When Miss Joan Dence founded Stover School in 1932, her vision was, ‘to establish a school for future generations who would find a full and happy life and above all receive a Christian Education that would equip them to live their lives to the full …..’
Miss Dence’s vision was for the creation of a supportive community, centred on the Christian ideals of justice, kindness, responsibility, respect and encouragement. For many years, links were forged with our surrounding parishes and the support of local clergy was greatly valued, and I feel privileged to be the second, resident Anglican Chaplain to Stover School.
Today, our school comprises both girls and boys, and we feel enriched by sharing our school lives with representatives of at least twelve different nationalities, creating a true world-wide community in our beautiful Devon grounds.
Each culture is respected and celebrated wherever we can, from special meals provided by our wonderful kitchen staff, to whole school assemblies and boarding activities. In the Senior School, whole School assemblies provide a wonderful opportunity on both Monday and Friday mornings, to begin and end the week as a community, and I am pleased to welcome both local clergy and representatives of charities and other organisations to share the leading of those occasions with me.
The School Carol Service in Exeter Cathedral is a highlight of the Autumn Term and indeed the School year. In recent years, young people have been prepared for Confirmation within the Church of England, and that facility is always available should anyone wish to take it up. On occasion, I also take assemblies in the Preparatory School and help in their Harvest Festival. Prayers are always said for the community at Speech Day.
The Boarding Community attend an act of worship in school each Sunday morning, and on occasion go out to one of the neighbouring parishes to share in their services.
A collection is taken at each act of worship in school, and that money is given away to a charity of their choice at the end of each academic year. Support of a wide range of charities is built into the life of the School, through the House System, through individual pupil and class involvement, and through the annual Curry Lunch and Mufti Day which is held in September, in support of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity. Representatives of all the Armed Forces join us for an annual Service of Remembrance as close to Armistice Day as we are able to arrange it.
In the day to day life of the school, pupils of all faiths, or no religious affiliation, are welcome to attend either of the Junior or Senior Christian Union groups. Fondly known as ‘CU’, we meet at lunchtimes, eating a packed lunch together, before discussing some aspect of life and hearing about what Jesus might do. We always order up an extra packed lunch, for anyone who needs a little extra support, and asks to join us, if only for a fleeting time.
I am always available, to pupils, parents and staff, to provide a listening ear.