Ice | by Hannah (6.1)

I am trapped under ice.

It’s freezing cold and I am frozen still. Everyone I know is sat on the ice cap above happily paddling with only their feet submerged; sometimes they get pulled below and I swim towards them trying to push them back up while I sink; deeper, lower, where the pressure is so great my chest feels like it’s being clamped together.

Alone.

I am all alone in the vast wide water. I know there are others trapped under here too, everyone of us trying to stay above the water while we try and battle the weight of it all… but I can’t see them The thick layer of ice seems to be pushing down,
down, I can’t hold the ice up. I just can’t anymore, but I have no choice. I repeat the mantra, that I can and must do this, to myself over, over and over. It helps for a while, and I stay afloat, but it’s not enough, soon I have lost all hope again and I sink lower. It’s so cold down here, freezing. It begins to hurt.

Someone hands me a rope.

I take it with a sad smile, and try and help her hoist me back above the water. It feels good for a little bit, I start to take notice of nice small things, like the sun hitting my face or her laugh as we both hold the rope. Although I am still freezing and my body is still immersed in the icy water, my head is above. My grin returns, a genuine smile for once, coupled with laughter and a little more joy. I missed this, I say. It’s a relief to feel this close to happy again, and the weight reduces; staying afloat seems a little easier. It’s exhausting to keep my head above the water still, but I have her to help. And I can help my friends, who are in the water too now, pushing them up out of the water, or try to at least. We’re coming out of the water, some of us paddling our feet, or better still not even a drop of water on them. I feel halfway to feeling better now. Then the rain comes, drenching everything in its path.

Alone again.

Suddenly my surroundings seem desolate; it’s not long before I fall beneath the surface of the water once more. It seems colder than previously, bitter and spiteful now after the warm sun. I shiver, scream and shout to try and stay afloat. It’s all to no avail as I sink further below the water, clinging and hugging my knees for warmth or comfort. There are voices from above; I rise for a moment only to hear the sounds become clearer, but they turn out to be only yells at me, and I cry even more despite being surrounded by water. I cry until it feels like I don’t even have the energy to do that anymore. I have no motivation to try and swim higher.

Isolated still.

The pressure on my chest has risen so much that it hurts. I want to give up, I need to give up, but I can’t give up. Even though I crave the feeling I had before, floating above the ice and waves, it doesn’t feel possible at all to get up to the surface now. Now all I see is the bottom of the water. The dark, black, abyss at the bottom. It’s close, within my reach. But as soon as I try and grasp at it the sharp, icy pain immediately forces my hand away. I look back at the dark, the weight on my chest tightens, and I close my eyes. I try and channel some warmth back to my hands, concentrating on the memories of the warmth of the sun from before. The glowing orange, red or yellow contrasts with black void. I grasp at the darkness again, and I nearly reach it, But I look back up to the ice above. I can see people’s feet, paddling in the water or making shadows on the ice. The ice seems thinner, and easier to crack and break through from here. I can hear voices again, laughter so loud it’s deafening. The noises stop me, frozen in the water. I chew on my lip and wait. I wait for the laughter to stop. For the weight to push me down all the way. But nothing. Nothing. I stop and then swim a bit further up. I start to hear calls from above, willing me, pulling me to the surface. All of a sudden the deep, dark abyss seems too scary.

Less helpless now.

It’s still hard of course even now. Sometimes the weight pushes me back down below the water a little bit, just a little bit. But I don’t sink low enough that the pressure is too high. I try and break the ice, pounding on it with my hands, but I have friends to help on the ice above and I am pulled out of the water by them. The sun shines, drying my clothes and hair which cling tightly to my body. I laugh and smile again, it feels like ages since I have, the weight lifted off my chest so I am very relieved, while my feet splash in the water. Occasionally I’m engulfed in water once again, but I know I can get out again even if it takes a long time, as I have a ladder or a rope which pulls me back up from the water. I never sink as low as I once did. I do sink down low but it is nowhere near as far.

I am forever grateful I didn’t sink as far as I nearly did. I’m mostly happy now. Sitting on the ice, my feet in the water, with a hand grasped in my friend’s, and the sun and a smile on my face.

Café-Sci Event with scientist Dr Howard

science article imageOn Thursday 5th October 2017, Dr David Howard delivered a motivational speech to the students and family of Northampton High School about the never-ending opportunities in Science, Medicine and Surgery for girls.

If I had to describe this talk in one word, it would be…inspiring. Howard’s modern views on the futures of women in S(science) T(technology) E(engineering) M(math) subjects have revolutionised the thinking of men across the world, and his colleagues as well I’m sure!

