To mark Armistice Day on Wednesday 11 November, Sixth Form pupils and accompanying staff stood together both safely and solemnly on the Quad, taking a poignant moment to pause, reflect and remember during the Act of Remembrance.
The service was led by the School Chaplain. A floral wreath was laid upon the war memorial in the centre of the Quad, by The Head, Rowena Cole, alongside poppy adorned wreaths placed by the School captains Jess and Nick, Mr Metcalfe on behalf of the Old Johnians, and by each CCF section leader. This year, pupils in the Schola Cantorum provided a moving rendition of ‘For the Fallen’ and the Last Post was performed by Sixth Form pupil Patrick O’Neill.
Remembering those from St John’s, and individuals locally and nationally who served and sacrificed for our freedom is very important. Whilst we saw some changes to our service this year, with the additions of face masks and due to stringent social distancing the majority of pupils and staff watched the service via a live stream; our community felt the significance of Remembrance Day more than ever.
Normally, the School welcomes families to commemorate those lost and affected during their service for our country in Chapel, and with further CCF events such as the Remembrance Parade. Whilst a worldwide pandemic has suppressed our calendar of events, it has done nothing to diminish the strong sense of pride and belonging amongst our community, which is stronger than ever. A sense of deep appreciation could be felt across the School today, whether that be on The Quad or for those watching from a window or online. Our community had a resounding awareness of how lucky we are to be safe, well and able to take this moment together as a school to reflect, in what has been a difficult year for everyone.
In a recent assembly pupils were reminded by the School Chaplain, Reverend Moloney, that pupils who walked the paths they did within our school sacrificed their lives for the freedom we have today and that within our Chapel we have their names inscribed upon honour boards. Pupils and staff are always welcome to visit Chapel, to take a moment for private remembrance and reflection.
The Head, Rowena Cole, commented in her recent blog post'Why We Remember': ‘While it is important to remember the sacrifices made in conflict, I hope we can also reflect on the need to unify, to find common ground and to remember our shared humanity so to avoid the terrible affects that division and discord can bring through war and conflict.’
Last year, ‘St John’s School, Leatherhead and the Great War 1914-1919’ was published and copies are available to purchase. Written by our archivist, Sally Todd, and former staff member Neil Pudney, this is an absorbing account of the School during the First World War. Beautifully designed and illustrated, it details the lives of pupils, staff, alumni and the School itself during one of the most tumultuous periods in modern history. Please click here to find out more.
A War Memorial website for St John’s School has been created to commemorate those who served in the First World War. Please visit the website to find out more, including the roll of honour and some individual biographies: http://stjohnsleatherheadatwar.co.uk/