Page 1

January 2014 Newsletter

Headmistress’s Letter

January 2014 | Newsletter As we embark on this new term and indeed this new year, I continue to be amazed, as we look back at the wealth of activities and achievements contained in this newsletter, at just how much can be packed into one term. Presentation of Prizes, in early December, was a wonderful platform to celebrate the achievement of girls in Years 11–13. We were delighted to welcome Anne Pitcher, Old Girl of the High School and Managing Director of Selfridges, who presented the prizes, awards and certificates. The occasion gave me the opportunity to share, with some sadness, a few memories of my time as Headmistress at the High School in what will be my final year before I retire. Many different avenues, including reflections on the proliferation of reality television shows, the culture of celebrity and consumerism and the death, the previous evening of Nelson Mandela, led me to think that it might be of interest to the girls to ask them to think about who they saw as their inspiration and role models. I hope, in my recollections of the two people who had most inspired me; the Senior Mistress at my grammar school, and my mother, that I was able to instil in the girls, some appreciation of the invaluable lessons that they are learning from their parents.

Following the decision by Mrs Martin to retire after five, extremely successful year as Headmistress, the Governors are delighted to announce the appointment of Mrs Jenny Brown with effect from 1 September 2014. Mrs Brown is currently Assistant Head (Director of Senior School) at St Paul’s Girls’ School, Hammersmith. The Governors believe that in Mrs Brown, with her combination of intellect, vision and relevant experience, the school has found the ideal successor to consolidate and build on Mrs Martin’s success and to take the school on to a new and exciting phase of development. We know that Mrs Martin and Mrs Brown will work closely together over the coming months to ensure a smooth transition and enable the school to continue to thrive. Miss Dorothy Henderson Chairman of Governors It is an enormous privilege to be joining St Albans High School for Girls. During my three interview days, the school’s warmth and wisdom and its wit vividly communicated itself to me. (I’m still pondering the perfect answer to one taxing question posed by Year 5 girls: “What’s the best joke you’ve ever heard?”).

The past is history The future is a mystery Today is a gift That is why it is called the present Mrs Rosemary Martin Headmistress

As a fairly local girl, brought up in Finchley, I have long known of STAHS and of the astute and lively students it cultivates. I am very much looking forward to leading this school in which students’ and teachers’ horizons are wide and exciting, in which learning is clearly such fun and in which the quality of relationships forged is second to none. Mrs Jenny Brown BA Oxon Headmistress: Rosemary Martin MEd NPQH FRSA

2 St Albans High School for Girls

01727 853800

The appliance of Science


Prep School pupils spent time in Science last term engaging with the natural habitat and exploring a number of activities including exploding canisters and the solar system. Year 5 and 6 pupils dissected eyes and hearts as part of their human body topic.

Forest School Reception pupils started a Forest School in November. They explored the woods and found a special letter and stories about nocturnal animals. The girls then made nocturnal animals from clay and natural materials.

Sharing Assembly The girls in Reception had a super start at Wheathampstead House and have settled in happily. During their first term, the girls enjoyed a school trip to Wheathampstead Library.They found out how to use a library and listened to stories. They also had fun exploring different types of books

Letter from Head of the Preparatory School

January 2014 | Newsletter Happy New Year from Wheathampstead House! We trust that you will enjoy highlights from last term in this edition of the newsletter. Noteworthy arrivals included the new raised beds which will enable more girls to participate in growing and eating their own fruit and vegetables. In addition, the audio system in the hall was updated and this has made a significant improvement to assemblies, events and concerts.  We launched a new community initiative with the local village schools, hosting the first ever Wheathampstead Village Schools’ Debating Challenge just before the half term holiday. The day involved Year 5 pupils from Beech Hyde School, St Helen’s School and the Prep School. The children enjoyed activities in team building, research and public speaking skills.The Mayor of St Albans City and District supported the event and the children were delighted to see her during the morning sessions and for their final presentations. A number of girls in Years 5 and 6 sang in the Wheathampstead Joint Schools’ Choir at the St Albans and District Civic Service. They sung ‘Zadok Rules – Hallelujah!’ by the Wheathampstead composer Alexander L’Estrange. It was a special service for all and it was very touching that many dignitaries took the time to come and thank the pupils from all the schools; sharing that the children’s performance had made the service. The finale for the term was the superb Pre-Prep Christmas Play and the Christmas services from Year 3–6; well done to all the girls! As we enter 2014 we look forward to an exciting new term! With best wishes Ms Gillian Bradnam Head of the Preparatory School

and learnt how to use the machine for checking out and returning books. At school we shared lots of our favourite stories and used these in our literacy learning.The girls were very good at retelling stories including ‘The Little Red Hen’, which they were able to retell in their first sharing assembly.

St Albans High School for Girls | Prep


January 2014 | Newsletter

Heartwood Forest Amazing animal alliteration

Art Project

Last term Year 2 discussed animals in English, learning to describe them using adjectives, similes and alliteration and each pupil made their own website about an animal of their choice. The girls studied a poem about naughty kittens and wrote similar poems using exciting verbs to describe all the naughty things their animals were doing. The girls then became TV presenters and created animal documentaries using exciting verbs, adverbs and onomatopoeia. Finally the girls used their creativity to create fictional animals and described them using all of the linguistic skills they had learnt. Girls in Year 3 enjoyed a very successful eco-fortnight in November during which they discussed how to save energy and conserve resources. During their trip to Heartwood Forest, they took the job of planting trees very seriously and as a team effort, planted over 200 trees, some of which they were able to name.

