Schools news round up (Including Longdean School marks Great War centenary with Ypres visit)

Year 8 students from Longdean School with headteacher Graham Cunningham paid a two-day visit to Ypres, Belgium, to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War
Year 8 students from Longdean School with headteacher Graham Cunningham paid a two-day visit to Ypres, Belgium, to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War

Year 8 students from Longdean School with headteacher Graham Cunningham paid a two-day visit to Ypres, Belgium, to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War.

Longdean School visits Ypres in Belgium

Year 8 students from Longdean School with headteacher Graham Cunningham paid a two-day visit to Ypres, Belgium, to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War.

A spokesman for the school said the students found it a ‘rewarding and moving experience’.

On the first day the 80 pupils were guided around the three cemeteries of Essex Farm, Langemark, and the largest of all at Tyne Cot, where they were able to hear stories of combat and outstanding bravery.

Essex is remembered best as the place in which the famous poem ‘In Flanders Field’ was written.

One of the students read out the poem, at the very spot it was penned. Even more poignant was the fact that one of the students was able to find the gravestone of his Great Grandfather, one of nine killed by sniper on Christmas Day 1916.

At Tyne Cot the sheer scale of the number of casualties was brought home, as the students passed through 12,000 gravestones, and looked upon a further 35,000 names of those killed, but whose bodies were never found.

In the evening the students attended the ‘Last Post Ceremony’ at Menin Gate, a ceremony that has happened, uninterrupted every single night since 1928.

The crowd was considerable, and yet the silence was deafening. Two of the students were ushered through the gathered masses by two Second World War veterans, and were able to lay wreaths centre stage.

History teacher, Damian Pieroni, said: “This was a very dramatic and emotional moment as the sunset on this most impressive of commemorative monuments, which has some 55,000 names of British and Commonwealth soldiers killed in action.”

Day two was taken up with a visit to two museums, ‘In Flanders Field’ and ‘Passchendaele’, where the students were able to study sources and artefacts from the war. Particularly impressive were the reconstructed underground passages, and trenches at Passchendaele, and film which superimposed the area as it is today with photos of it during the combat, revealing the eerie, almost lunar landscape, of countryside blotted with millions of shell holes.

The students found it amazing to see how the beautiful town of Ypres itself has been reconstructed having been completely obliterated during the War.

Longdean School hopes to make the visit an annual event, but said it tried to ‘at least do its bit to remember ‘the Fallen’ in this most important of years’.

Raising money for charity is a science for schoolkids

The Science Department at Longdean School are working together to raise money for the British Heart Foundation, by taking part in the ‘Work Pedometer four week Challenge’.

Two teams will compete against each other to walk the equivalent distance of London to Casablanca, approximately 15,000 steps per person per day.

The teams started the month-long challenge on Monday April 28 and will complete it on Monday May 26.

Morale remains high within the department, with individual competitive streaks starting to shine through.

A spokesman said: “We hope to raise as much money as possible, with a target of at least £200, for this worthwhile cause.”

Farm manager presents a cheque to Cavendish School

Mike Judge, commercial manager of Woodhall Farm presented a cheque to Sports Leaders at Cavendish School.

After an extraordinary effort and three days of events, the school managed to raise a magnificent £650 – well above the original £500 target.

The school’s Sports Ambassadors were amazing throughout the three days, ensuring that they promoted and managed the events and collected the money.

There were two cake sales, a Beat our Elite, A Staff Dance Off and a Staff Fun run as students threw water balloons. Chloe Butler, Year 9 Sports Ambassador said: “Lots of fun was had and it was fantastic to see so many staff and students take part.

“It is great to know that through our efforts children much worse off than ourselves will receive either medical help or an education.

“We were supported by Sainsburys at Woodhall Farm who supplied us with some Sports Relief prizes to help with our fundraising.

“It was quite stressful at first with all the organisation but we had great fun!”

Amanda Tizard, a Cavendish School teacher involved in the Academy added: “I was so proud of all the Leadership Academy who worked tirelessly to promote all the activities and make the events such a success.”

Mayor impressed with ‘mix’ on Box Moor Trust visit

The Mayor of Dacorum, Councillor Penny Hearn, visited the Box Moor Trust and shared the delight of the young pupils from Hoblett’s School as they took part in Forest School activities with one of the Trust’s activity leaders Janet Halse.

The Mayor then toured the Trust’s new centre with its tremendous green oak frame with some of its trustees and learnt more about the charity’s work and plans for the future.

Like many visitors to the new building she was impressed with the mix of its rustic appearance with modern building techniques, superb craftsmanship and energy efficiency measures.

Only the week before the judges for the prestigious Chilterns Building Design Award had visited as the project is shortlisted for this year’s competition. The main contractor for the wonderful projects was GS Walker Ltd based locally in Apsley.

Opportunistic JFK students get a taste of Cambridge life

A group of enterprising students from a Hemel Hempstead school gave themselves a taste of Cambridge University life after spotting an opportunity on a college website.

The students, from JFK Catholic School in Hemel, wanted to experience a behind the scenes look at a world-leading educational institution to help prepare them for their own university applications.

When they found that St John’s College, Cambridge, offered opportunities for school groups, they decided to organise a visit for themselves.

Chiagozie Ezennia, who is studying for her A-levels at JFK, was browsing university websites when she saw that St John’s provided visits to help young people learn about what to expect from studying at Cambridge.

She said: “I thought that a visit to St John’s would be a great opportunity for me and my class to experience Cambridge life and learn about the University, so we contacted the College and arranged a trip.”

During their day in Cambridge, the pupils got to hear about the University admission process, take part in a workshop on writing personal statements for their applications, tour the college and also talk to current students and academics to learn more about studying and living at Cambridge.

Chiagozie said: “Before I came on the visit to St John’s, I had thought that Cambridge would be really posh and intimidating, but it wasn’t like that at all.

“The students I met were very welcoming and clearly enthusiastic about their college and their studies. Talking to them showed me that Cambridge can be for everyone who is passionate about their subject and able to succeed.”

Dominic Prince, another of the JFK students who visited the college, was at first intimidated by the application process, but said that the visit reassured him: “Learning more about how to apply to Cambridge made the whole process seem much more manageable.

“The visit to St John’s has helped me realise that the University isn’t trying to ask trick questions or catch anyone out, but just wants to make sure that the best students succeed, regardless of background.

“I really enjoyed speaking to the students on our tour of the College. They were all very down-to-earth and not at all pompous.

“I got a real sense that they love living and studying at Cambridge, which has inspired me to consider applying to the university.”

Small school’s record breaking year in netball

St Pauls School in Chipperfield, which is a small single form intake school, has just had a record breaking year in the sport of netball.

The team has taken part in all the competitions offered to it by Dacorum school sports network, and not only these but thanks to their excellent sports teacher and a keen parent helper, they have also played in lots of friendly games and training sessions outside of the curriculum.

They have not only taken part in, but they have actually WON all of these and are District champions in both 5 a side and 7 a side netball and league winners from their group within Dacorum. During the 7 a side final last Friday (in the pouring rain), they made it through to the final against the much bigger Bridgewater school and played really well against a very good team but won 4-1.