“Show the world by doing hard work”, so sang the wonderful cast of Fame on Wednesday and Thursday evenings of this week when they showed the audience what they had achieved with their hard work and determination. It was a great production showcasing abilities in dance, drama and music, and while our students were stretched beyond their comfort zone, especially as the cast were all Year 9 or younger, they certainly put on a magnificent performance.
I was also impressed by the strength of character shown by so many individuals when faced with the challenges of bringing the show to life. One student had to take a lead part only three weeks ago, another fought off a chest infection to take part, others were on stage for the first time and one had to be lifted out of bed in order to attend. Well done to all who took part and showed such courage and grit. Thanks also to the performing arts team and all the other staff who gave up so much of their precious time to make the show possible.
Could you build a balloon-powered, environmentally friendly paper aero plane while keeping a close eye on the budget and working with an unfamiliar group of people? This was the challenge set to our Year 8 young engineers this week and they rose to it admirably. Students worked in groups to produce their prototypes, tested and refined the end result and then entered a competition. They were aided by real engineers from Kier Construction and JB Hopkins, the main contractors responsible for building the new school building.
Our visitors were truly impressed by the ingenuity and creativity of our students as they tried to work out how to control the flow of air from the balloons while still achieving some forward momentum. The presentations I witnessed at the end were excellent and I was truly impressed by how much they learned from testing and adapting their designs. KOF, the winning group, had a great design using a balloon enhanced by the kinetic energy of an elastic band – wonderful!
Democracy is alive and well in Year 7 judging by the debate I witnessed on Thursday morning. Mrs Hubbard and Mr Aston's tutor groups came together to debate how much influence students should have over the sort of trips they go on at school and the charities they support. Some excellent ideas were exchanged and I was really impressed by the way the students supported their points with good examples. One of the key exchanges was about how much you learn from trips and whether every trip is educational, even Flip Out! Well done to everyone who took part.
While we didn't match the great costumes we saw going down Allaway Avenue towards Victory Primary School for World Book Day, our students in Year 7 did receive a one pound book token to either spend on a book produced specifically for the event or as a contribution towards a book of their choice at a bookshop. Many students like Leona Howard and Ellie Trevarthan were quick to purchase the one pound books on offer for the event while others may well nag you for a trip to the store this weekend.
We were delighted to welcome former student, Keiran O'Toole, into school earlier this week. Keiran has been busy since he left us last year: he is studying three A-levels, has graduated from the Unloc Enterprise Academy at Portsmouth College and has now set up his own social enterprise called Rock Clothing which aims to help groups of students combat bullying. In addition, he has raised more than £1000 for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity. His efforts have been recognised by the City who have awarded him the Youth Civic Award for his efforts and contribution to the community. Congratulations, Keiran, we are proud of you and look forward to working with you and your company soon.
Mrs Findlay returned to the school this week after a term away and we are really pleased to see her back. She tells me she wanted to come back because she loves teaching the children at the school and I know exactly what she means. Just before half-term, we also made some excellent appointments for later this year and the students played a crucial role in helping us pick the best candidates for the school.
On the 17th February, Year 8 students spent the day learning about Hate Crime and devising ways to raise awareness and combat such activities. The day was introduced by PC Alex Jones and well supported by our Community Policing Team who helped students appreciate the many ways in which hate crimes appear in society. Students worked in groups in their Houses all morning and after lunch, Willow, Cedar and Sycamore Houses each peer-reviewed and held ballots to decide who should go forward to the Inter-House Final. Campaign ideas included booklets, poetry, smart apps, drama and videos. After a tense few moments, Willow House were voted to have presented the best campaign. Taylan Yildirim, Reece Willis, Dylan Willis and Bradley Wright presented the winning media message informing us about LGBT hate crime and will go forward in April to a Dragon's Den final at Portsmouth University to compete with schools from across the city.