Year 7 pupils at St. Bernard’s Catholic High School were delighted by a visit from award winning performance poet and shanachie (Gaelic story-teller), . The interactive poetry and song show included a variety of Celtic songs, poems, riddles and even a dancing puppet. The pupils thoroughly enjoyed joining in by singing, chanting and creating some toe-tapping Celtic rhythms.
Mr. MacCool’s visit to St. Bernard’s Catholic High School follows a week of activities and competitions run by the English Department to celebrate National Poetry Day.
The hall was transformed into a theatre for the day, as well as the evening, for the visit of Say Two Theatre Company. The focus of this day was to bring the story of Romeo and Juliet off the page and for our students to experience live performances as part of their studies in English Literature. The onus of the day was very much on involving pupils in the performance-related aspects of the play, both through questioning and participation in a range of activities.
Two half-year groups in Year 10, both alike in dignity, were treated to rousing performances of the classic tale of love and tragedy before treading the boards themselves in a series of interactive workshops. The buzz surrounding all aspects of the day was palpable, with the day having its intended effect of immersing students in the play as a performance piece as well as consolidating their understanding and engagement with the play and its themes.
To conclude the day, selected Year 9 pupils viewed a performance of the play as a reward for their endeavour and attitude in English lessons.
Also, in the evening there was a performance of J.B. Priestley’s ‘An Inspector Calls’ for Year 11 pupils and their families to enjoy. This was an extremely positive event that was well received by parents and pupils alike, and again underlined the value of experiencing live performance in the study of literature.
Feedback from pupils has been extremely positive, and the timing of the visit of the excellent Say Two Theatre Company has been perfect in assisting pupils with their English Literature assessment on the play, as well as in preparing Year 11 for their mock exam.
Again, all pupils involved deserve immense credit for their enthusiasm and commitment to their studies through their participation in all aspects of the day.
The science fair
The science fair gives pupils the opportunity to explore an area of science that interests and excites them. It encourages independent learning and develops skills in planning, organisation and creativity. The participants put a great deal of effort into their projects and thoroughly enjoy presenting their work to their peers and teachers. We run the science fair during National Science and Engineering Week as part of our effort to increase enthusiasm for STEM subjects. Pupils in years 7 and 8 have also been involved in STEM challenges during their science lessons this week. The activities have been based on this year’s theme, ‘Exploring the Future’. Year 7’s have been researching the conditions on the moon and the Apollo missions to help them design and build a model of a lunar habitat. Year 8 pupils have concentrated on the Mars Rover, building and a nano-rover model and using it in their investigations.
The MFL department from St. Bernard’s ran an educational visit to the capital city of Germany this half term. This was an exciting opportunity for students to put their German language into practice and experience German culture first-hand, and was fantastic preparation for their exams.
Berlin is an excellent location for cross-curricular learning, having been such a focal point of 20th and now 21st century history. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city has developed into a cosmopolitan and vibrant capital at the forefront of European culture and we visited many attractions that gave students a greater understanding of German life, past and present.
We took a small party of only 11 pupils to Berlin, where they carried out out various language tasks and took part in a wide range of of cultural experiences. The small group number meant that the pupils had plenty of opportunities for full immersion in the language. They each took it in turns to lead the group, so their map reading abilities were also put to the test (as well as their German language skills for asking directions!). We also had some time for sightseeing and shopping, ate lots of German food, and had a few competitive games of pool and cards!
The pupils (and Miss Groves and Mr Devonald) had an absolutely brilliant time and have all vowed to return as soon as possible.
The World Clock on Alexanderplatz with a Strassenbahn (tram) in the background
Visit to Checkpoint Charlie (former crossing point between East and West Berlin)
Tour of Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp in Oranienburg where the SS also had their training centre
Project morning at the Anne Frank museum at Hackescher Markt
A group of 35 year 10 students spent a morning working with Student Ambassadors from Newcastle University. St Bernard’s students had the opportunity to interview the University students and explore student profiles whilst investigating the merits of Higher Education and the career opportunities it can provide from a personal perspective and the value it adds to wider society from a national perspective. St. Bernard’s students were also able to explore the range of courses available to them at Newcastle and other Universities whilst being given an insight into the challenges and relative costs of University life through taking part in Newcastle’s student guide to student life challenge activities.
Well done to our Year 7 and 8 pupils who have read and quizzed on 1881 books and have read 46,978,876 words since September. Their quizzing even helped to raise money for the typhoon Haiyan relief effort for the Philippines. For each Accelerated Reader quiz taken on November 10th Renaissance Place donated money. A total of £1500 was raised by the schools that signed up.
Over the Christmas holidays pupil’s point totals were added up and bronze, silver, gold and platinum award certificates were given out for effort. 34 of our students managed to smash their targets with gold and platinum awards. Three students have already made it to the dizzy heights of the ‘Millionaire’s Club’ having read over 1 million words.
Our platinum award winners are now ‘Spellbinding’, a challenge to read 10 books published in the last year designed to encourage pupils to read outside of their usual choices. There are debates, artwork and reviews to complete and the challenge ends with an awards day where we join other Cumbrian schools to share our findings and meet an author.
As reading helps pupils attainment in every subject, once a week we are running a reading rolling programme where reading is done in every Year 7 and 8 lesson, (this also includes the teachers). So for 20 minutes per week students can been seen reading in their P.E. kits, in front on their computer screen in ICT or mid equation in Maths.
Book themed University Challenge is in full swing with Year 7 forms pitting their literature knowledge against each other in very competitive rounds. Mr Duffield capably stepped into the role of Jeremy Paxton donning a red feather boa and fan for our ‘red’ themed round and ‘Foxy’ the fur stole made a guest appearance. The horror themed final between 7D and 7G takes place very soon.