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RUGBY P15 & 25

In Focus March/April 2014

On 8 February a group of four Year 7s went to the Chester Games Workshop to take part in the Warhammer 40k School League competition. The Year 7s went in blind, not knowing what they were going to do and not having much experience. When they got there they saw that their opponents were a team of 6 th Formers from another school who had been playing for a long time. There were three rounds and each round worked as one of our players played against one of their players. This way, everyone was always playing and getting involved at all times. The other team were very kind and their armies were expertly painted. With this they were very good players and managed to win all but one of the games; this meant that we did not need to go to the quiz. Despite that we were still happy that we came out of the tournament with a win and the award for the best sportsmanship certificate that was given to one of our players. It was a great day, lots of fun even though we lost, and we learnt a lot about the game for the next competition which will be later on this year. John Vallance-Owen

Left: Setting up the game and right: John with fellow-player Shivank Sharma.

After Mr Clark gave permission for me to be absent from School, I took my Royal Academy of Dance Grade 5 Ballet Examination at Hoylake School of Dance on Monday 2 December. I received my result at the end of January and was really pleased, after my hard work and attendance at lessons for five evenings a week, to obtain a Distinction. I have been attending dance lessons, entering competitions and taking dance examinations since I was 4 years old when I was in Reception. I really enjoy my hobby and I am looking forward to more competitions and working towards the Royal Academy of Dance’s Inter Foundation examination. Eleanor Breheny, Yr 7

On 1st December, Amy Bryers took part in the North West Championships gymnastics competition. The competition was held at Robin Park Sports Centre in Wigan, with teams entered from clubs all over the North West of England. The discipline of gymnastics in which Amy competes is called Acrobatics. The event in which Amy competed in this competition was the ‘Women’s Duo’ at Grade 4. This is a floor routine to music, lasting two minutes and performed by two gymnasts. There were 10 other duos also competing at this level and after Amy had performed her duo, she came home with a silver medal, and was only 0.01 points away from finishing in 1st place. Two months later, on 1 February, Amy flew down to Heathrow, London, to perform her duo routine again. Heathrow Gymnastics Club is the club which went on Britain’s Got Talent with their group ‘Spellbound’. Heathrow’s regional competition is much harder than the North West’s. There were 15 clubs represented at the competition and in Amy’s event there were 14 other duos competing. After performing her routine, Amy came 4th, narrowly missing out on 3rd place by less than a point! Amy’s next competition is in March when she will compete in both Acrobatics and Tumbling disciplines for a place in the National Finals this summer. We wish her well. Recently, I have been asked to run for Merseyside. I have been running for Wirral for a few years doing a variety of different distances on the track. I am very excited to have been selected to compete and I look forward to my first competition with Merseyside. Miles Morton, Yr 7


In Focus March/April 2014

Last June, I headed over to Aintree Race course, but not to see horse racing. This was a totally different Race – the annual RACE FOR LIFE. I have watched my mum and sister Amy do this race every year since I was a baby and always wanted to do it myself. It is known as a Ladies Only 5K run but, exceptionally, boys under 12 can enter too. The weather was not good. It was really windy and nowhere near as warm as it should be in June. This hadn’t put anybody off though; there were over 3,000 people, most of them ladies dressed in pink, getting ready to join in the fun. Once you added in family and friends who had come to watch and cheer, there must have been about 5,000 people there. It was very busy and the crowd was split into runners, joggers and walkers to make sure that the start was smooth and the slow people didn’t get in the way of the serious runners. I told Mum and Amy that I was going to run the whole race and I would see them at the finish line. They stayed at the back of the running group and I pushed my way through to the front. It’s amazing how lovely a group of ladies are to a small boy on his own, the crowd parted and let me through without complaint. We all had to do a warm-up session, which totally lost me as it was Aerobics (perhaps we should do this before our rugby matches Mr Lytollis ?!). Everybody joined in and there was a real party atmosphere. And then the countdown started. As we began to shuffle forwards towards the start line, my stomach was churning and I admit I was nervous. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and we were off! I quickly found my pace and kept with the front of the pack. This was a whole new experience for me as I am usually a sprinter and, although I ran cross country in Prep, I can’t say it was my favourite thing. I kept on running and was amazed to see the first 1 km marker, then 2km, then 3km – I had no idea how fast I was running but I knew I was doing well because there were only a handful of people in front of me. I started to run with a boy of a similar age and we kept each other going for the final 2km. Before I knew it, I had rounded a corner to find I was on the final straight. The crowd were clapping and cheering and this gave me the motivation to boost my speed for the final sprint. The finish line was rapidly approaching and the commentator was shouting encouragement to us all. And then I crossed the line – it felt amazing as I walked to the desk to receive my medal and a well-earned bottle of water. I had finished 3rd overall and couldn’t believe it. Not only had I completed a Race for Life but I had finished in less than 23 minutes. I don’t know if it was the adrenaline on the day and whether I will be able to do as well again but I will try one last time this summer. I had achieved a lot but my thoughts went to the main reason these events take place, to raise money for Cancer Research. All around me on that day were people who had been touched by cancer in some way, either from losing a loved one, surviving the disease themselves or watching somebody close to them win the battle. Race for Life is held every year across the UK, locally in Birkenhead Park, Liverpool and Chester. Anybody can enter; you can run, jog, or walk at your own pace and you will be surrounded by others who will support you along the way. I would encourage everybody to have a go. It’s a great way to get fit and also lots of fun. Adam with his medal in front of Adam Durband, Yr 7 the iconic Aintree racecourse. 3

Birkenhead School’s Orienteering team has been given a boost this year by Year 8's Sam Cross whose enthusiasm is also welcomed by the local club, Deeside. At their internal championships in November, Sam had a good race over a complicated area at Halkyn Common, winning the Junior Boys’ trophy, beating several older national and international juniors. The Deeside club has a good record of developing promising juniors.

Since September, I have been through two different stages of West Cheshire hockey. These two stages are JDC which stands for Junior Development Centre and also the second being JAC which stands for Junior Assessment Centre. I was the only girl to trial from Year 8 and also Years 7 and 9. I was overwhelmed when I received an email from the coaches to say that I would be proceeding through the Academy towards JAC! This has now been my second year of West Cheshire Hockey. It has been both a fun and challenging year. I have made some amazing friends and have bonded with the girls and it feels like I've known them forever. I would definitely encourage others to put themselves forward for their county. I have only recently received an email again from my coaches to say that I have been selected to represent West Cheshire. I will be attending three tournaments in March and April for the county cup. I can't wait! Hannah Durband, Year 8

In Focus March/April 2014

Choir Tour, Truro 2013 Each treble had to audition for the chance to sing the famous ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ solo. Traditionally, someone is chosen at the very last minute to stop the soloist from getting nervous but Mr Robinson, Director of Music, wanted the soloists to be well prepared. Eventually the decision was made! Two choristers were chosen to perform the solo at the two services, Paulo Infante in Yr 5, and me. Paulo sang at the first service and then it was my turn. When the second service came around, I began to feel very nervous but I pulled myself together and sang my solo without messing it up. Then Mr Robinson asked me if I would do the same solo in front of the entire School at the traditional end of term service at St Saviour’s! After some serious persuasion from Mr Robinson, I agreed. It was the most terrifying thing I have ever done! I was so scared of making a mistake but got through the solo unscathed. Mrs Rendle congratulated me on my performance and told me that I was the first girl in the long history of Birkenhead School to perform the solo. Thanks goodness I didn’t realise that before the performance or it would have added even more pressure! Midnight Mass in the School Chapel on Christmas Eve was an amazing experience and one hour before the service I was told that I would have to do the same solo again. Since this was the third time of performing the solo, I was pretty relaxed. It made a great start to Christmas and is something I will always remember. Verity Walker, Yr 8

Congratulations to proud mum and dad, Michael and Sara Salter. Their daughter Emma Louise was born on 15 January at 3.19 pm. She weighed in at 6 lb 11oz and a beautiful addition to the BS family.

I have been extremely passionate about kayaking from when I first started the sport around 18 months ago. It is rare that sports let you get so close to the environment. There are few things more relaxing, I think, than sitting in a kayak looking around enjoying nature. Furthermore, if you love water, this may be the perfect hobby for you too. I’ve also found Kayaking to be a great way to meet new friends. This challenging sport makes you fitter and there is always an adventure around the corner. The basic steps are easily accomplished, so you feel as though you are making progress fairly quickly, though there are some extremely challenging movements you have to learn to be a professional. The greatest accomplishments that I have had during my whole kayaking experience was when I went out to Chester and paddled down the weir through very strong and converging currents. However, my worst experience while kayaking was capsizing in the middle of the river Dee and it was freezing. I had never felt so cold in my life. In late 2013, I accomplished my bronze award with an overall comment of ‘outstanding’. I am currently preparing to get my silver and for this have learned an extremely useful skill called rolling. Rolling is used when you capsize and, in order to right yourself in the water, you use your paddle to flip yourself back up. Shivank Sharma Yr 7

In the photos left: Shivank practises rolling.


