The Autumn Term has been a new chapter for all at St John’s, as alongside our wonderful new pupils our community welcomed The Head, Alex Tate, as he rejoined the St John’s family in September. On the last day of term, The Head expressed his gratitude for the welcome he has received from pupils, parents and staff and our wider community.

We take pride in reflecting on the term and the collective effort, commitment and enthusiasm demonstrated by our community across all areas of the School. Pupils came together in Chapel on the last day of term to celebrate their impressive achievements. There was much to celebrate, as The Head, Alex Tate, awarded and recognised pupils’ academic achievement, sporting successes, stellar performances, selfless dedication to charitable causes, and outstanding individual achievements.

The Sports Department have had a brilliantly successful season, with 616 pupils representing St John’s in an impressive 370 fixtures across hockey, rugby, netball, football, shooting, swimming, cross country, and badminton. Teams achieved outstanding results across the board, topping leaderboards and advancing to numerous national and regional finals, whilst displaying unwavering commitment and enthusiastic team spirit. We look forward to supporting several teams in their upcoming finals and fixtures in 2024. We also wish the best of luck to our senior pupils embarking on the netball tour to Manchester in early January and our 1st XI footballers as they kick off their pre-season schedule, including the season opener against the Old Johnians on Saturday 6 January 2024.

The Performing Arts Department has been full to the brim with enthusiasm, variety and incredible talent, providing audiences with many wonderful performances to enjoy. Amongst circus skills and jazz workshops, Lower School Cabaret, Lunchtime Recitals, the Autumn Term Drama Production of ‘Out of Order’, pupils have been involved with eight Chapel services, performed at 15 events over the term and engaged in 36 weekly activities and rehearsals across music, drama and dance! As a department that wishes to promote versatility that embraces every genre, classical music and jazz have not been forgotten, and unique Concerto Competition saw the highest number of competitors ever and the highest overall standard as the audience were treated to around two hours of movements from major concerto repertoire. The Michaelmas Concert once again took place at Leatherhead Theatre, raising much needed funds for our magnificent local venue. Pupils produced astonishing performances, but at the very heart of it all is a clear love of performing!

On Tuesday 12 December, the Christmas Rock Concert saw a host of bands and soloists perform a mix of pieces from classic rock, power ballads and festive favourites showcasing the instrumental and vocal talents of our pupils. Boarders enjoyed watching the concert, which was followed by a delicious Christmas Dinner. Closely following on Thursday 14 December, was the final recital of term, ‘Stocking Fillers’. With a sprinkling of fake snow and Christmas cheer aplenty, the audience enjoyed festive favourites performed by pupils across the School. Later that evening, the boarding community enjoyed Christmas carols around the twinkling Christmas tree, supported by the brass band.

The Christmas festivities truly began on Saturday 18 November with the SJPA Christmas Market. There was a fantastic array of stalls offering unique gifts, delicious food, fun activities and plenty of festive fun! It was heartwarming to see pupils running stalls to support their house charities.

In the final few days of term, we warmly welcomed pupils and their families to enjoy a Festival of Lessons and Carols in Chapel. Reverend Moloney guided the services and prayers, with enchanting carols and readings by staff and pupils.

Within their houses, pupils and staff revelled in a great variety of festive celebrations including pizza and games nights, ice skating escapades and entertaining pantomime trips. On the final day of term, Lower School pupils enjoyed ice skating at Hampton Court Palace and our senior pupils enjoyed the thrilling house hockey and rugby finals, as well as a traditional carol service. Our wonderful Catering Department added to the festive cheer with a scrumptious Christmas Lunch with all the trimmings and festive crackers, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. The final day concluded with merriment, as senior school pupils enjoyed vibrantly performing The Twelve Days of Christmas!

Our community had great fun donning their festive attire on Thursday 14 December for Christmas Jumper Day, raising money for Save the Children. Alongside the festive frivolity of Christmas, our collective community spirit has been focused on giving. The St John’s community has rallied together and we are proud of the many ways our community has raised much needed funds for charities.

Furthermore, on Sunday 3 December, we were delighted to warmly welcome several members of our local community to St John’s School for a special Community Christmas Lunch. This annual event brings together guests from local community associations, and they enjoyed a festive lunch and carols performed by the St John’s Choral Society.

The glowing trees and decorations across the School have provided a sense of warmth and excitement for our community, and we will be donating our beautiful Christmas tree to Leatherhead Start.

As we close the doors on the Autumn Term, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a healthy, joyous New Year.