Celebrations for 20 years at Summerlea Primary School in Rustington

Summerlea Community Primary School has celebrated 20 years of learning with a party for pupils, parents and staff.

Monday was a day of celebrations at the school, which officially opened on its current site in Windsor Drive, Rustington, in September 1998.

Pupils with some of the beautiful trugs created for a birthday competition, including the Blue Planet winner, centre. Picture: Kate Shemilt ks180351-9

Pupils with some of the beautiful trugs created for a birthday competition, including the Blue Planet winner, centre. Picture: Kate Shemilt ks180351-9

Originally housed in mobile classrooms on the same site as Rustington Community Primary School, Summerlea started with just two classes.

Karla Strong, assistant head teacher, is the longest-serving member of staff and is now in her 21st year, having started as a newly-qualified teacher before the new school was built.

She said it was a privilege to have worked with the school, growing in her career as the school had grown.

Helen Morris, who is in her fourth year as head teacher, said a range of guests had been invited to the celebrations, including Jane Blackman, the previous head teacher, and Brian Ball, the first head teacher.

Mr Ball joined the school for the summer term in 1998, after leaving his previous post as head teacher at Chesworth Junior School in Horsham. He went on to be head for 17 years, with Jane Blackman as his deputy for 15 years, and when he moved on, she became head for a short time.

Mr Ball said: “We opened here on this site with about 100 children, having started over the road. We knew what it would become but the plan was to keep it as a big school with a small school feel. It is nice to come back and see some things have not changed.”

The celebrations started with the whole school forming the number 20 on the field, while a drone took an aerial photo.

Members of the School Pupil Council shared 20 things that make Summerlea great, like the nature loving ethos, the premises team keeping the school ‘shiny and sparkly’, the sense of teamwork and the fearless head teacher, who had accepted a challenge to eat stinging nettles.

Pupils learned the winners of their blooming marvellous competition, where each class was asked to plant a trug especially for the birthday celebrations.

Mrs Strong said: “The aim was for the Forest School to encourage more outside learning and gardening.”

John and Janice Saunders had the difficult job of judging the 16 creative and imaginative trugs, looking carefully at the effort the children had put into each trug.

Rowan Class was chosen as the winner, with a Blue Planet trug, based on the books.

The School Pupil Council later read out a poem in front of parents, followed by the dance squad performing and the whole school singing Power in Me.

Mrs Morris said: “This year, Power in Me has become a bit of an anthem. It carries the important message that if you believe in yourself, anything is possible.

“The school has a family feel, that is the one thing. Over the years, the schools has grown and changed but we have always had that ethos of love and learning. Our seven core values, honesty, equality, aspiration, respect, responsibility, resilience and trust, are what we live by.

“Since I have been here, two new classrooms have been built and the Forest School has been introduced as a new initiative.

“There are lots of long-standing traditions in the school that still happen today, such as the cow bell assembly each term. The children have the opportunity to stand on stage and it is a chance to celebrate their talents with a wide range of performances, things that we would not normally know about.

“We are always working together as a team to be the best that we can be. We thought it would be better to celebrate today rather than in September, when our children in year six will have left. We really wanted them to be part of our celebrations.”

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