Ashton Keynes primary school held a ‘Shine Party’ on Saturday 25 September to celebrate the opening of the school 150 years ago as well as its new learning hub.
The Rt Revd Dr Lee Rayfield, Bishop of Swindon, blessed the David Tarr Learning Hub, named after one of the school's governor's, as it was officially opened.
Funding for the new build came from the local community, who raised over £100k during 2020, and the Diocese of Bristol, who supported the school’s grant application and contributed to building costs.
The day included local food, a samba procession, musical performances from local acts, bouncy castles and a village bake-off.
Samantha Saville, headteacher at Ashton Keynes, cut the red ribbon at the opening ceremony. “The children have been utilising the Learning Hub now for nearly a year and the extra space has been invaluable. The school has been completely transformed and has been brought into the 21st century,” she said.
“This has been a fantastic day and I am so happy that everyone has enjoyed themselves. We look forward to the next milestone where we can do it all over again!” she added.
James Gray, local MP for North Wiltshire attended the opening ceremony. He said: “I offer my warmest congratulations to Ashton Keynes C of E Primary School for raising a staggering £110,000 in 2020 to pay for the build of a new Learning Hub. I am excited that the new facilities have now opened.”
Liz Townend, Director for Education at Bristol Diocese, said: “The diocese is delighted that we have been able to support the school’s grant application and help fund the build cost and kit the hub out with furniture. I have fully enjoyed my tour with the year six children, and it’s great to see the transformation in person”.
The celebrations were named the ‘Shine Party’ after the school’s motto, ‘Shine bright and reach for the stars’.
The day began with pupils leading a samba procession from the village to the school, after taking part in samba workshops in the week leading up to the event.
“The children had one hour to learn their routine” said David from Ola Samba, Cheltenham. “They nailed it and sounded like a professional samba band coming through the village. What a way to open the event!”
More than 100 performers took part in the celebrations including the Magnificent AK’s, Siren Sisters, The Village Choir, The Big Brunch Band, The AKsionals, Zumba dancer Meryl Miller and Cirencester Creative Dance School.
Food was supplied by Farr’s Food Van, The Manor Pizza in Cricklade, Dolcetti Ice Cream Company, and the village’s own White Hart Pub and Ashton Brewery.
Each class from the school held individual stalls to raise money for their new outdoor history timeline they are hoping to buy to mark the occasion.
Alan Rudd, who lives in the village, joined people lining the road to watch the opening parade. “It’s a great village, so many generations have grown up here and now my grandson attends the school.”
Another village resident, Valerie Threlfall, said, “This party has brought back so many memories. Our son started at the school in September 1975 and today we have seen his old teacher and the past Deputy Head, Mr Grace.”
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Image: Headteacher Samantha Saville, James Gray, MP of North Wiltshire and the Bishop of Swindon at the official opening of the David Tarr Learning Hub.