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Year 7s take on the Spaghetti Tower challenge in National Science Week

To celebrate National Science Week, our Head of Science, Mr Taylor, set our Year 7 Science classes the task of building the tallest possible spaghetti tower.

The rules only allowed 20 sticks of spaghetti, along with 7 marshmallows to use as glue. One of these marshmallows must remain 'whole' and end up at the top of the tower, the other 6 could be pulled apart in order to stick the spaghetti together.

Students were asked to design their towers on paper before making them and had to think about how best to make the most of the limited materials. The aim of this challenge was to explore structures and investigate what methods of building can make the tallest and strongest structure. It gave our students a valuable insight into the real-life processes of testing, redevelopment and prototyping that engineers and scientists use.

The prize to the winners...a bag of marshmallows!

Students take part in the Croydon Young Mayor election

Tuesday, 13th March will be remembered as the day when the very first Croydon Young Mayor elections were held across the borough. With a choice of 28 candidates to choose from, St Mary’s students entered into the spirit of the occasion by casting their votes following the same procedure used in national and local elections, even down to using the same voting booths and ballot boxes.

For several weeks the 28 candidates have been presenting their manifestos at events right across the borough, including the active use of social media and modern technology. The campaign has been taken very seriously, and we congratulate these fine young people for their commitment to making Croydon a better place for young people.

At St Mary’s, all students were prepared for the election throughout the previous week during form periods, and on the day of the election special assemblies were held, outlining the process of casting votes. We are delighted that the overwhelming majority of our students took the opportunity to use their democratic right to vote for their chosen candidate, and in most year groups there was 100% turnout. Students were asked to vote for their first and second choice from the long list of candidates.

While there were no St Mary’s candidates standing for election we do hope that in the years to come one of our students will become a future Croydon Young Mayor.

The election results will be declared on Thursday, 15th March. CLICK HERE to visit the Croydon Young Mayor website for more information.

Year 7’s Tudor Day at Hampton Court Palace

On Monday, 12th March, despite the seasonal drizzle, all Year 7 students, along with some Year 8s, enjoyed a Tudor-style day at Hampton Court Palace, in preparation for their new history curriculum topic. Built for Cardinal Wolsey on the banks of the River Thames, the palace was an ideal location for our students to learn more about the lifestyles of the Tudors – from the high and mighty to the lowly kitchen servants. They even had a chance to meet up with King Henry VIII for a question and answer session in one of the royal apartments.

Year 7 students, Simon and Rexsiya described their experience at the palace as being: “Fantastic!” “We both learnt lots of new information about the Tudors and were amazed at how different their lives were to ours.” The students were given a tour of Hampton Court’s kitchens and saw how much more labour intensive they were as well as what types of food were popular at the time of Henry VIII. Rexsiya was particular interested in how expensive sugar was, but how they were very skilful in making decorations with it. Simon was surprised that grilling food on a rotary spit over an open fire was common practice back then, as he imagined that that technique was more modern.

HamptonCourtPic2qqqSpecial thanks to Hampton Court Palace Education Department for hosting our visit and for providing such expert guides who made our students and staff so welcome. As well as guided tours, Year 7s also had the opportunity to find out about the constant upkeep of this important site and learn so much about the life of the Tudors, especially how the wealthy entertained themselves, and how the poor were worked so hard to keep the palace running.

Thank you to Mr Harvey for organising the visit, and to all the members of staff who accompanied the students on the day. 

World Book Day 2018 at St Mary's is a hit with Year 7

Despite the snow and freezing winds, St Mary’s Year 7 students marked World Book Day with workshops on the theme of Shakespeare’s Macbeth - with their teachers, Miss Rekhi and Mr Hardman, in costume as the central characters in this tragic play.

Year 7 students also wrote reviews of their favourite books, and needless to say J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series featured highly amongst the most popular. To add to the excitement of the day, Miss Delaney, Miss Clancy and Mr Harvey managed to bring a touch of Hogwarts to our corner of wintery Croydon.

WBD010318 Pic1All students across the school were issued with their special World Book Day book tokens by our librarian, Mrs Peart. Thanks to National Book Tokens and lots of publishers and booksellers, World Book Day, in partnership with schools all over the country, will be distributing more than 15 million £1 World Book Day book tokens to children and young people - that’s almost one for every child/young person under 18 in the UK and Ireland.

Well done to Mr Panaitescu who volunteered in Rwanda over half-term

Well done to Mr Panaitescu, our Head of IT, who over the half-term break worked as a volunteer for ADRA-UK in Rwanda, delivering gift-aid boxes containing toys, school equipment, basic toiletries and books.