In Focus March/April 2014

At the end of last year Max Bladon, in the Lower Sixth, competed in the Super 1 British Karting Championship. He started racing karts five years ago and has quickly progressed to become one of the UK’s leading young drivers. He competes in the Senior Rotax Max competitions but, due to his success on the karting track, Max was also invited to take part in the Ginetta Challenge – a prestigious saloon car racing tournament run by UK car manufacturer Ginetta. The youngest driver to take part - and the only one without a driving licence - Max said: "The Ginetta Challenge was a fantastic experience and quite surreal as I was the youngest there and haven't really driven a car before – getting used to the clutch took a few laps but I was delighted with my performance.” Out of 500 drivers he got down to the final 50, which was good enough to be invited back next year. Both Max’s father and granddad were amateur racing drivers and that ’s where he got his passion for the sport, although he was quite a late starter, first getting into racing when he was 12. He quickly progressed through the novice and junior ranks and, at the age of 14, started Junior Max racing and had quite a few wins and podium finishes. He moved into senior racing, where at 15 he was always the youngest on the grid. Max has raced on well-known tracks such as Three Sisters in Wigan and has had a podium finish in the Gold Cup there against some really good drivers. He is a team driver at Chorley-based Sam Pollitt Racing, who provide him with his kart and transport to races across the UK.

On 30 January, several of the students doing New Views, a play writing project in the Sixth Form Beyond the Curriculum slot, went to see a live screening of Coriolanus at The Light cinema in New Brighton. The play was streamed from the Donmar Warehouse in London. None of us knew the plot, apart from the fact it was bloody, so we went in with relatively open minds. Proud, hard and uncompromising, Coriolanus is 5

At the end of last year, Birkenhead School were proud to present Claire House with a cheque for £4,200. This represented the proceeds from our Christmas Concert in December 2012. The concert was the grand finale of our previous Musical Director, Graham Ellis, who had retired that summer. Patricia Routledge, appeared as the Concert’s special guest star for the fifth time. She has long been a supporter of Claire House, which opened in 1998, and on each occasion Miss Routledge has appeared, the money raised has been donated to the Children’s Hospice which costs 2.7 million per year to run. probably the most difficult of Shakespeare’s tragic heroes to empathise with. This production starred Tom Hiddleston as Coriolanus (otherwise known as Loki from Thor) and Mark Gatiss as Memenius, a senator and friend to Coriolanus (Mycroft Holmes in the recent TV series with Benedict Cumberbatch playing Sherlock) who both acted passionately and were convincing in their characters. However, the real star of the show was Deborah Findley who played Coriolanus’ mother Volumnia. Despite the fact that the play was set in Ancient Rome, it was thrilling and its themes are still as valid today. The people demand the right to set their own price for the city's grain supply. The ruling class grants the people representation, much to the very vocal contempt of Caius Martius (Coriolanus). At this time, Martius leaves Rome to fight his great rival, Aufidius. Martius is victorious at Corioles and Rome is grateful so he is granted the name Coriolanus and returns home to popular acclaim. Persuaded to apply for office as consul, Coriolanus must first win the people’s votes. However, the people are prodded into goading Coriolanus and he, predictably, turns on them. He gives them such a verbal lashing that it results in his exile. Vowing revenge, Coriolanus goes to his Volscian enemy, Aufidius, offering his assistance with a new assault on Rome. Rome panics but Corilanus is deaf to their pleas until his mother, to whom he is devoted, intervenes. This softening costs Coriolanus his life - Rome is spared but the Volscians kill him for his treachery. We look forward to seeing more live-streamed plays in the future. It is a great way to see first-class drama productions locally (and more cheaply) in a virtual theatre environment. Siân Round, PU

In Focus March/April 2014


In Focus March/April 2014

Last term, the IYC (International Year of Chemistry) Challenge, also known as the ‘Pops and Bangs Evening’, was hosted by Birkenhead School for the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Liverpool section. The evening was led by Mr Hayward with a team of staff and students from the Beyond the Curriculum Group and the 3 BS Science Clubs. The event was extremely well-attended; nearly 100 cub scouts from Wirral packs (Bebington, West Kirby, Birkenhead and Wallasey), as well as their leaders and parents, came along and during the course of the evening qualified for their ‘Scientist’ achievement badge! Also, members of the Sixth Form who were helping out on the evening have been working towards their Science in the Community project, and so the IYC was of great benefit to them as well. Designed to be a fun and interactive event, a series of experiments were set up in the laboratories. The cubs were invited to participate in experiments which included chromatography, pH tests and lid-popping experiments, all of which were conducted by BS’s GCSE and A Level students. These entertaining experiments were an inviting introduction to more advanced levels of chemistry for the Cub Scouts. Halfway through the evening, everyone taking part gathered in the Meeting Room to watch demonstrations carried out by Mr Hayward. This involved some more complex experiments, including the ignition of gun cotton, popping hydrogen balloons and setting off rockets made of plastic bottles. The atmosphere was extremely lively, and the cub scouts were very impressed with the demonstration! The Fair, as ever, was underpinned by the sterling work, both in the preparation for and during the event, of all the Lab Technicians. Mr Britton had paved the way for such a good turn-out as our external liaison officer. A vote of thanks was given to the RSC (Liverpool Section) for sponsoring the event from its IYC 2013 budget, and to Mr Hayward for hosting the event. Since the evening was so successful and enjoyed by everyone, it is hoped that another Science event for local children will take place later in the year. Fay Mcfarlane, PU (see photos on opposite page)

1. The following creatures are all incorrectly named. What type of creature is: A) A ladybird? B) A sea-horse? C) A slow worm? 2. How old do you need to be to: A) Buy alcohol? B) Take a job where you handle money? C) Obtain a driving licence for a car? 3. Complete the following literary quartets: Peter, Susan, Edward and ? Flopsy, Mopsy, Peter and ? Jo, Beth, Meg and ? Please give your answers to Mr Britton

On 26 January, Matt Dixon in the Upper Sixth, ran a half marathon in support of Water Aid, a charity which helps to provide people in the developing world access to clean water. Even though Matt had never run so far before, he was inspired to do it in order to help a charity which he considers to be doing vital work. He ran with his girlfriend from his house in Higher Bebington to Eastham Country Park and then back home. What’s most remarkable about this is that he didn’t do any training and completed the half marathon in one hour and 48 minutes. He raised more than £350 for the charity which meant that a lasting supply of water will benefit more than 25 people. The money was raised by emailing all the students in the School and getting support from relations, friends and neighbours. A great effort for a very worthwhile charity. S Round, PU 7

Kevin Wong in U6th was selected for a Nuffield Bursary Award as a result of his research project at Unilever, Port Sunlight during the Summer 2013. Whilst at Unilever, he investigated the stress/strain relationship (Rheology = the study of the flow of matter, primarily in the liquid state), of solutions used in the manufacture of hygiene products (Polysaccharide salt solutions act as thickeners, or suspending agents in, for example, hair conditioners and moisturizers). Kevin presented his findings to one of the research professors at Unilever and at the North West Finals of the Gold CREST awards. Unlilever were so impressed with Kevin that they have already said he could well have a future with the company and will monitor his progress through university.

The hazy days of Summer bid a final farewell Golden glow of Autumn rings out into the sky The race for food sends echos amongst the hedgerows Distant humming of harvesting purrs like a cat The lush green life of Summer ebbs into a crisp golden brown Trees transform into somber brown Chattering birds and scurrying squirrels spread the news Autumn is here for all to see Breath billows clouds of smoke like the old steam train Slowly at first until gathering speed The leaves pick up the paces as the North wind blows As the final tear drop of dew melts onto the grass Winter is here at last Sam Cross, 8REL

In Focus March/April 2014

The Year 7 classes were inspired to write their own fantastical stories after Sue Hoffmann, author of "High King", a story of new continents and creatures, visited the school on at the beginning of February. English lessons outside the classroom give both teachers and pupils new perspectives: the Year 7s asked Sue all about her career as a writer. They were fascinated to learn that Sue's novel started as a story to entertain her own pupils! In the days following Sue's reading from her book, the Year 7s experienced an explosion of creative activity with dragons, heroes and villains engaged in a variety of nefarious activities... Mrs McGoldrick initiated this inspiring visit - and we hope to invite more authors to Birkenhead School in the future. F. Jung

Diane Frances, better known to everyone as Di, started working at BS on 13 Sept 1982. She worked under three headmasters - Mr Gwilliam, Mr Haggett and Mr Clark and, during her 32 years service, has worked in both the catering and estates department. Always a staunch supporter of the School, she was very proud when her grandson Daniel Garrett joined the Nursery. At home, she enjoys being in her garden or reading about the local history of Wirral and Liverpool - she was one of the first to buy a copy of the 2 volume Pictorial Histories of the School. We will miss her friendly face and cheerful smile but wish her a long, happy and healthy retirement with her husband John. J Ambrose

