Thank God it's Friday;Diary;Features and arts

26th November 1999 at 00:00
Monday National Meningitis Awareness Week is here and I have letters to give out, students to see at break and lunchtime, classes to teach and a visit to the Natural History Museum to organise. Laura has bright red hair, and Tabetha and Kate are doing a sponsored silence so they can't answer the register. I arrange a car wash at lunchtime - two-and-a-half cars are completed before the bell goes.

Tuesday I talk to students about their proposed hair-shaving, skate park, mini-fete and slave auction before supervising more car-washing. I teach all day then go to a department meeting.

Wednesday I'm worried that no serious fundraising seems to be going on today. Later I have to field comments that the slave auction posters are racist. I consult with colleagues and we decide they can remain up. I hassle a local shop for raffle prizes - and the staff to buy tickets.

Thursday I hand out letters telling students they will get the meningitis C vaccine soon. I feel tearfully euphoric that our fundraising really can prevent more deaths from this disease.

My teaching today includes an hour's social education with my own form - more discussions about meningitis.

At lunchtime I follow the crowds to the gym and remind the students to remove their shoes and not to drink inside. I watch the auction of Year 11 boys - there's fierce bidding from staff and students.

We raise pound;93 in 20 minutes. The amount overwhelms me - as does the students' excellent organisational skills.

Friday A colleague tells me about a local schoolgirl who was admitted to hospital with meningitis yesterday. I feel sick, and know this week's efforts are vital. It is non-uniform day so some girls are in pyjamas, heads are shaved at lunchtime and the "slaves" are forced into bin bags, wigs, make-up, and skirts, and carry placards proclaiming: "Spanish is my favourite subject".

Liam organises a mini-fete with cakes, drinks and games. I teach a lesson and do last-minute lists for the Year 9 field trip on Monday. The raffle is drawn, winners are pleasantly surprised and everyone is delighted at the amount raised and the commitment of Jonathan in Year 9.

The head's husband supervises skating on the tennis courts. Now all I have to do is count the money and get up at 6.30am tomorrow to walk 15 miles with colleagues, family and friends.

Jill Atkinson, whose stepson died from meningitis four years ago, teaches at Hethersett High School, Norwich. Her fund-raising week collected almost pound;2,000 for the National Meningitis Trust

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