The theme this year for Quaker Week was ‘Let Your Life Speak,’ focusing on the spiritual root and practical living out of the Quaker testimony. Quaker schools across the UK celebrated this annual event, 4 to 12 October 2014, in a variety of creative and meaningful ways.
The result of Quaker Week at The Mount School in York is a long-reaching commitment to challenge injustice and build inclusive communities. The students aim to create a central display showing the progress of various initiatives including monthly Food Bank contributions and signing petitions to support equal pay and gender equality to social media support.
During Quaker Week at The Mount, they also enjoyed an inspiring presentation by International Service and marked the official launch of Pencil Power which aims to raise at least £50,000 by 31 December 2014, for Ibba Girls’ School in South Sudan.
Over in Sibford School in Banbury the clocks were turned back to the 1800s for Quaker Week with the revival of a Tottenham Cake recipe invented by Quaker baker Henry Chalkley.
Originally sold for one old penny, and famously given away in 1901 to celebrate a Spurs victory over Sheffield United in the FA final, this time slices were sold in aid of the Quaker Housing Trust.
Along with pink tray-bakes, Sibford held a number of activities throughout the week including a film show of Go Inside to Greet the Light , narrated by Dame Judi Dench, a former pupil of sister Quaker School, The Mount, in York. Meet the Quakers was an opportunity to meet some of Sibfords’ Quakers and the they joined Sidcup School, via Skype, for their meeting in ‘Great Silence.’
Having ‘virtually’ joined Sibford’s meeting, Iain Kilpatrick, Headteacher at Sidcot, reflected on the shared ‘DNA’ which unites and reminds all the schools of the Quaker heritage they all share.
Sidcot’s Year 7 and 8 students channelled the best of Blue Peter to construct miniature Peace Gardens from materials such as coloured straws, sand, decorative stones, glue, leaves and stickers. The gardens creatively highlighted the Quaker values accompanied by a written statement explaining the design ideas and how the gardens’ reflected the central theme of peace.
All Quaker Week activities at Sidcot were designed by students to connect them with the Quaker testimonies of Simplicity, Truth, Equality, Peace and Sustainability.
At Leighton Park School in Reading, Quaker Week was the ideal opportunity for students to celebrate the Quaker ethos and commemorate the role of the Quakers during World War 1, by exploring the theme of peace.
Brendan Carr, curator of the Museum of Reading, set the scene and developed the students’ awareness of the historical context for their subsequent work. Years 7 to 11 created displays about eight Quakers and Old Leightonians, their characters, beliefs and roles during the First World War. Sixth formers held a Peace Conference with speakers from Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament presenting opinions and information, and tackling some difficult and insightful questions from the floor.
The week was poignantly concluded at Leighton Park with a talk by Marcus Sedgwick, author of ‘Cowards’, a true story of two conscientious objectors who refused to join the army and suffered abuse, imprisonment and physical punishment, because they believed it was wrong to kill.