Alex Herod, Yr 7

Esme Brennan Yr 7


In Focus March/April 2014

Every year, the Rotary Club hosts ‘Youth Speaks’, a debating competition. This year it was held in January at the Birkenhead Sixth Form College. Many schools from across the region compete and each school can enter teams of three people from different year groups to represent their school. This year our school entered three teams from Y7, Y8 and Y9. I had the privilege of being the Main Speaker for the Y7 team: my teammates were Edward Oulton as the Chairman and Molly Rogerson-Bevan gave the Vote of Thanks. We spoke on the topic of “Should girls be allowed to play boys’ sports?” The Y8 team consisted of Mathew Walsh as the Main Speaker, Gregory Wilkinson as the Chairman and Katie Leyland gave the Vote of Thanks and they spoke on the topic of “Social Networking #dangerous!” Alex Forbes was the Main Speaker of the Y9 team, with Matthew Oulton as the Chairman and Marcus Ronayne-Sambucci gave the Vote of Thanks. Each year group had to compete against each other, which meant that the Y7s had to compete against the Y8s and Y9s! In particular, there was a battle of the brothers – with Matthew and Edward Oulton going head to head! We all did well and tried our best; as a result, many of the judges came and complimented us on how well we did. Birkenhead School were unfortunate not to win a prize, despite strong performances, but this was just a step forward in preparation for winning next year’s competition! Lara Abraham,Yr7

The fire that comes out from its Giant black snout is as hot as an iron poker. With its enormous long stride and its impenetrable hide You’d be dead before you even got near it. Edward Oulton Underneath the mountain so deep A gigantic fearful dragon had its sleep. Its disgusting, absolutely vile breath That once you smell it, you will meet your death. Its core is as hot as fire! More than enough to melt a tyre. The eye of the dragon is deep gold You will know this by many stories told. If you try to wake the dragon to tame, I warn you, it will be like a survival game. John Nguyen I am fierce, I am vicious, I am sneaky, You will fear me.

On Friday 15 November Reception took part in Children in Need. We came dressed in our own clothes with something spotty and in the afternoon we took part in a Scootathon. In teams we had to complete 4 laps of the course on a scooter. We had great fun taking part and raising money for such a good cause. J Mayers

I screech at dawn and yowl at dusk, I stamp everywhere I go. I am scaly, I am a Dragon! Josh Swift Dragons are fire-breathing ferocious beasts. They wander through town from West to East. As they soar in the sky, Listen out for their cry. For dragons are vicious And extremely dangerous. The dragons’ nights are restless – No one goes their way. They scare all their enemies away; No knight wants to fight Or see the great sight Of the Almighty Dragon sitting in his cave. Jess Hindle


In Focus March/April 2014

Back row l to r: Henry Taylor, Will Brewster, Alex Palmer, Daniel Knight, Josh Gibson, Alice Sherrard Front row l to r: Felix Lawrenson, Annabel Saverimutto, Lucy Rogers, Sophie Dolan-Jones, Annabel Mills, Callum Rooney, Luke Filer, Ethan Clawson

George Long standing 2nd from right, and his fellow lost boys backstage before the final show.

George Long 6HS had a very busy Christmas as he appeared as a Lost Boy in the pantomime Peter Pan at the Liverpool Empire. Stars of the show were Ray Quinn as Peter Pan with his wife Emma Stephens playing Wendy. Louis Emerick played Captain Hook, Shaun Mason and Leanne Campbell stole the show as Mr Smee and Tiger Lilly respectively. George had to rehearse after School for 3 weeks during November at a local dance studio, before moving to the Empire for a further week of technical and dress rehearsals. 20 shows followed from 13 December all the way through until 4 January. George said that he thoroughly enjoyed the experience playing Jib to a full and very noisy audience twice a day, although it did get very hot on stage under his lost boy hat.


So, as the summer exam period approaches, our first batch of Year 11 PE GCSE students are into the final stages of their preparations for both the theory exam and the practical controlled assessments. They will all have to perform in four physical activities of their choice, each worth 12% of their final mark. There is also a piece of coursework, worth another 12%, and then the final theory exam worth 40%. They are pictured in their new GCSE PE T-shirts as they prepare for moderation day on Friday 25 April. They will be taking part in a range of activities from athletics to table tennis, badminton to golf. D. Hendry

On 21st November 2013, the Sixth Form Beyond the Curriculum cooking group, run by Suzanne and Lucy, had a cake sale. They made eight different types of cakes including lemon drizzle cake, banana bread and Maltesers cake (see recipe below), pieces of which were sold for 50p each in the foyer of the Bushell Hall. In total, the cake sale raised £96.40 which went towards the Philippines Relief Appeal which they considered to be a very worthy cause. Siân Round, PU

    

100 grams butter 200 grams milk chocolate 3 tablespoons golden syrup 225 grams digestive biscuits (finely crushed) 225 grams Maltesers

Melt together the butter, chocolate and syrup then add the crushed biscuits and the Maltesers. Mix together quickly then pour into a lined Swiss roll tin and chill until set.

In Focus March/April 2014

Right: Tina and Joshua Barlow - Following in Daddy’s footsteps. Below: Lunchtime. Sophie feeding Zahra Pasha - Mmmm tasty! Far right: Georgia Holthofer, Jessica Collier and Isobel Edwards enjoying story time. Photos - Tina Ross, Baby Room Supervisor Left: Joseph Kingston-Davies and Jessica Collier exploring the land that time forgot. Below: Picassos in the making. Bottom: Sienna Gray and Ned Bullen exploring the kirtchen ‘Can’t cook, won’t cook’. Outdoor play


In Focus March/April 2014 Last November an Ancient Greek and Roman artefacts collector and historian, Mr Tony Cope, was invited to talk to Year 8 and 9 Latin students about his collection of artefacts. Firstly Mr Cope gave us an introduction to the sorts of things we would be doing in the workshop. Arranged on tables in the Meeting Room, there was an assortment of real and facsimile vases, jugs and other containers from Ancient times, as well as some weapons and armour to try on. Included in the weapons and armour set there was a chest-plate, a chain-mail, a collection of helmets and swords. There were also a couple of board games and a Rune Set. One was version of Dungeons and Dragons, the other Ancient Greek monopoly (“Pots”), both of which we had a go at playing. With the Runes set, you had to mix up all the pieces face down with both hands and then pick out three and turn them over. The information on these was supposed to tell you about what personality and character you had. Although you might not believe in it, it was nevertheless interesting to see what the symbols on the runes meant. Later we had to try to sort out different bits of various pots, jugs and other containers into different boxes according to their use and date. A. Fay, Yr 9 The Latin Workshop was amazing. We all had a chance to take part in all the activities and enjoyed everything there. I especially enjoyed the armour and weaponry section. Mr Cope demonstrated the power and precision of the sword by cutting a piece of paper in half with one very easily. We all had a chance to try on the armour and hold the weaponry. I was surprised how extremely heavy the armour was. Just standing there was exhausting; I couldn’t imagine having to fight as well! I would have died of exhaustion and heat after a few minutes. I also found the Roman games interesting, even though there were no rules with them, and the fortune-telling with Runes was very enjoyable though they foretold that I was going to be a dangerous character! We all had great fun building our own castles and forts and then destroying them, though unfortunately my castle fell over before I could even fire the catapult at it. Cameron Marshall, Yr 8

On 12 March, nine students from across the School went to Stockport Grammar School to take part in the Manchester Classical Association’s Latin and Greek Reading Competition. This is the first time Birkenhead School had entered and we were all intrigued as to what the competition would entail. In the Beginners’ Latin Competition, two teams of two – Lewis Ng, Cameron Marshall, Max Beardwood and Max Eugeni, all from Year 8 - acted out a dramatic piece from Book 1 of the Cambridge Latin Course. In the GCSE division, we had two competitors for the Greek category – David Nevin and Matthew Macdonald from Year 10 - who read a piece from Homer’s Odyssey Book 21, and one competitor in the Latin category – Callum Andrews also from Year 10 – who read a piece from Virgil’s Aeneid Book 12. In the A-level division, Sam Berkson from U6 was entered in both the Latin Verse and the Latin Prose category reading from The Aeneid and from Cicero’s In Verrem and came away with a commendation in the Prose category. Siân Round from L6 read a dramatic monologue from Sophocles’ Oedipus. We were faced with heavy competition with several leading schools from across the North West taking part including Manchester Grammar School, Merchant Taylors’ School and Withington Girls’ School. Overall, all of the contestants fully enjoyed the day and hope to return to the competition next year. Siân Round, PU 12

In Focus February/March 2014

Five local primary schools were involved in a recent netball tournament organised and hosted by Mrs Sewell and Prep staff. Held on a rare sunny afternoon at the beginning of February, teams from Great Meols, St Peter’s (two teams), Gayton (two teams), St George’s and Birkenhead School (two teams) dashed to and fro on the puddled courts in front of McAllester Building. Each match lasted 6 minutes each way - 12 minutes in total. The teams were put into two groups and the winning team from each group played each other in the final. There was also a play-off for 3rd and 4th position. The winner of Group A was Birkenhead A team (1st place) and the winner of Group B (2nd place) was Birkenhead B team - the final was 3 -1 to Birkenhead A team. Third place went to Gayton Primary School. BS A Team Abi Saverimutto (Captain) Emma Cooke Camilla Azurdia Erin Coughlan Elizabeth Hyatt Izzy Mclaughlan Maddie Unsworth Clara Gomez BS B Team Emily Phipps Lexi Jones (captain) Cerys Evans Catherine Malloy Annabelle Fraser Alessandra Ross Freya Semple Grace Harvey Jessica Brodbelt Emmeline Barry The rest of the Y6 girls helped to run the event by scoring and organising the other teams. Senior School U6th girls umpired Charlotte Lytollis, Katy Roden and Liv Wimpenny, whilst Miss Gilbride managed scoring and time keeping. At the end of the afternoon, all the participants were presented with a medal and goodie bag by Mr FitzHerbert and Mr Clark. The overall winners received a trophy. (A Team’s winning results - v St Peter’s 6-0, v Gayton 12-1, v Great Meols 90) Thanks to Carl Hodgson and the catering staff for providing the

much-needed refreshments and to Mrs Waddell for providing the TLC. It was very successful first Junior tournament to be held at BS. A great team effort!