Travelling in UNHCR lorries, around 2000 boxes were distributed to children in the Kiziba refugee camp, located on the hillsides of a remote region of the Western Provence of Rwanda. The camp, home to over 17,000 people, was established in 1996 when a Kinyarwanda speaking ethnic group was forced from their homes in the Congo because of violence. The conflict has still not been resolved and the people have now been living in the camp for over 20 years. Most of the children in the camp were born there and know of nothing else except life in the camp.

CP Rwanda Pic11XIn addition to delivering boxes to the refugee camp, the volunteers also delivered hundreds of boxes to children in four schools in the region, including: GS Kibuye Catholic School; Ecole Adventiste de Kibuye; EP Gatwaro Pentecostal School; and GS Bisessero Catholic School.

The work of charities, including ADRA-UK and CAFOD, is providing much needed support to our poorest brothers and sisters across the world who are in desparate need of help. Mr Panaitescu and the other volunteers are a shining example of what we should all aspire to do, especially during this season of Lent.

 

To see a gallery of images of Mr Panaitescu’s time in Rwanda click on the image below.

 

St Mary's students experience the Brit School drama 'You Choose'.

St Mary’s was delighted to welcome drama students from the Brit School, Croydon who performed their hard-hitting drama ‘You Choose’ to an audience of our Year 9 pupils on Thursday 22nd February.

The drama, written by Brit School students, was commissioned by the Metropolitan Police with the support of Croydon Council’s ‘Choose Your Future’ campaign.

The drama explores issues surrounding knife crime, child sexual exploitation, drug dealing, violence and bullying. It contains extracts of real stories, from people whose lives have been affected by these issues. The drama, which premiered at The Brit School earlier this month, will be performed to other schools across the borough in the coming months.

SMHSBritDrama Pic3aIn one particularly powerful scene, a girl lures a boy to his death, similar to the real-life case of a schoolboy, who was murdered in Thornton Heath. It is followed by two mothers meeting – one who had lost her son to knife crime and the other whose son committed the attack.

Following the performance, The Croydon Advertiser interviewed students from both schools on the impact of the drama. The special report can be found here: Croydon Advertiser

GCSE Art Students visit the Tate Modern

On Monday, 26th February our Year 11 art students visited the world-famous Tate Modern in order to prepare for their forthcoming GCSE examination. The aim was to provide the students with ideas and inspiration from the exciting world of modern art.

 

 

Mrs Goodwin (Head of Art) reports:

“The GCSE Year 11 Art trip had been arranged in order for pupils to experience a gallery setting and to collect supporting studies for their externally set examination.  The day was a huge success and both students and staff enjoyed all the experiences, though at the beginning of the day, with the falling snow, I was worried we would not be able make it.

The group travelled by train to the Southbank and walked to the gallery; the size and overpowering structure of the building was a shock for a number of the students.  They had never been in a gallery like the Tate Modern and even though the rooms were packed with other visitors the space was very peaceful and quiet.  This enabled our students to make drawings of their chosen artworks and take some lovely photos.

Tate Modern spreads across many floors, with several free displays of modern and contemporary art.  Students explored all the rooms and even took part in the interactive art installation in the main entrance - huge, three-seated swings.  The experience of such an informative and creative environment will be one our students will remember – they all had a great time.”

What the students said:

SMHSTate Pic4a“We went to the gallery to find artworks that relate to our subject for our final exam. We took pictures of the artworks - as an example I have chosen ‘Light & dark’, so I took pictures and made drawings related to my theme. Going to the Tate Modern was a very good experience, I found the gallery very large and very quiet. Also, I thought the actual building was very creative.”    Brian U.

“During the trip to the gallery I looked for work about human figures, since this is my chosen theme. The gallery was full of artworks; we were able to find out about the artists and research themes.  The trip gave me experience of being in a gallery, the fact that it was very big and there was loads of students I still felt comfortable and enjoyed it.” Prince A.

“We travelled by train to Tate Modern to find artworks related to our themes, i.e. Human figure, Dark & light, personal histories.  We did this in order to prepare for our exam and work in our sketchbooks.” Nicol & Cameron

“During our time at Tate Modern, admiring and observing the vast variety of inspiring art pieces, we acquired the time to assess, reflect and interact with the art.  The trip inspired and gave us ideas of what we are capable of creating for our chosen theme.”  Angelo A.

Year 10 Science Students at St Mary's University

Fifteen Year 10 students were invited to attend a science practical skills day at St Mary's University, Twickenham on the 31st January 2018. The targeted group were higher learners who are studying three separate sciences as GCSE core and option subjects. The aim was to take students through some of the key practical activities that they have to study to complete their GCSE course.

The day was organised by the School of Education, with our pupils taught by university students studying on the science PGCE course. This gave the PGCE students a chance to engage with secondary school pupils and allowed our pupils to use the excellent laboratory facilities at the university.

