ICGS Conference 2022
Having been selected to represent our school, a number of Year 12 & 10 students attended the International Coalition of Girls’ Schools (ICGS) conference on Tuesday 12 July. This year’s theme was social justice, with a focus on progressing towards true equality in both education and the wider society. Key concepts, such as unconscious bias, diversity & inclusion, and activism were covered, allowing for deep consideration and passionate discussions. Bouncing off of other students’ remarks and experiencing a strong sense of female empowerment gave us an unexplainable sense of pride, and we left each session feeling inspired and motivated to be an ‘agent of change.’
Held at the Financial Conduct Authority’s office in Stratford, we heard from a senior associate, Bethan Hunt, who told her story; after experiencing setbacks with illness and family issues, she learnt to refocus and redirect her life. At the age of 26, she now supervises some of the largest global banks, showing that although our life experiences change us, we can refuse to be reduced by them. Another influential speaker was Llando Du Plooy, co-founder of ‘Education for Change,’ who expressed the importance of carving your own path when faced with gender/ethnic/age barriers, for we are all capable of leaving legacies. Courage is essential, and we need that to differ from the negative stereotypes society thinks we may fulfil. As stated by Llando, “You can stay where you are loved, or you can go to where you are needed,” - we are the catalysts for change!
Our next steps include relaying back to our school community what we learnt at the conference, and introducing activities within form times and Education for Life days that aim to improve students’ understanding of concepts like inclusivity, diversity and equality. Based around gender and ethnic discrimination, every student will relate to topics covered, and realise the importance of breaking down barriers within society. Regardless of background, we are a collective at Highsted, and can thrive when we know what needs to change in our communities.
Millie M (on behalf of the ICGS student attendees)
To download Millie's full report on the prestigious ICGS conference, please follow this link.
Sister Act: Student Review
My friends and I attended the Wednesday night performance of ‘Sister Act’ and it is safe to say it most definitely did not disappoint. Having never seen the musical, the cast, crew and band of this production before, it depicted the plot line flawlessly. The actors had impeccable stage presence, facial expressions and embodied their characters to perfection – captivating the interest of myself and the audience. The faultless execution of props, set design, costume changes and the live band was admirable – encapsulating the fun and entertainment of this stage play. The musical numbers were astounding through the entirety of the performance due to the professionalism and skill of both the singers and the band.
I especially wanted to comment on the performances of Tope, Oakleigh and Jack who, alongside everyone who took part in the play, were nothing short of perfection. Tope – who plays the main character Deloris – portrayed her role exquisitely. She demonstrated confidence, clear diction and amazing singing and dancing skills that truly brought the character Deloris to life. Her performance was stupendous and made a spectacular lead. Similarly, Oakleigh as Mother Superior – was remarkable. Her mannerisms, euphonious voice and top-notch acting made it hard to believe she was not a professional. Her overall performance was outstanding and skilful.
Jack as Eddie was also phenomenal – ensuring the humour and wit in his character were translated immaculately to the audience. His simultaneous playing of the guitar and singing was fantastic whilst also remaining pitch-perfect. I particularly enjoyed the scene where ‘Eddie’ had two rip-away outfit changes – which added both incredible crowd appeal and a superbly unexpected wow factor.
On Thursday the audience was met with another cast of leads and it was remarkable how Sophia from Year 7 took the lead of Deloris with such confidence and quality for such a young student, she too fully captured the character, along with other leads, who took hold of their opportunity to shine with both hands.
As an audience member I loved every second of it and everybody who took part did an amazing job. The mood and atmosphere in the auditorium were electric and took us on an emotional and uniting journey. Congratulations to all the teachers, cast and back stage crew for such an outstanding production.
Chik O-N (Year 10)
Sixth Form Initiative: 10 Days of Action
Inspired by the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, Highsted Grammar School’s Sixth Form has created its very own 10 Days of Action to raise awareness of key issues that matter most to our community. As form groups, students have produced a daily focal point for all students to consider and discuss. Activism promotes a dialogue that is necessary in our community and in our society, and we are proud to empower our young people to express their views and lead on global issues that matter to them.
To download your own copy of the presentation, please follow this link.
Highsted’s promotion of anti-bullying this year has been channelled into heightening the student body’s own awareness into the effects and impacts of bullying. In association with the Head Girl team, events were taking place every lunchtime from 11th to 15th November.
For example, on Monday, the week was catalysed by a charter being signed by as many students as possible, in order to encourage the idea that bullying needs to be tackled by a collective effort and a group mind-set. Following this, Tuesday focused on valuing the positive work and impact Highsted’s peer mentors have. Being situated under the sixth form canopy, invited students from all year groups, came to talk to some of the peer mentors and discover their intent within school.
Wednesday was dedicated to showing the film Wonder in both the hall and Hi-pod – an apt film that explores the profound effects of bullying but even more importantly, focuses on the overcoming of adversity and the promotion of inclusivity. Thursday, like Tuesday, was spent supporting the role of digital leaders within our school’s student body – a key opportunity for them to promote their active stance on helping tackle the issue of bullying.
The last day of the week was a day of ‘talking points’ in which the Head Girl team encouraged students to share their opinions on certain topics and situations. Overall, the week bought a sharp awareness to the importance of the Highsted value of empathy, and the consideration that always needs to be taken when it comes to impulsive decision-making.
A Day in Parliament
The 4th of January provided a day of educational enrichment for both Year 12 and Year 13 politics students, who were given the opportunity to visit the Houses of Parliament. The day began with a visit to the iconic statue of Emmeline Pankhurst – a British political activist and leader of the suffragette movement; the group discussed the significance of Emmeline’s position in the shadow of Westminster’s iconic buildings as a lesson to those who would challenge our liberal democracy.
Once inside Parliament, the tour included viewing the main rooms of the Westminster Palace. These included the two Chambers - House of Commons and House of Lords, the main Lobby, and a select committee room. For the passionate students on this tour, this was an apt time to enquire on certain aspects of parliament and question the tour guide on facts regarding the political procedure that takes place on a daily basis. The tour was, of course, an overview of the Houses of Parliament so it was suggested that an audio tour in your own time would enlighten an individual further.
We spent the majority of our time in the House of Commons, as the positions and places of the chamber were described. An emphasised point throughout the tour made by the guide, was that the Palace is open to public viewing almost all of the time. If there is a key debate for example, the public are welcome to sit in the gallery and oversee the discussion taking place, but public access did not stop there, as an inescapable feature of each chamber were the cameras and microphones which contribute to the televised nature of the procedures. One particular aspect of the tour which caught our interest was the new sculpture above the visitor entrance – a tide controlled piece of art. It was described to be a symbol of togetherness and teamwork, which in a time of polarisation is a very introspective notion to consider.
After the tour concluded, we were taken to a workshop focussed on Select Commitees, led by a very enthusiastic guide, centred around building upon or debating, articulating and speaking skills. The debate encouraged each of us to work under time constraints to formulate points for our side of the debate. Reflecting upon this trip, it is evident to see the key lessons learnt: to be curious about your environment; articulating yourself to give a lasting impression is an invaluable skill; and politics is a part of our everyday lives, so being knowledgeable about it is an advantage to have in life.
Olivia P (Sixth Form Politics Student)
Highsted Reflects: Ypres 2018
On Sunday 11 November, for the sixth and final time, three Highsted students attended Swale Borough Council’s Civic Journey of Commemoration to Ypres in Belgium on Armistice Day, this year marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War. Head Girl Princella Boeteng, and School Council members, Leilah Brunning and Avril Taruvinga represented their community this year and have written the following piece to mark that historic trip:
On 11 November, we woke up at 2am to make sure we would be at the Council offices by 4am for our symbolic day in Ypres in Belgium. On the trip, we were to attend a service of remembrance for all those who served and died for us in the First World War. This was the ‘big one’ because it marked exactly a century since the guns fell silent in 1918. Representatives of all the secondary schools in Swale joined us for this important event, one which will live with us for the rest of our lives.
When we arrived at Ypres at about 10am, our informative guide explained everything in great detail which added to the impact of our inclusion in the Poppy Parade as guests of the town of Ypres, which is twinned with Sittingbourne. The Mayor of Swale, Councillor Samuel Koffie-Williams led our party through the streets of the old town towards the Menin Gate which records the names of nearly 55,000 soldiers who fell in and around Ypres between 1914 and 1918, and have no known grave. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, a stream of paper poppies fell from the top of the Menin Gate, amid moving speeches and poignant music from a Welsh male voice choir.
We then had the opportunity to visit an Allied and a German cemetery just outside Ypres. We learned about the history of the phrase ‘A soldier of the Great War, known unto God’, a fitting tribute to all those whose remains are unknown. Equally powerful was the visit to the German cemetery at Langenmarck with its stark contrasts reflecting the different perspectives of remembrance and what it means a century on. We were also encouraged to think about the price of war, and the sacrifice of so many young people in the prime of their lives. Critically we thought carefully about casualties on both sides, each of whom had families and loved ones who were cruelly left behind by the conflict. We arrived back home at about 9pm and were left to contemplate how different the world may have been had not those brave men and women made that contribution for us all.
