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NHEHS at the GDST Day of Dance

By Sofia Stidham, Year 10

On Monday 10th December, some NHEHS girls who are part of the dance club at school went to the Pineapple Dance Studios to take part in the GDST Day of Dance. I asked one of the Year 10 girls, Alejandra, who attended the Day of Dance what she thought of it and what she did during the day.

 

What did you do?

 Alejandra: We went to the Pineapple Dance Studios, where each person did two workshops. I did Musical Theatre and Street dance workshops. Then we had to perform the routine that we practised during the workshops at the end.

 

What did you get out of the day?

 Alejandra: We got to try different styles of dance. One of the dances we got taught was to the opening number of Aladdin. We were taught the routine by a lady who performs in Aladdin the musical as one of the dancers.

 

Was there anything you learned that you can take forward and do regularly?

Alejandra: I learnt a new dance style, and I want to go back to the Pineapple Dance studios again and learn some more dance routines.

 

What was the biggest challenge?

Alejandra: Keeping up with the routine, normally it would take a whole day to learn it.

 

Any funny moments?

Alejandra: The lady who ran our second workshop had a cold, so she was not able to hear as well. She put on the music extremely loudly and didn’t even notice. She was very nice though.

 

What impressed you the most?

Alejandra: I was impressed by the fact that so many dance classes were running at the same time.

 

Click here for a video of our Year 9/10 girls’ performance 

 

NHEHS Junior School Carol Service

Friday afternoon saw the NHEHS KS2 Junior School Carol Service – the final of the festive trio of Junior School performances which followed the KS1 Nativity and Mince Pie Concerts last week.

The December cold which faced the parents as they queued the length of St. Barnabas Church was soon banished by the warmth and enthusiasm of the girls’ singing.

Opening the performance was a charming solo from Amy from Year 6 with “Once in Royal David’s City” accompanying the Year 6 girls as they walked down the aisle carrying festive candles to the front of the church. In between the carols, the story of the Nativity was told by 15 of the Year 6 girls, with readings from the Bible, which they each delivered beautifully from the lectern to the congregation.

Musical highlights from Years 5 and 6 included a lively version of “Do you hear what I hear?” from the Junior School Singers and exquisite harmonies from the Chamber Choir in “O Holy Night,” as all those early morning practices paid off handsomely.

The girls’ linguistic abilities and memories were put to the test with French and German versions of “Silent Night,” while Year 3 and 4 continued the international theme with a Christmas duet based on traditional French carols with “Ding Dong Merrily on High/He is born.” Not to be outdone, Year 5 and 6 sang their own Christmas duet on “The First Noel” and Bach’s Minuet in G in a fantastic round.

We also took a moment to pause for reflection as Gwen from Year 6 read “In Flanders Field” by John McCrae, which told of the first Christmas after the Great War. A quartet of cellists accompanied the final carol “O Come All Ye Faithful” as the congregation joined in in hearty voice, before Ms Silva wished everyone a restful and peaceful Christmas.

The proceeds of the retiring collection will be given to the Ealing Soup Kitchen and The Upper Room.

 

Junior School Mince Pie Concert

The Junior School parents were treated to a wonderful evening of mince pies and festive music at NHEHS’ Mince Pie Concert this week.

Opening the concert, the Junior School Orchestra performed the Pachelbel Canon, followed by our “Celli Beans” trio of cellists, whose beautiful renditions of “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Silent Night” were accompanied by the harp.

The Year 6 Strings group comprising violins, violas, cellos, guitars and harps played a lovely variety of pieces, starting with Boots of Shining Leather, through Cossacks to the one of the girls’ favourites, The Sussex Carol. 

With some of the Year 3 girls performing for the first time, the Year 3/4/5 Strings group brought us up to date with a fun Open String Samba, followed by “Jingle Bells,” for which Mr McLaughlin enthusiastically drummed up fantastic audience participation!

A charming  performance from the Flute Group took us from “Walking In The Air” to a rousing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” via “The Holly & The Ivy.”

The evening then finished on a high with Handel’s Hallelujah played by the Junior School Orchestra, which certainly put all our parents in the festive spirit! 

