14 December 2018

Clarence the Angel: “Remember George, no man is a failure who has friends.”


‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ is a film that everyone should watch at least once and, if you haven’t had the opportunity, it is being shown over Christmas at both the Gala in Durham and the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle next week. The line above is from that film and features in this year’s school Christmas card, designed by Kaci France in year 10 (above and below). When discussing the card, one of the school’s Deputy Headteachers enquired if iconic lines from Christmas films would feature annually from now on. If so, could his favourite festive film be used next year? ‘What’s your favourite Christmas film?’ I asked. Die Hard, he responded. Maybe, but I’ll get back to you.   

Christmas has definitely arrived at Durham Johnston. The school tree was decorated last week. This afternoon Years 7 and 8 took part in the annual Santa Run, wearing a combination of fancy dress and Christmas Jumpers. Staff and students have also sat together for their Christmas lunches. The Christmas concert took place last night and, if present, you will know how high the standard was yet again. I would like to publicly acknowledge the participating musicians, music service staff, teachers, our Music department and the countless parents, carers and support staff that collect and deliver instruments, run bands and ensembles and, generally, help to set such a high standard.  The Senior Orchestra and Junior Choir will also be playing as part of our Cathedral service on Friday 21st December.

The first Durham Johnston service was held at the Cathedral in 1982 and was arranged by John Dunford, the Headteacher at that time and a key figure in the long-term success of the school. He created countless opportunities for students and was a firm believer in the central role that culture plays in the development of young people. Many students and staff take it for granted that we go to the Cathedral on an annual basis. Many of you reading this may well have gone to a school service at the Cathedral too. It is worth taking a moment to consider what a special privilege it is to be able to do so.

The Cathedral has played a central role in the history and cultural life of Durham and the North East of England. If our students look around before the service they will get a sense of its scale and might also ponder the architectural and mathematical ability needed for its construction. They might consider the sacrifice and tragedy suggested by the Durham Light Infantry Chapel and the Miners’ Memorial. They could try to work out what is unusual about the Cathedral clock, and why, according to the myth, the Scottish soldiers kept captive after the Battle of Dunbar in 1650 chose not to destroy it. Alternatively, if they are in Year 7 or 8 they could rue their bad luck not being born in the early 1990s. The students at the school in 2000 and 2001 got the unique opportunity to act as extras in ‘Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone’ when scenes were filmed in the Cathedral Cloisters; the film credits still thank the students of Durham Johnson (sic) School. There is a strongly religious element to the service, which is important to many of those that attend, but it also provides a rare opportunity to listen to some wonderful music in a magnificent building.

Whether you are watching Christmas films, visiting the Cathedral or prioritising time with you family over the holiday period, I hope that it is a restful and enjoyable time for all of those associated with the school community. I also hope that you find Zuzu’s petals.

This is the last Friday Bulletin of the year and I would like to thank all parents and carers for their continuing support for the school. We will have a new website and downloadable App as of January and I would encourage you to keep reading the Bulletin, even though the format might change slightly in January.

Merry Christmas & Yippee Ki Yay.

Mr O’Sullivan