Two of my favourite quotes from this year’s July holiday school were as follows:
“Holiday school is our favourite time of year, we wish we could do it more often.”
“This year we had a street festival at the end of holiday school. I have never been to a street festival before. I can only describe it as beautiful chaos.”
Holiday school was indeed magical, and the street festival was spectacular.
Every year Josh Merrow, from Riverdale Country School, comes up with a new idea and the street festival was his 2019 brain wave.
We closed the street in front of Ridgeway College and the children danced the dances as they had learnt and practiced all week, wore the costumes that they had designed and made, performed spectacular Capoeira displays and paraded the larger-than-life mobile structures they had created in the maker lab.
Form 2 with their water theme built an enormous shark and danced their water dance.
Form 3 constructed a massive volcano with artificial flames of orange fabric blowing out of the top and presented a spectacular fire dance.
Form 4 created a giant bird which moved with grace and precision and celebrated their theme of air in a gorgeous dance performance.
Form 5 wore spacesuits for their dance and the rocket they constructed was impressive.
Whilst creating these larger-than-life structures, students learned how to weld, use an angle grinder, basic engineering principles and so much more under the creative genius of Josh Merrow from Riverdale Country School.
The dances, under the creative guidance of Helena Garrabou Vancells, from Riverdale Country School, were a fusion of African and Spanish and the costumes were designed and stitched by some of the students.
There is no doubt that the Maculelê was the highlight of the street festival.
The students were so nervous about the Capoeira and were then captivated by the strangely familiar seductive African beat, infused with fantasies of Brazil.
Angel Martinez from Riverdale Country School brought our children alive in his classes and helped them achieve things they never imagined possible.
Once again we had the privilege of hosting Barry Wong from Lakeside School, in Seattle, and he and Hannah Waller from Ridgeway College took a new group of students through the creative process of photography and exhibited their photographs on the Friday afternoon prior to the festival.
As one of our students said “You never know what is inside you until someone shows you how to bring it out. “
The photography exhibition is always one of my highlights of the holiday school. We see our students in a completely different light, when we look at what they see and produce through the eye of the camera.
One of our students said the following about photography:
“I was very nervous to start photography but so enjoyed it and I felt that it taught me a new way of looking at things and that almost any subject can be made beautiful in a photograph.”
I was reminded of Degas’s words:
“Art is not what you see but what you make others see.”
This best describes what photography does for our children.
This was the second year that Asya Reznikov Rosenthal from Riverdale Country School brought fine art into our holiday school, and we are so grateful for this colourful addition to our children’s lives.
Printing, sculpture, drawing, and painting is not something our students have the privilege of doing in their academic or private lives.
It is startling to see what they were able to create in one short week and how much talent we have in our midst.
If I may quote Picasso “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
This is never truer than it is for our Outlier children. They come from a world where everything is about survival, cooking, carrying water, cleaning, going to overcrowded schools which offer the bare minimum and teachers with limited resources and often limited skills and enthusiasm.
Then suddenly they are at holiday school, full of colour, creativity, play and new ways of seeing things.