Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Gad’s

Gad’s Juniors lit-up the stage when they performed an animated interpretation of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in the school theatre at the end of last term.

Dorothy and her new friends followed the specially-constructed Yellow Brick Road to meet the Wizard, taking a captivated audience on a magical journey featuring professional choreography and flawless solos from children as young as 10.

The annual musical is a highlight of the Juniors’ second half of Spring term, with every child from years three to six taking part.

Weeks of rehearsals in drama lessons culminate in a two-night show that never fails to amaze the crowd, with seats selling-out within hours of being released to proud parents, friends of the school and fellow Junior and Senior students showing their support.

Headmaster David Craggs congratulated the cast on another ‘fantastic’ production, before thanking the many teachers and staff that helped make it such a success.

He went on to praise the dedication and commitment of Director of Music John Stone for his talent in supporting the children, and always bringing out the best in them musically.

Mr Craggs also credited Artistic Director and professional dance and drama teacher, Mrs Crowter, for her ‘outstanding choreography’ and ‘energy and warmth’ when working with the children.

The children clapped and cheered, maybe even louder than the audience did for them, when Mrs Crowter was invited on stage to receive a huge bouquet of flowers from the cast.

The Headmaster continued:  “We are very lucky here at Gad’s to have specialist teachers who dedicate their time to providing musical and theatrical coaching.

“Our children thrive in these extra-curricular lessons and judging by the many beaming smiles on stage tonight, I am sure some very special memories have been made.”

Eleven-year-old Head of Gad’s Junior Wellington House, Puneet Sian, 11, from Sevenoaks said:  “I really enjoyed getting into the role of the Scarecrow and the crowd’s great reaction helped keep me focussed.

“The is our last year as Juniors and it’s been so fun to put on a show with my classmates and friends.”

Gads introduces Wellbeing Committee

Gad’s ‘Wellbeing Committee’ has been created to help make students’ time at Gad’s even more enjoyable.

I chose to join Mrs Fletcher’s ‘Team People’ because I believe that Gad’s is more than a few lessons a day, it’s a community where everybody cares and wants the best for each other.

There are six different teams, all striving to make student life at Gad’s happy and healthy but members will also work together to complete bigger projects.  Anybody can join and you can volunteer as much as you like.

My favourite assignment so far has been helping to design, develop and maintain a wall where everybody is encouraged to leave a ‘friendship note’, highlighting how the fellow students have demonstrated how they are more than just peers – I’ve been really touched by the little things about Gad’s and its people that mean so much to us all.

Other initiatives have included gardening and litter-picking as well as special assemblies about the Gad’s community.

When I talked to fellow team-members about why they decided to join, I heard the same answer over-and-again:  ‘to make people happier’.  It’s heart-warming that people from all different years all want the same thing.

A teacher and Year 11 student oversee each team’s activities and are on-hand to help with planning and logistics.

I hope this continues for many years and the school keeps getting better and better!

Mollie-Ann Hardy, U4B

Remembering Dorothy  

Gad’s Hill Juniors have just put on an amazing production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ – it made me want to find out more about Dorothy…

Actress Judy Garland played country girl Dorothy Gale in the 1939 American musical fantasy comedy-drama film ‘The Wizard of Oz’.

Born Frances Ethel Gumm in June 1922, Garland’s acting and singing career spanned 40 years and at 39 she was the youngest and first female to win the coveted Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in motion pictures.

Although extremely beautiful, Garland suffered from low self-esteem after film executives called her unattractive and criticised her appearance and stage and screen performances.

At 18, amid fears for her mental health, she was sent to a psychiatrist and went on to have five marriages, four of which ended in divorce.

After a long battle with drugs and alcohol, Garland died from a barbiturate overdose at 47, owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes.

I was shocked to discover that Garland had such a troubled life and would like to think she is best remembered for her portrayal of Dorothy and iconic recording of ‘Over the Rainbow’.