To that generation, we say, “Thank you.”
Princella B (Head Girl), Leilah B & Avril T (School Council)
Squadron Leader Kenneth A Drury DFM RAF receives Legion d’honneur
As a young man from Sittingbourne, my granddad joined the RAF in September 1941 and trained in South Africa as a navigator, returning to the UK to eventually fly Lancaster Bombers. He joined 100 Squadron at Waltham, Grimsby, and flew on 31 operations over enemy territory, receiving the Distinguished Flying Medal just prior to gaining his commission. Because of the situation at the time he was unable to receive his medal directly from the King. So this acknowledgement and celebration was doubly important.
My granddad’s crew flew and survived a number of historically significant raids including 11 trips to Berlin and the fateful Nuremburg raid on 30 March 1944 in which 96 Lancasters were lost.
Following this, his crew joined one other crew from 100 Squadron who were selected for secondment to form a Special Duties Flight based at Binbrook, Lincolnshire, which they didn’t know at the time, was set up to act as pathfinders in marking key strategic positions for bombing immediately prior to the Normandy Landings. They often operated on moonlit nights, which was particularly risky. Targets included the Merville gun battery which overlooked Sword Beach, ammunition depots, Mailley le Camp tank training school and motor works at Lyon. During the Mailley le Camp raid, 43 aircraft were lost.
Following the war granddad had a successful and full career continuing in the RAF for 42 years as a navigator on a range of aircraft. His post-war career saw him involved in the Berlin Airlift, where he took part in 264 supply runs to Berlin, and supply dropping in Malaya. In later years he became a navigator instructor and examiner with the transport command examining unit. In total my granddad completed 12,470 hours in the air, retiring just after the Falklands Conflict as a Squadron Leader in 1983 at age 60.
I am extremely proud of my granddad and honoured to be able to write this report for you.
Alice D (Year 10)
Note: Alice has shared this account about her granddad and his celebration in receiving the Legion d’honneur, France’s highest military decoration. A ceremony was held on 11 January in the council chamber with the Mayor of Swale Cllr Lesley Ingram making the presentation. The Legion d’honneur was established by Napoleon in 1802 and it has been given to D-Day veterans, on behalf of the French government, since the 70th anniversary in 2014.
Sixth Form Life Drawing at the Wallace Gallery
The Wallace Gallery programme allows students to explore the amazing art collection alongside drawing from a life model during two one day workshops led by practising artists. Drawing from life is an essential skill for any student intending to continue art in further education.
During this term Year 12 and 13 Art students went to the Wallace Gallery in London to create our first ever figure drawings, working directly from a life model and exploring paintings and sculptures from the Wallace collections. Working from a life model, I think it would be fair to say, was something we were a little worried about. However, once we got over the nerves and the giggles were out of our systems, we were able to soon focus upon the art and quick drawing techniques.
I was surprised how quickly I was able to focus on the shapes and forms and soon forgot that there was a life model in front of me. I found both the grandeur and collection of art within the building to be both inspiring and overwhelming. At the end of the day we all learnt a lot from the experience and I think we all really enjoyed it too.
Amy S (Sixth Form Art Student)
The Highsted Tea Party: an Annual Tradition
On the 8 November, as is tradition, Highsted Grammar School held their annual tea party in which Year 7 students welcomed a range of guests, including school governors, representatives from charity groups and staff from local primary schools.
All of us in Year 7 were excited to prepare for this event: first we invited our guests, allowing us to catch up with our former primary school teachers or to meet new members of staff at Highsted, like Miss Cox or Mr Thompson. We produced personalised, handcrafted invitations and then we selected a theme for our table decorations that would capture the spirit of the occasion. There were many different ideas showcased across the room: Alice in Wonderland and Disney themed tables; purple and white colour schemes that reflected our chosen charity; and much more.
As well as being a social event, every year the tea party allows our school to support an important charity. For this event, we chose the Wisdom Hospice. Some students from our year group, Annabel, Eleanor and Alecsia delivered an informative speech to explain to us the good work of the Wisdom Hospice fund. They shared ideas about how we can raise money to help the hospice; on sale in the hall were badges, toys and jewellery with all of the money raised to be donated to the Wisdom Hospice charity fund. Furthermore, this year’s event was an opportunity to gift the money raised in 2015 as a cheque was presented to our guest from Meadowfield, Lisa Candy, by the former Year 7 charity representative, Bethany.
After sharing tea and cake with our guests, we also performed a song that our music teachers, Miss Arden and Miss Treanor, had been teaching us in Term 1; it was titled The Music of the Night. Everyone enjoyed the performance!
With the singing done, we took our guests across the school to show off some of our hard work: informative magazines created as part of our Health based PHSSE day; German and French work; English poems; History essays and Geography projects; and the boxes we have built and sanded in D&T. All of our old teachers commented on how nice it was to see how much we had progressed in our short time at Highsted.
Overall, it was a great evening and it was lovely to see our old teachers and to make new friends. We are proud to have supported an important charity and to have participated in this Highsted tradition. We hope that it carries on for years to come.
Oakleigh F & Shannon B (Year 7 Media Leaders)
Glowing with enthusiasm
On Friday 27 May, the whole of Year 8 represented Highsted on a visit to Greenwich University’s campus in Medway for the day to learn about university life and take part in challenges as a school. The day was focused around the career routes branching from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). The day’s activities were carefully laid out so that they fitted in with the topic of STEM; they ranged from a talk about student life to undertaking forensic investigation through fingerprinting. The year group was separated into five different groups and took part in five different activities of about an hour each throughout the whole day. The first activity that my group did was the Student Life Talk, which was a lecture about all the benefits and drawbacks of living in the university where you study. There were two students who talked about their personal experiences as students of the university and there was also the deputy head teacher there to encourage the students and further explain certain details. The session ended with a question and answer session, where we were given a piece of paper to write our question on and throw to the front so that it could be answered. Ella H said: “It was a good experience - all of my questions about university were answered in a really fun way.”
The second activity my group took part in was a tower-building workshop. We were separated into small groups and spent our time attempting to build the tallest tower with spaghetti-like rods and several connectors. My group managed a strong 182cm but by the end of the day our record was beaten by 9cm. The group named Big Mac had not only beaten Highsted’s record, but had also secured a place at the top of all the schools that had taken part in that challenge - making Highsted the winners! Lily D commented: “It was great fun and the activities were very enjoyable”.
In my group’s next activity, we attempted to solve a murder using maths. Rebecca O said: “It was old-fashioned, but that’s OK because I like old-fashioned stuff.” Subsequent to maths, everyone gathered into the main hall to eat lunch before my group travelled to my favourite workshop of the day - glow stick making. We were taken into a science laboratory and were shown step-by-step how the insides of a glow stick work (which was far more complicated than I ever imagined), and then were given the opportunity to construct our own. I found it amazing to see how glow sticks glow, and then to make one of my own! We had to mix up two different liquids and keep them separate, and were then taken into a dark room where we were instructed to pour one of the liquids into the other. The mixtures began to glow very brightly; however, I learnt (along with many others) that if you shake the concoction, you reduce the brightness a lot quicker than if you don’t.
And finally, the last workshop that my group took part in was the fingerprinting workshop. I also found this workshop extremely fun and very interesting. When we entered the room, we were greeted with a fake crime scene. The scene was set up to simulate a murder and we had to search for clues before learning how to uncover fingerprints from paper using different techniques, such as metallic dusts and UV light, as well as identifying the different types of fingerprints that we had. Mrs Saward, the organiser of the day, said: “Year 8 were able to see which scientific processes are used and try them out for themselves.” Overall, it was a very informative experience and I greatly enjoyed myself. I found everything great fun and very interesting, but especially loved creating my own glowing mixture and being able to see where I had touched a piece of paper. Many of my questions about university life were answered and my friends and I had a wonderful time. “Glow sticks and fingerprinting were cool!” said Evie L. At the end of the day, the whole year group received Greenwich University pens to remember the day by. “It was a pleasure taking this year group to the university and I hope that they all enjoyed the day!” said Mrs Saward at the end.
April J (Year 8 Media Leader)
Over the moon with Space Camp!
Recently, Year 7 students at Highsted had a very special opportunity to take part in a whole day of activities on the theme of space. A team of talented professionals came in to teach us about the science of space and introduce us to a variety of exciting activities to inspire and educate us. As well as having fun, we were able to compete for class and individual prizes.
Firstly, the team introduced the space world and taught us a bit about the dangers of space - the risks which astronauts take to learn more about the universe. This was interesting and emphasised the importance of space as well as the deep science of it, which modern technology has enabled us to access. They also introduced our team names (Discovery, Atlantis, Apollo and Gemini) and the space tasks, ready for the fabulous day ahead.
