One final question: can you jive?

7th January 2005 at 00:00
When you apply for a new job, take time to check the date the school opened. In this let's-celebrate-everything age, you might find yourself embroiled in a jubilee party. Over the past six years I have somehow managed to celebrate two centenaries and one 50th anniversary. Although my current school's golden jubilee was a brilliant week, everybody is near exhaustion.

Plan your event with care. Our committee of governors and parents came up with some weird, wonderful and ambitious ideas, not all of which were encouraged. As we searched for big-name firms celebrating at the same time - and who might like to sponsor us - the internet revealed that Playboy was first published in 1954. Male members of our committee offered to explore further but reluctantly agreed it might be inappropriate.

It was also 50 years since British Airways started flights to Barbados, and I rather fancied a free flight in the jubilee draw, but BA was less keen.

Fortunately, a local furniture company sponsored our balloon race; a few balloons reached Belgium and Germany, one of which was returned with a message that just read: "Help me!"

Thanks to the Friends Reunited website, we were able to hold a day for former staff and pupils, and it was a joy to see the faces of old classmates as hesitation was followed by recognition, then tears and laughter.

We booked a helicopter company to take an aerial photograph of more than 800 children spelling out the school name and dates. The final result was good apart from a wonky "9" and a dodgy "s". The thrill on the children's faces as the helicopter swooped over the school roof was worth the stress of getting a reception class to stand still in the shape of a figure 5.

Our plan to create a jubilee garden meant we had just eight weeks to transform a muddy mess into a space fit to be opened by the education minister, Stephen Twigg. The result was fantastic, and the governor who organised the event deserves a medal for persuading sponsors to donate all manner of items. If you were wondering what happened to those huge rocks that used to be outside Asda - they're in our garden.

Our town carnival entry under the heading, "A memorable past, a colourful future", managed to create a passable 1950s classroom on one end of the float and a modern classroom on the other. To our amazement we won first prize in the youth section, which was fortunate as we have no intention of entering for another 50 years.

Organising a live band, disco and a five-course meal for the dinner-dance was a challenge. With balloons and bunting, candles and clever lighting, our school hall was turned into a magnificent blue and gold-themed dining room. The school cook did a brilliant job in preparing an upmarket 1950s-style school dinner. Finally, we jived and twisted our way through the decades until 2am.

Our golden jubilee concert was to be a 1950s extravaganza, with staff, parents and children in period costume. We taught the children popular songs from the time (upsettingly, I could remember most of the words) and the hall reverberated to "I'm a Pink Toothbrush", "How Much is that Doggie in the Window?" and rock and roll classics. As the children danced and sang and grown-ups jigged along with the music, I sat proudly in my yellow and orange polka dot dress and thanked the Lord that I wouldn't be here for the diamond celebrations.

Sue Walker is headteacher of Shears Green infant school, Northfleet, Kent

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