Scarlett Rowswell, U4B

Could Team GB’s 2020 Olympic funding affect fencing?

Sarah Ellis Gad’s new fencing instructor

Funding for some sports in the 2020 Olympics has been slashed – and the fencing budget has gone from £4.23 million to zero.

In December 2016, UK Sport, the Government’s organisation for directing the development of sport, announced the funding for the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020.

Funding decisions can be appealed but the national press has reported that UK Sport states sports with the strongest medal potential for Tokyo will be prioritised.

As of February 2017, British Fencing confirmed it would lodge a second and final formal appeal.

Chief Executive of British Fencing, Georgina Usher said:  “This has been an incredibly difficult period for the athletes.  Our staff, coaches and athletes have worked incredibly hard to have got to the point where we are absolutely good enough to target an Olympic medal. Having to explain to them why the funding will be coming to an end is extremely tough”.

Gad’s PE teacher and Fencing Coach, Mrs Ellis told me the cuts are ‘annoying and frustrating’ and I was encouraged to find out that one in six GB fencing teams qualified for the last Olympics, a first since the 1970’s.

Sports with real podium potential are being excluded from funding and it’s worth asking if the focus on medals has gone too far and how far down the sports ladder will the loss of funding affect the continued participation at local club level?

Watching the variety of sports in the Olympics can really boost children’s interest in taking-up the sport, but if the money isn’t there for the top athletes, will it be there at local clubs and schools?  Will this mean no future GB Olympians in the affected sports?

Could this affect your sports career, or even your school life?

In the 2016 Rio Olympics, Team GB achieved a record medal amount and were ranked second in the overall medal leader board.

Freddie Masterson, U4B

When I was your age

I decided to interview Mr Craggs to find out more about his life and career, especially what he was like when he was 14, which is my age now.

Adam Ephraim (AE):  How was your school life?

Mr Craggs (DGC):  The school I attended was very different from Gad’s.  I went to a comprehensive school and made the most out of the opportunities and resources presented to me.  I worked hard and got the results to enable me to go to university and develop my career.

AE:  Did you enjoy school?

DGC:  I loved it!  I was never happier than when playing sport, especially football and rugby.

I also enjoyed Go-karting, something I was lucky enough to do with guidance and inspiration of a Scottish metal-work teacher called Mr MacGregor.  It might surprise a lot of people to know that I ranked 3rd in the UK National Championships at the age of 15.

AE:  What was your school like?

DGC:  As I mentioned a lot different to Gad’s. There were lots of fights – they were a daily occurrence – many students weren’t really interested in doing well at school.

Being in the North East many of the boys would expect to leave at 16 and work in either the local shipyards or coal mines and you could do that without any qualifications.  But I focused on working hard and keeping out of trouble and going to university.

As a student, it’s your responsibility to make wise decisions – only you can really influence how your future shapes up.

AE:  What was your career before becoming a Headmaster? 

DGC:  I originally planned to be a civil or mining engineer. That is what I did at university.  I was looking at university sponsorship from what was ‘British Coal’, with a view of working in the mining industry – still a major employer in the North East during the 1970s. However, it all fell apart with the demise of the mining industry in the early 80s.

When I left university, I joined the police and interestingly found myself on the other side of the picket-lines during the 1984 ‘Arthur Scargill’ miners’ strike.  After a couple of years of policing I decided to become a teacher, did my PGCE and that is what I’ve been doing for the past 30 years – teaching and helping children learn and make progress in their lives

AE:  Do you enjoy being a Headmaster? 

DGC:  Yes, very much so.  My role can be challenging but it is interesting, inspiring and ultimately rewarding to see children develop and achieve their dreams.

I’m often stopped on the street or at Bluewater by people I used to teach.  I may struggle to remember their names but I remember faces and am always interested to learn how they have got on over the years – many of them very successfully.

What is probably most embarrassing is that years, decades later, they still inevitably call me ‘Sir’ even in front of their wives or husbands and family!

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