Our first task was rocket car building, where we had to create a car that would be attached to an explosive and then raced. After learning about the parts of a shuttle, in pairs we made the plastic cars so they were identical to the demonstrated car, and prepared to race them on the tennis courts. We then connected the explosive and launched the cars, watching them spin around or crash. We also lighted a Chinese lantern, setting it off into the sky and seeing it blow away with the wind, before attempting the Jenga challenge, trying to stack the Jenga blocks as high as possible without allowing them to fall over. This proved tricky but fun as a team to figure out the best way of doing it.
Next, we moved on to the kite-making challenge, making first our own hoopers and then our own kites from paper. The hoopers were made from wrapped paper hoops around a paper stick, but we had to experiment on the amount and sizes of hoops to see how these affected the flight. The kites had basic instructions, but different shapes and sizes could be made as well. By folding a piece of paper and sticking it to a straw, we could then experiment and design the tail, the shape and the decoration of the kites to get them ready to fly, before enjoying the experience of flying them outside in the strong wind and playing with them for a while.
After a break, we went on to the egg-dropping challenge where we had to design a safe container for an egg for a 2-storey drop. We were given some starting materials to start off the design, and any extras had to be bought with the money provided from the shop. We had ten minutes to create the craft and secure the eggs before the dropping started. Three members of each group headed for the ground whilst one stayed up to drop the eggs. We had thirty seconds to unwrap the egg once dropped to reveal its survival or death. Two unlucky eggs did not survive but the rest succeeded!
We then embraced the challenge of making a solar-powered vehicle which would move forward on its own when light was shone on it. This was a fabulous activity which consisted of hard teamwork: we worked in groups of four to create our own solar-powered car to travel over the desk.
At lunch, the space team put on a space gift shop in the hall, selling space merchandise such as aliens, glider planes and space food so we could remember the great fun we had in the day. They also set off several rockets on the field, gradually getting bigger as they went on, getting the biggest rocket above 1000 feet into the air. This was amazing as it soared up and around, eventually breaking up and releasing the parachute to soften the landing, half of it landing in a neighbouring garden!
Finally, we completed the rocket challenge, making first a paper rocket to pump air into and shoot into the air, measuring the height with an altimeter. This included not only crafting and designing, but shooting the rockets to see who got the highest. This was combined with the water rocket challenge where we filled plastic bottles with water and shot them in the air. These were cleverly done and were excellent fun to play with.
Finally, to round off the day, the team of astronauts gave out prizes to the students who impressed them the most, and to the class who collected the most points overall throughout the day. It had been a great day of activities and involved us in much fascinating space investigation. This was inspiring and enjoyable and I hope this opportunity will continue to be offered for Year 7 Highsted students to come.
Freya J (Year 7 Media Leader)
The right team chemistry to win festival prize
On Tuesday 3 May, Preet Sharma, Imani Irinoye, Shannon Evans and I went to the University of Kent in Canterbury to represent our school in the Salters’ Chemistry Festival, an annual event devised by the Salters' Institute to help promote the appreciation of chemistry and related sciences in young students.
The Chemistry Festival consisted of two competitions, the first involving forensic science, and the second an investigation into the ability of fruits to carry an electrical current, and the density of different liquids. We participated in both. In the first experiment, we had to solve a murder using forensics. There were different samples of ink and white powder found on the suspects and the victim. We used chromatography to identify which suspect had the same ink on them as the victim; the results would help us to uncover the killer, due to their ink sample being the same as the victim. Chromatography separates the different materials in ink, making it easy to determine which two inks were the same as they would have the same colours in them, once separated.
We then undertook a series of experiments on the white powders - we put them in with four different acids and recorded what happened; in the same way as the inks, we would be able to identify the killer because the results for the powder found on them would be the same as that of the powder found on the victim. However, we weren’t told from whom each of the samples (ink as well as powder) was taken and had to determine this information from encrypted clues. I found the forensic science fairly challenging and very interesting. It was fun to perform the experiments as I had never done anything like it before and was eager to learn the new area of chemistry. I greatly enjoyed solving the murder mystery and discovering how the simple experiments can be so important.
The second experiment was called the University Challenge and had a little more pressure put on it; there was more of a competitive atmosphere in the lab. In this challenge, we also executed two experiments. Firstly, we were investigating the ability of three different fruits to carry voltage through them. We used different metals pushed into the fruit to create a circuit consisting of a fruit, two bits of metal, two wires with crocodile clips and an ammeter. We pushed an electrical current through the circuit until it couldn’t take any more. We then recorded the voltage and repeated the experiment with different metals and fruit. Then, we determined the density of different coloured liquids by putting them on top of each other to see if they would mix or not - if they missed, the liquid on top was denser than the liquid below.
After working out the liquids’ densities, we sorted them out in order of density. Subsequently, we slowly poured each liquid into a long, vertical tube filled with glycerine, densest to least dense. This allowed the coloured liquids to sit on top of each other without mixing. The end result for us was perfect; nothing mixed, which meant that we had correctly carried out the ordering of densities. I enjoyed this experiment because it was fun and easy to carry out and had a pretty end-result. I also learnt that liquids have different densities and can be placed on top of each other without their mixing, which I find both fascinating and amazing.
Throughout the whole day, judges were walking around, asking questions and explaining different things. Everything was very interesting and due to our good collaboration, team-work and readiness to learn, we achieved third place in the University Challenge and my team and I are very happy and proud about it.
April J (Year 8 Media Leader)
Dream of a production to honour Shakespeare’s death
On Saturday 23 April at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, the Royal Shakespeare Company put on a very special production of the magical comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. William Shakespeare, the famous and well-loved poet and playwright, was born and died on that same date; his death occurred exactly 400 years ago, in 1616. Because of this, the Royal Shakespeare Company put on the production in celebration of his awesome anniversary.
My class and I have been studying A Midsummer Night’s Dream in our drama lessons and so, when I saw the production advertised, I was enthusiastic to experience it performed by professionals. Furthermore, in my drama lessons I play the part of Puck, and was intrigued as to how the Royal Shakespeare Company would portray his character. The entire performance lasted for roughly two hours, and at the very end the actress who played Puck took a video of the audience applauding to share online in further commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. I think that it was a truly magnificent performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company and I greatly enjoyed myself.
April J (Year 8 Media Leader)
Images kindly provided by the State Library of New South Wales
Musicians spring into action
Highsted’s annual Spring Concert on 23 March provided a charming opportunity to celebrate and perform the pieces that have been practised so diligently since the successful Christmas performance. Several duets or compositions were performed to the entranced audience as they watched Highsted’s talented students play a variety of instruments in orchestras, bands, and groups. It all started with the Wind Band playing the well-known classical piece Bolero by Maurice Ravel, followed by the theme from Monsters Inc. The band included several new Year 7 students who were performing in Highsted for the second time.
This dramatic opening was followed by a wave of music from the superb Samba Band and the harmonious Origin, plus delightful duets which demonstrated the talent of composition and performance. This half also featured the String Group - formed by Miss Arden to encourage less experienced or newly-found players to be part of a group – including Millie, a younger player from Minterne Primary School. This group performed the well-known tunes of Misty Mountains Cold from The Hobbit, Hall of the Mountain King by Grieg and the Wallace and Gromit theme. Also to play were my sister, Elena, and myself, performing Elena’s own classical composition in a unique Hungarian-styled dance, named Zoro’s Dance, to engulf the audience in a stylish duet of passionate force. The Rock Band ended the half with a fabulous performance of Dreaming of You and Star Man, just after the Sixth Form Choir entertained the audience with a hilarious duet of the Two Cats.
Following refreshments, the orchestra was introduced and played Handel’s well-known Water Music, The Two Hornpipes, Game of Thrones and Rather Be, sung by Maisy Crunden. The talented players were clapped off so the Year 9 group could enter the stage to perform the composition they had created in class. The group of six executed the song - based on social and political themes - brilliantly, sending the audience into rapturous applause. Then came the Choir, conducted by Mrs Orton, charming the audience with their harmonies before the contrast of the next duet by Rosie Brampton and Isabelle Julier who, with their upbeat performance of Riptide, set the crowd alight. The newly-formed Recorder Group followed, playing on recorders of a variety of sizes to perform the famous theme tune of Star Wars. This was followed by Colours of the Wind from the Disney film Pocahontas and finally, yet another student composition, this time Isabelle Julier’s Dance of the Magnolias. This tune was cleverly crafted with several instrument parts including violins, recorders and a flute. The folk tune impressed the audience with its layered parts and variety of rhythms. The concert finished with two GCSE compositions played by the Folk Band to end the concert on an upbeat note.
The Spring Concert was a great success, incorporating a wide variety of styles of tunes and instruments to highlight Highsted’s talented musicians and pleasing the audience greatly. Miss Arden’s and Miss Treanor’s hard work paid off as there were complimentary comments from the spectators and it was a spectacular evening of music. Shreya J commented: “It was a very enjoyable night and the music was very entertaining.”