In Focus February/March 2014

Mrs FitzHerbert is a new addition to the teaching staff in Prep this year. Her husband, Mr FitzHerbert, is the new Head of Prep and their children Holly and Bobby are in Years 8 and 5 respectively. Mrs Fitzherbert has been teaching for over 18 years, and specialises in English, Art, Music and Drama. What first impressed her when she first came to look round the School, some eighteen months ago, were the extensive grounds and beautiful Chapel. She enjoys a wide variety of music from classical to jazz and enjoys pop. She has also begun a ladies’ pop choir (called Bling) for the Parents’ Association. She is interested in Art and her favourite artists include Renoir and Van Gogh and also Keith Haring, a street artist, illustrated above. She encourages her pupils in Year 2 Art to practise their art on paper, rather than on the walls! Her best holidays were visiting the temples of Mexico and going into the Amazon jungle. She also enjoys writing. J Hart, PU

James Budworth in Yr 10 is taking both GCSE Latin and Greek and is thinking about reading Classics at University. Recently, James gave a presentation to a Year 6 class usually taught Latin by Mr FitzHerbert. They follow the “Minimus” Latin course (a pun on minimouse: minus means the smallest) designed for Primary Schools, part of the national Gifted & Talented programme. James talked about Roman slavery in his presentation. He used an exercise in Latin with the class to illustrate the find different ways people became slaves, the types of slaves, the jobs they did and by what means they could gain their freedom. James discussed with Mr FitzHerbert the content of the lesson and how to tie it in with topics the group had covered and were about to cover.

I joined Off the Ground Youth Theatre last September when I was 11, following in my sister Antonia’s footsteps. She has been with the theatre company for two years. Off The Ground (OTG) is a well-known local theatrical company with many successful productions to its name, beginning with their first production in 1994, a contemporary revival of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger. However, the highlight of the first year was undoubtedly the openair production of Twelfth Night, which toured stately homes in North Wales and Northwest England. The tour has been extended over the years and subsequent tours have played to full houses both in the UK and Ireland. Off the Ground Youth Theatre was formed in 1996 and is an absolutely vital part of the company. Students have the opportunity to study with professionals and take part in high-level productions - all youth theatre projects are lead by working actors, directors, writers and musicians. Off the Ground Youth Theatre is the only youth theatre in this region to offer such a wide range of on-stage, back-stage and film experience. Last month, I had a part in a production of ‘Trojans’, which is a modern day interpretation of the defeat on the city of Troy. I played Antimichus, the leading General in the Trojan Army who is employed by the Royal Family to maintain peace and order within the city. He advises the Trojans not to return Helen to Menelaus, with dire consequences for Troy. Youths protect the ramparts of the besieged city of Troy, near the Sceaen gate. They are Troy's self-declared defence league. The children are left behind to defend the city after the adult population have gone to play their part in the 10-year war. Trojans is a play about war, tactics, pride, honour and ultimately, betrayal and a modern take on the Ancient Greek story of the siege of Troy. The production was a sell out and yet another great success for Off the Ground Youth Theatre. Alex Herod, Yr 7

Recently, pupils from Overdale took part in the in the NW regional heat of the Junior Schools’ Challenge . The BS team (Claire Lawrence, Max Beardwood, Will Blessing and Alex Herod) travelled to Bury Grammar School at the beginning of March to compete against 16 teams from 13 Schools throughout the NW. The good news is that BS reached the plate final, but the bad news is that, once there, they lost to Calday GS (ouch!) Results: BS 140, Bolton 360 They seemed to leave their brains behind on the bus, taking quite a while to get started, but recovered well. BS 330, Merchant Taylors (Boys) 260 Probably their best performance. BS 240, Bury B 310 It felt closer and, although they only won one group game, they scored enough points to qualify for the plate. Plate Semi-final: BS 270, Ellesmere 160 Plate Final: BS 100, Calday 170 Calday were the better team, just; the score flattered them thanks to some inept work from the Questionmaster (a Bury Sixth-former) Moments of inspiration: Who plays Indiana Jones in the films? George Harrison What is a polygamist? A type of ghost. And, from the opposition: Who was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize? Margaret Thatcher.

K Britton 14

In Focus March/April 2014

Noell Odell

Multi-Pitch climbing trip to Idwal Slabs, Ogwen valley. In the early 20th century Noel Odell was at the forefront of British climbing, and much of that climbing was done in Snowdonia as part of the Easter Meets at the Pen y Gwryd hotel. Most of this country’s great climbers used these meets to prepare for their assaults on the Greater Ranges, and it was here that Odell impressed Mallory enough to be invited on the famous 1924 expedition where Irvine and Mallory may well have been the first to summit Everest. One of Odell’s new routes was a bold route up the left edge of the Idwal slabs. In 1919 it was normal to climb with nailed boots for grip on small edges, hawser laid hemp ropes were used for dubious security, and ‘the leader never falls’ was the order of the day. Odell decided to improvise by using flat, rubber soled tennis pumps to improve his grip on the rough rhyolite at Idwal, and managed to find a direct line up the slabs at a grade which even today provides solid, mid-grade leading with modern gear. So it was that on a cool, damp day in November a party of three arrived at the slabs to repeat his ascent. Paul Gogerty and Oliver Jones joined TMH for their first taste of outdoor, multi-pitch climbing, breaking out from the warm predictability of the indoor climbing walls. The party made good time, enjoying the grand vistas and growing exposure up the 500 foot sweep of the Slabs. Lunch was taken at a prominent ledge in good style, but no port or cheese was consumed as would have been the norm back in 1919! Both had no trouble with the difficulty of the climbing, and are now keen to learn the skills needed to lead outdoors – apologies to their parents! T Higginbottom


This 1909 photo shows British mountain climber George Mallory, who died while scaling Mount Everest in 1924, on the Moine ridge of the Aiguille Verte mountain in France.

And so a long tough season draws to a close for this year’s 1st XV. Following on from one of the School’s best seasons and a very successful tour to Namibia and South Africa, Captain Good always knew it was going to be difficult this year. With 17 leavers from last year’s 1st XV squad, we would face an inevitable period during which the 1st XV would need to be re-built. After a lean few months, sure enough there are now some reasons for optimism for next year. Many of the Under 16’s have stepped up to fill gaps left by the leavers and, with the successful Under 15’s moving into the senior squad, there will be some serious competition for places next year. For the record, we won 3 out of 15 matches played this year. Tom Cornall was top points scorer with 8 tries, 3 of which were scored in the last match against King’s, Chester. This doesn’t tell the whole story, however, as we did play some excellent rugby at times but just couldn’t sustain it against teams that were, for the most part, bigger than us. As usual, with a small squad, injuries made it difficult to put out a regular team, but spirits were high throughout the season and attendance at training was always good. Highlights of the season include the try scored by Tom Cornall against St Anselm’s from our own try line after a flowing backs move; the exciting 30-36 loss to Rydal; and the first half hat-trick from Tom in the final match of the season. As always, the captain, Francis Good, and his vice-captain, Matthew Williams, worked hard, setting an example in training and encouraging others. D. Hendry, i/c 1st XV Rugby

In Focus March/April 2014

6th Form D&T Systems visit Essar Oil, Stanlow In February we were privileged to be invited by Paul Smith (father of Mike Smith U6th) to visit the huge 2000 acre oil refinery at Stanlow. The site was owned by Shell until 2011 when the Indian energy group Essar acquired the site to add to their global portfolio. We were the first school group to be granted access for a visit for many years, and Mr Smith had arranged for a full and varied programme to be squeezed into a half day visit. This was all the more impressive as only a few hours before the whole site had been subject to an emergency shut-down due to a power failure, and I am sure there were more pressing matters than a visiting school! We were given an insight into the work that went into the 4 year project to replace the cat cracker regeneration head – a once every 20 year maintenance replacement that was carried out before Christmas and required the biggest crane of its type to be transported from Holland and assembled on site, as well as a closure of the M53 to walk the new part down to the site from Eastham. Then we were guided around the site to see the huge number of different process there, as well as a walk through the central workshop and main control room. Finally over lunch students were joined by young engineers to discuss careers and potential routes into the petrochemical industry. It was a very informative and valuable few hours on a site with understandably very tight access control, and our thanks are due to Mr Smith for his work in letting us visit. T Higginbottom

