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Welcome to the Sydenham School weekly e-newsletter: Edition 111
we have listened to what parents have said about what they want from the newsletter and made some changes….

Accelerated Reader Autumn Winners  

Congratulations to the Accelerated Reader champions. These students either completed the most quizzes or made the best effort in their respective class. Each student received a book prize from the LRC.  More winners will be announced before Christmas.

7A – Isabella, Amal
7D – Katie, Sarah
7E – Nia, Tashauna
7H – Megan, Carlotta
7M – Nancy, Sahitha
7N – Rebecaa, Esme
7S – Daisy, Faith


Videoconference with author Paul Durham  in America


Forty Yr 7 students joined together with 20 boys from Forest Hill School to read Luck Uglies and to interview Paul Durham, the author of the book, via  a video conference. Sydenham School is the first school in the UK to have been “Skyped” by Paul.
He said ” the students were obviously very engaged with the story as their questions showed. They were curious about my use of language and how  I had chosen the unusual names for the places and characters in the book, like the Luck Uglies and Bog Noblins and the village of Drowning. They wanted to know why I combined a fantasy story with a story about friendships and family relationships.
Luck Uglies was a name whispered around the docks and darkest taverns, places the law dare not tread…
Rye has grown up hearing the legend of the Luck Uglies – notorious deadly outlaws who once stalked the streets. Now they have faded to ghosts and rumours and Rye isn’t sure they ever existed. Then on the night of the Black Moon, a mysterious stranger known only as Harmless, steps from the shadows to save Rye’s life and Rye learns that sometimes it takes a villain to save you from the monsters… to see the book trailer video

Jack Petchey Award For Sixteen-Year-Old Mental Health Campaigner  

A modest ceremony took place at Sydenham School this week to mark one girl’s far from modest achievements campaigning and fund-raising for a number of mental health charities over a two-year period: a commitment that resulted in her recent, successful nomination for a Jack Petchey Award.

In the Dartmouth Road school’s board room, sixteen-year-old Karishma Thakrar posed for photographs with the Head of Year 12 Sheila Conway who originally recommended her for the honour.  Also there were five of Karishma’s close friends who have all supported her various charitable ventures.  ““I am not a one- person team,” said Karishma, “that’s why it is great to be able to celebrate my winning the Award with some of the people who have helped me over the last couple of years.”

Karishma’s commitment began in Year 10 when she chose to back the work of the charity MIND as a part of Sydenham School’s Changemakers’ Scheme*.  Karishma’s passionate advocacy - born out of personal experience of relatives and friends coping with depression – led her to set up a lunch-time stall which she ran with friends near the school canteen so that they could continue to champion the needs of people facing psychological troubles.

 “The Changemakers’ scheme always ends with suggestions to the girls how they may carry on backing their cause,” explained Sheila Conway.  “In Karishma’s case she did not let her enthusiasm wane.  Instead, she continued to promote the work of mental health charities with her friends to the whole of the school.”

In 2013, Karishma took part in a run raising £150 for MENCAP during Mental Health Week and in November of the same year organised a sponsored mixed-sex football match for Year 7 children from Sydenham and Forest Hill Boys raising a further £300 for MIND and McMillan Cancer Support. Her next venture is an all-girl football tournament in support of the National Autistic Society.  “One hope is that this year,” added Sheila Conway,”  she will also help to promote mental health issues among her peers through assemblies and other means, highlighting the support that’s available in the school to any of her contemporaries that may be feeling unhappy or anxious.”

“Her heart is into helping people - she’s always got a plan,” said fellow sixth-former Gursharon Singh (16). “The thing about Karishma, she not only says she wants to support people, but she follows through, and has helped us all make a difference by being so energetic and determined,” said her friend and sixth-form student Emanuela Brahimi (16)

In August 2014, Karishma got her GCSE results and was delighted to score full marks in Citizenship thanks mainly to a project on raising awareness for mental health which was worth 60% of the grade.

For winning the Jack Petchey Achievement Award, Karishma received a certificate, gold medal and a cheque for £200 which she chose to donate to Sydenham School’s Citizenship and Sociology Departments.  She has also asked that some of the money be spent on this year’s Changemakers’ event.  “This is really important,” said Karishma, “as it was this scheme that fired my enthusiasm for campaigning and fund-raising in the first place.”

She added, “This recognition has inspired me to become a more aware and helpful person. It has also made me determined to make the most of opportunities that come my way.”

Her nomination for a Jack Petchey Award was made by her Citizenship teacher Ms Sheila Conway.  Ms Conway said: “Karishma is passionate about the cause after seeing people she knows coping with mental health issues in the past. She delivered an extremely powerful assembly to younger students and has also planned successful fundraising events for a number of mental health charities.  She works so hard for her beliefs and entirely deserved the Award.” 



The year 7 STEM curriculum is being enhanced by the  introduction of  visits by STEM professionals. The photo below shows Elena Gil an Associate director of AMEC describing how the skills they are learning in the Breakfast food project have real life applications. Elana is an industrial chemist who has worked for Coca cola and the milk industry. Other STEM professional visits include town planners, civil engineers and model makers (Happy cities) and programmers (Magic boots).
The purpose is to expose the pupils to STEM professionals who can help to contextualise their learning and find out first-hand about different careers in the STEM industries.  

The first STEM parent student challenge took place on 10 November 2014, this first project was centred around the extraction of DNA from our cheek cells and preserving it in a necklace that all participants could take away. 
We had members from year 7,8 and 9 STEM clubs and their families all making their own necklaces from their own DNA and had a small lecture on what DNA is and why it is so important.  

All in all it was a very successful night and all participants and staff loved the opportunity to make a unique piece of jewellery that is truly their own!

We will be holding 3 other evenings similar to this one throughout the year:

Challenge 2( DT based – D Bima  Bat box /insect box)
26th January

Challenge 3 (maths based – W AKaje-Macauley )
23rd February

Challenge 4 (Computer science- S Forest)
In the new building!  20th April

So get them into your diaries now!




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