Freya J (Year 7 Media Leader)
Smiles all round at the Over 55s concert
The Over 55s concert is an event held annually by Highsted Grammar School for the enjoyment of a group of 80 people aged 55 years plus. This year’s concert was participated in by many of Highsted’s musical students. The Rock Band began the concert with the popular and well-known classic Come on Eileen. This produced a fantastic mood to start the show as it immediately put smiles on the audience’s faces, while they sang, clapped and tapped their feet along to the upbeat tune. All of the performances were greatly varied throughout the show. From bands to a cappella singers, each individual performance had a unique style of its own, and was enthusiastically received by the audience.
The choir sang Love Changes Everything, complete with beautiful harmonies and lots of smiles. “They were well rehearsed, clearly enjoying themselves and they sounded great!” commented Ella H. There were three groups of song-writing students: one group from Year 7, one from Year 8 and one from Year 9. Each of these groups had been chosen to perform the piece that they had written in their music classes. “I really enjoyed the year nine piece of music,” commented Lucy B. There were also two GCSE performances, which were flawlessly executed with immense talent. Finally, the Samba Band finished the concert with Waka Waka. Chloe S said: “It was amazing to be involved in the Samba Band.”
Overall, the Over 55s concert was a brilliant success for both the audience and the organisers. Miss Kelly commented: “I am thoroughly proud and genuinely moved by the kindness our students have shown to members of their extended community this afternoon.”
April J (Year 8 Media Leader)
Enthusiasm stems from fun
On 26th January, a team of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) ambassadors from Canterbury Christ Church University came to Highsted with a programme of exciting activities to encourage younger students to enjoy STEM subjects. Year 7 students were lucky enough to be taught by them as a special treat. Overall, in each set of classes there were three groups - in 7.3 and 7.4 groups, there were three tasks for each set. There was the Snow White activity, the Sherlock Holmes mystery and the Olympic activity. I did the Olympic activity where the activities within the group were associated with the Olympic Games. We were separated into small groups of three or four and given a flag for the nationality we were to represent. All of the mini activities arrayed some sort of scientific lessons behind them so as well as fun, it was also educational.
The first mini activity our group undertook was the acid or alkali swimming pool. This game was based around how acidic or alkaline the swimming pool was and therefore whether it was safe to swim in it. By mixing different substances together, we managed to make a neutral swimming pool using a pH indicator to compare the colour to the correct strip on the pH scale. This involved scientific edges to the activity and, under a 10-minute time limit, it also tested our team skills. We then went on to my favourite activity: the new sport challenge - egg dropping. We had to design, with a limited amount of time and objects to use, a carriage to stop an egg from cracking when dropped from a ceiling. We had to think about gravity, the air resistance of objects and other scientific explanations to ensure the egg would have a safe journey down to the ground. Ours survived surprisingly well, but others weren’t so lucky and were cracked in the impact of hitting the floor.
Next was the periodic table message: here, by using clues of atomic weights, element symbols and names and atomic numbers we had to spell out a sentence, leading us to the missing Olympic torch, which was hidden somewhere within the classroom. This was educational and improved our knowledge of the periodic table as well as providing a fun activity to test our teamwork. The final activity with the fabulous STEM ambassadors was creating a new stadium 3D design out of origami pentagons and hexagons, made by ourselves from a set of instructions. These were hard to follow and we had to push to get it finished in the limited time available. Sophie C commented: “It was really fun and brought out the idea of teamwork excellently.” Emily G added: “The hosts were really kind and humorous and I loved the creativity.”
The period ended with a ceremony celebrating the triumph of the past activities, and the points for each country were added up to find the overall winner of the games. The STEM ambassadors had brought great excitement to Year 7 and created fabulous activities to unite us with others in team work whilst learning about STEM subjects at the same time. I hope that they can come again next year and bring the same amount of joy to a new group of students.
Freya J (Year 7 Media Leader)
Musical memories from the festive season
As part of a busy schedule of musical events in December 2015 including the Christmas Festival Concert, the Lights for Love Service and the Christmas Carol Service, Highsted Grammar School held on 9 December its annual Christmas Concert, which kept an enthusiastic audience entertained for hours. The evening was filled with music and immense talent: there were many different performances ranging from choirs and an a cappella group to recorders and carols. The evening began with the Highsted Choir, who sang the emotionally stimulating Defying Gravity and Tonight. The subsequent performance was by the Samba Band, new to the school this year, who mambo-ed up two popular songs: Cheerleader by OMI and the late 70s popular hit by the Sugarhill Gang, Rapper’s Delight.
These performances were closely followed by the Year 12 and 13 Band, who performed Don’t Look Back In Anger by Oasis. The sixth form band was trailed by the Recorder Group who played Waterfall Waltz and Dance of the Reed Pipes; these melancholy tunes were then closely shadowed by The Origin, an a cappella group recently selected for the Regional Final of the Jack Petchey Foundation Glee Club Challenge. This outstanding musical group sang I Found by Amber Run, Paradise by Coldplay and Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye. The group gave the audience something very special and rightly memorable. The last act before the interval was the Highsted Orchestra, who once again held the audience in a thick bubble of pure musical emotion; they played their way into the audience’s hearts with Egmont Overture and Wicked.
To begin the second act, the Windband performed American Patrol and In The Mood. Then the String Group staged Spring from The Four Seasons, Danny Boy, and Jingle Bells, generating the festival atmosphere that a Christmas concert deserves. This was closely followed by the Recorder Group, who played Silent Night and In Dulci Jubilo, only further increasing the festiveness surrounding the audience. The Rock Band next staged Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Come On Eileen and Don’t Let the Bells End, followed by The Highsted Choir with Cowboy Carol and Carol of the Bells and, finally, the Folk Band with Tam Lin and Celtas Cortos.
All in all, the Christmas concert was very entertaining for everyone (not just the audience). I loved the experience and would definitely take part again. Finally, everyone joined together for the congregation carols O Come All Ye Faithful and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, which were accompanied by the Orchestra. This final addition to the show added fantastic festiveness to the performance, which livened up the audience and performers before letting them leave for home on high spirits and with good musical memories.
April J (Year 8 Media Leader)
It's behind you, Year 7!
On 17th December, Year 7 enjoyed an unusual pantomime experience in Dartford: Dick Whittington at the Orchard Theatre. The pantomime trip is an annual event for Year 7, though normally the venue is the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury. Our visit, therefore, was a new experience and a new place. There were around 120 of us altogether, and we all needed to be seated on the highest balcony of the theatre: a logistical problem in itself! However, once we were in our seats we settled in to enjoy the show.
Dick Whittington is set around the time of the plague, when medieval London had a massive rat problem. The rats roamed the city in their thousands and spread disease. Dick Whittington’s role in the pantomime was to sort out the dilemma in return for food and a place to stay; however, King Rat wouldn’t let victory be so easy. He tried to stop the plan from succeeding by either framing Dick for stealing when actually he did it, or setting the mighty Kraken to sink the ship of Dick and his companions. But the spirit of London was always there to save them, from proving Dick innocent to setting a floating spell to protect them from drowning. In the end, in the palace of Morocco, the evil villain was finally defeated in a duel with Dick, and the rats left London.
But it wasn’t just the basic story. As it was a pantomime, there were jokes, magic tricks, songs and even a 3D clip. The magic tricks were amazing as the magician made doves appear out of paper, scarves and other objects, and the 3D made us scream in fright as undersea nightmares became reality. My favourite joke was the section was when Dick Whittington – played by Shane Richie from the BBC soap opera Eastenders – referred to the names of Eastenders' characters in the script, showing their faces so we would understand the joke.
At half time, we enjoyed the delights of vanilla ice cream, popcorn and candyfloss. Once the pantomime had finished, there was an excited buzz in the atmosphere. Everyone had thoroughly enjoyed themselves and all were sad it had ended. Emily G said: “I loved everything about the trip. The 3D part was my favourite as it was unique and made the experience even better.”
Thank you to all the teachers who organised this excellent trip and I hope next year’s Year 7 students experience the same feeling of joy on their trip.
Freya J (Year 7 Media Leader)
Seacole holds audience under its spell
On 26 November, Highsted held its annual competition where each house performs to a packed audience and four judges (this year Rachel Thompson, Chloe McCart, Dominique Cresswell and Andrew Arden) - the House Drama. During the weeks beforehand, each Sixth Form drama leader put together a ten-minute performance with the rest of their house and worked with a range of students from Years 7-11 who wanted to participate in some way, whether through acting, lighting or working behind the scenes with the props. This year was especially great with over 200 pupils getting involved and helping out their house, resulting in six fabulous plays in the evening.
Each year, Highsted chooses a different theme. This year’s theme was thrillers, and several houses therefore included lots of murder, ghosts and scares... In rehearsals, the Sixth Formers put together their productions, each in the hope of winning the House Drama title that had been given to Keller in last year’s competition. All year groups took part, even if their role was as small as being an extra who walked across the stage once. However, it was those participants who were dedicated and came to every practice for their house that made this year’s House Drama competition so successful.