A totally new concept for the Parents’ Association, Sing with Bling our ladies’ pop choir, directed by Jo Fitzherbert, was launched in January. On that first night when we met in McAllester Pavilion (lovely and warm thanks to the Estates staff who had added some extra heaters), Jo and I stood waiting, wondering if anybody would join us. At 7:30 the door opened and our first lady arrived, followed quickly by another. We were at least a trio ... then a quartet. After 15 minutes, we were amazed to count 18 mums had turned up. After a short introduction, Jo gave us our first song sheet, Abba's ‘Waterloo’. We were all a little nervous but soon we were making a noise that sounded quite tuneful. We worked our way through a few more songs, some of which we knew like Adele's "Make you feel my love" and "Diamond's are a girl's best friend" to others that were not so well know, such as "Something inside so strong" and "Love can build a bridge". At the end of our first session, our faces ached from really pronouncing our words (great for your facial muscles!) and we all bounced out of the room to go home and download the tracks and practise, practise, practise! After 3 weeks our numbers swelled to 21, a few more songs were added and even a few harmonies introduced. We are welcoming new members each week as the word spreads. Everybody is welcome and no previous singing experience is required. We sing from song sheets and use backing tracks for our accompaniment. Our plans for the future.......well, we may sing at the Summer Fete and we hope that we may be invited to perform at the Summer Concert. Then the world is our oyster - though we will always remember where it all began! If you would like to join us, please just come along. We meet at 7:30pm in the McAllester Pavilion for a coffee and chat and start singing for an hour at 8:00. There is no commitment to be there every week. The main purpose is to enjoy yourself. Sally Gaskell, PA

This term, the Student Council, made up of two or three students from every year, have had several achievements. In the field of sport, the Student Council have secured practice netball posts outside McAllester Building and on Overdale playground, three new Kwik Cricket sets and lots more footballs for the School. As well as this, they have arranged mirrors for the changing rooms at McAllester Field, drainage to be improved outside K Block and a water fountain to be installed outside McAllester Building. Their plans for the future include trying to resolve traffic issues around the School, especially on Kingsmead Road South, in order to improve safety. They have already written to parents. Another event coming up is the Student Council Charity Day on 27 March which will involve a whole School non-uniform day and charity sports matches. The funds raised will be in benefit of the National Aids Trust. Sian Round, PU

Regenerator Head Lift - see the amazing lift on YouTube Essar Stanlow RCCU Lifts 2013


In Focus March/April 2014

On a cold and wet Saturday morning, a hardy group of students from Mr Hayward’s Wednesday afternoon running club met at Princes Park in Liverpool. We had entered a 5 kilometre fun run which is held every Saturday morning at 9am. There were over 200 runners of differing abilities and, after a briefing and being given the course directions, we were off. The leaders raced away: the winning time was an impressive 17.54 minutes. The first home from our group was Rob Hilton with a very respectable 13th place in 19.58 with sister Eleanor the first female home overall placing her 26th, with a time of 21.39. For most of us, it was just about finishing, which everybody did and, despite the weather, we agreed we would come back and do it again another day!! Then it was back onto the minibus and off to McDonalds for a well-earned breakfast. M Hayward & D Hendry

Photo above Back row l to r: Mr Hayward, Chris Fay, John Warbuton, Mr Hendry. Front row l to r: Alex Scott, Ella Devany, Rosie Anderson, Eleanor Hilton, CONGRATULATIONS to Cahan O’Driscoll who Pippa Brown, Rob Hilton

finished the Orienteering season in 3rd position in the Year 7 Boys individual rankings. There were a total of 76 competitors from across Merseyside and Cheshire in this category. He will be presented with his Bronze medal at the relay event at Birkenhead Park in May.

Photo right From the rear: John Warburton, Alex Scott, Rosie Anderson, Pippa Brown, Ella Devany & Eleanor Hilton

On 4th February (my 17th birthday), a team of nine Lower Sixth Students – Siân Round (Captain and Opening Speaker), Danial Alam (Vice Captain and Summation Speaker), Oliver Ainsworth, Grace Keenan, Harry Knowles, Ben Unsworth, Dan Walker, Dominic Fowler-Williams and Matt Williams – went to Liverpool Town Hall for the North West Regional Forum of the European Youth Parliament. We were all nervous since we knew our debate was first and we didn’t really know what to expect. However, we had all prepared thoroughly and looked sharp in our suits (with Dom even wearing a tweed jacket.) After a talk from the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Gary Millar, about entrepreneurship, the greatness of Liverpool and superheroes, and an introduction from the President of the Jury, the debates began. It started with a warm-up debate with the very serious, relevant topic of Batman vs. Ironman. Next, it was us. We were opposing the motion of ignoring human rights abuses in Russia as we had to rely on them for oil and, we were glad to find, all of the other teams (apart from our opposition), agreed with us and we won the debate 38 votes to 9. We then had a brief coffee break which gave us a chance to explore the grandeur of the town hall. The following debates were on the Eurozone Crisis, Europe in

Space, Immigration from Romania and Bulgaria and Young Entrepreneurs. Our team, the Committee on Culture and Education (a.k.a. CULT), dominated these debates with our opinions and input to the extent that we were no longer chosen to speak. Finally, there was a French debate which was not judged as none of the jury spoke a word of French. The motion was supporting the inclusion of women, immigrants and handicapped people in sport but, unfortunately, the jury decided to make our team the opposing team…Although we did not win the debate, our two French-speaking members of the team successfully expressed several useful opinions (thank you, Mrs Holgate!). Next, the moment we were all waiting for…the results. The members of the jury gave us general, then individual, feedback which was all very positive, but we did add to the suspense. Finally, the results were announced. We were one of the two winning teams who would go on to represent the North West at the European Youth Parliament National Finals later this year. The team collected their certificates and trophy then went to Sainsbury’s to buy all of the celebratory chocolate we would lay our hands on. The team is looking forward to the National Finals at Liverpool Hope University and hope to even progress to the International Finals in Kiev, Ukraine or Izmir, Turkey. Siân Round, PU 17

In Focus March/April 2014

A Ladies’ Evening with a French theme was held at the beginning of February at McAllester Pavilion. With French wines and canapés served to help the evening along, many parents attended to support of this fundraiser for the production of the musical Les Misérables. Preparations for the School production of the musical Les Misérables had been well underway since the beginning of the academic year. The cast, production and orchestra was made up of pupils, staff, Old Birkonians, family and friends of the School. It was a mammoth production and all those involved, not least its Director the Headmaster, Mr Clark, donated a huge amount of time, energy, expertise, skill, to the venture which lead up to the opening matinee on Tuesday 11 March in front of local primary schools and thereafter five nightly performances. It was indeed another outstanding BS production. All the performances were sold out and extra seats were eventually shoe-horned in to accommodate those on the waiting list! But even with so much given so freely, a production like Les Misérables didn’t come cheap. The Licence from Josef Weinberger was expensive at the outset. In addition, Weinberger takes a percentage from our ticket sales. The School is, therefore, very grateful to its main sponsors - the Parents’ Association, Carpenters, B&M and McLintocks - and to the many programme advertisers who have given their financial support to Birkenhead School’s production of Les Misérables. Review of Les Misérables on pages 22,23 and 24 18

In Focus March/April 2014

Having been selected to play for the North of England Girls U16s (Penine Pumas), Annie Mills in Year 11 performed exceptionally well at the “Futures Cup” held at Cannock in October 2013. The athletes playing had started their journey in September 2012 with thousands of others, and after a rigorous 3-tiered training and selection process, regional squads are picked. The competition was held between the four regions of England, and has the best young hockey talent on show. With Annie’s help, the Puma girls won (for the first time ever). Players were assessed at the tournament by all of England’s age group coaches / selectors, and performance team. Annie was selected to attend two further assessment days held recently. A group of 35 players, including current junior internationals, were put through a rigorous schedule and whittled down to 26. Annie did phenomenally well, and has made this final group of athletes. She now has a chance to potentially represent her country in upcoming internationals against Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. We congratulate Annie on her hard work and dedication to get to this stage, and wish her all the best in her pursuit of international honours. A Aldred

Over the last few months various schools from all over the Wirral nominated pupils to take part in trials to represent Wirral in indoor athletic competitions. Abi Saverimutto (left) and Emmelina Barry (right) from Year 6 were successful in making it to the selection of the final 15 girls. They have competed at various venues over the last few months, achieving many victories, and have been training after school every Monday. On 19 January at the National Athletics Centre, Sportcity, Manchester, the U11 Girls became the Northwest of England indoor athletics Champions! Also on the 26 Jan in Widnes, Wirral U11 Girls and Boys competed to successfully achieve the NorthWest Sportshall League Final Winners! Well done to Abi and Emmelina, talented young athletes! 19

This year, students were again selected from the Lower Sixth to participate in the Comenius Project; an international research project, begun by BS and funded by the British Council, to encourage international cooperation and teamwork in a professional environment. It involved students from Colegio Santa Teresa in Pamplona, Spain and Geschwister Scholl Schule in Tubingen, Germany. The project was split into two major groups - science and economics - and 4 from each group worked in each country. In Germany, both projects were based around e-bikes – bikes with assisting engines. The Science group investigated different engines while the Economics group designed a leaflet to encourage bike tourism in Tubingen. In Spain, the Science group detected and analysed concentrations of herbicides in the River Arga and the Economics group were trying to solve the problems of minority sports clubs in Pamplona. The UK students had the amazing opportunity to work in and be part of very large, successful companies: the Science group went to Unilever to investigate sustainability and the use of renewable resources, whilst the Economics group went to Typhoo to look at ways to improve their sustainability and recycling. The Comenius Project is an amazing opportunity and we were lucky to be a part of it. It has helped us enrich our knowledge as well as make new friends and learn to work in an international team. Ece Mert