Dr David Howard, Professor of Head and Neck Oncology at Imperial College of London. Most commonly known for his works in countries such as Ghana; or the extensive and detailed research on top of Mount Everest with a unit of his professors, scientists and geniuses which, by the way, is truly fascinating to hear about. Not to mention, Dr Howard performed the big surgery on the Stephen Hawking! An iconic scientist and hero for people all around the world.

He opened his lecture with an anecdote about his wife, an incredibly successful and well-respected female figure in the science world, Dr Rosemary Baker- naming her his “greatest influence” along with Dr Rosemary Franklin who unfortunately died in 1968. In my opinion, this shows Howard’s respect, not only towards women and their significance in our present world but to his wife. He praises the magnificent works of Dr Baker; also about a few of her exceptional achievements such as teaching a theatre full of 60 men about the wonders and realizations in science, also the head of the Physiology Dep. at Kings College London She certainly deserves a title as one of our female idols.

Howard then moved on to listing only a handful of life stories of friends or fellow colleagues. Starting with Professor Ambrose, who travelled to Germany to learn about the techniques and difficulties involved in surgery from Dr Alec Fowler, closely following with the story of his PA, who possesses multiple impressive skills and is “just amazing” according to Dr Howard. He mentions the infamous quote…”Never judge a book by its cover.”, referring to his assistant and how she was enormously qualified than he was at things like computers and paperwork, even though she was his secretary.

Overall, for most, I think it was a genuinely remarkable experience that I will remember through my life and no doubt I would recommend it to future students to participate in. Dr Howard is truly an honourable and inspirational male figure and very wise did I mention, these are some of the clever quotes he stated: “Medicine is not a job, it’s a vocation”; “Do whatever you want…just do it well!” Both of which we should take with us on our journeys throughout life, no matter which path you take.

By Eeman.Y

 

Silently Crumbling | Ishma Z

They were only two mute birds sitting on a wall
They were only two worlds of Heaven and Hell
They were only two trees planted for one another
Dreading the breeze

The clouds that gazed from above
Watched as they stood like revealing lonely mountains
Their love is as grey as the weather
Dreading the breeze

The exhilarating feeling of repossessiveness
Frees him every night
He can only dream that there is a light
That warms them again
Dreading the breeze

Secret tears
When struggles appear
The ends fraying
As they’re slowly decaying

Jealousness radiating off him
While she is silently crumbling
But they are both
Dreading the breeze

We all face the struggle
The secret tears that threaten to pour out
After all
They were only two mute birds sitting on an isolated wall.

 

 

Eco Team Fundraising

Eco Team Fundraising

Over the past year, the Eco Team have completed a range of fundraising events in order to help people raise their quality of life in more disadvantaged parts of the world. Two specific charities we targeted were Adopt A Goat and Toilet Twinning; we ran a number of events, including a Onesie Day for which everybody paid £1 and also cake and bake sales; additionally the Eco Team sold frozen refreshments at Sports Day in order to raise funds.

In the Junior School, a ‘Spend a Penny’ event was organised, involving students throwing money into a toilet bowl in the Junior School foyer (a highly original form of fundraising and many thanks to Mrs Greenbank for organising this).

The outcome of these events was that we raised sufficient funds to adopt several goats (two goat couples), which went to families in Sub Saharan Africa. We also twinned toilets with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone, helping a remote rural area and a refugee camp for people displaced by conflict.

We hope to continue this success over the next academic year by beginning to fundraise for disaster relief following recent earthquakes and hurricanes.

 

The Giver (2014) Film Review – Ezri M

The Giver (2014) Film Review

By Ezri M

The Giver is yet another youthful dystopian story, joining The Hunger Games and Divergent on the ever-growing list. It serves as a metaphor for adolescence – a coming-of-age story where the protagonist learns the truths of the world that cause his innocence and naivety to fade, while adult figures of authority attempt to quash his feelings of rebellion and draw him back to conformity. And it is exactly as it sounds: an extremely similar plot template to every dystopia film ever, which everyone has seen too many times.

However, this is not the fault of the plot. The Giver is based on a novel of the same name, written by Lois Lowry in 1993, which was a trailblazer in dystopian fiction (predating Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth). Therefore, the problem with the film: it was made too late. Timing is everything – and time was not on the side of The Giver. Instead of the innovative story it was obviously meant to be, it seemed more like a replica of the others.

The film follows Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a boy living in a seemingly perfect world, who, upon graduation, is apprenticed to the Giver (Jeff Bridges). Here, Jonas will be taught how terrible the world used to be (including the ‘good’ parts, like love), before the erasure that lead to their current society. The more he learns, the more he realises how mindlessly conditioned the people around him are, and the more he wants to act, to the horror of the elders.

