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|Welcome to the Sydenham School weekly e-newsletter: Edition 139
we have listened to what parents have said about what they want from the newsletter and made some changes….
Official Grand Opening
“Today is not about buildings - it is about learning – this is a cathedral dedicated to learning and opportunity.”
Last Friday the main new block forming the centre-piece of phase one of Sydenham School’s £25 million redevelopment was officially opened. It was an extraordinary day. What could have been an event focused on a single ceremonial snipping of a ribbon was turned instead into a joyful and varied celebration of this landmark in the school’s 98-year history with dozens of prominent women representing a vast array of disciplines and vocations giving up their time to provide talks to all our students. Instead of bricks and mortar; enquiry, opportunity and learning were the focus.
Of course, this is not to underestimate the effort, imagination and ingenuity that the new building represents; delivered on schedule and on budget. Complicating factors included building on a slope with a 12-metre drop and the close proximity of older buildings on site in constant use. Sydenham - the last in Lewisham’s building schools for the future programme dating back to 2003 - is a monument to effective collaboration between client and contractor, with the builders Costains making big efforts to accommodate the very special demands placed on it on a site where quiet study and concentration have had to compete with building sites and heavy plant. Weekly student tours of the building even as it was under construction, represented just one of the innovations tested out over the last year.
Jenny Valentine visit
Sydenham’s programme of author visits ended on a distinct high in July when award-winning Jenny Valentine dropped in to speak to an audience of Year 7 and 8 pupils from both Sydenham and Forest Hill schools packing the new main hall. She was there principally to discuss her latest novel Fire Colour One - her first literary output since being diagnosed with cancer five years ago. She spoke movingly about her experiences and the loss during that time of her father – an experience which greatly informs her new novel focused on a young girl’s experience discovering and then losing her father in quick succession. And while her talk was very moving, it was also highly celebratory too – celebratory of life and of the importance of deriving enjoyment from moment to moment. Students found Jenny’s approach to writing books - launching off without any great sense of the direction of travel or likely conclusion – refreshing too. “I liked the way she said she did not know the ends of her books until she had almost finished them,” said Oseayo (13) from Forest Hill School. “She really shared the details of her life,” said Elakkiaya (13) from Sydenham. “I like the way she doesn’t plan her stories – which goes against everything we are told to do.”
“We have had an exceptional work experience fortnight,” said careers and enterprise co-ordinator Jene Keer recently – reflecting on the monumental task of finding 222 Year 10 students placements that are both stimulating and suited to their tastes and aptitudes. “In all the years I have been doing it – I can’t recall one in which so many girls seem to have had such positive experiences.” If there is one word that characterised the range of situations the year 10 girls found themselves in, it was ‘variety’ – from Thea Gegeshidze (15) exploring the workings of the Unicorn Theatre near London Bridge to Emereld Questel (15) getting to grips with the coffee machine and customers’ precise beverage orders at the Fig and Pistachio cafe at the end of Dartmouth Road; from Olga Oliver hacking away at poisonous ragwort as a part of conservation work of the Downlands Project in Surrey to Alana Gaughan following in her grandfather’s bookbinding footsteps at Shepherds Bookbinders near Victoria. And as in all previous years the girls found it fantastic to be out of school for a while with year-end exams behind them but in the best of cases with the work experience setting them thinking about the jobs they might like to do in adulthood and what they’ll need to do in order to achieve their goals.
Debate Mate triumph
If you thought our Debate Mate team did well emerging as London-wide champions a few months ago, what praise do they deserve now, having won the Artemis Urban Debate League National Finals held recently at the House of Lords? They managed to come out top ahead of 15 other teams representing cities across England. In the final – as in all rounds - they had to prepare their arguments at the drop of a hat in favour of the proposition: “This house would prioritise economic growth over social justice.” Afterwards the chairperson Lord Speaker Baroness D'Souza said she had never witnessed so strong a debate.
On the 8th July a coach load of year 8 girls went to Fishbourne Roman Palace for a Latin trip. We set off bright and early so that we had plenty of time to spend at the Palace. After arriving, we were separated into two groups and were taken into a room where we were briefed on the day’s activities. Our objective for the day was to create a mosaic similar to the ones that existed in this Roman palace. First we did some research by looking at the preserved Palace floors for mosaic patterns. We sketched our favourite parts of the mosaics to get inspiration for our own ones. We then went back to our room and started sketching our designs; we had the choice of 4 colours: white, yellow, red and black. After you finished designing they would give you a piece of wood on which to place the tiles. Before sticking down our tile pieces, if we wanted any non-square shapes we had the opportunity to cut them with special tools.
After lunch we went back to our rooms and they told us how to put grout on the tiles. While the grout was drying, we went to visit the museum and the gift shop. The museum had lots of amazing things in it, and we found out that men and women went to the baths at different times to each other. After looking around the gift shop, and resisting buying all the expensive T-shirts, hand creams, necklaces etc. we got back on the coach and arrived back at school late afternoon.
The most important thing that I learnt from the day was that although it is a ‘dead language’, the memory of the Romans at Fishbourne is very much alive.
By Alana and Ellen 8Y
Swing Band on Tour
post concert picture at De Panne beach
Year 8 food
Our end of term task was to design and make cup cakes.
A link to term dates and information can be found here: http://www.sydenham.lewisham.sch.uk/termdates
Mr Horn being thanked by the PTA for being our liaison person for the last 2 years
Have a great summer!
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