Our students completed a range of experiments, including: using ticker-tape-timers and an air-track in Physics; completing a rate of reaction experiment in Chemistry; investigating osmosis in potatoes and how drugs affect heart rate (on a water-flea!) in Biology - this involved adding caffeine and then alcohol to the water surrounding the fleas and observing their heart rate change under a microscope.

SIMMS Sci8xAll students had an excellent time completing the experiments, and especially as they then had the chance to use the university cafeteria for lunch afterwards!

Thank you to St Mary’s University staff and students for their hospitality and expertise in ensuring our science students had an excellent experience.

To view a gallery of pictures from the visit, click on the image below:

 

 

St Mary's remembers victims of the Holocaust

To mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 students from St Mary’s, along with students from three other Croydon Schools, took part in Croydon Council’s commemorative service in the presence of the Mayor, council officials and special guest, Wlodka Robertson, a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto.

 

The event began with the lighting of a memorial candle at the Town Hall was followed by a special service in the Council Chamber where students from the four schools gave presentations on various aspects of the Holocaust. St Mary’s students presented their work on a special ‘Postcard Project' where they read out messages to victims of the Holocaust using information from this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day Trust theme of The Power of Words.

HMDPic3bHolocaust survivor, Wlodka Robertson, spoke movingly of her memories of life in the Warsaw Ghetto, recalling her experience of the Holocaust and how we must help combat hate in the modern world.

During the week leading up to Holocaust Memorial Day special assemblies were held for each year group at our school using resources from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. Not only were victims of the Nazi Holocaust remembered, but also those who suffered in more recent genocides.

Year 8 explore the enchanting 'Harry Potter - A History of Magic' Exhibition

All Year 8 students explored the world of spells, potions, mythical creatures and divination at the popular ‘Harry Potter – A History of Magic’ Exhibition at the British Library on Wednesday, 24th January.

In a combined History and English department trip students were able to see rarely seen treasures of the world famous British Library as well as artefacts relating to the creation of the Harry Potter series of books. The exhibition commemorates the 20th Anniversary of the publication of the very first J K Rowling book - ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone’.

SMHS HP Pic5zThe year group, split into small groups, were expertly lead by British Library staff through some of the sections of the already sold out exhibition. With most of the of the students having read at least one of her books, it was invaluable that they were able to see a number of J K Rowling’s original notebooks in which she hand-wrote her stories, along with her numerous edits, corrections and redrafts. Many of the British Library’s treasures were on display alongside the Harry Potter artefacts showing that the roots of most modern stories of myths and imagination go back many centuries.

Over the next weeks students will be using their visit to the exhibition as inspiration for work in school, especially creative writing. Particular thanks must go to Mr Harvey, along with his colleagues, for organising this valuable curriculum experience for the students in Year 8.

Bishop Paul blesses the altar in our new School Chapel

Bishop Paul Hendricks blessed the altar in our new oratory-style school chapel at a special Mass on Tuesday, 16th January. The chapel. which has been re-established after several years absence, is situated at the heart of the school and will allow the sacrament of Mass to be held for tutor groups and RE classes on a regular basis. It will also be a focal point for liturgies and quiet reflection in our busy school environment.

The simple oratory-style chapel has been enhanced by the addition of the new altar, along with an icon of The Immaculate Heart of Mary, as a gift from Fr. Michael Scanlon, on behalf of our local parish church; and a special ‘Mercy Cross’ - a gift from Sr. Patricia Bell in commemoration of the long standing relationship our school has with the Sisters of Mercy. In addition, a ‘Lampedusa Cross’ has been placed in the chapel, from CAFOD, as a reminder of the significant role the school has played in supporting refugees in recent years.

SMHS Chapel Pic8bFollowing the Mass Bishop Paul and the invited guests met, for over an hour, with students and staff. The guests included: Prof. Francis Campbell, Vice-Chancellor at St Mary’s University and former British Ambassador to the Holy See; Cllr. Toni Letts OBE, Mayor of Croydon; Rt. Hon. Sarah Jones, MP Croydon Central; Msgr. Hugh Connolly, Irish College Paris; Sr. Patricia Bell, Sisters of Mercy; Sr. Patricia Devine, Salesian Sisters; Dr. Maureen Glackin, Head of School of Education, St Mary’s University; Mr. David Butler, Director of Education and Youth Engagement, Croydon Council; Kate Ambrosi, Head of Economic Engagement, Croydon Council: Mr. Pat Winston, Principal of St Paul’s Academy; and Barbara Ring, Chaplaincy Advisor at the Education Commission.