Sometimes, particular houses felt despair and feared that their performances would not be perfected; nevertheless, each house deserved to be rewarded and ended up performing a thrilling play. The winners of the competition were well prepared and definitely thrilled the audience. Seacole’s drama was called The Dolls in the Dark. As the name suggests, it was about a girl who suffered as the dolls put her under their spell. Gradually, the dolls took over and as the protagonist told her mother, she was killed by her dolls for betrayal.
In second place was Keller, the previous winning house, and third was Roddick who showed their understanding of the past and present. I participated in the Keller housedrama as a musician with my elder sister, Elena. Together we composed an opening piece of music to build the tension and introduce the scary theme. This took a while to work out but it paid off, giving a chill to the audience, and made the performance come to life. We also played a sound effect to build the creepy feeling. Overall, the music sounded great and probably gave Keller a few extra marks. I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the house drama - backstage there was an excited chatter about the amazing costumes and their role in the performances. Though nervous before playing our tune and opening the Keller drama, I found there was a thrill about the whole event that always kept me going. I will definitely participate in next year’s House Drama competition after the wonderful experience I had performing my first ever one.
Freya J (Year 7 Media Leader)
Cash and colour at the Year 8 Charity Bazaar
The charity bazaar is an annual event in which Year 8 Highsted students hold a fundraising affair to raise money for their chosen charities. The atmosphere this year was rather like a market place - each charity’s representatives had a stall to sell from; the scene was full of colour and frantic shouting, offering deals on prices as the stakes became higher. A dazzling array of tempting treats, desirable decorations and guessing games filled the room, which was bustling first with hopeful Highsted shoppers, then later with keen customers including parents and students from Fulston Manor.
Many different products were available - my stall (raising money for Demelza Children’s Hospice) offered a whole range of wares, from badges and balloons to sweet cones and cakes. We also added in the extra fun of a lucky dip filled with brownies, pic ‘n’ mix cocktail sticks and mini cupcakes.
Lily D was the leader of a group supporting Macmillan. Lily’s group sold pic ‘n’ mix and popcorn and held a raffle. Lily said: “My group chose to support Macmillan because both my friend and I have felt what it’s like to lose someone to cancer. We easily decided what we would sell, as all we felt it necessary to do was think about what we would buy and go from there”. Other groups, though, preferred to get closer to their customers. Rebecca O said: “Our group is supporting Great Ormond Street Hospital. We chose to sell healthy snacks and offer hair-braiding as healthy and luxurious options.”
These were not the only charities represented - in fact the total number of stalls raising money for different charities was 15. Charity choices included Diabetes UK, Refugee Action, Rainbow Trust and The Donkey Sanctuary. One very successful group supporting the RSPCA and raising £127 in total said: “We chose the RSPCA because we all love animals and are upset when we hear about people who have been cruel to animals. We feel that they strongly need our help.”
In total, my group and I raised £126.60 for Demelza (just 40p below the RSPCA group), which is an awesome achievement. Overall, the charity bazaar was an amazing success which exceeded expectations. Highsted will hold the results proudly until the next Year 8 bazaar in one year’s time.
April J (Year 8 Media Leader)
Vibrant colours and conversation: the Year 7 Tea Party
On 10 November, Highsted held a Tea Party for the Year 7 students, who had recently moved into the school. This event happens every year and is one that is looked forward to by everyone: it is an evening of great joy because after a term in secondary school, we get to see our primary school teachers again. What makes it really special, though, is the fact that Year 7 organise the event and bring in the food and decorations.
The tea party was set out in tables allocated to particular schools. Most of the schools had a table to themselves; however smaller schools grouped together to create a bigger group.
During our first focus day at Highsted, we started organising the event and the jobs to be assigned to different people: some were in charge of food, others decorations; some groups even decided to bring in helium balloons and party poppers. But our first group job was to decide a suitable theme for our table. A guide for themes was vibrant colours; lots of groups interpreted this in different ways. From a Halloween theme to a Caribbean theme, there were all sorts of decorations.
Next we had, of course, to invite the guests and make invitations for them. Most heads and Year 6 teachers of the primary schools came and we also invited some of the Highsted teachers. When it came to the evening, everything looked great. Balloons were scattered across the floor and food was organised neatly on the vibrant tables. There was a buzz of excitement filling the hall and finally the guests started to arrive. As we spotted our old teachers, it felt cheerful and old memories came flooding back. They sat down in their assigned places and we told our teachers about the wonderful time we have had starting at Highsted.
Following our animated tea and chat session, we were briefed by two Highsted girls about autism awareness in relation to the Year 7 charity focus for this year, before performing our specially-prepared song to entertain our guests. Over the past weeks before the tea party, Miss Arden and Miss Treanor had taught us a song, called Little April Showers, in music lessons. It was a several-part song, but we picked it up quite easily. I played the violin to the melody and other musicians played instruments such as the recorder and even the cello. Overall, the song sounded fabulous and we were pleased with our effort to entertain our guests. We had also put on show some of the work we had done in music lessons to demonstrate what we had learnt and achieved over the first term.
Finally, after a great time with our guests, the party came to an end and it was time to clear up the remains of a delightful occasion: party poppers and popped balloons scattered across the floor. “I loved the tea party so much! It was great fun meeting up with our primary school teachers again,” commented Year 7 pupil Emily, “I think everyone had a fantastic time.” Overall, it was a fabulous opportunity both to see and talk to the teachers we knew so well and to organise an event.
Freya J (Year 7 Media Leader)
Year 7 Tea Party!
On Tuesday 10th November, Year 7 students had the exciting opportunity to create an individual school tea party to welcome their former primary school teachers to Highsted. When told about the forthcoming event, we were all delighted and full of anticipation as we prepared to devise and represent our very own gathering.
Despite the fact that we had to wait a few weeks to bring this occasion to fruition, it was very much worth it because all the teachers had, as Miss Wareham from Westlands Primary School commented, “…a very good evening, seeing everyone again.” Even though this event only lasted for one hour and 40 minutes, the time guests spent was, as summarised in one word by Mrs Lonergan, “Incredible.” All of the decorations and food were beautifully presented by Year 7 students: “Delicious!” was the verdict from Mrs Hopkins. Year 7 student Ruby S favoured, “…the M&S cupcakes!”
As the afternoon progressed, Bethany bravely stood up in front of everyone to raise our awareness about autism in relation to our charity fundraising this year. We then entertained our guests with a song from Bambi which we had been practising: Little April Showers. Miss Arden assured us that our renditon was amazing!
Finally, we treated our former teachers to an exhibition of our finest work to date. Many guests said that they had a great time chatting to their old students, and both Cerys E and Alisha O commented on how nice it was to see their old teachers and friends. Sadly the event had to come to an end and we had to say goodbye to our guests. A few of us though were able to enjoy talking excitedly to our friends for the last ten minutes of the party!
Katie S (Year 7)
A musical promenade on Open Evening
On 8th October 2015, Highsted held an Open Evening for Year 6 students and their parents to look around the school to help them choose which secondary school they prefer. This year, Year 7 and 8 students guided the visitors around the school in pairs or individually. Some students helped out with activities around the school to entertain the visitors. My older sister, Elena, and I, along with other musicians, were playing our instruments in various parts of the school. Elena and I played violins.
We were placed just outside the music room, next to the stairs, and were told to play some engaging tunes. In the weeks before, Elena and I incorporated some duets into our daily practices and decided on the best tunes to play. Miss Arden (our music teacher) also gave us some duets of famous pieces for us to learn and play on the night. Throughout the week we practised so when it finally came to performing them to passing visitors, we were confident that they would go well. Another musician, Isabel, joined our duet whilst waiting to play in the talk by Miss Kelly, making it a trio. She joined me playing the easier part while Elena played the harder part.
At the beginning, we stood behind the stands to read the music, but soon we were so confident that we could walk up and down the stairs and corridors playing without music. This impressed the visitors and lots of them stopped to listen. Others congratulated us and clapped or asked questions about how we practised and learned to play the violin. Although at the beginning I did not know what to expect and was nervous, by the end, as it became more informal, we really started to enjoy ourselves. Elena enjoyed it just as much as I did. She joined in the relaxed atmosphere and commented: “By the end all our nervousness had vanished and many visitors stopped to listen to us. It felt like we were busking!”
Overall the music playing around the school was a good advert for the music department at Highsted and we had great fun being part of it. I hope I am able to take part in it next year!
Freya J (Year 7 Media Leader)
My interview with the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy
On Friday 13th November, Highsted had the immense pleasure of having the Poet Laureate visit the school for a night of poetry and music. John Sampson (the musician) is an actor, musician and composer who began the evening with Trumpet Comedy. He then moved onto instruments from the 16th century - a horn, a cornetto and two recorders at once, explaining how you "...need a big mouth to play this one,” with Miss Duffy joking, “You have one.” Carol Ann Duffy started by introducing poems that were based on her childhood stories; she began with Mrs Midas - a poem about the famous story of the greedy man with the golden touch. She wrote the poem, “to explore the emotional trauma of King Midas’ Mrs.”
