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

‘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

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

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

Women in politics

Women in politics. Now I know what you are thinking: “Oh dear, another feminist – how cliché”, but I would ask you to re-educate yourself into understanding what a feminist actually entails. As, when talking about the lack of women in politics, I am not intensely urging the female gender to over power Britain, as some may assume, just to be simply equal to men.

The correct definition of a feminist – for those who are unsure – is ‘an individual who supports the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’ meaning that women should not be treated higher than men, but treated with equal respect, power and authority.

The equality of men and women over the years has agreeably improved however this longitudinal dilemma is not even close to the end, as I believe that the only way to purely rid of sexist behaviours within society is to fairly increase the number of female members of parliament.

51% of the UK is female proving that there are more female citizens in Britain than men, however strangely less than 25% in both Houses of Parliament are made up of women. This seems surprising as women are obviously viewed as the minority in parliament however there is a clear majority of women in the UK as a whole. This off-balance demonstrates how parliament can’t be truly representative of the nation therefore something must change.

On Thursday 6th November, Nicki Morgan, the education minister, conservative member and most importantly ex-head girl of Surbiton High School, generously gave her time to visit the sixth formers, along with Alistair Stewart, to answer various questions which we had the opportunity of asking. From personal questions about when and why she wanted to be involved in politics, to specific questions about her field of education. It was a rare and appreciated opportunity which allowed us to perceive what intelligent women in politics have to offer. Nicky Morgan also agreed that more women should be encouraged to participate in politics as the ratio of men and women is off balance and needs to altered.

By amending and increasing the number of women that sit in parliament I believe that equality for all citizens will soon follow.



Lights, camera…breakdown: what is it about child celebrities?

With every flick through a magazine, every guilty watch of daytime TV, it seems that another once sweet-faced, ever hopeful childhood celebrity has morphed into a drink-fuelled, drug-abusing, law-breaking adult, whose hopes for a beautiful career has smashed to smithereens. There’s something about being in the public eye at a young age that leads, more times than not, to some sort of emotional or physical breakdown. And one has to wonder why…is it is a need to constantly be in the limelight? A want to prove you’re not always going to be the cute, giggling child you were at the height of fame? Or is it something deeper? Do these child actors and singers ruin their careers so drastically to ward off other children from following in their fate? To warn them: don’t become famous at a young age?
Once upon a time, not so long ago, the name Miley Cyrus was one that made mothers proudly smile. “My daughter just loves Hannah Montana. She’s so lovely, isn’t she?”
“Oh yes, such a good role model. I was thinking of getting concert tickets for my one’s birthday present. What do you think?”

A few years ago, the thought of herds of children paying money to watch Hannah Montana perform would be quite regular. But skip forward in time; to 2014…that image is not so rosy. Because Miley has ditched the wholesome smile, well-dressed clothes, respectable image and name of a ‘child role model’, and catapulted into being a twerking, offensive, inappropriate, drug-using, scantily-clad wearing mutant of what she once was. The words of her famous song, ‘Best of Both Worlds’, ring in my ears… “Yeah being famous it can be kinda fun…” Where does fun end and responsibility begin? A responsibility to be a role model for young children, the future men and women of today, who watch Miley’s life constantly and wish to live it themselves. Miley Cyrus, whether deliberate or not, has lost the respect of mothers and fathers across the nation. She has also cast herself as yet another childhood actor gone horribly wrong.
But it is not just her. Remember when Justin Bieber was just a teenage boy with a silly haircut and a girly singing voice? Now, he’s been arrested for reckless driving, drug taking and assault. There’s also lovely Lindsay Lohan from ‘The Parent Trap’: who can forget how Lindsay Lohan turned out. She’s appeared in court 20 times in the past years – let’s remember she’s not yet 30.
Shia Le Beouf, Amanda Bynes, Macaulay Culkin, Britney Spears: all examples of children who got into the soul-draining industry of entertainment far too quickly and deeply suffered the consequences. There must be, must be some reason for their downfall. Surely these children have been corrupted by Hollywood, they have not corrupted Hollywood.
It makes me wonder how these childhood actors are treated, which causes them to have such breakdowns. Of course, not every childhood starlet grows up badly: the Olsen Twins, Mandy Moore, Leonardo DiCaprio have all managed to grow from strength to strength, and use their experience from being famous at a young age to make a name for themselves. But this is a small percentage of child actors and singers. What is it about being in the spotlight, the lights and cameras at a young age that leads to a breakdown?