Last November, Year 10, together with many other schools, went to Manchester to watch 5 lectures, which were also broadcast on television, by eminent Scientists, to help give students a broader base and greater understanding for their GCSE courses. Professor Lord Robert Winston delivered a wellprepared and fascinating lecture on the science of fertility, his specialist area. Lord Winston is also well-known for his commitment to scientific education. There was another lecture on exam technique. The examiner delivering the lecture showed examples of past answers, scrutinising their failings in great detail - so much so that we wouldn’t dream of making the same mistakes in ours! Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock gave a very enthusiastic lecture about space travel, which was neatly followed by a lecture by Professor Jim Al-Khalili about the misconceptions involved with time travel. Then we had a well-needed break to think through all the paradoxes Professor Al-Khalili raised. Professor Bruce Hood talked about the Science of Brains (Neuroscience and Neurobiology) and Professor Andrea Sella answered the question ‘Where does the zebra get its stripes?’ She also demonstrated chemical reactions that reverse and repeat themselves. The day was thoroughly enjoyable and Year 10 now have an insight into what to expect in the GCSE syllabus and the pitfalls to avoid in the exams themselves. James Budworth, Yr 10

In Focus March/April 2014

I was part of the lucky (or is it unfortunate?) few that have not read, nor seen the film of War Horse. This meant, I could treat the play as an original story for an excellent production. The plot was new to me, so I felt really gripped, and did my best to capture every detail that had been made for the production. For those who also have no knowledge of this story, it is very simple: Boy (named Albert) gets a horse (named Joey), horse and boy bond, horse goes to war (WWI), boy goes to find him, and they finally find each other! The original story was by Michael Morpurgo, and it was fantastic! Our school sat at the rear end of the audience, on the third tier, but that said, I know I could still see its brilliance. The play started with a projected image (above the stage) showing the sky, and a few [not projected] birds appeared on stage – on very long sticks, carried by some of the extras. For me, this didn’t bode well, but I remained open minded. A few minutes in, we saw the pony (remember Joey?), yet this is not your ordinary pony (and later horse), this is your mechanical PUPPET pony. It was constantly followed by puppeteers (to keep it upright) and although this may sound “unprofessional” or “silly”, it was in fact very cleverly done. These puppeteers were just as good as the main actors. They manned the pony (and later the grown horse – a piece of art just by itself) with lifelike precision, to a point, only a few minutes later, that one could suspend disbelief and start to see a “selfmoving puppet”. Later still, you start to believe it is a real horse! I admit, at first, my cynicism told me “Pah! Puppets!”, but you could really see past that. Especially since this play is mostly about a horse, that is quite important! I really do laud the craftsmanship that was put into the making of the puppets and to the efforts of the puppeteers themselves. As for the human parts, the actors became the characters (and even some of the big screen names can’t do that awfully well). I was gripped and the time flew by. The interval arrived but I just sat waiting for the play to start again and I was quickly transported straight back in time, to WWI. The lighting, and the props far exceeded my expectations, and they all added to make this lifelike play, become even more real. I nearly did, and I know some did, cry; there was plenty of emotion, driven by the emotional story as well as the performances. A big thanks to all the teachers who took care of us, and of course, an extra thank you to Mrs McGoldrick for organising the theatre visit! Sebastian Wilkes, Yr 9

The BS Orienteering Group: Front row Yr6 team members are l to r: Aden Husseyn, David Turner, Cameron Brown, Nicholas Johnson, Madeleine Unsworth, Alexandra Jones. Back row l to r: new recruit on the staff side this season, Miss Jung; Lucy Mayers, Yr 7; Elliott Casey, Yr 9; Sam Cross Yr 8; Talha Ebrahim, Yr 9; Cahan O’Driscoll Yr 7, Grace Harvey Yr 6 and Mrs Washington.

Orienteering is a challenging outdoor adventure sport that exercises both the mind and the body. Its primary aim is to navigate in a sequence between control points marked on a unique orienteering map and to decide the best route in order to complete the course in the quickest time. There are different levels and different age groups which compete. Orienteers are able to orientate a map using either the terrain or a compass; they understand how to navigate whilst keeping the map set to the ground and are able to 'thumb' the map to log a changing position. The photos right were taken at the first event held at Northop last October. As part of the Merseyside Schools Orienteering League, BS has undertaken both Junior (White) and Senior (Yellow) courses at Nantwich, Thurstaston, Speke Hall and Delamere East meetings this season. At the beginning of March, the Primary Schools Orienteering Championships took place at Sefton Park. Teams from Merseyside and Cheshire took part - BS came 2nd, narrowly defeated by Mickle Trafford. Team members were David Turner (Gold - best individual Yr6 performance), Aden Husseyn (Silver-2nd fastest Runner Yr6 boys), Grace Harvey (finished 5th of ALL girl participants), Matthew Palmer (finished 10th overall and it was his first competitive solo performance), Nicholas Johnson (13th) and Samarth Kumar (14th). The final event will take place at Birkenhead Park in May. 20

In Focus March/April 2014

Lacrosse player Olivia Wimpenny in U6th has already been awarded her Full England Cap at last year’s Home Internationals. At 17, Olivia was one of the youngest girls ever to have been awarded it. This was all the more significant because 2013 was the Senior Women's World Cup year and therefore all the top national players had been available for selection. Although Olivia missed out on final selection for the World Cup, two players were unable to play in the Home Internationals which preceded the World Cup and Olivia was promoted to the full England team. This demonstrated how close she must have been to final World Cup Selection. Olivia is still young enough to play in the next U19 World Cup event in Edinburgh in July 2015 and so she has now moved back to play with the U19 squad as they prepare for this major event. Despite her selection at national level, Olivia is still committed to the School team and is its Captain. She also captains Oxton Club, Cheshire County and the North of England. She was also selected to Captain the England U18 team for the Home Internationals which take place in Newport, South Wales, in March. Congratulations to Olivia on her marvellous achievements in Lacrosse.

A team consisting of Eleanor Hilton, Connie Sturgess, Tom Parkes and Shikhar Kumar won the Wirral and Chester heat of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Top of the Bench Competition, open to 14-16 year old students. This involved producing a poster, carrying out a 2-hour practical exercise and sitting a written test. In addition, Connie achieved the highest mark by a Year 10 student. She also took responsibility for pulling together all the individual research, as well as designing and producing the poster. Tom scored the highest mark in the whole competition on the Year 9 written test. Their team score has put them through to the national final later in March at the University of Loughborough. This will include a short test of factual chemical knowledge and a practical chemical problem-solving team exercise. Prizes are given for the best overall school performance (the Top of the Bench Team) and for the five runner-up teams. P Lindberg 21

On Tuesday 18 March two teams of Year 8 and 9 pupils took part in the UKMT (United Kingdom Mathematics Trust) Regional Team Challenge competition. The A team consisted of Lewis Ng, Adrian Dyu, Steven Chen and Shikar Kumar (l to r top photo) and the B team consisted of Cameron Marshall Tom Parkes, William Harvey and Ed Brodbelt (l to r bottom photo). The competition was hosted by the School and took place in Bushell Hall. It was made up of four rounds, a group question round, a cross number, a timed shuttle round and a relay. Both teams performed strongly over the four rounds. Team A achieved full marks on the cross number round, moving them into first place overall. They went on to win the competition ahead of Calday Grange Grammar School, who were 2nd, and West Kirby Grammar School in 3rd place. The Birkenhead B team achieved 5th place overall, missing out on 4th place by one point. The winning team has been invited to compete in the National Final in London on 23 June, which will take place at the Royal Horticultural Halls. K Stone

In Focus March/April 2014

I am a huge fan of the 'Les Misérables' musical and have seen it a number of times on stage, was completely astounded by the recent film adaptation and in the 1990s even owned the CD of the musical in German. These productions have never failed to leave me emotionally drained and humming my own medley from its large selection of soaring songs for days afterwards. We all have those songs that start to give us goose bumps after the opening phrase – well, for me, 'Les Mis' provides many of these. You can imagine then, when told a school was putting on an adaptation of Les Mis, that I felt some apprehension. This is, after all, the musical that, even before it's opening night in 1985, was deemed too emotional, dark and complex for the stage. They said it would leave audiences either bored with its themes of revolution, politics and poverty, or confused with the chronology and its similarly named French characters, or its complicated ideals. The fact that this is one of the most moving, exciting and uplifting tales of love, redemption and sacrifice ever to have been told first in a novel and then on stage seemed initially to be lost. One of my reservations at seeing Les Mis performed by young people of varying ages, none older than eighteen, was because (once Les Mis had proven the critics wrong and become one of the most popular, most praised and longest running musicals of all time) it is considered to be an adult musical. This is such an emotionally charged story requiring a deeper understanding of what it is to be human; what it is to truly suffer at the hands of others and yet find the strength to walk away from vengeance; what it is to lose faith in your beliefs despite fighting for them throughout your whole lifetime and what it is to lose those people you love in futile, pointless circumstances. How could mere students ever sing those songs and convince me they truly understood? I knew that months of hard work had gone into the production and that this hard work was driven by a passion, like my own, for this musical. For a start, the theatre was impressive. A full orchestra were in position in front of the stage on which was a simple but effective set which provided the backdrop for the numerous different locations in the story. The stage was constantly transformed and the audience transported to different places by the skill of the team of special effects and lighting technicians who stood silently behind the audience. From the first bars of the opening sequence, I was impressed with

