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New Head Girl team announced

New Head Girl Team announced

Following careful scrutiny of the votes cast Mrs Ross was delighted to announce that Lizzie M will be the Head Girl for the coming year.  Her deputies will be Georgie and Maddie and Games Captain is Isadora.

New House Captains were also voted for and congratulations go to Libby, Alice, Amy and Lauryn.

The new team were introduced and the old team thanked in the traditional St Mary’s flag ceremony, followed by celebratory cake the next day.

Mrs Ross said: “Many thanks – and a small tear shed – to the exceptional outgoing team – you have been amazing girls – but so excited to be working with such an impressive team next year. Thank you to all of you, girls.”

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Harvest FUNdraiser!

Harvest FUNdraiser

Many thanks to our girls and parents for raising an incredible £4,470 for our harvest fundraiser in aid of Rahab Uganda. The girls were so enthusiastic about the funky shoes, all of the sponsored activities as well as the super facepainting-teachers included!

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Daniella, Year 7, achieves personal best at regional competition


Personal best for Daniella at regional swimming competition

Congratulations to our Year 7, Daniella, who competed at the regional South Eastern swimming championships in 100m backstroke, 50m medley and 200m backstroke, for which she achieved a  personal best of 2min 48sec.

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Visit to the House of Lords


Visit to the House of Lords

Mrs Baggott, Mrs Kingston and Mrs Ross attended a dinner at the House of Lords on Wednesday evening in recognition of St Mary’s ‘Creative School of the Year’ Award. The Vice Chancellor of BITE (The British Institute of Technology England) Professor Muhammad Farmer, spoke warmly and at length of the very impressive work carried out by our Year 11 girls, naming them individually to a very prestigious audience. Mrs Kingston and Mrs Baggott were applauded by everyone for their hard work and determination in spearheading this initiative. Well done to them and our girls.

See  the certificate here.

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Peru 2015

Peru 2015

Eight of our girls took an unforgettable trip to Peru this Summer, see the account here.

Dates: Sunday 5th July – Sunday 26th July

Company: Outlook Expeditions

Written by: Miss Snaith

 

Roles:

Finance – Sarah and Kate

Food – Harriet and Katherine

Transport – Poppy and Emily

Fuel/Gas – Beth

Project – Lauren

Sunday Final Preparation Day (FPD) at Uxbridge College.

Girls went through final pack of their personal kit, pitched tents to ensure that they had everything and booked first accommodation in Cusco.

Monday was mainly travelling from Heathrow to Houston to Lima.

Wednesday:

Leader: Poppy

First day in Cusco was just about girls getting a phone and wandering around to get acclimatised. The second day the girl planned their meals for project and went shopping. They were in groups of 4, and were independent for the afternoon.

Kate’s birthday today and I couldn’t find a cake, so bought some biscuits for us to have after dinner. Sung her happy birthday as well!

Project: Day one in Patacancha

Leader: Emily

Thursday morning we were picked up early by pre-arranged minibus as there was a protest/march in Cusco that was shutting roads off. The trip took about 3-3 ½ hours, plus we stopped for a loo stop just outside Ollantaytambo.

As soon as we got to project we were moving some pipes out of the community hall and starting to sand the windows and paint the first layer of “glue” on the walls of half the hall. Dave and I looked at accommodation before the girls took their kit and settled in in the late afternoon.

The villagers also offered us breakfast when we arrived – Alpaca and potatoes. Most of the girls at least tried it.

There was no running water in the village for the first day as the villagers were laying new pipes. The village has only had running water for 1 year. The girls realised how important it was to make sure they had pre-prepared water (ie 2 litres of chlorinated water).

After working during the day the locals asked us to play football with them. The girls played with the young girls and ladies and then some of the other young girls just played on the side lines.

On this first night 5 of the girls lay outside of the hall and watched the stars – the sky was covered!

Project: Day two

Leader: Kate

Girls were painting again in the morning, and then preparing the wood for the shelving in the afternoon. Again before dinner the girls played with the local children. Lauren had brought balloons for them to play with. The girls were very much getting involved with the artisan market, but also interacting with the local people.

Project: Day three

Leader: Harriet

Girls were preparing some more wood for the artisan market. They then cleaned/tidied the room.

In the afternoon we watched as the local men who had done most of the carpentry work painted the tin roof red.

