Ordinary people doing Extraordinary things – The Royal National Lifeboat Institution

The Royal National lifeboat Institution saved me and my family once. We were sailing over the azure waters of the English Channel, looking at the beautiful needles, when my dads friend lost grip of the boat wheel. Suddenly we were flung into the rocks. Distressed and panicked we looked around for help, and spotted another boat about half a mile away.
Unfortunately it couldn’t come too close to us incase it too got stuck in the rocks – at this point my family and I had lost all hope. We then realised that we had to call the RNLI. In three minutes they arrived- I couldn’t believe how quick they came! I was amazed by how they risk their own lives for people who are in difficult situations. The RNLI are amazing people, doing amazing deeds and yet they rarely get noticed.

The RNLI rescue at least 23 people every single day, last year they rescued over 22,000 people and came to the aid of over 19,000 incidents. They patrol over 200 beaches and are on duty 24/7. These people are helping us so much and without them, people would not be alive today. I interviewed my dad’s friend James who works for RNLI and he told me that “with our lifeboats, lifeguards, safety advice and flood rescue, we are committed to saving lives”

The RNLI really are ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Please help this worthy cause. Every penny you donate can help to save someone’s life. When my family and I needed help, they were just around the corner and came very quickly! Just visit http://rnli.org/Pages/default.aspx and see all sorts of things that people do such as marathons, boat racing, triathlons- all to raise money for these amazing people! As soon as someone calls they are off at once to help out, no time for moaning. They are relying on you as you are relying on them. Donate, go to their website and read survivors stories, take part in charity events, browse through the website.

These are ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

By Sameera Patel

Should people keep exotic animals as pets?

Have you ever seen a very cute rodent or a colourful reptile and thought: ‘how cute’ or ‘I really want one’?

I would guess that you have but should people really keep exotic animals as pets? Well, most people have a view on whether exotic animals should or shouldn’t be kept in the home. Dogs and domestic cats have been bred through generations to be house dwellers, however, animals such as macaws and snakes which are not always domesticated in the same way could potentially harm the owner.

Rio is a film about macaws and other exotic birds being captured and sold to unsuspecting people, sadly this is not unlike real life where wild macaws are plucked from their habitat. Animals are deemed to be not as intelligent as humans, however, is it still ethically right to keep non domesticated animals as pets? Most exotic animals sold cheaply are illegally sourced; also lots of wild animals need a licence to keep. Why lock a bird in a cage when it can easily take off your finger?

People argue that exotic animals should not be kept as pets because it’s cruel or unfair on the animals. But the pet also can affect the owner in numerous ways. Bacteria like salmonella, tuberculosis and others can seriously affect the owner. Also if the elderly or a child under 5 gets a serious foreign virus or disease they could die. So next time think before kissing that cute pet snake!

Personally I feel it is not a good idea to keep exotic pets, however, if you are willing and feel you are ready to keep a potentially dangerous animal in your house then it’s up to you – I would stick to dogs though!

By Elizabeth Zachariah, year 7

‘Go, Set a Watchman’ – a wager on Lee’s legacy?

Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ caused a veritable storm in the literary world when it was first published in 1960. Fifty five years later and the news of the imminent publication of a recently rediscovered sequel, ‘Go Set a Watchman’, has caused just such – if not a greater – stir. With millions, including myself, already pre-ordering their copies even four months before its publication, ‘Go Set a Watchman’ has cemented itself in the bestseller lists.

But the publication of a sequel to a novel such as ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, which holds such a special place in so many bookshelves, must surely be a risky move? Especially amid the speculation that the novel is being published against the publicity-shy Lee’s will.

Indeed, it does seem somewhat peculiar that news of the novel’s discovery has only come to light after the death of Lee’s older sister Alice, who took care of her financial affairs and was her chief adviser. Not only this, but the fact that Lee is 88 years old, practically blind, profoundly deaf and has suffered from a stroke could certainly lead to questions being raised over whether she is being taken advantage of.

The seemingly cryptic title has been a source of some perplexity. It is actually a biblical quotation from Isaiah 21:6, a prophesy of the fall of Babylon: ‘For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.’ It could be assumed that Atticus is the ‘watchman’, the source of moral guidance in Maycomb. But what to make of the quotation being from a passage professing the fall of Babylon? Could it be referring to the ‘fall of Maycomb’ and the rapidly changing Southern way of life?

As for the novel itself, it is set twenty years after ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and concerns the grown-up Scout’s return to Maycomb from New York. It was from the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood in ‘Go Set a Watchman’, which publishers preferred, that ‘Mockingbird’ stemmed. This may be the root of another worry – could it be a bad omen that publishers chose originally not to publish ‘Go Set a Watchman’? Will it just be another disappointing sequel?