the ensemble cast and harmonies. It was beautifully sychronised and, from that moment, I forgot these were students and was swept up by the powerful choruses and storytelling. I could not tell that the cast singing: 'At the end of the day' were not factory workers, fed up and disillusioned by their lot and harassed by the lecherous factory Foreman. I believed the young people at the barricades were passionate about their cause. I wanted to stand and join them in the chorus of 'Red and Black', and I shed a tear each time one of their comrades fell. I even jumped with the gunshots – though they were not too loud, but well judged and poignantly rang out into the audience, which was clearly holding it's breath. As for the finale, my heart soared, hearing the last notes of 'Do you hear the people sing' fading into the distance. There was a definite pause from the audience before the applause whilst we got our emotions in check . My previous misgivings had been unfounded. It is credit to the Director, John Clark; Musical Director, Philip Robinson and Assistant Director, Louise Smeaton, who had clearly instilled a deep passion and understanding into the cast. I was under their spell, and this was not even broken by some of the technical hiccups. What stays with me is the professionalism of the performers when things went wrong. For some, it must have been a huge disappointment to realise your big number could not be heard, but each and every one carried on without missing a beat. How proud their parents much be. I imagine some Hollywood stars wouldn’t remain as seemingly unperturbed under similar circumstances. Les Mis was obviously a huge team effort. Without any one of those involved behind the scenes - the talented orchestra, the lighting and effects crew, the costume designers, the directors, the fetchers and carriers - it would not have been the show it was. Ultimately, though, you remember those characters and their songs which gave you the goose bumps, or made your mouth drop open in awe or made you shed that tear. Edward Oulton and Esme Brennan were lovely as Gavroche and Young Cosette. Edward acted his heart out and performed with great conviction and gusto. I see an Artful Dodger in the making. Esme had innocence in abundance. Fantine provided a wonderful contrasting harmony to the other women in 'Les Mis'. Although her part is smaller, without her voice in some of the biggest numbers they would not have sounded as


In Focus March/April 2014 haunting. Charlotte Major sang her part with frailty, yet showing that inner strength which is so important. 'I dreamed a dream' has a powerful sentiment, which needs to sung with restraint and passion. She did so admirably. Cosette, a soprano in contrast to the other female leads, has some difficult notes to reach and Ciara Williams reached them effortlessly. It is easy to dismiss Marius and Cosette's love as a side-issue in the story, but there was a sweetness in their interpretation of it which made it a warm, uplifting plotline to diffuse some of the tragedy. They complemented each other well vocally, and their chemistry worked. Marius has many faces in the musical - revolutionary student, lover, surrogate son, friend and foe - and Tom Wimpenny conveyed all of them. Arguably, this character has some of the most important songs and I was particularly impressed by 'Empty chairs at empty tables'. Tom really seemed to come into his own during this song. Rebecca Davies was inspired as Mme Thernadier. Not a note or foot wrong. She is very talented and provided the exact mix of deviousness and humour that this part requires. I laughed every time she was on stage and her portrayal was exactly right for the light relief needed at that stage. Arran Byers as her husband was also talented, and one of the ones who sang and performed admirably despite microphone malfunctions. It was a shame because the lyrics are paramount to the humour and in missing those, the calibre of his performance of 'Master of the House' was missed on that occasion. Eponine is my favourite character. Emily Pulford’s rendition of 'On my own' was excellent. She really made me feel her heartache and despair. Valjean played by Robert Hilton got better and better throughout the performance. Despite being a handsome young man who has never actually been dragged around in chains and subjected to nineteen years of hard labour, his performance made the audience believe he had suffered. He showed tenderness, determination, rage, shame, passion and disappointment in equal measure. He aged before our very eyes and by the time he performed 'Bring him home', he had become Valjean for me. He sang this with such skill, it was hard not to believe he had done it for years. An incredibly difficult performance because of the emotional depth you have to convey both through your voice and also in your stance. It is considered one of the hardest roles to get right. He did. Breathtaking! My performance of the night was Andrew Sherman as Javert. He was brilliant: it was hard to believe he has not been on the West End stage for years. Every time he was on stage, I was drawn to him and his performance. Javert is not, as many believe, the villain of the piece; he is misunderstood and is actually a very moral man who believes there is only right or wrong. He detests Valjean because he represents exactly what he cannot understand – a criminal who can change and redeem himself. This conflict causes him ultimately to commit suicide as it goes against what he has believed his whole life. Andrew played Javert with the perfect mix of anger, revulsion, disappointment and moral indignation. He had determination but also such vulnerability about him, that during 'Stars', I felt nothing but sympathy with this tragic figure. He conveyed to me that Javert is a victim of his own paradox and made me question who the real hero of the piece is. I cannot fault his performance which is a truly challenging part for anyone. A singing teacher once said to me you might have a good voice, but in order to be truly great and for people to feel what you are singing, you have to feel it yourself first. All of these actors seem to have got that. This is down to both their own talent and the values, effort and passion instilled by those involved in directing and producing it. I was honestly bowled over by how good it was. I can imagine all involved are thrilled with the results of their hard work, but also terribly sad it is over. A tremendous achievement and some wonderful memories. J Parkins, Member of the Audience, Friday’s performance

For Friday night’s performance, there were several cast changes. For the other four evening performances Fantine was played by Antonia Dowd, Eponine by Eleanor Hilton, Marius by Tom Gibbs and the adult Cosette by Amy Naylor. Audience feedback from Tuesday Wednesday Thursday and Saturday confirms that they too were marvellous in these roles. 23

In Focus March/April 2014

Kate Morrell, Deputy Nursery Manager, gave birth to a lovely baby girl, Ella Louise, on 16 February at 1.59 am. She weighed in at 6lb 2oz and was 17.5 inches long. Photo right: Proud parents - Kate and Ian with baby Ella. Congratulations from all at BS. After twenty weeks of hard work and commitment from both students and staff, opening night finally arrived. Backstage the buzz of excitement could be felt all around as we prepared for our first performance. From the curtains at the side of the stage, we could see the hall filling with an audience full of anticipation. The nerves began to kick in. It was now time for us to turn all that hard work into a performance which would wow our audience. From curtain up, the audience was treated to a performance of near professional standard - despite some technical hitches! However, we ploughed on, determined to maintain our high standards and professional approach. Credit must be given to Tommy Keenan who, despite badly spraining his ankle, continued to perform as many of his roles on stage as he could and as part of the scene-shifting team, not wanting to let his fellow cast members down. It also emphasized the bonds that had been formed amongst the Les Mis family. During the week, we continued to produce performances of high quality in front of a full auditorium each night. I think we got better and better as the week went on and the response from the audience was all the reward we needed for the months of hard work which had gone before. The enjoyment we all got from staging Les Mis left us all wishing we could ‘Hear the people sing’ one more time! Hannah Triggs, PU

The Manchester Grammar School 261.9


Birkenhead School



The King's School



Stockport Grammar School



Merchant Taylors' Boys' School



The Grange School



The Queen's School



Merchant Taylors’ Girls School



West Kirby Grammar School



Cheadle Hulme School



The King's School In Macclesfield



Wirral Grammar School for Boys



Birkenhead High School Academy 224.8


St Anselm's College



Wirral Grammar School for Girls



Upton Hall School FCJ



Calday Grange Grammar School



AND Olwen Margot Magdalene Frowe was born on Sunday 26 January at 11.46pm. (By the by, her sister Astrid was born also on a Sunday). Congratulations to Laura and Neil. Another gorgeous baby. P.S Olwen must qualify as the youngest member of the audience at Les Mis. Accompanied by her mummy, she was as good as gold. I’d like to say she was enthralled, but she slept all the way through the show (Olwen, that is, not her mum!).

A-level grade A* scores 300 points, A = 270, B = 240, C = 210, D = 180, E = 150. The fact that 2 E grades are ‘worth’ more than one A grade seems slightly odd but this is what we have to work with. Schools are ranked according to average total points per student and by the average points score per entry. The latter indicates the quality of performance. The second column shows the average point score per academic entry. For the second time this year, the tables also include the number of students who gain good grades – at least two As and a B – in so-called "facilitating subjects". These are subjects that are commonly seen as a route into leading Russell Group universities. This is shown as a percentage in the final column.

