OAKS Inset Day - Friday 23rd November

School will be closed to ALL students on Friday 23rd November.

Friday Letter - Issue 38




This is our faith.  This is the faith of the Church.  We are proud to profess it, in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen.


God creator and giver of all, you gave us the earth so that we may live and see the true beauty of your creation.  Let us not damage your gift, or fail to share it with our brothers and sisters.  Help us share all the goodness that you have given us.  Give us the courage and strength to sustain that goodness, as you sustain us with your love. Amen.

It's not every day of the week that you get to travel to the other side of the world to meet the Pope but that is exactly what three of our students will be doing next Wednesday.  Caroline Fahy, Orla Lenehan and Christine  Lyttle all from Year 12 will be joining Fr Jan and lots of other young people from our Diocese as they gather in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for World Youth Day.  I am sure it will be the experience of a lifetime and we have been pleased to be able to support them in making it possible.  Watch this space.


Tomorrow we look forward to welcoming our students and lots of parents for Target Review Day.  It is always a good occasion when we are able to focus on an individual student to see what progress they have made this year in achieving their targets.  Students must report in full school uniform 15 minutes before their scheduled interview and must bring their planner with them.  Full report next week.


Next Thursday we will gather for one of the great traditions in our school.  Everyone in Years 7, 8, and 9 will be taking part in Sports Day which will be held at Tudor Grange.  I am sure that there will be many fine performances, a few school records will be broken, and a good time will be had by all.  The vital question though is which house will be declared Sports Day Champions 2013?  If the competition between the Heads of House is anything to go by it should be quite a battle!  Watch this space.



Having seen the production I can tell you it is not to be missed.  The first night took place last night and it was hugely appreciated by the audience.  If you consider that the entire cast is made up of students from Year 7, 8 and 9 it really is a remarkable standard.  I know there are now very few tickets left but if you wish to ring school to see if there is any chance of seeing it please do so.  Next week I will thank the cast and crew in detail but I do want to say a particular thank you to Miss Mortimer (Drama), Mrs Yates (Dance) and the Director, Mrs Johnson.  Thank you colleagues for your fantastic work.


Mr Marc Fellows and Mr Simon Howell
We wish Marc every success in his new school in Wales and thank him for his work over the past ten years.  And likewise Simon our Acting Site Manager who has done an excellent job.



As confidently predicted by yours truly (and many others) the Wimbledon's Men's Singles Champion 2013 is Andy Murray as we were informed by Sarah Tierney from Year 10 (JP 4B).  Well done to Sarah who wins  £10.


For the possibility of £10 a repeat of the question asked in the Golden Jubilee Special Issue of the Friday Letter.  Starting with the first name in order the three headteachers in the history of our school.  Email me on and don't forget to tell me who you are.

Yours sincerely



It is nearly three years ago when we began to think about the fact that St Thomas Aquinas School would be 50 years old in 2013.  We began to map out a series of events to take place throughout the calendar year 2013 and, as we know, it all began with our School Mission beginning appropriately on our Feast Day, Monday 28 January.  It was an incredible week that none of us will ever forget and we will continue to be blessed by the experience for many years to come.  The Mission was wonderful but it was only one amongst several events to mark our special year.


We identified Saturday 6 July 2013 to celebrate our Birthday.  We checked the weather forecast so we were confident the sun would shine and the sporting Gods would be with us too.  A win for the British and Irish (Welsh) Lions was confidently predicted and we knew that Andy Murray would win his first Wimbledon.  The day was right so then the hard work began.  Numerous people were involved in the planning over countless meetings but special thanks must go to our Marketing and Website Manager, James Ingram who promoted our big day superbly and liaised with a huge number of past staff and students.  And thank you too to Sharon Williamson, our Business Manager who masterminded the whole event from beginning to end taking care of every little detail.  In the final few weeks staff and students responded magnificently to ensure the school looked sparkling for our visitors and all 10 faculties prepared the theme of 50 years however it applied to them.  The day before the Marquee arrived and thanks to a huge team effort and the great work of the site team led by June Simms we were ready for the big day.


From early in the morning staff began to arrive, the final preparations were complete and now all that was needed were some guests!  The Lions match contributed to a slow start but from 12.30pm the crowd began to build.  For some it was all fairly familiar but for others it was a journey through time.  It was a real pleasure to welcome John Beard who joined the school as a young Geography and History teacher in September 1963 and stayed until 1966 before joining Humphrey Middlemore School in Harborne and subsequently moved to Kent where he became a Headteacher.  And also arriving in the Hall were several members of the Foundation Year - Ed Baines, John Conway, Tom Hopkins, James Kelly, Maurice Kerins, Richard Niemyski, Tom O'Connor, John O'Quigley, Alfred Vella amongst others.  Following much hand shaking, back slapping and general hilarity as many who had not seen each other for many years caught up again, most people made their way to the Sports Hall for a Mass of Thanksgiving.


We were blessed with the presence of no fewer than ten priests led by the Vicar General and former Tommy's student, (1981 - 1986), Monsignor Timothy Menezes.  Monsignor Tim delivered a wonderful homily full of profound insights but also much good humour that was greatly appreciated.  He introduced his brother priests - Fr Jan, our School Chaplain and Parish Priest of St Brigid's; Fr George, Parish Priest of St John Fisher; Fr David, Parish Priest of St Joseph's and St Paul's; Fr Seamus, Parish Priest of Our Lady of Fatima; former chaplain, Fr Stefan; former students, Fr Eamonn Corduff and Fr Gerry Lennon; and former Aquinas teachers, Fr Frank Smith and Fr Bill Wilton.  It really was the most wonderful celebration full of joy and thanks for the many blessings bestowed on St Thomas Aquinas School over the past 50 years.


Following the Mass I had the opportunity to welcome our many guests - current staff and students; former staff and students that I knew; and former staff, students and friends of our school that were here before my time.  It was a privilege to particularly welcome John Beard and the Foundation Year of the school both of whom received a warm ovation.  And then I was delighted to introduce a special message from our founding headteacher, Mr Paul Olsen recorded on 14 May on his 90th Birthday.  Naturally, Paul was at the centre of the photograph showing the Foundation Year and alongside him sat a young English teacher, John Bartlett who took over from Paul as headteacher in 1974 and served the school for 30 years until his retirement in 1993.  John too had recorded a message which was warmly appreciated by everyone but it was particularly pleasing that, despite poor health in recent years, John was able to join us for the Mass and the meal afterwards.  We also remembered the late, great Pat Manion.  And finally it was a pleasure to present James Ingram, Sharon Williamson and Pete Roberts, author of Tommy's Volumes 1 and 2, with a token of our appreciation.


Following the Mass there were tours of the school, a wonderful meal in the Marquee and an excellent concert in the Sports Hall.  Everyone had a wonderful time the final revellers leaving just before midnight following a day we will never forget.  I understand some hardy characters continued the celebrations at The Camp long into the early hours - an awesome achievement!  Do check the website for further details and look out for future developments regarding our St Thomas Aquinas Alumni Association.  Well done everyone!


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