Miss Duffy continued with her childhood poems explaining why she wrote each one. After the inventive childhood poems, she read two writings from her famous and popular Rapture collection. The first, Text, was the story of a love affair and the fear of being found out behind the confidence of disobeying the rules. The reason that it is named Text is because the secretive couple begin their affair though the now popular form of communication. Looking around, I noted that the audience atmosphere at this point was extraordinary; the air was full of great awe and excitement. The poems were funny, well-delivered and intriguing. Some of the poems are very sad and certain members of the audience shed some tears.
Miss Duffy’s fifth poem was called The Love Poem and was a creation made from lots and lots of famous love poems that she enjoys; it was repetitive, which made the empathy of the audience thick. And the intense emotion in the air was only added to by John, who played a gentle tune with the recorder. “It was magical!” commented Mrs Theresa Jones. The quiet music played behind the poems changed the way that the poems made the audience feel - Amy D from 7.3 said “I didn’t like some of the poems because they were sad, but the music made them so much better, much happier.”
Subsequent to the blue love poems, John added some comedy to brighten up the mood. He stepped forward very dramatically and introduced “Mozart, the greatest artist of all time!” He then turned around so that his back was facing us and whipped on a jury wig, saying, “Hello,” and announcing that he was “Mozart the Great!” He then took a recorder the size of his hand and played a famous Mozart song. He played the recorder very quickly and sharply and began to imitate other instruments using his feet, hands and voice - he joked that this was because of a Government cut.
The following poem increased my understanding of a related poem that I had studied in my English classes. This poem’s name was Mrs Schofield’s GCSE. It was a poem that Miss Duffy had written in reply to Mrs Schofield’s complaint about one of her poems encouraging knife crime. Hearing about what Miss Duffy thought of this accusation really increased my understanding of what Education for Leisure actually meant - and what it was written for. “A real eye-opener,” said Mrs Theresa Jones.
Subsequent to Silver Lining and The Counties, with its reference to her desire to retain the names of counties in addresses so she could, “...write to the Cheshire Cat, returning its smile,” Miss Duffy read out several resurrection poems, namely The Bees. Many of these poems were very effective in the way that they portrayed their meaning; they used the rule of three. Last Post was one of the poems from The Bees. It was about drowning and war -“The crowd released from history,” as described by Carol Ann Duffy. Miss Duffy continued with The Human Bee and Premonitions - this was the last poem. I bought a book of Miss Duffy’s life collections and had it signed by her. Whilst she was signing my new book, I asked her three questions; this is what I found out:
Miss Duffy’s interest in poetry began at age seven, when she was at school - this is because of the encouraging teachers that she was fortunate to have. Her favourite poem is The Song of Wandering Aengus by W B Yeats, which she read at age twelve and recommended to me as I am the same age. She met John Sampson at St Andrews, Scotland thirteen years ago.
All in all, the evening was an awesome success. It felt remarkable to meet the Poet Laureate and was truly awe-inspiring. Here’s what some members of the audience thought about it: “I loved it all; it was a brilliant, inspiring journey of emotions. I feel that she covered every emotion I knew and that made it quite personal.” (Clare Meyrick). “It was a completely new experience; I’ve never seen anything like this before. John was funny and Carol was funny and that makes for a very entertaining evening.” (Megan B) and Abbie E added, “It was fantastic and funny and I love the fact that she’s Scottish.”
April J (Year 8 Media Leader)
My Experience as Year 7 Charity Leader
During term five I, together with the Year 7 charity group and some extra helpers, arranged a sale of merchandise to raise money for Friends of the Wisdom Hospice. This is a charity dedicated to raising money for the Wisdom Hospice, which provides specialist care for people coming to the end of their lives and for their families, friends and carers, both at home and in the hospice itself. The fundraising team aims to raise £2,000 every day: this is essential in order for the Wisdom Hospice to continue to provide the support and care that it does today.
Friends of the Wisdom Hospice is the chosen Year Seven charity because a former Highsted student, Katie Tyler, now works for the organisation. In her words, Katie’s role is: “to support the community, to increase income and awareness of hospice care and to assist with the organisation of fundraising events.” Near the beginning of the year, we held a purple-themed tea party (reflecting the colour of the charity) where we served tea and cakes to our primary school head teacher/s and our Year 6 teacher. Through this and the publicity surrounding it, we raised awareness of the charity; we also raised a small amount of money by collecting loose change. However, we needed to raise more money for a great cause.
Miss Appleton, the charity team and I had a discussion and mind-mapped some events we could hold to raise a substantial amount of money for this charity. Our favourite and most realistic idea was to hold a merchandise sale. We were very lucky to have merchandise provided by Friends of the Wisdom Hospice, so all we had to do was sell it.
I felt hopeful and confident that we would sell a lot of stock but guessed nowhere near the amount we did in fact achieve! I felt pleased but also a bit nervous about the responsibility I had taken on. Every lunchtime for a week, the charity group members and I would sit at the table selling merchandise to people in the hall and canteen area. Some people who volunteered to help us ran around the school (literally!) asking people for loose change and they made lots of money – I was very grateful for this. People took more interest and donated a lot more money than I expected. We did an initial rough count of how much we had raised so far and I was astounded that we had made £100+! Then when Miss Appleton finally told me the grand total of approximately £150 I felt so proud and pleased with everyone who helped sell merchandise and gave their money, knowing that many people would benefit from what we had done. I found it difficult to put into words as it’s hard to think that something so small, that I led, could help people on such a large scale! It felt and still does feel absolutely amazing.
Thank you to everyone who helped and donated; it is going to a truly great charity!
Donations to the Wisdom Hospice can be made by visiting www.friendsofthewisdomhospice.org.uk
Ella (Year 7 Charity Leader)
A message from Nicola
I went to Highsted between 2006 and 2012 and have recently finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Birmingham, receiving a first in Ancient and Medieval History (BA).
I found my course fascinating as I was able to study a huge range of subjects including ancient myths, the Silk Roads, the Black Death, medieval family and Assyria. There was a whole range of societies that I could join at my University to help me settle in and meet more people and I loved the campus and the library. I will be returning to the University of Birmingham in September to begin my Masters course in Ancient Near Eastern and Cuneiform Studies. Highsted helped me to get the grades I needed to attend my dream university, which was University of the year in 2014, and do a degree in a subject I am passionate about.
I would like to work in a museum alongside the artefacts I have studied but I am also hoping to one day become a published author. I have been writing fiction for more than ten years and the teachers at Highsted helped encourage me keep up my dream, offering to read through creative writing pieces and award me the Irish Smith Prize for Original Writing in 2012. My most recent completed work is a Young Adult fantasy novel 94,000 words long and I have recently begun a new writing project which I hope to send off to writing agents at some point in the future.
Nicola Apps (Highsted 2006-2012)
Sarah's exchange friendship
Four years ago, as a Year 10 student, I took part in Highsted’s German Exchange to Erlangen. I was apprehensive seeing as it would be my first time going away without my family. However I didn’t realise how good a friend I would make and how much of an impact the trip would have on my future choices at university.
Veronika and I clicked as soon as we met and continued to stay in touch, meeting up again in the summer of 2013 and again this Christmas at the Nuremberg market. Admittedly, before the exchange trip I wasn’t overly keen on foreign languages, but the trip exposed me to an undiscovered passion for travelling and learning about different cultures and made me think about the importance of modern languages in what is becoming an increasingly globalised world. I am now studying German, French and Mandarin at university and am hoping to meet up with Veronika again during my year abroad in 2016.
The whole experience taught me that it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance, despite the nerves and apprehension that can often hold us back. So embrace the opportunities that come your way, and accept the challenges, no matter how intimidating they may seem. Be ready to learn, be ready for a challenge, and be ready to meet someone that might just be a lifelong friend!
Sarah Franklin (Former Head Girl)
Humbled by Ypres
Pupils from Highsted Grammar School were among those from Swale who had the honour of travelling to Ypres in Belgium on Tuesday 11th November to attend the Poppy Parade and Armistice Day Service.
Accompanied by Head of Citizenship Mr. Cloud Quinn, the Head Girls Jess Anderson and Eleanor Mills, and Year 8 student Beth Tremain also took part in a visit to the cemetery and memorial grounds given to the Commonwealth by the Belgian people as final resting places for our soldiers lost in the Great War.
Mr Quinn said: “With other representatives of Swale we marched through the town centre and the Menin Gate, and were humbled by the sight of hundreds of local people who had come to offer their thanks to the men and women who gave up their today for our tomorrow.”
During the 11am service an exhortation was read from Laurence Binyon’s seminal poem ‘For The Fallen’, with everyone present repeating the last line: “We will remember them”.
Mr Quinn added: “As bright red poppy petals were blown through the Menin Gate, this expressed perfectly the vividness and transience of the lives of those who gave everything for us. One of the strongest feelings we took away from the ceremony was that remembrance is not just about the events of the Great War; it is about people.” This theme continued during the subsequent visit to three memorial cemeteries, where the guide was able to recount individual stories of fallen soldiers, doctors and nurses as the group stood by their graves. Particularly poignantly the visitors also identified the graves of a number of soldiers from the Sittingbourne area.
