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The Rushden Echo and Argus, 3rd July, 1942, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Evacuee School May Disband
Children Entertain Their Rushden Friends
Thanks to Town

What may prove to be a farewell group of concerts by the evacuee children at Rushden Park-road Assembly School opened on Wednesday evening. Now with 72 children on the roll, the school has until recently been made up of Walthamstow children, with Mr. William E. Taylor as headmaster. Some scholars from other districts are now among the ranks, and as many of the children are nearing the school-leaving age it is quite possible that fresh arrangements for the evacuees remaining in the town will follow the August holidays.

In the brightness and eagerness of the scholars on Wednesday, however, there was no hint of the expected dissolution. The programme and its presentation owed much to the resourcefulness of the staff, and the earlier impression that Rushden’s young visitors have a talent for making themselves heard was confirmed with added emphasis. The juniors who rattled-off the swift dialogue of an Irish play, “Spreading the News,” hardly paused to think or take breath, their combined feat of memory being matched by the vigour of their delivery. It was a difficult subject for children, but the working-up of a gossip train was very well understood, and evidence as to the appreciation of Irish humour came in shrieks of delight from scholars in the audience.

Period Play

A play for the seniors depicted the escape of Lord Nithsdale from the Tower of London and was good material for education if not for stage work by juveniles at an unemotional age. There were joyous moments when His Youthful Lordship struggled into a feminine disguise, and much earnest effort went into the two well-dressed scenes.

Arranged by Miss E. Kelsey, who took part as the spell-binding witch and did the spinning-wheel scene particularly well, a dancing scene, “The Sleeping Beauty,” was quite charming. There was a wondrous marble hall (created by Mr. S. R. Nelson), and the music included some of the Chopin pieces used in the ballet “Les Sylphides.” An artistic conception was carried out very daintily, and in admiring the children the onlookers did not fail to admire also their graceful school-made costumes.

The whole school sang as a choir, opening under Mr. Taylor with a Scottish group in which great care was taken with the words – especially the characteristic ones – and razor-keen play made with some little rhythmical notes. Then, under Mr. Nelson, the choir gave three “Songs of the Open Country” followed by “The Yeomen of England” and “England” – an ambitious little programme in which, amid much temptation to break phrases, the standard of performance was uneven.

Excellent recitations by Sheila Howard, Gladys Prime and Muriel West completed the entertainment.

All Friends

The chairman for the evening was the Rev. R. Percy Jones, minister of the Park-road Baptist Church, who, after thanking the staff and scholars, said the school had come to be known in that quarter of the town as a very happy one, full of the spirit of friendship and co-operation. He often thought that the teachers there were more than teachers – they were really friends of the boys and girls.

“I have been thinking,” said Mr. Jones, “how very different the lot of these boys and girls might have been during these years of war. We know what is going on in various parts of Europe, and I think what hurts us most of all is the needless suffering endured by boys and girls who are not old enough to defend themselves.

Referring to the fact that some of the teachers and scholars would shortly be leaving Rushden, Mr. Jones said they had been very glad to have them in Rushden and trusted that they would look back upon their stay as an exceedingly happy one. He extended a welcome to Mr. Hoffman, a former staff member now serving in the Army and visiting Rushden on leave. The chairman added congratulations to Miss Kelsey and Miss D. A. L. Cornu, who had made the costumes.

Growing Older

Mr. Taylor said he was very sorry that the school was rapidly drawing to its close; it was not because the children wanted to go home, but because they were growing older. They were received with open arms and had met with nothing but supreme kindness in general and the Park-road Baptists and ministers and clergy in particular.

They prided themselves on having a first-class school, but the proudest thing of all was that they were a very happy family – boys, girls and teachers were all chums together. They had done some good solid work and this year had been able to get four county scholarships and six central school scholarships.

“I thank the people of Rushden from the bottom of my heart, and I wish them God-speed,” concluded Mr. Taylor.

The Rector (Rev. E. A. Green) said they all felt that the school had worked wonders during the three years it had been in Rushden. He hoped they would see them in Rushden from time to time under much happier circumstances in the future.

The able accompanist for the concert was Miss Singer.

Another audience enjoyed a repeat performance yesterday (Thursday.)

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