The local president then came over to us and offered to prepare lunch for us. This was to be the sheep that they had brought us in the morning. We hadn’t realised it at the time. They gave us sheep and potatoes and then a herb tea. Most of the girls at least tried it.

After this the local ladies brought their goods to the market and there was a presentation to us of bracelets that they had made us to thank us for our help. The ladies then lay their goods out for us to buy some bits. This was the purpose of the room, and I’m guessing when more tourists visit or they have a market to sell goods this is what the room will be used for. They sold socks, hats, alpaca key rings etc etc.

Again St Marys girls played football and played with the younger girls. I then brought out some modelling balloons for the locals – even the adults were chuffed with these!

Project: Day four

Leader: Lauren

This was pretty much a rest day for the girls. We were hoping to have some local ladies show us how to do some weaving, but it didn’t happen, and I think this may be because one of the ladies had to leave the village with her husband. So the girls spent time organising their meals for the trek, feeding back on the project and in the afternoon we went for a walk in the local valley.

Monday

Leader: Beth

Bus took us back to Cusco. Girls showered, changed, organised themselves and then we met our guide for the trek, Jorges. He took us to the local market and showed the girls where to buy food. Emily said this was the first time she had been to a market. Girls were then left to shop. They returned to the hostel with food for 15 people for 8 days, plus dinner for that night.

Trek Day one:

Leader: Harriet

Bus to start of trek left Cusco at 6am. We have 2 local guides (Jorges and Juan).

Got to village and sorted kit and then started walking about 11.30am. We had a few stops along the way to rest, lunch, get extra drinks etc. We didn’t get into camp until after dark. We had to walk into camp using head torches. Girls set up own tents and Rebecca and I sorted out dinner as the girls were clearly struggling with tiredness. They covered about 18km – rising about 500m and descending 1200m.

Trek Day two:

Leader: Sarah

Awake at 4am. Left camp at 5.40am (in the dark). Descended to the valley floor (500m) and then climbed the mountain the other side (1500m). Some of the girls really struggled today, and lots of motivation had to be given to get them up the mountain. Lauren got on the mule at the midmorning break. Rebecca followed her on foot to the top. We all met back up at the top of the mountain mid afternoon and made the last stretch to the campsite together.

Over dinner we discussed the plans for the remainder of the trek, it was decided by the girls to have a couple of rest days and not climb the highest peak, but still do the last 3 days.

Trek Day three:

Leader: Emily

Rest day

Went to Choquequirao today (300m climb and descent). It is an Inca site, second to Machu Picchu. Jorges gave us a guide around the site and then the girls wandered around by themselves. We ate lunch there and then returned to the campsite.

Trek Day four:

Leader: Lauren

We had to walk up (300m), to then walk down (1900m) and up again (1100m). We walked through Paddington Bear mountains, but didn’t see any. Sarah and I descended together and had to find shade at the valley floor. We all ate lunch together and then Lauren got on the mule again to go up the other hillside. Over lunch the girls were able to put their feet in the river and cool down a bit. This campsite is basically a farm with pigs, goats, horses/mules and chickens with a bit of grass for people to camp on.

A dog followed us from the last campsite all morning. He sat with Sarah over lunch, but then disappeared in the afternoon.

Trek Day five:

Leader: Beth

1200m climb to the pass. We all climbed at our own pace. Lauren got on the mule at one point, but there were lots of steps and the mules were having to jump them, so it wasn’t safe for her. It was also very muddy in parts and slippery for them. At the top we all had lunch together again. Beth’s birthday so I took some extra sweets/cakes for everyone to have over lunch. We then all walked together down to the next village. Jorges went ahead and got a truck to take us to La Playa where we are going to rest for 2 days. He said this was best as it was market day otherwise we may not be able to get transport the next day if we camped here. The truck took 4 hours to go over the next pass (4700m) and was quite cold in the truck. Once we got to La Playa, we pitched tents and had food. This was a late night, but the next day was a rest day.

Trek Day six:

Leader: Poppy

Rest day

Girls read their books, played cards, washed their clothes and generally wandered around the campsite and relaxed. Lauren’s team cooked omelettes for brunch.

Trek Day seven:

Leader: Sarah

Rest day

Harriet cooked fried potatoes for breakfast. Another relaxing morning. Freddie the owner of the campsite cooked us lunch (Jorges knows them and even he was surprised!) and then in the afternoon took us around his land – bananas, coffee beans, avocados and limes/lemons. Showed us how to pick coffee beans and how to make coffee, and then served us some of his coffee. Juan also showed the girls how to play a game (throwing metal rounds at a wooden base to score points).