Lee had previously been regarded as one of the greatest ‘one hit wonder’ novelists, along with Emily Bronte, Sylvia Plath, Oscar Wilde (who although he was a prolific playwright only wrote one novel) and Margaret Mitchell. Now her previously untarnished reputation is being risked.

Fans of Harper Lee have had to wait over half a century for a sequel and the stakes are high. It would seem more than a challenge for a second novel to live up to one such as ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.

By Rose Grossel

Children in Syria

Young, innocent children forced to leave their homes, fighting to survive in extreme conditions against the government. The United Nations say that “3 million people have fled their homes to become refugees and half of these are children”. Children not even able to live their life as a child in freedom and peace. Children who are orphans and have no parents or anyone to look after them, and who have to suffer on their own.

In July 2012 the International Red Cross said that in Syria a “civil war has begun.” Every few minutes a bomb is dropped onto the city by the government and dozens of children are flung in all directions, injured, weak and some dead.

In 2013 the government launched the most horrific gas attack. A huge number of children lost their lives and were horribly injured. This chemical attack was illegal and did damage which can never ever be undone. This all started when 15 school girls were arrested and tortured and a protest to free them spread to other parts of Syria. All they wanted was democracy and freedom of speech.

Every single day refugees flee Syria into the outskirts of Iraq, Egypt and Turkey. When this all started, I was in Turkey. It was the end of our holiday when refugees had rushed to the borders and set up camp with little food and water. They are still struggling with only scraps to live on. Ordinary and innocent Syrians have had to leave their homes due to Government bombing.

So are you thinking how devastating this all is? The UK have donated over £760 million to Syria, in the hope that these can make water pumps and send over rice and crops. Syria is in great danger and we are watching everything that is happening to them in horror. We need to think ourselves lucky for what we have- our doctors, government and education to help us through our lives.

So please do think about Syria and all of the children forced to live in miserable conditions.

Remember that in the world people are suffering and we need to help them. Visit www.oxfam.org.uk/DonateSyria to contribute.

Thank you.

By Sameera Patel 7R

Mystical or Mythical? – The Tale of the Dragon

All around the world, different cultures have their own stories. The werewolf, the mermaids and sirens and of course…big foot.

However, there is one myth that has remained consistent throughout the world. Stories deriving from a whole host of cultures, creating rumours that have echoed over this earth: the legend of the dragon.

There are many reasons that people would dismiss the possibility of a fire breathing creation, especially if the creature is also a giant lizard. But what if the dragon could exist?

The dragon could have come into existence in the same way as the dinosaurs, descended from lizards and one of the oldest living creatures, the crocodile (who would share a common ancestor). The back wash from the flames would undoubtedly scorch the throat of any living creature, so a defence against this would be of the upmost importance. The dragon could have a flap at the back of the throat that would close when the fire had been released, much like the adaptation found in crocodiles to stop the lungs from flooding whilst holding prey underwater. Not only would this prevent the burns from the severe flames, but it would also stop the inhaling of the excess carbon dioxide produced by the act of combustion.

There are many gasses produced when a living being eats. Two of these gasses are methane and hydrogen, both of which are lighter than air. If the dragons had an extra pair of lungs that could flood with these gasses, this would contribute to their buoyancy when flying. However these are highly flammable when mixed with a particular mineral – and it is this mineral that has been found in rocks and boulders all across the earth.

The dragon, if it did exist, would have done so at the time of the dinosaurs, well beyond the time of any human, and would have most likely encountered the same fate as these unfortunate beasts. How is it that we know this? Again similar to crocodiles, the dragon may have taken to the water, thus avoiding the turmoil of the world above. After a time, when the climate of the land had settled down a little, it could resurface, and adapt to live once more on the land we call home.

This land would of course include all the different environments and landscapes we know today, and thus the dragons of all cultures were born. The forests of China would reduce the need for wings, thus, the Chinese dragon has never been portrayed with them. The Welsh dragon is huge, with great wings and claws, suited only too well to the green open spreads of the welsh landscape.

The legend of the dragon is one that has baffled scientists, enchanted children and adults for millenniums – not to mention given inspiration for many an excellent novel (may I take this moment to recommend the book “Eragon”)! But is it really that much of a myth? Think of all the wonders of the world.

Is the legend of the dragon really so unbelievable?

By Maddie Jones

Time for sleep not school?

Like so many other people, my least favourite sound is that of my alarm clock going off at twenty five past six in the morning; a time when no rational human being could ever possibly want to be awake. Never does my bed feel as deliciously warm and enveloping as when I know I have to get out of it; and never do I feel more like ‘The Princess and the Pea’ than when I know I have to get to sleep.

My problem is not uncommon, in fact it is experienced by practically every teenager and the roots of our troubles are purely biological. Feelings of drowsiness are induced by the hormone ‘melatonin’ which teenagers do not produce until three hours after younger children or adults do, thereby meaning, as said in the New Scientist, that: ‘teenagers are biologically incapable of going to bed at a sensible time.’