The theme of ‘giving’ is one that weighs heavily on the main characters. The knowledge gained by Jonas from the Giver is not one for the faint hearted – seen when the previous apprentice is unable to cope with the pressure of knowing the past. Though giving is depicted as rather negative, there are also positive connotations of giving the truth: the less time the truth is withheld, the better the reaction.

With a strong supporting cast, including Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgård, and Katie Holmes (with a cameo from Taylor Swift), the performance and production are solidly good, but the quality is no longer the point, due to the fact that the dystopia has missed its window, as the sub-genre is well along the way to having run its course. 

 

Alone in Berlin | Book Review

 

Berlin, 1940. The city is paralysed by fear. But one man refuses to be scared.

Otto Quangel, an ordinary German living in a shabby apartment block, tries to stay out of trouble under the Nazi rule. But when he discovers his only son has been killed fighting on the front he’s shocked into an extraordinary act of resistance and starts to drop anonymous postcards attacking Hitler across the city. If caught, he will be executed.

The story tells of Otto and Elise’s care and calculation as the cards are methodically dropped throughout Berlin. It also reminds you of the anguish they feel for their son and the fear of being discovered by the Gestapo. The people around them that are also affected, tell their parts of the story and their own deprivation in Hitler’s Berlin.

Soon this silent campaign comes to the attention of ambitious Gestapo (the Nazi police force) Inspector Escherich and a murderous game of cat-and-mouse ensues. Whoever loses, pays with their life.

Alone In Berlin is a Modern Penguin Classic. The story itself is based on the true story of Otto and his wife, Elise Hampel who left postcards around Berlin that condemned Hitler.

It is an unrivalled and vivid portrait of life in wartime Berlin. Told through a multiple narrative it shows the hardship the Nazi rule brought to Berlin and how the common people counteracted the gloom. The book is said by many, and I agree, to be one of the most extraordinary and compelling novels written about World War II.

Hans Fallada, whose real name is Rudolf Wilhelm Friedrich Ditzen, was a German writer in the first half of the 20th Century. He is known for novels such as Little Man, What Now? and Every Man Dies Alone.

I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 14. It is a book that is driven by suspense and will grip you until the very end. Happy Reading!

“What do you think will happen to our cards?” asks Anna.

“People will feel alarmed when they see them lying there and only read the first few words. Everyone’s frightened nowadays.”

“That’s true,” she says, “Everybody is…”

By Florence G

A Monster Calls – Film & Book Review

12:07. There’s a monster at Conor’s window, it’s not the one from his nightmare but it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

A Monster Calls follows the life of Conor O’Malley; a boy torn between home life, school life and his horrific grandmother. His mother’s diagnosis with cancer has left him with an internal battle that he doesn’t EVER want to confront. But as his mother’s health declines, Conor finds himself drifting away from everyone around him and his constant nightmares get worse.

And that is when the monster comes, in the form of a huge yew tree. The monster tells Conor three stories from the past and in return he wants Conor to tell him a fourth story. He wants Conor to tell him the truth, Conor’s truth.

A Monster Calls is a heart-wrenching story that left me and many others in tears. Although it is at times a dark, mournful book, it also has some hilarious and jaw dropping moments.

It was first published in 2011 by the author Patrick Ness (known, as well as many others, for his series ‘Chaos Walking’). The plot itself was passed on to Patrick by the renowned author Siobhan Dowd (author of books such as ‘The London Eye Mystery’) after she sadly passed away from breast cancer. Patrick Ness has taken on the story and created an outstanding novel that shines with compassion and understanding.

What links this book to ‘Giving’?

Well, the monster gives Conor everything he could wish for; hope, love, freedom and mixed in with all of that, the ability to face the truth and move on.  The monster gives Conor his freedom back.

A Monster Calls is also a film, which came out in late 2016. It features Academy Award Nominees Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones as well as Liam Neeson as the voice of the monster. Conor is played by a relative newcomer called Lewis Macdougall, who does a fabulous job. The film left me full of hope and sadness leaving with a tear stained face!

I hope that you pick up this book. It is a thoroughly thrilling and powerful read. Although it is suitable for readers in year 5, I recommend this book to anyone, of any age.

Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?” -Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls.

By Florence

The Night Circus | Book Review

The Circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it… It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Two magicians of indefinite, but certainly magically, long lifespan – one a public performer named Prospero the Enchanter, aka Hector Bowen; the other known only as ‘the man in the grey suit’ or ‘Mr. A. H—’ – are engaged in a profound rivalry, playing out over many generations by appointed pupils. In the late 19th century, Bowen elects his six-year-old daughter Celia, while his counterpart chooses a nameless nine-year-old orphan who will be called Marco Alisdair. These two are bound into a lifelong challenge, the rules and limits of which are never fully explained to them; and for years they do not know their opponents.

