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Three Cheers for Early Childhood!


Thursday 10th May saw the annual Music@Stran Spring Concert present a showcase of talent to mark 21 years of Early Childhood Studies (ECS) entitled ‘Unlocking Childhood Potential’. The theme of the evening’s celebration involved many aspects of childhood - through music and dance alongside reflections from staff and students.

The evening was compered by Catriona Rogers, lecturer in Early Childhood Studies, who wove the story of the BA programme throughout the performances. The production featured an impressive vocal performance from ECS student Zara McNally singing ‘When I grow up’ from the musical Matilda, the College Choir offering wonderful renditions of children’s favourites ‘The Teddy Bears’ Picnic’ and ‘Old McDonald had a Farm’ and a Celtic music/dance from Claire McKinney and Judith Campbell. Ensemble highlights were provided by Year 4 music specialist students Sara Beattie, Rachel Gamble and Judith Allen in ‘Tale as Old as Time’, the talented Panto Band, the CU Praise Group singing ‘The Cause of Christ’ and the Staff Chorale singing ‘Forever Young’.

Lecturers Dr Brenda McKay-Redmond, Dr Barbara McConnell and Dr Bronagh McKee also shared stories of other events that have taken place during this coming of age year. Ms. Sheelagh Carville, Head of the Early Childhood Studies department shared the story of how the degree began in 1996 and led the way both at home and across the UK.  Sheelagh praised the foresight and commitment of the University College in sustaining the degree programme since its inception.

The evening was a wonderful celebration of the work of ECS both locally and internationally, featuring a ‘Fields of Life’ presentation following a recent visit to Uganda by students and staff with a focus on Early Childhood. Dr John McMullan interviewed two ECS students, Emily Wilson and Cherith Watson, who shared their experiences of their time in Uganda.

A birthday celebration would not be complete without a birthday cake and this was presented to Professor Sir Desmond Rea (Chair of Board of Governors) by the University College’s Principal, Dr Anne Heaslett. They were joined for the ‘cutting of the cake’ by some ECS students who have themselves recently turned 21. Then students, staff and their families enjoyed a delicious slice with a hot beverage at the end of the evening!

Overall the event was testament to the support and commitment of music staff Jayne Moore, Frances Burgess as well as Norman Richardson, digital technician Graeme Watson and artistic director Andy Brown

Compere Catriona Rogers commented: ‘It was a pleasure to compere the Music@Stran event and to help highlight the many talents of our students and staff. The BA Early Childhood Studies degree goes from strength to strength and it is a joy to be a part of the ECS team at Stranmillis.'

Lecturer Jill Magennis reflected on the event too: “It was a wonderful evening which allowed us to share the journey and celebrate the success of ECS. Thank you to all those involved - a truly uplifting evening. Here’s to the next 21 years!”

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