Nuffield Research Placements (previously Nuffield Science Bursaries) provide only 1,000 students each year with the opportunity to work alongside professional scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians. Students who have completed their GCSEs and who are studying at least one science at advanced level are invited to submit applications. Normally only one, or at most two placements are awarded per school. However, it has just been announced that this year, no less than three of our students have been awarded placements on this prestigious Scheme. After their work placements, the students are invited to a special evening where they will present their projects and talk about their experiences. J Hart, PU 24

In Focus March/April 2014

The U15 rugby team have enjoyed a highly successful season, claiming several notable scalps on their way to being a member of the elite group of schools who progressed to the top thirty-two teams in the country. Victorious in eleven out of the fifteen fixtures that they played this season, the team have scored over five hundred points including eighty-seven tries. Great strength of character was evident in the away fixture at Hutton G.S. Losing by a single point with seconds to go, Ben Martin used his power and bulk to force his way over in the corner to claim the try which grasped an unlikely victory. Calday G.S. were unable to compete with Will Grabe’s burly front five unit and were comprehensively outplayed in the second round of the NatWest Cup competition. King’s Macclesfield arrived at McAllester Field on November 13th appearing to be confident that they would progress to the fifth round of the cup. They departed two hours later in a state of shell-shock, having been dismantled by the Birkenhead scrummage. Props Aaron So and Callum Andrews dominated their opponents to the extent that the home team were victorious by 27 point to nil. U14 utility back Jack Pritchard enjoyed an outstanding debut, scoring two tries, two conversions and a penalty. The victory over the previously unbeaten Manchester G.S. team in the sixth round of the NatWest Cup was a massive achievement. Tries from Elliot Bainbridge and Gabriel Johnson-Aley cancelled out two MGS tries. Ultimately, it was the impressive kicking of Jack Pritchard which made the difference and achieved victory in a hard-fought match which was in the balance until the final minute. A conversion attempt which would have gained MGS a winning draw as the away team crept just wide of the uprights to seal another outstanding victory for Birkenhead. Unfortunately loosehead prop Callum Andrews suffered a serious hand injury which disrupted a previously dominant front row: Callum’s absence proved to be a key factor in the defeat to Yorkshire visitors Crossley Heath in the sixth round of the cup. Uncharacteristically sloppy play, probably resulting from too much adrenaline and a lack of composure, resulted in Crossley Heath being presented with an abundance of turn-over ball, allowing their pacy backs to outpace a narrow and rather pedestrian Birkenhead defence and race into a fourteen point lead. Two tries scored by hooker Tom Griffiths brought the home team back into the game but, despite achieving forward dominance in the in the second half and pinning the visitors deep in their 22 metre area for lengthy periods, Birkenhead were unable to pierce a well-organised defence. Inevitably the weather intervened after Christmas and only two scheduled fixtures were played. Despite the absence of several key players, victory was gained away at St Ambrose where Harry Mills scored two opportunist tries from scrum half. The match against Kirkham G.S. was played at Noctorum and was the only fixture to

Bring them on! David Nevin, Aaron So & Gabriel Johnson-Aley await the arrival of King’s Macclesfield .

Gabriel Johnson-Aley encourages the rest of his pack to work harder to drive him towards the Manchester G.S. line whilst Harry Mills observes from a safe distance!

survive the deluge which saturated McAllester Field. Kirkham’s excellent backs came very close to winning a keenly contested match but a rare hat trick of tries from giant tight head prop Aaron So, one of which was the result of a series of text book pick and drives over 40 metres, proved to be decisive. Number 8 Gabriel Johnson-Aley finished the season as top try scorer with a total of nineteen. Gabriel’s performances have earned him a place in Sale Sharks’ junior academy squad. He has also been selected in the Cheshire U15 squad along with prop forward Aaron So and centre John McGregor. More recently a combined U14/U15 team defeated QEGS Blackburn and five members of the U15 squad represented the U16 7s team which beat Manchester Grammar School and Royal Lancaster Grammar School to reach the semi- final of the Stonyhurst College 7-a-side competition. Steve Gill 25

In Focus March/April 2014

Each Friday we meet for Fitness Friday at The Pavilion, McAllester Field for general fitness classes from 9.15-10.15am. BLING (Birkenhead Ladies in a Group) – a Ladies Pop Choir who meet every Wednesday 7.30pm (for 8pm start) to 9.00pm at The Pavilion, McAllester Field. Please contact any member of the Parents’ Association or Denise Durband on 07718 584575 or

Now that we are well and truly settled into School year, we thought it would be a good idea to introduce, or reintroduce you to The Parents’ Association. We are a group of parents with children from a wide range of school years who meet on a regular basis. Our purpose is to enhance the School community by arranging social events for pupils and parents and using the funds we raise to buy those special extras that are used for the benefit of the entire School. From the table tennis table for Prep to unicycles for the Senior School, we aim to distribute funds fairly across all year groups and to support a wide range of interests. We appreciate the busy schedule parents have but would encourage you to offer your support and help, even if it is for only the odd hour or two helping out at an event. New members with fresh ideas and enthusiasm are always welcome to attend our meetings or to contact us. If you would like to become more involved then please speak to your Parent Liaison representative or contact our Chair, Denise Durband on 07718 584575 or or Secretary, Sally Gaskell on 07985 432136 or Below are details of some of the events we have planned for you to add to your diary. Please also check your emails or the school website on a regular basis. You can also “like” our Facebook page “Birkenhead School Parents’ Association”. Sally Gaskell, PA Secretary The PA hold a very popular termly disco for Years 36 in Bushell Hall from 6pm-8pm. Tickets are £4. Refreshments can be bought on the night - cordial is served for 10p a glass, water is free charge and a range of pick and mix sweets for 10 - 20p. The next Years 3-6 Disco will be held on Friday 20 June. Midsummer Madness – a summer fête to be held on School Campus on Sunday 22 June 2014 – further details will follow soon.

Our termly PA Coffee Morning is a good opportunity for parents to get together for a chat and for new parents to get to know us or just to drop in for a break in a busy day. This term around 15 parents, including 2 new faces which is always lovely to see, came along to the Visitors’ Dining Room. Our next coffee morning, with toast, crumpets and croissants, will be held on Thursday 17 April from 8.30am at The Pavilion, McAllester Field.

Buy some of the fun, educational products and great value toys from Yellow Moon Fundraiser catalogue (distributed in Prep and available from the Yellow Moon website), and the Parents’ Association will receive up to 20% cash-back on everything bought. So everyone benefits: your crafty shopping is easier; your kids receive some lovely gifts, and the PA raises much needed funds too!  Place your order with Yellow Moon online, by phone or fax by 30 April 2014  IMPORTANT - quote or input the unique source code shown on the front of your catalogue to ensure the Parents’ Association earns up to 20% cash-back (excl. VAT, delivery and special offers) on your purchases  SPREAD THE WORD - don’t forget to show the catalogue to friends and family as they may want to add to your order Yellow Moon will send your order direct to your home!


In Focus March/April 2014

From the beginning of the school year we have been fortunate enough to have Niamh Gilbride for the first period on Friday mornings to put us through our paces during the PA’s Fitness Friday sessions. On average, we have 10 people at each session and we work on a variety of fitness areas including cardio, abs and core stability. We have even used the School gym equipment in the Sports Hall. The sessions are fun and anybody attending can adapt the training to their own ability. There is no commitment to attend every week. You can drop in and out as little or as often as you like. We would love to have more parents joining us, so if you feel the need to shake off those cobwebs or get into shape for the summer, why not join us every Friday 9am at McAllester Pavilion?

Below: Great fun at a recent Prep Disco organised by the PA.


In Focus March/April 2014

A few months ago, I was selected to play for Central Cheshire U15 rugby squad. I was really pleased about this because I would love eventually to play rugby for a living. After a few training sessions and games against East Cheshire, West Cheshire and North Lancashire, my Central Cheshire coach announced that the full Cheshire U15 squad would be posted on the Cheshire website soon. To my delight, my name and those of a few of my good friends in the team made the full Cheshire squad. A week later, I received an email from David Wilkes, the Sales Sharks Assistant Academy Manager, congratulating me on my selection for the Sharks Development U15 Group. Training started in the middle of January and every Wednesday thereafter until the end of April. The aim of the programme is to develop core rugby skills, and awareness of key nutritional, physical, mental and medical factors that can be instrumental in making a better rugby player. On 5 May, I will be taking part in the RFU Academies Tournament where I will be playing against Leicester Tigers, Northampton Saints and Worcester Warriors Academies. I am enjoying playing rugby this season and am determined to make the most of this opportunity with Sale Sharks. Gabriel Johnson-Aley, Yr 10


Following on from the day out in Erddig, the children in Year 2 were lucky enough to have a Victorian Toy Making and Artefact Day. Don and Kathryn arrived bright and early to set up Old School House Hall and turn it into a toy workshop with drills, hammers, sandpaper and what seemed like hundreds of little wooden parts to make the toys. The resource room was converted into a museum with different artefacts from the Victorian Era, lots of which the children were able to play with and examine. Splitting into 2 groups, one looking at the artefacts and one making the toys, the children settled quickly to the activities. The group in the hall with Don and Kathryn learnt all about the history of toys and how different forces are used to make them work. They then set to work making their individual toys. The children worked really hard to sand the wood and to decorate their toy before they worked individually with Don or Kathryn to drill holes and attach string. The group looking at the artefacts saw how picture books have developed into cartoons and played the games that Victorian children would have played like skittles and marbles. The children really loved the day and learnt a lot about how toys have developed over the years – and there was no mention of an iPad or computer all day! A Hendry

In Focus, April 2014  

The School's Magazine for April 2014

In Focus, April 2014  

The School's Magazine for April 2014