 Trek Day eight:

Leader: Harriet/Emily

Rebecca, Emily and Lauren got the minivan with our bags to Hydroelectrica. The rest of us walked on an Inca trail. Last day’s trek. On the trek we visited another Inca site and were able to see Machu Picchu across the valley. Then we descended to the train station. We got there earlier than expected, so we had quite a wait before getting the train to Aguas Calientes.

We got to the hostel and the girls were able to have a shower and then we went out for dinner (literally across the road). This is the first civilisation we have seen for a week!

Machu Picchu

Leader: Katherine

Walked to the start of the trail in the dark (4.45am), and then started the trail up the mountain with a lot of other people. It drizzled a bit on the way up, but that was nice as it was quite humid even at that early time.

It was cloudy when we got to the Inca site, and we walked to the top and the cloud started to disperse, and we saw “that view” of Machu Picchu. We walked altogether towards the sun gate, but it was a lot further than we expected, so we arranged to meet the girls later and we all went off in our own little groups to see the site. As we got to midday, it was getting much busier and much hotter. We all met up again and headed back down to Aguas Calientes. Some of the girls went to the hot springs and the others went to the market. The hot springs didn’t turn out so well, and they were back quite quickly.

We sorted out group kit/food and then headed for dinner. Some of the girls then went to the market in the evening as well.

 Thursday

Leader: Kate/Lauren

Train from Aguas Calintes to Ollantaytambo, and then minivan to Cusco. Girls then had to sort trangias/transport etc and then we went for our last meal together. Some of us tried guinea pig!

The girls then had some free time to do some souvenir shopping. They all came back to the hostel before the curfew time and spent some time in our dorm showing us all their goods.

Friday:

Leader: Katherine

Girls had more free time in the morning. Met back up at the hostel before getting taxis to the coach station. 23 hours on a coach from Cusco to Lima.

Saturday/Sunday:

Leader: Katherine

Coach trip and then taxi from Lima coach station to the airport. We had a few hours to wait in the airport before the check-in desk opened.

Flight from Lima via Newark this time. Very quick stopover in Newark – girls were great running across the airport and then final flight to Heathrow.

 

 

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Delight at A level results day

Many congratulations to our Year 13 girls who received the results of their A2 examinations this morning. Once again they achieved their goals, with just over 25% of all grades awarded being at A*/A and 56.4% at A*/A/B and with re-marks underway these will undoubtedly go up over the coming days. Particular congratulations to Sophie Pelton who achieved straight As in Geography, History and Philosophy & Ethics and now goes on to study Law with Criminology at Manchester University, as well as Rebecca Thorne who achieved outstanding results with A* across the board in Chemistry, Maths and Philosophy & Ethics. Rebecca is taking a year out to complete a further A level in Art and will be working with our Science Department during her gap year. Anusha Dinakara Babu was true to the St Mary’s ethos of ‘going for gold’ and, not satisfied with her already very good grades in 2014, this year achieved A grades in Chemistry and Physics to add to the A she achieved in Maths last year. She will now go on to study Chemistry at University College London.
This is just a taste of the fantastic achievements of our girls, too many to mention individually, and we are immensely proud of them all. We wish them every success and happiness as they move on to the next stages of their lives.

Anusha Dinakara Babu (tweet)

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African Activities!

Jambo!

The end of term saw two fabulous African-themed days enjoyed by the whole school.  The girls have experienced African dance and drumming which was delivered by two excellent practitioners from the company African Activities. In addition to these workshops, the girls have learnt more about the African culture through a range of activities including Fair trade, Art, Cookery, Language, African Union (discussion) and Drama. Girls in the Prep Department also took part in the dance and drumming workshops and enjoyed mask making, African music, Science, flag making and Football. The two days was rounded off with chocolate ice creams and the film Madagascar, thank you Mrs Ross! The girls entered into all of the activities with their usual keen enthusiasm and Mrs Glenister, who master-minded the events, hopes they have enjoyed the experience. Judging by the excitement and enthusiasm that reached every corner of the school during these days, it is safe to say they loved it!

