Sadness at the breaking up of a school community will be mixed with hopeful anticipation for the future as pupils of Sir James Altham school today clear out their desks for the very last time.
All the 152 pupils will take with them fond memories of the school which came into being 22 years ago after the merger of Hampden school with Clarendon school.
Undoubtedly the biggest blow to the pupils will be having to say goodbye to friends.
Bushey Hall school will take the majority of the pupils – about 90 – with Langleybury school taking 30. The rest of the pupils will go to other schools in the area.
Against the usual disruption that accompanies any end of term, teachers have been working hard to build up the confidence of pupils before they eave for their new schools.
Mr John Pope. head of expressive arts had just returned from a t trip to Wales with a number of first and second year pupils. He took time to speak with them about their experiences. It was the first time 13 year old Carl Solomon had had the chance to abseil and canoe, and he enjoyed both thouroughly.
“We had to walk along the back of the canoes and we got very wet” he said with a mischievous smile.
The schoolchildren also took part in rock climbing, archery, shooting, rafting and pony trekking.
“It was an exciting week,” said said 13 year old Michelle Brown. Michelle will be going to Bushey Hall school in the autumn, while Carl will go to Queens school in Bushey.
“We thought it was important to get the children to work inteams they would not normally choose in the school environment because when they go their new schools they are going to have to adapt” said Mr Pope.
The youngsters enthusiastically described Sir James Altham school as “good”, “brilliant” and “fun”.
“You get more attention at this school because there are fewer people” said Carl.
Asked whay theyenjoyed most about the school, the pupils were unanimous in naming the school disco.
“The night discos were really good because you could have a laugh” said 13 year old Lee Croudy, who will be going to Langleybury school in September.
Among the groups other achievements was a school newspaper called Altham says, which they produced themselves.
Queens school, Bushey Hall school and Bushey Meads school also worked on the project – which no doubt made some important ties with the children’s future schools. “I think the paper did very well. It is the first issue ever produced solely by pupils” said Mrs Anne Brereton, a computer teacher.
Third year pupil, Sarah Ross, 14, who will be going to Bushey Hall school, said she was nervous helping toproduce the paper.
“When I travelled on the minibus to a visit to the Watford Observer with pupils from the other three schools, I found they were all taller than me” she said.
Martin Scarborough, 14, said “Well all be sad to leave. The last day will be very emotional and we will all be crying. Ive been to see my new school and ive seen my headmaster.Is quite a nice school, but I dont think it will replace Sir James Altham”.
Further along the corridors, Miss Ane Wainwright, head of combined science technology and home economics, was monitoring a class of third year pupils who had each designed a battery-powered buggy.
“I have enjoyed making the car. Itis much better than just writing. But I dont know whether we will be doing this at my new school” said Tina Jefferies.
Gareth EVANS, 14, had been working on his buggy for month ad thought it was better than doing normal lessons.
“My friends will be spread out.I’d much rather stay at this school” he said.
In an effort to encourage the pupils tol look at themselves and theirown expectations, headmaster Mr John Townsend introduced records of achievements. These were similar to school reports but part of them was filled in by the pupils themselves who had to describe their own best and worst points.
A special commemorative mug has been designed and will be distributed to all pupils and staff at a special farewell assembly this morning
“We are trying to end life at Sir James Altham with a memorable occasion where we can recognise a lot of the achievements” said Mr Townsend.
“It will also be a time to remember Roger Elliot, a musician anf former teacher at the school who died 16 years ago in who’s name a memorial fund was set up” he added.
Prizes will be presented to pupils, and all the people who worked at the school have been invited. Mr Townsend who will take up the post of deputy headmaster at St Clement Danes school, said the thing he willmiss most is the friendliness or everyone at Sir James Altham.
“It is the friendliest school I have ever worked at” he said.