A teenager needs nine and a quarter hours sleep a day. While it is not realistic to suppose that the average teenager actually gets this much sleep on a daily basis, having significantly less sleep than this can worsen academic performance, lead to grumpiness and irritability and weaken the immune system. Would starting the school day later combat these problems? Experiments have shown, certainly in relation to academic performance, that the answer would be yes. Results from a recent study conducted by Oxford University were quite astonishing. They trialled 32,000 GCSE students in over 100 schools and found that starting the school day later significantly improved GCSE results. In a school in North Tyneside, Newcastle, the number of pupils achieving five good GCSEs rose from 34% to 50%.

Not only this, but more sleep would significantly improve the immune system, which would increase school attendance. I do not think that I speak alone when I say that there is nothing more miserable than going down with a cold or flu in the middle of the school term.
However, as wonderful as starting the school day later may seem, is it really practical?

Quite simply, no. If the school day began one hour and thirty five minutes later, it would have to end one hour and thirty five minutes later. Thus the school day would end at, say, 5:30 instead of 3:55. This would create numerous problems and raises the question would any gains actually be made by starting the school day later?

If the school day ended later, students would get home later, they would start and finish their homework later and, as a result of this, would go to sleep later. Therefore, they would get no more sleep than if school started at 8:25 and so would be no less tired at school the next day. On the other hand, since teenager’s brains do not begin to properly function until later in the morning, no matter how much sleep they are getting, perhaps it would still be advantageous.

Even so, finishing later would leave very little, if any at all, time for after school extra-curricular activities. And if we just started at 10 o’clock and finished at normal time, approximately 170 hours of valuable lesson time would be lost per year.

So, although I solemnly wish my verdict was otherwise, starting the school day later is simply not practical. Although it could improve academic performance, reduce the number of grumpy and irritable teenagers and increase immunity, there are not enough hours in the day for it to be really worthwhile.

By Rose Grossel

Cooking Reviews

I love cooking and baking programs because they inspire me to cook myself. So I am going to tell you an introduction about my favourite programs and why they inspire me.

Junior Master Chef

Junior Masterchef is a cooking show aimed with competitors between the ages of about eight to thirteen. The judges in this series are John Torode and Donal Skehan. They have to compete in two challenges to battle their way to the semi-final. The first challenge sees the contestants cooking something that the judges have chosen for them, such as burgers, pizzas and salads. In the second challenge they have to make two of their own signature dishes. This program is really inspiring and helps to encourage young age children to start cooking.
Winner 2013: Alexander Weiss

Junior bake off

Junior Bake Off is a baking show also aimed at competitors aged eight to thirteen, and the judges are Mary Berry and James Martin with the presenter Aron Craze. All contestants have to do a technical bake challenge and a showstopper which they have to create a masterpiece cake based on a topic. Just like Junior Master Chef, the Junior Bake Off inspires many young people to cook and is a very accessible program.
Winner 2013: Harry

The Great British Bake off

The Great British Bake Off is a one of the best known baking show for adults who are inspired to cook and willing to give it a go to battle their way to the final, starting with twelve baker’s and whittling it down to three finalists and just one winner. Competing in three challenges one signature, technical then finally a showstopper. I love the Bake Off because adults of all ages get to show their passion and skills, coming from a variety of backgrounds and jobs, the back off shows that anyone can have a passion for baking and compete to win the glass cake stand trophy.
Winner 2013: Frances Quinn
Winner 2014: Nancy Birtwhistle

I hope these snippets of the program have intrigued you to watch the programs and inspired you to start cooking.

By Georgia Varty 7R

Killer Whales in Captivity

Killer whales have been kept in Captivity since 1961. They have been separated from their families; helpless and disarmed, they have no idea what is going on. One minute they are happily swimming freely in the wide open ocean, going wherever the seas take them. Next to them swim a calf, barley one year old. Suddenly a scream fills the tranquil ocean and the calf is entangled in a strong piece of netting. It squirms and struggles to get out. Its mother is calling for help, trying to untangle her baby,  but she can’t for she is weak and tired. The calf is heaved upwards and into the world of sun. Everything goes black.

The calf is called Tilikum; he is kept in SeaWorld – Florida, Orlando. He is kept in an enclosure that is too small for him, and in the shows, which are  held three times a day, he has to put up with people standing on his fin which is now bent.

Tilikum spends night after night in a tiny enclosure with 3 other orcas, having to endure 14 hours of this daunting experience. When Tilikum did not perform a trick correctly, he did not get any food. His fellow tankers did not get any either and started to bite Tilikum and rake their teeth against his body.