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Year 4 trip to Constable’s homeland

Year 4’s trip to Constable’s homeland

Mrs Schwartz and Mrs Keal recently accompanied year 4 on a fantastic residential to Flatford, the birth place of the artist John Constable. They were lucky enough to stay at the mill where Constable lived with its view of his famous painting, The Haywain, a view that remains beautiful and unchanged from the time it was painted.

The girls took part in lots of fun activities including mammal trapping, an historical walk through the village of East Bergholt, a twilight campfire in the woods complete with singing and hot chocolate, and  pond dipping, just to name a few!

The girls had a wonderful time and showed maturity and independence throughout.

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Paris Trip

Paris Trip 2015

A fantastic trip to Paris took place from 18 – 22 April 2015! A group of 14 girls from Y10/11/12, accompanied by Mrs Cannon & Miss Betteridge, travelled to the French capital by Eurostar from St Pancras, arriving mid afternoon at the Gare du Nord in Paris to most welcome warm sunshine and blue skies. This amazing weather lasted for the duration of the trip, and helped to make it a truly enjoyable experience.

We stayed at the FIAP Jean Monnet, which is a bright, modern international youth centre, similar to a university hall of residence, located in the 14th arrondissement and only 5 minutes walk from the nearest metro station. By the end of the trip, the girls were all experts in using the Paris metro system; we realised we had made almost 20 journeys in total, and never managed to leave anyone behind, on either a train or platform! Each day, the girls bought their lunch in a venue of their choice, using their French linguistic skills.

As regards the sights of Paris, we visited or saw practically everything: the Eiffel Tower (we went up to the second stage), Notre Dame & the Quartier Latin, Sacre Coeur & the Montmartre area, the Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysees and the most unusual Centre Pompidou. We walked through the Tuileries up to the Louvre, where we managed to see the Mona Lisa, (despite the crowds) and we visited the Musée d’Orsay to admire the Impressionist paintings. We also travelled by RER to Versailles, where we saw the Hall of Mirrors and the Royal Chambers in the Chateau as well as spent time in the beautiful gardens. One evening, we took a boat trip on the River Seine and saw the Eiffel Tower lit up and sparkling, which was a most memorable sight. We also crossed the Pont de l’Archevêché, which is laden down with padlocks from couples as an expression of their love.

Shopping was, of course, an important part of the trip, with a visit to the enormous Galeries Lafayette which is an enormous department store, the Lindt chocolate shop (which sells every flavour of chocolate you can imagine!), Sephora and many others. Our final visit was to the Musée Fragonard in the Place de l’Opéra. This is a perfume museum, where our French guide taught us about the history and art of making perfume, and we tested our sense of smell through various fragrances.

Mrs Cannon, Head of Languages

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Debating Matters!

Debating Matters!

Our congratulations go to the Sixth Form Debating Team on their success at the South Regional Final of the Institute of Ideas Debating Matters Competition 2015 on Friday 1 May. The St Mary’s team fought their way successfully through two very tough debates to reach the final of this round, debating against The Godolphin School on the timely motion ‘Voting should be made compulsory In the UK’.

In the competition overall, the six team members also debated the validity of libraries, membership of the EU, censorship of artistic expression and the liberalisation of the UK drugs policy. The judges included journalist Kunal Dutta of The Independent and Channel 4 News, Rebecca Newton, Chief Community & Safety Officer of Mind Candy and Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, Minister of Religion, Maidenhead Synagogue. Their praise for St Mary’s, who came from a pool of over 300 schools to reach the top 24 in the country, included their thorough research and understanding of the topics, confident presentation of their ideas and very good response to tough questioning from the judges.

Not only did our team perform outstandingly in their own debates, but they also contributed searching questions from the floor, stretching the other teams to the max. They also won the prize for making the best video on their experience of entering the competition, ‘My DM Journey’, which you can view on YouTube. Their prizes included books, cinema tickets, ice skating passes and, for the school, a year’s subscription to Hodder Education’s ‘Dynamic Learning’ online resource. We are so proud of the six students, Cheryce from Year 13 and Emma, Alicia, Heba, Maggie and Chloe from Year 12. Their performance in this national competition was outstanding, not forgetting that they coped with weeks of preparation and practice so close to their public examinations. Their response: “We’re already looking forward to taking part next year!”

Our thanks go to Mrs Hillier for preparing the girls so well and to all the staff who contributed and supported the students in their preparation for this event.

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