WITHIN days of Kingsway High's shock announcement that it was facing closure, the school was being honoured for its academic achievement.
In recognition of the success of former pupil Emma Murray, who was named Young Learner of the Year, pupils, teachers and governors were invited to Cheshire Learning Partnership's glittering ceremony at Chester Racecourse.
Bringing rhythm and soul and a whole lot of music to the event was a group of African elders, the subject of Year 10 pupils' ongoing African Voices project.
However, overshadowing the celebrations was the previous day's news the school, described by some as Cheshire's best kept secret, may only exist for one more year.
This was highlighted by the fact former pupil and Granada TV news reporter So Rahman was there to present the awards.
Head of sixth form Christine Guest nominated Emma Murray for the award. She was present to show her support.
Maths teacher Mrs Guest said: 'We are all really disappointed. I have taught at the school for more than 20 years. We've done a lot of good things.'
She worries the school's low profile has helped it fall by the wayside.
'It's been described as Cheshire's best kept secret. To some extent, that has contributed to our demise. A lot of people are unaware of the great work we do there.'
She said the welfare of the students has been the main priority of staff since learning of the closure.
'The first thought of the staff was 'what is going to happen to our kids?'' said Mrs Guest.
'Year 11 will be a particular problem. We are looking at about 60 students who are to be housed elsewhere. A lot of our kids are upset, gutted, obviously very distressed. The news has hit them very hard, particularly students in Year 11. They want to stay together.'
And as for the remaining students, she said: 'I will just have an upper sixth next year. I plan to make sure they get the teaching they deserve and that they go on to university and are not hindered in any way.'
Describing the school as a victim of market forces, chair of governors Kath Lloyd said: 'As a parent I've had three children through the school and two of them are still there so the news is very upsetting.'
She said: 'Numbers have been falling, we have got a big deficit budget and it was becoming more and more difficult to make ends meet.'
Still awaiting a decision on the destiny of her own children, she said: 'The same as every other parent, I'm waiting for help from the LEA to decide where my kids will go.'
Teacher and NUT secretary for Cheshire Campbell Russell stressed Kingsway was not just going to fade out.
He indicated the work carried out by Year 10 pupils who have collected an aural history of African elders living in Manchester, and explained the Cheshire Learning Partnership (CLP) event was also a celebration of diversity.
'I suspect as long as there is breath in Kingsway, there will always be imaginative, creative projects,' he said.
Young Learner Of The Year and former Kingsway pupil Emma Murray also told of her disappointment at the decision to close at Friday's conference.
Her 15-year-old brother is still at the school.
She said: 'It's a bit sad really. All my family went there, as well as my mum and dad.'
Emma's father was among the protesters featured on the front of The Chronicle when the news first broke.
'I wasn't surprised at the protests, a lot of children want to stay in the same settings they are used to,' she said.
Having overcome double vision, which she has recently found is incurable, Emma has successfully secured a place at Chester University College to study drama and theatre studies.
She puts her success down to the support she received from Kingsway teachers.
'They were amazing, they helped me all the way and got me into a college course,' she said. 'I just think it's a real shame that it's closing down because the teachers in there are really helpful and they never give up on you.'