As they left the Service, the girls observed the 54,900 names that are engraved on the Menin Gate in the town centre to remember soldiers who have no known grave. They then visited White House, where they found the graves of several soldiers from Sittingbourne and the surrounding areas. Head Girl Jess Anderson commented: “It allowed me to reflect on the sheer bravery of the men that had fought for our country 100 years ago. More than anything, I recognised that these men are not simply statistics; they were individuals.” Eleanor Mills, also a Head Girl at Highsted, added: “I could not help but relate the experience to my own family; my great-grandfather was a grenadier guard.”
As they explored the grounds, the students found many other personal touches, including letters and wreaths, that enabled them to learn a little more about the soldiers whose graves are named. Beth Tremain, 12, said: “This was an overwhelming experience which left us speechless.”
Kezia's Prescription for Success!
Kezia Thomas (18) from Sittingbourne is just off to Nottingham University to study medicine. However, as one of Highsted Grammar School’s many high-achieving students (straight A*grades in sciences), she’s been making the most of the time before she goes by helping out at the school. She’s been working mainly as a student receptionist and inspiring new Year 7 pupils, like Sarah Olusola who also wants to become a doctor, as they start off on their own journeys of discovery. But it doesn’t end there: Kezia’s also looking to help past pupils to keep in touch by setting up a Highsted alumni group.
Kezia said: “When I first came here it was the friendly atmosphere and helpfulness of everyone which inspired me to try new challenges and to make the most of the opportunities. Having spent three weeks on a work experience placement in Brussels, and worked as a student receptionist for the school, I have received more than just an excellent education which enabled me even to exceed my predicted grades.”
The Brussels placements have been developed over the last 10 years as a regular event, and Kezia was one of the 14 pupils from Highsted who are annually able to take part. Opportunities include placements for students particularly interested in the ethical as well as the practical side of the medical professions. Kezia’s own placement was with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF): an organisation, supported by volunteers, working in 172 countries to provide sexual and reproductive health information, education and counselling services.
Kezia explained: “I don’t think any of the girls who went to Brussels had ever spent that amount of time away from home before, but we all supported one another throughout our time there and by the end we felt like family. I think that sense of belonging will be the thing that I will always remember. That was why I jumped at the opportunity to be able to give something back to Highsted, by taking the first few steps towards establishing an alumni association. I know that I am not alone in wanting to continue to be a part of the school and to contribute towards its development.”
As Kezia showed year 7 pupils Sarah Olusola and Jessica Wiesmath how to bandage a wrist correctly, Sarah commented “Meeting Kezia has certainly inspired me to aim to get really high grades all the years that I’m at Highsted so that I can achieve my goal of being a doctor when I’m older. Jessica added: “I have other ideas for what I want to do in the future, but Kezia has inspired me to work hard to go for my goals too!”
Kezia commented: “I hope that the progress I have made in the past few weeks will provide Highsted with lasting support from its alumni and ultimately enable other young girls to continue to have the opportunities that I have had.” Asked about her most memorable moment at Highsted, she said: “It would have to be my time spent in Brussels with the school. The trip not only gave me the chance to learn from a different perspective about the career path that I intend to take, but also enabled me to learn some real life skills.”
Headteacher Anne Kelly said: “I’ve seen how pupils like Kezia grow in confidence as they discover and take advantage of the opportunities open to them at Highsted, and how this has enabled them to make the decisions which will help them to step out into the world with open minds and great aspirations. It’s been fantastic having her in school, both as a role model which our new girls can identify with, and as a friendly face in helping them to get to know the school. I wish Kezia and all her peers well in their future studies and careers, and am always keen to keep in touch to hear of their challenges and successes.”
If you were a pupil at Highsted and want to join the alumni group, Kezia or a colleague would love to hear from you, either by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on the ‘Highsted Old Girls’ Association’ Facebook page which she has set up.
Cambridge Scholars’ Programme: Summer 2014
I attended the Cambridge Scholars’ Programme in the summer holidays of 2014. On this programme I got the chance to attend classes in law and criminal and forensic psychology, which were really fantastic and gave me a real insight into the subjects. The teachers were the top professors in their field, Dr Anita Hunter, for example, who has written several books; one of which I used when researching a piece of work for her class.
In addition to the classes, we had lots of extracurricular activities to take part in every evening, like a sports day, cinema trip, silent disco and a casino night. All of these activities were amazing and I really enjoyed each one. They bonded all of us as a group and really helped us build our friendships.
On the weekends, I got the chance to go on some amazing trips to London and further afield, such as Bath, Stonehenge and Oxford. We got the chance to see Phantom of the Opera in the Theatre as well as experience the London eye at night, Madame Tussauds and Buckingham Palace. All of the trips were really fun and I got the chance to experience lots of things which I wouldn’t normally do.
Overall, this was the best three weeks of my life and the most amazing experience. I met fantastic people and made lifelong friends who I am in regular contact with. I would recommend this programme to anyone!
Summer White (Year 13)
Geography Trip: Flatford Mill, Ipswich
In February, our Year 12 geography class headed off to Flatford Mill, Ipswich. The trip was designed to aid our knowledge in fieldwork techniques, which enabled us to gain information on local case studies whilst also using the newest scientific equipment. Each day we visited a new site to expand the topics of ‘Rebranding Towns’ and ‘Crowded Coasts’. Unfortunately, the trip did involve going to the beach despite the relentless rain; however, as geographers we were all ecstatic to have the opportunity to visit the crag walk (a world first in coastal defence)! Personally, this trip has boosted my knowledge with memorable case studies which helps me stay confident as I prepare for my geography exams; additionally, as a class we have created memories that we will never forget, as we all bonded on the lack of Wi-Fi! Finally, on behalf of my class, we would all like to say a massive thank you to Mrs McGregor and her husband for taking the class away and looking after us all.
Vicky Slater (Year 12)
Creative Writing Competition
An extract from the World War 1 Creative Writing Competition Winner, Key Stage 4
A Debt I Cannot Repay...
I remember it as if it were yesterday...
It was a normal day for the trenches. The desperate screams of the wounded echoed out onto No-Man’s Land, the monotonous droning like sirens... like an unknown prophecy for the events of the next few hours. Cries rang out, as they always did. They were cries to the enemy; cries to the Lieutenants; cries to anyone that could free us from that hell-hole. All the same, they were familiar. Blood flowed freely along the ground, a stream that signified death. The mark of a poor man’s fate. Rats ran about our feet, scurrying over our toes and rummaging through our precious belongings. But woe betide any creature that tried to nibble anyone’s letters or pictures from home- they’d be blown up before you could say “No Man’s Land”. Old Joe was polishing his bayonet, and Colonel Rogers was shouting at us to “Get our ruddy heads on straight,” because someone took an extra slice of bread at mess last night. Not that anyone was really listening. Like I said, it was a normal day for the trenches.
Morgan Steigmann (Year 10)
Art Meets Science
“I left Highsted in 2012 to go on to pursue a Neuroscience degree with King's College London. Recently, I won third place at the Institute of Anatomy Annual Exhibition in London for my painting called 'Our organs hold traces of the lives we lead' and I am on track to achieve at least a 2:1 degree.
I am thankful to the staff I came into contact with at Highsted who engaged my academic curiosity and offered extensive advice through my application to university. Although academic success has been invaluable for my career progression, I will always have a special admiration for those staff members who gave equal enthusiasm to my passion for painting.
To current students, I ask: What subjects fascinate you, give you a sense of wonder and set your mind spiralling with rapid thoughts and questions? For me, the brain is the most fascinating thing in the universe and from it flourishes the creative abilities to paint, read and question. I never tire of it. That excitement is what I hope the students of the future can find for themselves and Highsted is a great environment to accomplish that."
Danni Gadd (Former Highsted student)
Random Acts of Kindness
Year 11 Prom 2013
During the summer of 2013, the majority of Year 11 girls at Highsted Grammar School celebrated their Prom. It was a brilliant event, despite the fact it rained, and we all had an amazing time. To stage the event, we had to completely fund the Prom ourselves. This entailed holding cake sales, carefully negotiating ticket prices, and receiving the very generous donation from the school’s very own Highsted School Association. After much accounting and through some very careful spending on our part, we were left with £250. To tell the truth, we are still not sure how we didn't spend all of our money!
We were faced with the decision about what we would do with the extra money. It was agreed that donating the remaining money would be a charitable act of kindness, and for all the fun we had, it seemed important not to forget those less fortunate than us. To select our charities, it was decided that we would create a Facebook poll open to all those who attended Prom, and amongst the girls, we voted for our top three charities.
After some serious voting over a week, the resulting charities were decided; The Teenage Cancer Trust, The Alzheimer’s Society and Demelza House Hospice for Children all received close to £83, as well as a letter detailing why they had been chosen. It made Prom feel even more special, and to be able to support our favourite charities made it even more worthwhile.
