By the spring of next year and the second anniversary in March of the start of lockdown there should be a carpet of daffodils on the lawn in front of Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School.

 

Every pupil was invited to plant a bulb beneath the trees on the grassy slope beside the High Street, opposite the Meadway entrance to High Barnet tube station.

Sixth formers who initiated the project hope an eye-catching display of a mass of yellow flowers will demonstrate QE Girls’ community spirit and provide a lasting commemoration of how the country pulled together during the Covid.19 pandemic.

Other ideas being considered by the pupils include the preparation of a time capsule filled with reminders and mementos of the pandemic which would provide an explanation for future students about how they had to work online when lessons were suspended, and the school was closed.

Headteacher Violet Walker (centre) congratulated the students who had suggested planting the daffodils and then worked with the rest of the pupils to raise £450, enough to purchase 2,000 bulbs.

“This was the pupils’ inspiration, and they hope it will be a lasting commemoration of what they and the rest of the community went through during Covid emergency.

“Bulbs do represent a new life, a new beginning, and they should be at their best next March, the anniversary of lockdown.

“The pupils seemed to sense that QE Girls’ School, standing as it does right at the entrance to High Barnet, was just the place for a reminder of what after all was a momentous period in their lives,” said Mrs Walker, seen above (from left to right) with Trixie Smith (17), Ruby Douglas (14), Preslava Taya Raleva (14) and Grace Hanley (17).

There was no doubting the pleasure of the girls to be back full time at school, but they sensed that the pandemic, and especially lockdown, was an episode that in some ways changed their lives and should be commemorated.

Grace Hanley, one of the pupils who had initiated the daffodil planting, hoped it would be a peaceful reminder of the stress that everyone had been through in the last 18 months.

“Like a lot of the others I was due to sit my GCSEs last year. It was incredibly stressful not knowing whether or not the exams would take place and then finding we would get grades, so the uncertainty caused a lot of worry.”

Trixie Smith shared Grace’s frustration over the exam disruption and regretted the time lost a school in such a critical year.

“Everyone was living in their own bubble, so it is great to see the school coming together again and everyone planting a bulb. Being back together means we have something to celebrate.”

Grace and Trixie are working with other sixth formers to come up with ideas for a pandemic time capsule that would tell the story of lockdown and how QE Girls had to close, when teaching went online.

“We are thinking about what to put in the time capsule – perhaps some of the notices and instructions about social distancing, mass vaccination and everything else we have had to live through. Newspaper front pages might help to tell the story.”

For younger pupils without the stress of having to miss out on exams, the switch to doing lessons at home via Zoom was an experience they are unlikely to forget.

Ruby Douglas said one advantage of having to spend lockdown at home was that she could spend lots of time talking to her friends online, discussing the work that they were having to do.

“As a result, I’ve probably got closer to my best friends because we were able to talk so much. But being stuck home with the rest of the family did sometimes make life pretty hectic.”

Preslava Taya Raleva said the most worrying thing about the pandemic was wondering what was happening to her grandparents; and now she was finding it upsetting when hearing how her relatives in Bulgaria were suffering from the pandemic.

“Right now, there is a lockdown in Bulgaria and children there are having to go through what we have experienced which is why I am so pleased we have been able to do something positive like planting daffodils.

“This shows us all coming together as a community and let’s hope it spreads a little happiness when people see so many daffodils flowering next spring.”

Paul Brooke (far right) the lead English teacher who worked with the sixth form on the arrangements for the bulb planting, said the enthusiasm shown by the pupils had been inspiring.

“There was a lot of disappointment in the 2020 exam group and all pupils have been through a lot these last two years and they wanted to leave a legacy, a reminder of what they have all been through.

“They have already started on another legacy project – a documentary film with recordings of what happened and what we did during the pandemic.”

To help raise the £450 for the 2,000 daffodil bulbs the pupils raised money by baking cakes and by holding a non-uniform day when they had to contribute £1. (From left to right, Lily Webber, Jessica Barker and Joanna Cox)

Comments (2)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

What a lovely bit of positivity - so proud of all the students at QE Girls’ - and all Barnet’s schools - and how staff and students coped during the pandemic. They really showed resilience, and they continue to do so…
Re 2000 bulbs; I imagine it’s so every student gets to plant a couple. Nothing worse than not being able to take part because...

What a lovely bit of positivity - so proud of all the students at QE Girls’ - and all Barnet’s schools - and how staff and students coped during the pandemic. They really showed resilience, and they continue to do so…
Re 2000 bulbs; I imagine it’s so every student gets to plant a couple. Nothing worse than not being able to take part because there was nothing left to plant. Fingers crossed the squirrels don’t take too many & theres a host of golden daffodils in March.

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Bex
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why did they plant 2000? I would have thought another 20 to mark the year 2020, and perhaps henceforth plant something new each year, - perhaps a tree each year.

Graham
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