This past Wednesday evening’s St. John’s Festival was the perfect way to round off the second term and mark the halfway mark for 2016.
Parents arrived at Rosemary Hill at dusk with a most beautiful moon hanging full and heavy in the east forming a perfect backdrop for the evening. The children gathered at the hostel’s dining room and excited chatter, playing and singing ensued wherever friends met up. In the meantime, some parents already ordered their soup and bread and made their way by following the trail of lights to the open field where the festivities were to take place.
Philip Mirkin gave a brief explanation about the origins of the St. John’s Festival and the validity of celebrating it in modern times whilst the parents settled in their seats. The lights were switched off and darkness and silence settled over the field like a comforting blanket. After a couple of minutes, a trail of lights became visible, slowly making its way in the direction of the field. Each child carried a self-crafted lantern lit by a single candle inside. Older children held the hand of a younger friend and escorted them into an intricate spiral formation snaking its way across the field. The lanterns were then put down, side by side, in a circle around the unlit bonfire, creating a magical circle of warm light.
The children sang two songs to the rhythm of a softly beating drum. The bonfire was lit during the singing of the third song, sending warm orange sparks high up into the air, giving warmth and light to everyone huddled around it.
The Class 6 and 8 marimba players and both choirs then performed to the parents, after which the formalities were concluded and everyone proceeded to the restaurant for warm servings of food or drink.
The College of Teachers would like to extend a special thank you to the following individuals for their role in the success of the evening:
- Karma Rahim for putting together the programme and keeping everyone in check with a good dose of humour.
- Judith Seanego for practicing with the children and taking the lead in the lantern procession.
- Heather Malleson for always being willing to perform with her marimba players.
- Andri Burnett and Theresa Franken for teaching our children the virtues of choral singing with such verve and passion.
- Hanako Ishigame… This amazing woman gave birth to her fifth child on Monday evening (yes, two nights before the event!!) and insisted on being there to accompany the choirs on the piano. Congratulations and blessings, Hana and Keiji, with the birth of your beautiful son, Kousuke!
- Thomas and Theresa Franken (rarely mentioned) for always supporting the school wherever they can and again availing Rosemary Hill’s facilities and their friendly and efficient staff to us.
- Shanti and Selvan for having some extra children over at the hostel and taking care of all of them in your special way.
- All the parents, guardians, family members and friends who braved the cold to support the children, enhanced the very special atmosphere of the evening and further added to the children’s memory collections.
The Kindergarten also celebrated St. John’s on Friday, 24 June and everyone joined in – even the babies!
The children lined up and each received a lantern and watched in reverence as the candles inside got lit. The teachers then led the children in a silent lantern procession through the darkened building after which they gathered in a circle outside and sang their songs.
Debbie lit a small fire and the bigger children all took turns braving the smoke of the fire and baking stick bread.
Winter is now in full swing and I am sure most of us look forward to not having to face-off to grumpy children unwilling to get out of warm beds on dark, frosty mornings for the next four weeks. We look forward to seeing everyone back at school, rested and ready for the third term when school opens on Tuesday, 26 July.