 

Doing Da Vinci at NHEHS

The Da Vinci Programme at NHEHS encourages girls to take a cross-curricular approach to learning. Focusing on current events and learning new skills through debate and collaboration, the sessions require no prior knowledge of a particular subject, but an open and inquiring mind is a must-have!  Girls from Year 10 are given a choice of two topics to participate in, ranging from “Brexit: Deal or No Deal” to “Mean Girls in Classical and Ancient History.”

With the recent 2018-19 launch of our Year 10 Da Vinci Programme, we thought we would ask one of last year’s students how she benefited from the polymath approach to learning.

Hannah Schroeder, Year 11

What did you enjoy about the programme overall?

Hannah: Firstly, you could choose which one of the two topics appealed to you most, but all of them went beyond what you would usually cover for school work or the curriculum. Often, the teachers’ enthusiasm and the debates around the subject would lead us into totally new, but linked areas of fluid discussion as we followed the flow of debate and opinion. I really enjoyed the variety of sessions – some encouraged discussions in small sub-groups or as a large group as a whole.  The programme was more relaxed than I had anticipated as I had expected more of a “lecture” format, but as a result it was much more interactive and fun.

What new skills have you learned?

Hannah: The programme has helped my general knowledge hugely and was great for building on what we have learned as part of the curriculum. Also, my debating skills beyond the classroom and ability to think outside the box have improved too. We were encouraged to question things and not always simply go along with what the majority think. I would come out of the sessions with my head buzzing with new ideas and facts – then when I arrived home I would amaze my parents and family with this new knowledge and then start up a new debate with them!

Have you been able to use any of these new skills or knowledge in your GCSE work?

Hannah: Miss Croft ran a fantastic maths-based session on card tricks involving probability where you can predict how a trick will turn out. This tied in neatly with a GCSE maths section on permutations and combinations. The session on The Chemical Origin of Life really helped my overall understanding of the subject.

Which was the most fun topic?

Hannah: We loved the Mathematics of Card Tricks! We also really enjoyed the Swinging 1660s session where the science and history departments collaborated to show how interlinked historical context and the scientific innovations of the day are.

The most surprising topic was Miss Prendergast’s one on “Detecting deception – An art or science?” showed how people lie and how to detect that – through micro expressions, truth serums and lie detectors! It also gave us the chance to learn about Psychology – a subject that we could take for A Level, but we do not study at GCSE.

Would you recommend the Da Vinci Programme to the current Year 10s?

Hannah: Definitely!

Ealing Borough Junior Schools Cross Country Champions!

On 4th October, a large group of Year 5 and 6 girls represented NHEHS in the Ealing Borough Junior Schools Cross Country Championships.

Our eager runners had to run a 1500m cross country course at Berkeley Playing Fields in Greenford.

There were about 150 runners in each Year 5 and 6 event so the start was a bit chaotic with girls vying for the best starting positon. Running conditions couldn’t have been better. All our girls ran an excellent race and more importantly completed the course.

 

A special mention goes to Minna who finished 2nd in the Year 5 race in a time of 6:01:24 and Natasha who won the Year 6 race with a fantastic time of 5:34:85. Morven also finished a credible 7th. Both Natasha and Morven have been invited to represent Ealing in this year’s London Youth Games Cross Country in November. Congratulations to both girls.

We were delighted to get the news just before half term, that our NHEHS team once again achieved 1st place in the primary girls team event (judged on the fastest six girls) and retained the shield for the second year running.

This is a tremendous result and congratulations to all runners that took part.

 

 

 

 

Watch out Mary Berry!

The NHEHS bakers were busy last week putting their creative and culinary skills to the test in our heat of the GDST bake off.

Divided into two age groups (Years 7-9 and 10-11), our bakers brought new levels of originality and creativity to the table for this year’s competition. The event kicked off with the class heats judged by the form tutors and co-tutors. From these heats, 11 girls’ creations made it through to the NHEHS Bake Off final at morning break.

Armed with pen and paper, our judging team of Mr Shoults, Mrs Irwin, Ms Bushell, Miss Silvester and Mrs Esler lined up in the dining room ready to award marks for presentation, technique and taste.

Our finalists for Years 7-9  showcased the world in their cakes including the seasons of the year, flowers, through to Japanese sushi and a relaxed beach scene. The Years 10-11 bakers took themes as diverse as their favourite things at school, sport, winter and baking.

Choosing the winners was difficult, but judges declared there were no “soggy bottoms” although plenty of “great texture” and “depth of flavour!”