To view a gallery of photographs from the event click on the image below:

Increased demand for places adds two new tutor groups to Years 8 & 9

Due to the increased demand for places at our school, two new tutor groups have been added in Years 8 and 9. The new tutor groups, called 8J and 9J, are named in honour of St Joseph, the patron saint of workers. The growing popularity of our school is due, in no small part, to parents' recognition of the wonderful progress our school is making, including recent local and national school awards and the latest Ofsted inspection, which rated St Mary's as good in all categories.

 

December - 'Star Students'

'Star Student' awards are celebrated in recognition of those pupils who go above and beyond the normal call of duty. At St Mary’s we are rightly proud of the achievements and efforts of our students and want to encourage all our pupils to aspire to be 'Star Students'.

 

 

The awards for November - December

Year 7 - Bartosz Skorek

For always working hard in lessons and being extremely helpful to staff throughout the term.

Year 8—Neekaiya Mark

For having a positive attitude towards learning and a high level of progress in lessons.

Year 9 - Jose Artur Domingos

For personal conduct and being receiving a significant number of achievement points.

Year 10 - Christyana Goncalves

For gaining more than 100 achievement points and no behaviour points this term.

Year 11 - Breanna Mukherjee

For being the highest academic achiever in the year group and for consistent effort in all pieces of work.

Advent - Students raise £1025 and donate over 200 tins of food

Our charity focus for this Advent has been to support Croydon Commitment with their hamper appeal for the Croydon Neighbourhood Care Association; the aim of which is to supply 500 Christmas hampers for local senior citizens.

We started our campaign with an own-clothes day, which raised an amazing £1025.00.  The following week, students were asked to donate a tin of food for the campaign - 204 tins of food were donated.

Special mention must go to 10P Form Group who donated a total of 82 tins, half of which were due to Mr Bonto, their Form Teacher, asking for help from our local Tesco Express on Wellesley Road. 

We would also like to thank ASDA for their support of the Croydon Commitment hamper appeal.

St Mary’s Sports Leaders - making a difference!

On Thursday, 30th November St Mary’s hosted the local heat of the London Youth Games Sportshall Athletics competition. Coordinated by the Croydon School Sports Partnership, teams from six local primary schools took part in the closely contested competition. Well done to our Year 10 Sports Leaders who officiated throughout the event, ensuring that it ran smoothly and our visitors had a great time. 

The London Youth Games encourages students to take part in the sports both as competitors and Sports Leaders. Our Year 10 students will continue their training towards further participation in various events later in the academic year.

We were delighted that local schools were able to make full use of our Sports Hall facilities for the Sportshall Athletics competition with pupils taking part in various skills events as well as relay obstacle races. Congratulations to the pupils and staff from Heavers Farm Primary School and Selsdon Primary School who go through to Borough finals; and well done to the Fairchildes Primary Academy, Christchurch CofE Primary School, Robert Fitzroy Primary Academy and The Crescent Primary School for taking part in the event.

Starting in 1977, the London Youth Games is the largest youth sports event in Europe, with over 125,000 students participating throughout the year in 30 different sports and games - culminating each summer in the finals at Crystal Palace. With over 2000 volunteers supporting the various events, it is a fantastic opportunity for students, in their role as Sports Leaders, to help organise and officiate at the various heats throughout the year, providing them with invaluable life-skills for the future.

Olympic 400m Athlete and former St Mary’s student, Donna Fraser, also took part in the London Youth Games representing Croydon in the finals at Crystal Palace.

To view a gallery of images from the Sportshall Athletics event, click on the image below:

 

Year 11 student Alexandra Grant - ‘Celebrating Young People Awards’ Nominee

We are proud to announce that Year 11 student Alexandra Grant was shortlisted for The Joseph Cardijn Award at the ‘Celebrating Young People Awards’ at a special ceremony in Leicester Square on Thursday, 23rd November. The Award is in recognition of young people who uphold the dignity of workers, helped people into work, or shown example to their colleagues.

Alexandra has been volunteering with St John Ambulance since she was nine years old. Starting off as a badger, she has now moved on to being a cadet. Alexandra is very committed to St John Ambulance and displays their ethos in every aspect of her life.

Alexandra sees assisting an individual in a crisis, however small, is a crucial element in upholding the dignity of those in need. She also shares her skills with others in order to build the confidence of other volunteers.

Over 1,000 individuals and groups were nominated for one of the six Celebrating Young People Awards. There was a shortlist of six nominees in each category. For Alexandra to be one of the final six in a category is a huge achievement in itself, she can be very proud of this alone, and we at St Mary’s can be rightly proud to have her among us.

'The Awards are an opportunity for the Catholic community to celebrate the enthusiasm, commitment and incredible difference young people make to the lives of countless people, inspired by Catholic Social teaching.' - Bishop Malcolm McMahon OP Archbishop of Liverpool

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