Happy shrieks and excited chatter rang through Guildford Cathedral in July at new-style year six leaversâ€™ services, where church school pupils from across the diocese created, thought, and drew to say goodbye to primary school.
Around 2,500 children and more than 150 school staff took part in five services, where children were encouraged to engage in prayer and reflection at four different prayer stations: â€˜sorryâ€™, â€˜thank youâ€™, â€˜pleaseâ€™, and â€˜wowâ€™.
Headteacher at St James Primary, Elstead Ann Tann said: â€œI think itâ€™s absolutely brilliant. Iâ€™m not sure what they got out of the way we used to have it in a more standard service, but this is wonderful.
â€œThe children were all really thinking about their time at school and when they got into the service they were already prepared for reflection, it was lovely.â€
The schoolchildren washed dirty stones in water and placed them on a wooden cross outside the cathedral to say sorry for things they have done. At the â€˜wowâ€™ station, good memories were written on triangles stapled to ribbon to create bunting.
They also made pipe cleaner stickmen to represent people they were thankful for, and wrote down what they wanted to ask God for. Many of the requests were for confidence at new schools, and to do well in their SATs. Another child asked for his Playstation to be fixed.
'It's really fun'
One pupil commented: â€œIâ€™m thankful for my friend because we worked together in Maths and got into a higher group, so Iâ€™m making him out of a pipe cleaner.â€
A schoolgirl from St Maryâ€™s school, Byfleet said: â€œItâ€™s really fun and not what I expected in a church.â€
The childrenâ€™s favourite songs, â€˜Shine, Jesus, Shineâ€™ and â€˜One more stepâ€™ were sung and clapped to. They were each given a bookmark with a shoe on one side with the caption, 'One more step along the world I go...', and a special prayer on the other.
The service ended with pupils walking their school banners down the aisle while the diocesan director for education, Canon Derek Holbird, led a â€˜hip, hip, hoorayâ€™ cheer and colourful paper streamers were thrown into the air.