There is one thing the opponents do know, they must choose a venue for their part of the game to take place. And that is The Night Circus, also known as ‘Le Cirque des Reves’ the Night Circus is a place of magic and imagination. All the tents are black and white, all the performers wear black and white; yet nothing is the same. Each tent transports you to somewhere else and each is more confounding than the last. It is as magical as its characters and will bind you to it’s world forever; all its performers have something to hide.

The Night Circus is a dazzling and enchanting novel that you will not easily forget and nor should because it is truly amazing.

The book was first published in 2011 by Erin Morgenstern; it was Erin Morgenstern’s first big hit as a writer and she herself describes her writing as ‘a fairy-tale in one way or another’.

The only response that really sums up the novel is ‘wow’. It is so rich in description and intrigue, making you hunger for every word and where the book will take you next. It is a breathtaking feat of imagination that creates a strikingly beautiful world, in spite of its occasional darkness.

I recommend this book for anyone over the age of 12, it is a book for everyone and anyone; it will leave you spellbound!

“But I’m not special”, Bailey says, “not the way they are. I’m not anyone important.” “I know”, Celia said, “you are not destined or chosen. I wish I could tell you that you were if that would make it easier, but it is not true. You are in the right place, at the right time, and you care enough to do what needs to be done. Sometimes that is enough.” -Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus.

By Florence

Gifts | by Kate J (6.1)

When she was born she was given the softest of teddy bears (a present from an aunt), which she clutched in little fists and wouldn’t let go of no matter how hard people tried. The name her parents had given it was the first word she ever spoke in her squeaking voice and when she was scared it was that item she’d find, the item she’d hold as if she were again a baby.

Four years old, she got her school uniform from her grandparents, a little red pinafore which she wore around the house for the whole summer before she actually got to join the reception class at the other end of the village. It didn’t totally fit, and the plaid pattern clashed with the turtles on her socks, but she wore it anyway, beaming when she finally went to school with her hair tied up smartly in little pigtails.

At age seven she received a book which became like an extension of her hand. It was a compilation of her favourite fairy tales, golden lettering decorating the outside with beautiful illustrations, which she lugged with her everywhere. On long car journeys, all the way to school and back and even next to her chair at dinner, just in case she needed to check which princess had done what. (She never did have to check. She knew it off by heart.)

Ten brought a notebook into which she spilled her soul, every emotion she ever felt, the contents of which were read out loud by her older brother whilst she tried desperately to grab it back. Pages and pages that she then ripped out and stored at the bottom of a trunk, hoping that they’d never see the light of day again.

When she was twelve, she gave her mother a heartfelt poem written in shaky handwriting which then sat in pride of place for the rest of her life framed in the kitchen, so that it could be shown to every friend that came round. She blushed every time, told her mother she was embarrassing her, but she secretly loved it. She was especially proud of the small drawing in the corner.

Aged fourteen, for Christmas, a collection of DVDs that she spent the whole holiday watching, tucked up with her brother on the sofa. He perfected his signature hot chocolate which she used to beg him to make for her, she learned exactly when to pass him tissues when watching his favourite films.

The year of her sixteenth, she got a beautiful silver locket and gave her brother a hand-knitted jumper to take with him to university. In the locket she put a picture of her best friends, wore it around her neck always, and smiled when she got a photograph from her brother of him shivering in his dorm room, the jumper pulled up to his nose. When the chain snapped, caught on a zip as she pulled off a shirt at the end of a long day, she cried and kept the locket safely in her bedside cabinet until her father went with her to buy a new one.

The car that she and her parents bought together when she was eighteen was her pride and joy, bright yellow and tiny, a means of freedom that she’d never felt before. It moved with her to university some months later, changing from trips to the cinema to trips home, filled haphazardly with cushions and books. She’d never forget the jolting sensation the first time she crashed it, bumping over a pothole and into a hedge by the side of a winding country road. (Her brother never let her forget it either; He never crashed his car.)

At twenty she cried her heart out to a friend, bemoaning both her stupidness and her boyfriend’s, as she sipped from a chipped mug given to her for Christmas by her best friend some years before. The mug had been damaged when the boyfriend had done the breaking up, dropped on the counter in shock, but was still perfectly functional for holding the best cup of tea ever.

The keys she was given to her first flat at twenty-two fit perfectly in her hands, and never left her pocket, the comforting click of the lock making her feel safe in the space that was filled with her, her books and her films and her photos. Filled with notebooks bursting with stories and drawers stuffed with pens.

When she was twenty-four she gave her newborn niece the softest of teddy bears.