Holly Chapman (Year 12)
Auschwitz 2013 – a personal response
Every year, two students from the Sixth Form are given the opportunity to participate in a particularly poignant and significant activity as part of the school's commitment to Remembrance. They join a group of other young people from a variety of schools to undertake a three-day experience with the Holocaust Educational Trust. Following an orientation seminar in London during the first week of November, the students visit Auschwitz in Poland during Remembrance Week, before attending a follow-up seminar to refect on the experience and discuss the impact of their visit. This year, Rosanna Williams and Kenesha Asiedu (Year 13) represented Highsted. In these contributions to Student Voice, Kenesha and Rosanna share their experiences.
Visiting Auschwitz was a truly indescribable experience. The seminar beforehand went some way to giving us an idea of what to expect; we discussed topics such as whether it is right to take pictures there, and whether it is right to run stag and hen parties to the site. However, it is impossible to be properly prepared for what you see when you get there.
Since returning from Auschwitz I have had many adjectives thrown at me in an attempt for others to try to understand the experience I have had, but I feel the most fitting words are emotional and surreal. Obviously Auschwitz affects everyone in different ways, and different parts stay with people forever, but for me, the thing that has stayed with me the most is the room of shoes. It is impossible to explain the sheer number of shoes in the room, but all the shoes were unique and showed the personality of the person to whom they had belonged. Amongst the many shoes was a single shoe in nautical design, which moved me more than any others because it reminded me of my earlier teenage years when I went through a nautical phase myself. This more than anything else personalised the holocaust for me, and showed that the victims weren’t just a faceless mass, but individuals who were so varied and unique.
One thing I noticed whilst there was just how cold it was, and how much my feet hurt by the end of the day. It seems trivial and insensitive to notice such things, but it made me realise how lucky I am; I was in five layers with sturdy walking boots, whereas the victims would have been in one thin layer in weather much more extreme than we encountered, and inappropriate and uncomfortable shoes on the uneven, broken ground of Auschwitz. This highlighted to me the bravery of the people who were incarcerated there, and the capacity and complete desire of the human spirit to survive.
I thought that by visiting Auschwitz I would perhaps understand the holocaust, but I have come away even more confused. Standing in the famous watchtower of Auschwitz-Birkenau, with the camp below stretching so far in every direction that that it is not even visible in its entirety, makes one question how something that had clearly been meticulously planned could have been allowed to happen with little or no opposition.
The trip had such a profound effect on me, and I would truly recommend that anyone who has the opportunity should visit Auschwitz, as my account cannot do justice to the reality of being there. I know the experience will stay with me forever, and I hope as a result of this I can work with the Holocaust Education Trust to make sure the importance of the Holocaust is still realised in today’s world.
Kenesha Asiedu (Year 13)
Having visited Auschwitz several weeks ago I have had time to reflect on my experience. My initial response was that I had no words to describe the experience as it heavily affected me but in hindsight and having spoken to Dr Gardiner about the experience I have been able to comprehend what I saw in Auschwitz One and Auschwitz Birkenau.
As an emotional person, I expected to spend most of the day crying, however on arrival this wasn’t the case. I can remember thinking that my tears weren’t worth anything in comparison to what the people who had to endure the camps went through and that it would almost be disrespectful to pity them in such a way. There is no amount of preparation which can be undertaken before attending such a place, and any expectations are completely changed when you are there. I was surprised by my reaction at Auschwitz One; the work camp where political prisoners were tried, slave labour was enforced, and the first gas chamber was trialled. I can remember leaving the camp to return to our warm and cosy coach with substantial packed lunches when I heard a girl in my group say to her friend, “It’s awful isn’t it?”
At this moment I got so angry that a place which has no words to be explained by can be described as ‘awful’; to me this really didn’t cut it. People ate their sandwiches and their crisps having just left a place where bread rations were minimal and the only way to survive was to steal ration cards off of the dead. Of course, there is no correct way to react, but I felt and still do feel very protective of upholding respect for this place of mass genocide. Although there were many opportunities to take photographs of both camps, I did not partake in this as I felt it would detract from my own personal experience; there are thousands of pictures online so what difference would mine make?
Overall, I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to attend the trip to Auschwitz and I would recommend it to anybody who shares a passion in history and wishes to learn first-hand and not just from a textbook! I am now an Ambassador in educating young people in the holocaust and I intend to speak of my experience to as many young people as possible.
Rosanna Williams (Year 13)
Laura graduates from Yale University
After leaving Highsted in 2008 I knew that I wanted more than just your typical university experience. Since first donning the school’s blue blazer in September 2001, I had been taught time and again to aim higher, expect more and realise that my goals were achievable. It was during my gap year as Student Ambassador that I truly took these lessons to heart and applied to study at Yale University in Connecticut, USA.
My acceptance to Yale not only opened the door to exploring the United States, it also provided a wealth of opportunity for global learning. Over the past four years I have travelled to numerous countries, learnt from some of the world’s greatest minds and become friends with the next generation of world leaders. Between learning Spanish in Ecuador, volunteering in the Dominican Republic, making films in Prague, attending talks with Tony Blair, being taught by historian George Chauncey, and working for film producers Nina Jacobson and Michael De Luca, Yale has provided me with memories that will last a lifetime.
They say that your time at university will provide some of the most fun experiences of your life, but for me, the last four years have changed my entire worldview.
Laura Tunbridge (Former Head Girl)
Highsted Grammar School pupil Amelia Henley, 15, has recently shown her talents in a Squash Test Match for England, which she assuredly won. The student, who has been playing squash for a number of years, began her training at Rodmersham Squash Club. Amelia has just decided to gain independence from the club in order to keep up with a busy schedule of other squash-related commitments.
Despite being one of the few girl players embarking on such a sporting journey, Amelia has already clocked up numerous squash achievements. These include: winning the Under 15 British Junior closed competition; the 15 Dutch Junior Open and playing number one for England, when victory was gained in the Home Internationals for the Under 13's and Under 15's. Amelia is also dedicated to her studies at Highsted and claims that given the chance she would love to fulfil a squash-based career.
Natasha Whiskin (Year 13)
Freya Harrild, a Year 9 Highsted Grammar School student, has recently received Gold at the British Championships for Judo in the under-44 kilo weight category. The interest in Judo began at four years old from the inspiration to be like her older sister, and she has now continued to follow-through for almost ten years.
This is currently one of her greatest accomplishments, alongside coming third in the international competition in Poland and the honour of being ranked number one in the United Kingdom.
The achievements have caused euphoria for family and friends, as well as Parkwood Judo Club coaches, but Freya is eager about the future, in which she would, "Love to be selected to fight in European cups and have the opportunity to progress a professional judo career.”
For those aspiring to be like Freya, there are many local Judo clubs. Rainham, in particular, offers a try-out session. Despite the sometimes challenging demands, Freya succeeds with confidence and excellent time management of her school work – this is a sport worth considering!
Shabnam Ali (Year 12)
Highsted Sixth Form Lecture Series
Over the past few months Highsted has hosted a series of lectures for SixthForm students. These lectures covered a diverse range of topics from French romantic tragedies to the influence of politics on Russian composers.
The lectures have offered students from across the Partnership the opportunity to extend their education beyond the ordinary day-to-day curriculum and broaden their current interests. Although each lecture has concentrated on a specific topic, they have all presented students with the chance to experience a lecture comparable to those that take place within universities. The lectures have both enabled students to develop their personal interests and become familiar with the independent style that university lectures present.
One lecture of particularly excellent quality was that of Ashleigh Wheeler, a former Highsted student who graduated from Oxford University this summer. Ashleigh spoke about the poet Emily Dickinson and how Dickinson’s poetry reflected her emotions towards society and relationships. This was an intriguing topic and thoroughly engaging. Ashleigh also shared her thoughts with students about what Oxbridge looks for in potential candidates and her own experiences of university application and student life.
The lecture series has proved highly rewarding and undoubtedly a worthwhile experience for all those who attended.
Kezia Thomas (Year 12)
Auschwitz – a personal response
People keep asking me to describe Auschwitz, and so I have to keep trying to find the words. What do I say? Do I say about the infamous ‘ArbeitMachtFrei’ sign as you enter the camp, knowing I would walk out alive after going under it, where hundreds of thousands wouldn’t? Or the room full of forty thousand shoes, showing only five per cent of those who died? The roll of fabric made from human hair, shaved off thousands of humiliated women? Or perhaps I should describe walking through a gas chamber, and then the ovens on the other side, so mechanical…
Maybe I could choose to talk about Auschwitz-Birkenau, and looking out over the vastness of the camp from the guard tower, unable to see the whole expanse of the place even from the air, and knowing it was only half the planned size. Do I talk about the memorial candles that we students left along the train tracks: a simple 220 for the million-and-a-half who were there? But all these words sound so empty, just facts, just figures. So what I always end up saying is, “It was so hot, such a bright day,” as I think, this is not the kind of place the sun should ever, ever shine.
Holly Truslove (Year 13)