Emotional day as John Summers High School in Queensferry shuts doors for final time

Reporter:

Amani Khan

It was an emotional day for pupils and staff as they gathered together for the last time.

John Summers High School in Queensferry shut its doors for the final time on Thursday.

A ‘heartbreaking’ ceremony was held in the afternoon to congratulate students on their achievements.

Staff were emotional as star pupils were awarded with medals and trophies for their exceptional work and commitment to the school.

Awards for attendance, outstanding performance and best progress were presented.

Paula Stanford, headteacher at John Summers, who has been at the school for 39 years, said: “It has been a strange few months for us here at John Summers.

“It has been a wonderful week but a really difficult one.

“The fantastic pupils are why we are here today, their existence in this school has made a huge difference and they have come such a long way, I am extremely proud.”

She added: “They are so loyal and supportive to one another and they will all be a great addition to another school.”

Gill Ovens, associate assistant headteacher, who has also been at the school for 39 years, said: “The whole experience has been awful, there has been lots of tears not only amongst the pupils but the staff too. We are just trying to keep it together for the kids. We are only holding up for them.

“We do think the school will be a huge loss to the community and Flintshire.

“I don’t think the people who made the decision realise what they have done.”

Bryan Davies, assistant headteacher, said: “We’ve made sure the children have had a positive last week. They’ve been sent to the cinema and the zoo to keep the spirit up.

“It was amazing to see the turnout at the open day where people who were pupils 40 years ago showed up. It shows how much of a community school this is and it’s going to be really sad to see it go.”

Pupils performed and sang songs such as such as Flashlight by Jessie J, The Scientist by Coldplay and as a tribute to staff they sang To sir With Love by Lulu.

Parents and pupils have become saddened and worried for what the future holds for them and how this closure will affect their education and final grades.

Parent Erin Jones said: “It’s disgusting what they have done, shutting this school down. It was a perfectly good school, it’s fantastic and the teachers are too.

“It’s going to be hard for them because it’s a new building, new teachers and new faces, it’s just going to be difficult.”

Dawn Jones, the catering assistant at John Summers for 26 years, and grandmother to Dylan Jones, Year 9, said: “It is honestly the end to an era of many happy times and memories.

“I just really hope for the children’s sake that everything will be ok.

“It has been very emotional but all we can do now is look forward.”

Pupils at the school were gathered together embracing one another once the ceremony finished.

Mariana Gomes, a Year 7 star pupil with 100 per cent attendance, joined John Summers at the start of the 2016 academic year. When she arrived she could not speak English and now she speaks English fluently and won a majority of the awards at the ceremony.

She said: “I am really going to miss the teachers and my friends. Everyone here is family.

“They have been so helpful to me and have helped develop my language and supported me the whole way and it’s just a very positive school, everyone works together. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Chris Stanford, head of drama, said: “I feel heartbroken.

“The thing is the children here they never fail you. You’re always surprised, they put their heart into everything and that just makes them marvellous.

“We all genuinely like each other here and we want each other to do well.”

Emma McKenzie, mother of Tori McKenzie, year 8, said: “It’s total devastation. We are from Connah’s Quay but four of my children chose to attend this school with my eldest being now 24 and I have two younger kids that I was hoping to send here to keep the tradition.

“Their choices have been snatched from them.

“They really don’t understand the chaos they are sending these kids into.

“What is most concerning is, our kids are being forced into a building site. They are not ready for our children.”

The school’s closure was ratified in August last year by Kirsty Williams AM, the Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Education – subject to conditions being met over the development of an alternative school.

The pupils have been dispersed between Connah’s Quay and schools in Buckley.

See full story in the Leader

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