Dear parents, guardians and friends

After an exhausting week for the Year 13 students completing their PPE exams, it is now the turn of our Year 11 students sitting their Maths and English PPEs ahead of the full mock exam season in January. The hall and surrounding areas being out of action for the exams has of course created more complications for our journey around school and the one way system……..but we are so proud of how the students are all just getting on with it and embracing our new way of doing things for now!

Another new thing we had to do was a marquee evacuation drill. Delayed from last term due to poor weather, last week we were blessed with blue skies and sun and so we completed all drills successfully. I am happy to report that all emergency exit cords were easy to untie and pull apart…..even for the non-scouting and non- camping amongst us. The girls all seemed to quite enjoy “breaking out”!

This week, the Year 9 Spanish students have been learning about the Mexican tradition of The Day of the Dead. This is celebrated on the 2nd November each year, with altars built in family homes to commemorate the passing of their loved ones and to encourage their souls to visit their living relatives for that one night of the year. There are many things that are placed on the altar to help the passage of the spirits, candles to light their way, marigolds (the flower of the dead), food and drink as well as photos and their favourite things. In addition, they place sweets (sugar skulls) on the altar. These ‘calaveras’ are highly decorated and are given to children in celebration. Year 9 were asked to decorate their own paper calaveras for display. The winners will win recognition points, House points and some sweet treats of their own. ¡Feliz Día de los Muertos!

Thanks to Mrs Stoker, our head of Spanish and her team for organising this event.

This week is also Remembrance, and Remembrance is always a big day for us at the Holt. We have our beautiful poppies made some years back by the technology department on display, pictured below.

We usually also have a full ceremony for Year 7 with guest speakers including Reverend Lamey and representatives from the British Legion,  as well as our own student readers. We invite students who are in the cadets as well as staff who have served in the armed services to attend the ceremony in their uniform, and Alice Burrows (now in Year 12) plays The Last Post so beautifully. It really is a much valued Holt tradition to observe this event so formally. It is doubly poignant therefore that not only will it not be quite the same this year, with no external visitors but we are also reminded of our dear colleague James Furlong. This event was very important to James, our head of history and he always led the assemblies in the run up to this ceremony.

Please rest assured that we still had a formal Remembrance ceremony for Year 7 today and the rest of the school joined us in the two minutes silence on the 11th at 11am.  Thank you to our speakers Tola, Phoebe and Niasha.

On the subject of James, we have a team of students and staff led by Tamanna Steven, one of our deputy head girls and Mrs Smith, Assistant Head who are working on a permanent memorial. They are raising money to commission a piece of artwork for the humanities block in the form of a mosaic.

Tamanna will be writing to parents shortly with more information and she is setting up a gofundme page to raise the funds for us to do this. If you would like to make a donation, then please can you use the link below to do so. We would be very grateful of any contributions. Our target is £3,000 and we will keep you updated on our progress.

Katie Pearce