In the end, Heather McManus was declared the winner for Years 7-9 for her excellent carrot cakes with commendations to Agnes Hall and Matilda Jones. Lian Tan from Year 10 was the winner in the older category for her cakes depicting her favourite things about life at NHEHS (classics, cricket and water polo), with ‘special mentions’ going to Imogen Laurence and Georgia Wells.

Good luck to Heather and Lian who will go on to represent NHEHS in the semi-finals next week. The final will be held at Sydenham High School in December where girls from all over the GDST will baking cakes under bake-off conditions!

 

 

Trip to Parliament

By Natasha Bennett, 6S

On 14th November 2018, the Year 6 Team Captains, Vice Captains & two members of School Council travelled to Parliament to learn what it was like to be a Member of Parliament and the rules and regulations they need to abide by. We were all eager to arrive and extra ecstatic to discover that the last time the Captains and Councillors went on a special trip together was over 7 years ago!

We travelled to Parliament on the tube and some of us enjoyed the challenge of the Metro crossword which we solved with the help of some commuters! We arrived, then after going through a brief security check, we marched up to the Jubilee Room to listen to a lecture on ‘The Practice of Parliamentary Procedure in the House of Commons.’ The Jubilee Room itself was a true sensation. As our guide articulated her speech, we all gazed in awe at the intricate designs the room had to offer. It was such an honour to be there.

During the lecture we learned about the parliamentary ‘bible’ called the Erskine May which stated all the rules and regulations. If you were a clerk making a point in the House of Commons you would have to specifically link your comments back to this book. We were allowed to see and hold a copy of it afterwards. Finally, we learned about the Table and Journal Offices which write the legal documents, noting down what they think will happen in Parliament and what has happened already.

Following the lecture, we were lucky enough to pick up some free Parliament souvenirs (thank you, Mrs Ferguson) and walked downstairs. As we were running early, we asked Security if we could go further into Parliament. Luckily, we could, so we wandered towards the House of Commons. Crowds were beginning to pour into the hall, as today was no ordinary day for Parliament as it was the day Theresa May was trying to get her Cabinet ministers to support her Brexit plan.

We entered a hall with distinctive paintings and jaw-droppingly beautiful marble architecture. All of a sudden, police officers entered the room followed by the Speaker of the House of Commons for the ceremonial opening of Prime Minister’s Question Time! The crowds streamed after them but we were not able to follow them. However, we noticed that the BBC were filming ‘Parliament Live.’ Acting in an orderly fashion as we took in the atmosphere and looked at the walls and ceilings, we wandered into the back of the shot praying we would be on live television! Unfortunately, we had to leave a few minutes later, not that we wanted to, of course!

Overall, I found this whole experience so memorable and sensational. I was particularly pleased to see some of us in the background on the BBC Politics Live show on the BBC I Player later that evening! We owe a HUGE THANK YOU to Mrs Ferguson who is a legend for organising this whole amazing trip for us.

 

Going for Gold!

Congratulations to Imogen from Year 13 – the first NHEHS girl to achieve her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award this academic year!

Imogen started the challenge in September 2017, having already completed Silver & Bronze alongside girls from NHEHS. This time, however, she was doing her DofE outside of school with a group of people she had never met before.

There are 5 parts to the Gold DofE award; the Expedition (including a practice and a real one of 3 nights and 4 days of walking), the Residential (a 5 day and 4night experience), the Physical, the Skills and the Volunteering.

To complete the Physical and Skills part of the Award, Imogen practised hard on her tennis and flute over the 12-month period. Some of the NHEHS girls may recognise her as a familiar face from Imogen’s year spent volunteering at the school’s swimming pool alongside Mr Bent to meet the Gold Award Voluntary requirement. This followed Imogen’s year as a volunteer for Oxfam for her Silver Award. For the Residential part of the Gold Award, Imogen took part in a 5-day conservation and outdoor activity residential at Sayers Croft in Surrey.

The most challenging part of the Award by far was the expedition where participants had to walk as a group for 18 km per day for 4 days, then camp for 3 nights.

Imogen took part in a practice expedition in May as part of a group of 17, where they camped for 3 nights and 3 days on Dartmoor. Despite good weather, the route was tough and the expedition physically demanding, as the group had to rely on their own map reading and carry all their equipment with them, including tents, clothes, food & cooking equipment.

