After a week back in the office in Essex finishing off our album, we headed down South to Salisbury on Sunday. This week we were going to be working in Sarum Academy alongside ‘The Bridge’ for their ‘Check It Out’ week. Taste have worked with these guys before, but they were new faces to me and it was great to meet them on the Sunday to see the school and pray together before the week began. The school we were in was a brand new build and the pupils have only been in there since September.
We set ourselves up on Monday morning in their Performance Hall. There was tiered seating and a large stage area so after working through the slight set up complications, we managed to be up and ready in time for our first thing. Where as in Scotland we had been given the Music lessons to focus on, this week we were given the R.E lessons and this meant the lessons were similar to what we are used to in schools. During this week in their school, the Check It Out week was going to be leading them through the Easter story. We led an assembly on the Monday afternoon which was focussed on ‘Cheers’ – Jesus was to be treated as a celebrity…look how He rode through on the donkey on Palm Sunday! But He also was willing to lay down that status to be a servant by washing others’ feet. We looked at Celebrities of today by playing a guess who game with them, and then spoke to them about Bono who is open about having a Christian faith, and he does a lot to help support charities etc. It was a challenging assembly because it made them think about how they could help others.
On Tuesday we had been asked to take a year 12 lesson… we haven’t done a year as old as this before during our year so I was a little bit nervous. We had asked to take an A Level R.E class who are obviously studying Christianity and who wanted to ask us some questions. We created a panel made up of myself, Josh, Reece, Andy, Joy and Simon and Suzy from The Bridge. The night before we had been sent a list of questions which had been pre-prepared before Tuesday so that we could have a look through them and the night before in our de-brief we had discussed them and noticed that they were going to be quite tough! Abortion, evil, gay marriage etc! It is always so hard to know how to answer those sorts of questions but God was obviously on our side! When it came to it it seemed that it was being led by one individual but soon the ball got rolling and that individual seemed to show a bit of an interest. It is hard to know who was really taking things in while we were talking but I know that God was in our answers, however hard it was to find them! The pupils enjoyed it so much they asked Suzy and Simon to go into their following lesson to answer more questions!
Wednesday was the day I turned 19! I had a very Tasty birthday and was greeted by my fabulous band as I came down to breakfast with balloons and banners and them singing Happy Birthday! It was a birthday which was unlike any other! I was looking forward to spending the day in school and being amongst the students for my birthday. I even got a balloon tied to the end of my microphone stand so everyone knew it was my birthday! My amazing team made sure I was sung to throughout the day more times than I could count! They even got me to stand up in the dining hall in front of the whole school and got sung to which was highly embarrassing but I did have it coming as I was desperate for it to happen to Josh on his birthday!
During the week The Bridge had set up ‘The Sanctuary’ in the Art Zone of the school which was a place to reflect on some of the stuff that we had been talking about through the week but also had some stations to go to which had activities available to them. The Sanctuary was open at break times and lunch times for the students and then after school. We managed to get to hang out with those that turned up after school, and spend an hour with them chilling out, playing games and discussing some things with them. Elliemae in particular was able to have some good conversations with someone about some of the things she was struggling with in her life. These times after school with the group that came along were really special and we were able to make some good friends both with the pupils but also with the team who came in to run it.
Much to my surprise there was a birthday celebration organised for me after school. We were taken in to town and led towards a cafe where we were treated to a hot chocolate and brownie. I was just expecting it to be us Tasties there but Simon, Dan and Suzy from The Bridge turned up with a birthday cake for me and we were able to spend the afternoon with them chatting about Taste funny moments!! It was so lovely and I am so thankful that they put the effort in to making my birthday special for me as it was hard being my first birthday away from family and re living some of the memories that last year holds. It truly was a brilliant day! To top it off we were able to go back to our hosts and chill out with a lovely meal, a Facetime to my family and a sneaky last piece of chocolate birthday cake before bed!
It was back to normality on Thursday and we had a half day of lessons with some year 8s and 9s before we had to pack our equipment up and travel to the venue for the concert. It was the first time I had ever performed in a night club!!! The venue as fantastic; it was an old church which had been converted into a night club but some parts of the old church building were still there. The pulpit and the organ remained but had been turned into a DJ stage and lighting desk, there were pews facing each other running along the sides of the room with tables in the middle, and then opposite there was a stage where we would be situated. It was very tiring having to pack up and move all our stuff ready to set up again and perform for the whole night. However, we were anticipating a really good night!
The gig was about to begin; there was a slightly smaller audience than we had had in the previous concerts but we were pumped up for a good night never the less! Myself and Andy began the first song in a slightly different style… at the top of the Pulpit and I started singing ‘Start Again’ whilst walking down the stairs and through the crowd… so fun but I was slightly worried I wouldn’t make it down the stairs in one piece with my heels on!! Josh shared a message about the gospel and using his illustration of the blank canvas; how we muck up but Jesus gives us a brand new white canvas, one without the black dirt marks on it because he forgives us! There were a few people there in particular who we are pleased that they were able to come along because of some of the stories that Suzy and others from The Bridge had told us. Overall it was a brilliant evening and was worth the setting up and packing back down at the end!!
Our final day in Sarum Academy was Friday; we had one lesson in the morning, luckily not until 11 so it meant we had plenty of time to set back up in the school at 9am ready for our final day. A lot of moving things backwards and forwards this week! We had to be ready to take the majority of the school in an assembly after lunch. The assembly was having the focus of ‘Hope’. We wanted them to go away with the message that even though things seem really rubbish, there is always hope, and we can find that hope in Jesus. Particularly around this Easter time, the message is really about the hope that God gives us through sending his son Jesus to die for us! We sung them a few Taste songs, including Down and Out ‘There is always hope’ and then also included a contemporary song by Rihanna called ‘We’ve found love’ where the song is talking about ‘We’ve found love in a hopeless place’. I noticed a few people in the assembly were crying during that song!
I absolutely loved being able to be part of the Check It Out week in Salisbury this week. A great way to end the term before we went home for our Easter holiday. I really pray that we will have spoken into the lives of those pupils in the school and that they will be interested to get along to some of the groups that happen in the school for them to find out more. Please pray for that school!