By Hope Supple

Let’s Combat Cancer

Cancer is a horrible disease, which takes away more than 7.6 million lives every year and can develop at any age, but is particularly common in individuals aged 75 and over. There are more than 200 types of cancer and every 2 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with this life threatening disease.

Cancer is like a ladder. There are many survivors who fight their way to the top, which requires a lot of hard work. But sometimes they slip back down to the bottom and never get back up.

One story which inspires me never to give up is Stephen’s story. Stephen was diagnosed with cancer on January 13th 2013, and was battling for every minute of his life. After he found out that his disease was incurable he made a Facebook page called “Stephen’s Story”. He wrote on that page 46 things he wanted to do before he passed away. ‘Stephen’s story’ has had a huge following and since creating his page he raised lots of money, including £3 million in one year!

Hundreds of celebrities donated money to Stephen’s page and all that money was donated to ‘Teenage Cancer Trust’, as he wanted to make sure that others with his diseases were getting treatment and that they would not go through what he had to go through.

Stephen sadly passed away on 14th May 2014 and will be greatly missed. His story is inspiring because he didn’t give up, he kept fighting and remained positive throughout the hard time he had.

His story is amazing and this year his page raised an astonishing £5 million to go towards the Teenage Cancer Trust. Every donation, be that big or small, helps contribute to combatting the horrible disease of cancer. So why don’t you donate any amount you can to the charity,  as it could help save someone’s life. If you would like to donate money please go to  http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/
Thank you.

By Sameera Patel- year 7

The Loss of a Son

The sleepy Alaskan town of Palmer was ruptured by a chilling revelation in October. The elderly couple, Karen and Jay Priest were sent into turmoil after the news broke of their son Justin’s death at around 3:00 am on Thursday. The anguish experienced by the pair quickly erupted into joy, as they were reunited with the supposedly dead son only hours later.

A Juneau police officer approached the Priest family with the grave task of informing doting parents of the sudden death of a loved son. Karen Priest described the immensity of her emotions as she answered the shrill bell to the ominous officer. Priest depicted the ordeal, stating “I knew right away, the dread. It’s not good when an officer knocks on your door at three o’clock in the morning”.

The officer illustrated the crime scene. The driver has violently crashed into a tree, the cause, driving under the influence. “That didn’t sound like Justin”, Karen stated, however the officer confirmed the excess consumption of alcohol had caused the incident to occur. Panic-stricken and overwhelmed with grief, the Priests began the heart wrenching task of informing Justin’s relatives and loved ones of the shocking death of their son.

At around 5:00pm Karen and Jay Priest drove to Justin’s girlfriend’s house. A sleepy eyed Justin opened the door to an alarmed brother and parents. The family were elated, and overwhelmed with contentment and relief. Justin informed the local newspaper of his confusion when opening the door to his family. He himself could not comprehend why his family were so astonished to see him. “I was shocked and astonished and had to keep grabbing and hugging him, I’ve never cried so much in my life” said Jay Priest.

However the question still remained; why had the Priest’s been sent on an emotional roller-coaster?

The Alaskan police had mistakenly informed the wrong family the death of their son. The car crash victim was Justin Priest. However, the middle name and perhaps most crucially, the birth dates of the two Justins differed. The relief and joy experienced by the Priests was largely tainted by the sorrow and the knowledge that one Justin Priest still remained dead.

Nevertheless, the sloppiness of the American police services has caused a rift in the nation’s ability to ultimately have faith in the police. I myself understand the consequences of misinforming the innocent with life wrenching news.

Although the Alaskan police have profusely apologised to the Priest family, the impact of their actions remain.