Returning to Dartmoor for the real expedition itself in the summer, however, circumstances were quite different. Alongside the expedition, Imogen had to work with a group of people she had never met before, putting together a project on exploring the myths and history of Dartmoor. This in itself caused its own challenges with a lack of phone connectivity/3G or Wifi with the group having to rely on old fashioned methods of research (aka calling their parents) to complete the project!

This time, the challenge of the expedition itself was far more of a mental one, with Imogen just one of a group of four taking part in the challenge and faced with atrocious weather.

With fewer people and constant rain, there was a totally different dynamic as the group had to pull together as a team to keep each other motivated to the end. One of the lowest points was when Imogen fell into a river midway through the day but had to continue to their destination to keep on track. Despite being drenched, the team then had to pitch their tent on rain-sodden ground and got even wetter as the water flooded the tent at night. Team spirit and hot food got them through it however and they completed their challenge.

 

What did Imogen learn about herself over the year?

“I can get myself motivated. I’ve learned that a lot of how you deal with a challenge is mentality. Motivation, helping others and teamwork were so important to finishing all the challenges.”

Would she do it again?

“Yes! If there were a Platinum Challenge, I’d be up for that!”

World Challenge

World Challenge Team 1 – By Tara Bains, Amy Turner & Lucy Whittock

A “leech camp,” wading through waist deep water, ant bites and negotiating treacherous muddy slopes as the rain lashed down were just some of the unique hurdles Team 1 of the NHEHS World Challenge faced this summer.

The 17-strong team enjoyed quite a contrasting trekking experience from their Team 2 colleagues and from what they had expected themselves. After a few days in Phnom Penh, they swapped hostel rooms for hammocks in the jungle as they set off on a five-day jungle trek.

Excitement and anticipation ahead of the physical challenge however soon turned into a mental test. The team struggled to keep their feet (and backpacks) on the 4-hour daily trek amidst the mud and the most rain that Cambodia’s Ratanakiri province had seen for 14 years, made worse by a dam bursting in neighbouring Vietnam. One camp contained so many leeches it became known as “leech camp!” The hammocks which they had so naively looked forward to sleeping in became drenched from the sheer deluge of water that fell from the canopy, with the structure of one even collapsing due to the weight of the water. Waking up in the morning some girls found leeches attached to their legs while everyone had to remember to check their shoes for scorpions!

Understandably, morale wavered from time to time but the girls all looked out for each other and lifted their spirits with chapters from Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and songs. But the girls agreed that the trek had brought them all closer together, particularly as the Year 12s & 13s had not known each other that well before the trip and all felt extremely proud to have completed the trek as a group in the conditions.

 

Leaving the jungle behind, the group moved on to Siem Reap (including visiting temples, street markets and watching a circus) which came as a huge contrast, making the girls appreciate even more the daily struggle of the Cambodians who lived in the jungle.

As part of their voluntary work on the trip, the team spent several days painting and renovating a school in Surin in Thailand. In the afternoons they played football and taught English through songs to local children whose English was very limited as they lived in such a remote part of the country.  As the girls were leaving, the children brought them flowers from the jungle and homemade cards as they lined the road to say goodbye.

Team 1 World Challenge Classroom

The team also visited the harrowing Genocide Museum to learn about the Khmer Rouge and the Killing Fields. There was a definite sense of outrage and guilt among the group that the atrocities were not better known throughout the western world, particularly as the sensitivities surrounding recent history were never very far away. The visit to the museum in the Khmer Rouge’s secret Security Prison 21 (S-21) put it into context – explaining why the team’s guide was only willing to discuss history and politics when in the jungle, with less chance of being overheard. 

 

Returning to London, the girls expected things to have changed hugely in the three weeks they were away and disconnected from their connected worlds, but in fact very little important had changed. Some girls even said they hadn’t missed their mobile phones but the trip made them appreciate many of the things we take for granted such as being able to turn on a drinking water tap whenever they wanted to or to choose whatever they wanted at a café.

Some of our highlights:

Scariest moment: When one the trees collapsed in the jungle onto the tarpaulin as the girls were sheltering one day from the rain.

Most disgusting moment: The smell of jackfruit (which we thought was a gas leak)!

Funniest moment: Miss Cagnino misjudging the depth of the river and falling in!

Best moment: Snorkelling at the beach.

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