Two Lanark schools joined forces to make a big noise with Stomps!

Life-long friendships...were forged thanks to the unique arts project which saw Robert Owen Memorial PS and Stanmore House pupils working together.
Life-long friendships...were forged thanks to the unique arts project which saw Robert Owen Memorial PS and Stanmore House pupils working together.

An art project which saw pupils from two Lanark schools develop a special bond culminated last Friday with a special performance.

In October, all of Stanmore House School’s pupils and 17 P6 and P7 pupils from Robert Owen PS started working together.

Huge achievement...for non-verbal Stanmore House pupil Clare who welcomed visitors to the show.

Huge achievement...for non-verbal Stanmore House pupil Clare who welcomed visitors to the show.

At that time, no-one knew how successful the partnership would become.

But it was such a hit that is now likely to continue for many years to come.

And no-one could be happier about that than Michelle Eckford, deputy head teacher at Stanmore.

For she was set the task of forging new friendships within the community.

Opening the doors...to new friendships for pupils at both Lanark schools.

Opening the doors...to new friendships for pupils at both Lanark schools.

Michelle explained: “The management team at the school has changed over the last four to five years.

“Prior to that, there was a feeling that they had shut the door on the school and people forgot we existed.

“I sent letters to a number of schools and groups and Mel Haldane from Robert Owen responded.

“She’d just been trained at Trinity College to deliver an expressive arts award, which she’d already done with her own pupils.

Communication was key...for youngsters who helped lead the project and forged friendships for life.

Communication was key...for youngsters who helped lead the project and forged friendships for life.

“Mel suggested that we could work on a joint project, even though it had never been done before.”

What surprised both teachers was how quickly the children gelled and learned to communicate – to the benefit of them all.

Michelle said: “The children decided to call themselves Stomps and even created their own logo.

“They painted friendship stones which were hidden around Lanark, painted Banksy style art, created digital music, performed at Lanark’s Sing a Song for Christmas as the Stomps Choir and spent time in each of the schools.

“They also visited venues together, including Lanark Memorial Hall where Scott Morrice, the assistant manager, let them spend time up on the stage.

“Communication has played a vital role, with Robert Owen pupils learning Makaton. They are now so confident at communicating and supporting Stanmore pupils, something I have never seen happen so naturally before.

“Pupils from both schools show absolute pleasure when they are together – they have made friends for life.”

The project reached its climax on Friday when parents and friends were invited to Stanmore for a special performance.

Michelle said: “The show went fantastically well – there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, particularly when our pupil Clare said hello into the mic to welcome guests.

“It’s been a long time since she’s said hello and to do so in front of so many people was an amazing achievement.”

As for the future, Michelle hopes to build even more partnerships locally.

She added: “Stomps has been such a success it will continue next term and we’ve also welcomed Beechgrove Care Home residents to our shows.

“It’s a great way of opening the doors at Stanmore.”

All Stomps pupils will receive a certificate in recognition of their work from Trinity College.