On 21st February 1991, a diver fell into the pool containing the three orcas. They were not getting fed properly and stress levels were very high, Tilikum dragged her down into the pool and she drowned. In 2010 a diver named Dawn was found dead in Tillikum’s enclosure. Killer whales are very dangerous and should not be messed around with. Tilikum was then put into a minute cage, just big enough for him. He is often found floating above the water. After a year of isolation Tilikum returned to performing, forced to endure the same cruelty as before.

There are even more orcas in danger because of this and we need to stop it. Would you like to be laughed and ridden on for 12 hours a day? Would you like to have endless days without food? Would you like to be stuck in an enclosure not even big enough for you to breathe in?

No? Then we need to put a stop to this.

By Sameera Patel 7R

The Boston Freedom Trail

The Boston Freedom trail explores the integral role the city holds in regards to the American Revolution from the years 1765-1783. It is 2.5 miles long, winding between Boston Common and throughout Downtown Boston. The Trial navigates the audience to 16 pinnacle locations throughout Boston, churches and buildings a like. It is centred along a red paved road, creating an organised route which link together the historic gems of Boston.

The trail itself was established in 1951, at a time where the city’s colonial and revolutionary past were overshadowed by great political instability. However, over the forthcoming years the Freedom Trail played a vital role in the city’s attempt to regenerate itself. The city was able to project an image of an area which was was teeming with historic wealth. By 1953 the Trail was successfully attracting 40,000 people a year to Boston, with these numbers rapidly increasing every year.

As a visitor to the trial, it is hard to ignore the extent to which many citizens of Boston are greatly reliant on the Trail. Whilst you meandered along the red paved path you are met with a multitude of guides dressed in 18th-century attire, capitalising on the trails attractiveness to tourists such as myself. Needless to say, the guides add to the uniqueness of the trail, tastefully transporting the visitors back to the18th century as opposed to creating a mockery of the events leading towards revolution.

A select few of the sixteen sites explored within the trail are Boston common, USS Constitution in Charlestown, as well as a sample of explanatory ground markers, graveyards, notable churches and buildings, and a historic naval frigate. I considered the most compelling of these sites to be the Boston Common. Dating back to 1634, Boston Common is the oldest city park in the United States. In turn, it has been the epicentre for many political protests and demonstrations throughout each century. In 1775, the Common was used as a sanctuary for British troops. The British established camp on the Common prior to the Revolution, but the troops later abandoned camp, adopting colonial resistance at Lexington and Concord in April that year. The absence of the British thus allowed greater revolution attempts, resulting in American independence in 1781.
Standing on the Common, it is hard not to recreate an image of thousands of revolutionaries marching the land, declaring revolution and subsequent independence from the British.

The Freedom Trail allows visitors to truly comprehend the historic significance of many buildings and churches within the Trail. I, myself, found it hard not to feel an emotional connection towards the trail, as you become so greatly immersed within the events that consequently lead to the outbreak of revolution. After I have explored the Trail, I am itching to return to find out more about the rich history of this historic city of Boston.

By Katy Morrison

My Daily Shame

I am an addict. I cannot go a day without my drug of choice. What is that drug? It’s the Daily Mail. I refresh it every hour, on the hour. It keeps me up to date with Kim Kardashian dropping her phone or perhaps a new conspiracy theory.

When I’m on it I can’t look away, I go into the zone of scrolling and I can’t function like a normal person until I’ve heard all of Nigel’s extremists policy’s and looked at the size 6 celebrities showing off their ‘curves’. My friends don’t believe me when I tell them about articles I’ve read and my current affairs knowledge is not up to scratch. So why do I still read this rubbish?

I use it as a relaxation a break from my homework a way to relax like others might use sports or go shopping. But Instead of being super fit as a result, I’m just well equipped with knowing what foods not to eat to prevent cancer. It appears I’m not the only one with this problem with nearly 2 million people reading this junk a month and an extra 9 million online. How can the Daily Mail have such extraordinary readership when many newspapers are struggling to survive?

I have tried to quit, several times. During my GCSEs, the app was forcibly deleted by my family in an attempt to stop me reading it instead of revision. Another time it was deleted off my phone was when I began studying politics and I was instructed to read BBC news. I found this to be a lot more concise and non bias in comparison, but frankly a bit dull.

There is some good to this atrocity. It measures the views of the British middle class, supposedly 60% of the country. It has previously channeled the force of housewives into several campaigns which were actually benefitting whilst under Paul Dacre. The newspaper published a photo of the alleged murderer of Stephen Lawrence and said if it’s not that person then they invited others to sue them, and was subsequently praised by Stephens parents and Ed Miliband who claimed that the paper played an ‘honourable role’ in bringing the killers to justice .

Now I can admit I am still addicted to the Daily Mail, but I know not take everything to be the truth and I plan to balance all the conspiracy theories and celebrity gossip with a something a little bit more serious in future.

By Phoebe Van Den Bergh