Beam me up, Scotty! Technology saves Christmas show as lead streams lines from isolation at home

Oscar, 7, didn't let isolation due to COVID stop him from taking to the stage in Whitehill Junior School's production

Oscar, seven, didn't let isolation due to COVID stop him from taking to the stage as Captain Clingfilm in Whitehill Junior School's production of Plastic Pirates - Credit: Steve Mills

A Hitchin school has gone above and beyond to ensure all of their students can take part in their festive end-of-term show - even when isolating with COVID.

Oscar, seven, has a leading role as Captain Clingfilm in Whitehill Junior's Christmas production, Plastic Pirates.

Oscar's dad Mark Bucknell said the team behind Whitehill Junior's performance went "above and beyond any expectation"

Seven-year-old Oscar's dad, Mark Bucknell, said that the team behind Whitehill Junior School's Christmas performance of Plastic Pirates went "above and beyond any expectation" - Credit: Steve Mills

But after being advised to isolate on Saturday, a devastated Oscar was upset that he would not be able to perform in the play, which runs this week.

Not letting COVID ruin the show for Oscar and the rest of the cast, Whitehill's head Steve Mills explained how when planning this year's festive performance with Year 3 team, led by Mr Tim Lord and Mr Matt Wells, they chose the evergreen subject of plastic reduction and recycling in case the show had to be postponed - and how they overcame the obstacle of their lead having to isolate.

"We have been very lucky in Year 3 and had very few COVID related absences and so the rehearsals went very well indeed all the way up to the dress rehearsal to a few school staff on Friday morning.

"When we woke up on Saturday to the news that Oscar - one of the main parts - has been told to isolate for 10 days, the Year 3 team’s first thing was to set up a WhatsApp group between the three of us entitled, ‘Nobody Panic!’

"We have a belief at Whitehill that our starting point for anything should be ‘how can we make that work?’," he added, stating that in this COVID climate, it's been very easy to say ‘no’ or ‘we can’t do that'.

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"As part of the discussions on Saturday, the Year 3 team came up with three possible options, one of which was to make use of the blended learning we have been doing so well and work out a way of ‘beaming’ Oscar into the hall and into the play."

On Monday morning, additional technology was installed in the hall so all members of the cast could rehearse and perform together, including a specially-positioned camera so Oscar could see what other pupils were doing on stage.

Mr Mills added: "I couldn’t be more proud of Tim and Matt for making this work, and also of Oscar for embracing it and generally being brilliant.

"His mum and older brother, who are also at home at the moment, worked behind the scenes as camera and sound operatives and the rest, as they say, is history."

Oscar's dad Mark Bucknell had nothing but praise for all those behind the Year 3 production: "My boy was in tears on Saturday morning, and what they've done to make it happen - and in the pandemic that we're in - just goes above and beyond any expectation. 

"I'm so proud. The school spent the whole weekend organising themselves to make it happen for Oscar and the rest of the pupils. It's blown me away, really.

"They've all pulled it out of the bag, and created something really special. And they've made a very upset little boy on Saturday morning happy.

"It's fantastic what they've done to allow him to perform in that play."

Plastic Pirates runs for two two more shows, tonight and tomorrow evening respectively.

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