Celebrating Nature

4 St Albans High School for Girls | Prep

Girls broadcasting their hedgehog documentary to the class

By Katie & Olivia, Year 6

In Art we have been working on a new and invigorating art project on the theme of ‘contrast’. All the ideas we created were unique. We planned our ideas using mind maps and flow charts. These showed how our ideas would develop, how they were inspired, and how they related to the theme. Over the following five weeks we worked on our ideas, testing out different media, colours and textures. In the last week we created a final piece using all the artistic knowledge that we had gained from the previous weeks. We enjoyed this project as we unearthed new ways of creating different effects.

Au bord de la mer Girls in Year 1 enjoyed learning about seaside holidays, listening with interest to a visitor sharing stories and experiences as she described what holidays were like in the 1950s.

Year 4 were very excited to be part of a new trip to Rye Meads Nature Reserve early last term. Participating in bird watching, pupils used binoculars and sat in the specially designed hides. The views across the meads were spectacular and the girls were able to identify many of the birds. They had great fun swinging nets above their heads and scooping out handfuls of weed and tiny creatures from the bottom of the murky pond. Amongst our finds were large water snails, leeches, water boatman and newts. A drama activity helped us to understand more about food chains and webs.

Pupils play-acted a journey back in time to the 1900s and discovered moving picture shows and how bathing machines were used.They were surprised and amused to learn that a Hokey Pokey was a type of ice cream, not a dance! In ICT, the girls designed and printed a seaside style postcard and in English, wrote imaginative and humorous acrostic poems about their own holiday experiences. In Art, they used the Pointillism method made famous by the French artist Georges Seurat, to create their own colourful beach huts. Developing the theme, the girls studied the physical features of a beach and completed a holiday survey for the class listing the most popular holiday destinations this year.

January 2014 | Newsletter

The Nativity retold

The Mayor of St Albans joined pupils from Years 5 and 6 in their Christmas Service.

Sport takes centre stage

Years 3 and 4 enjoyed acting and reading in their Christmas service.Through role play they retold the story of the Nativity and reminded us all of the true meaning of Christmas.

Challenge Football Club The girls who have joined are thoroughly enjoying the sessions run by St Albans City Youth coaches. We have girls from the Pre-Prep and Prep department attending on different sessions and we are hoping to arrange a few friendly fixtures next term for the older girls.

Cross Country The team began the season well and is currently 1st in the District Cross Country League with two more races yet to be run. Special mention to Maya who received an individual Bronze medal at this event.

Orienteering The girls from Years 5 and 6 have made a fantastic start to the Hertfordshire Schools’ League.After the first three events, the High School is leading the Schools’ League competition and the Maureen Webster Memorial Trophy. All the girls are competing extremely well and a number of them are highly placed in the individual competition.

Pre-Prep Christmas Play Pre-Prep pupils delighted the audience with their Christmas Play ‘The Christmas Recipe’. Cooks, robins, snowflakes, presents and characters from the Nativity all performed magnificently as they passed on their message of Christmas – 'A gift called love'.

‘The Christmas Recipe’

Community Netball The Year 5 Netball teams have worked extremely hard and have had success against teams from Beechwood Park School and Stormont School. Their tactical skills are developing, particularly in creating space and making back-line passes. The Year 6 girls have had a very busy first term with friendly matches against Westbrook Hay Prep School, Stormont, Beechwood Park and Manor Lodge School. All girls who attend the club have played this season. We have had three league fixtures against Cunningham Hill Junior School, Wheatfields Junior School and Fleetville Junior School, winning one and narrowly losing the other two.

30 girls attend the Year 4 Netball Club. As well as enjoying the sessions, their focus and determination shows great improvement. Last term all teams achieved success against some stiff opposition.

Year 4 Netball

St Albans High School for Girls | Prep


January 2014 | Newsletter

Ciao, Hola, Bonjour, Guten Tag Three Year 9 students, Miranda, Alba and Ashlea bravely undertook a French, German, Spanish and Italian art project for the Modern Languages Department. Their aim was to create four pieces of artwork to depict the nations whose languages are studied at the High School. All three girls, with the help of our French Language Assistant, Sandra, researched many different artists to use in their techniques in their artwork. We were very impressed with the girls’ independence and creativity and we have proudly hung their work in a languages classroom. Pretzels and Bratwurst In October, 15 girls from Year 9 and 10 took part in a German Exchange to our partner school in Lüneburg. Students particularly enjoyed waking up to the smell of fresh pretzels and horse riding with their families. “We had a great time going around the town and seeing all the lovely buildings and sights of Lüneburg, Berlin and Lübeck. Berlin was a little adventure, very interesting with so much to see.The families were extremely hospitable and they gave us an incredible amount of German food, which was delicious! The German Exchange was a really great experience because we learned lots of German and experienced a new and exciting culture”.

6 St Albans High School for Girls | Senior

Ni Hao!

Mandarin Club

During the Michaelmas term several girls in Years 8 and 9 attended a lunchtime Mandarin Club, taught by Mrs Lam. It was a fun and educational session in which the formation of Chinese characters was taught and a variety of topics were covered, including families, nationalities and basic phrases. The girls thoroughly enjoyed this new and different aspect of learning, pronouncing a language without an alphabet and writing on grids.


By Jessica, Rhea, Christabel, Jasmine & Zoe

Aachen Christmas Market 41 girls from Year 8 enjoyed the smells and sounds of the market in the beautiful German city of Aachen and after only six weeks of German were very brave in trying out their best German!

January 2014 | Newsletter

Skiing Success

In the Hertfordshire County League, the girls have continued to swim to a very high standard, and have been placed 1st or 2nd in 32 out of the 44 races in the league to date. In the English Schools Swimming Association Team Competition in Watford there were some new season best and personal best times set. Following the gala the Senior Freestyle Relay and Medley Relay team gained a place in the National Finals at Crystal Palace in November, and were placed 14th and 16th respectively in the country.

National Swimming Final Netball As a result of competing in the English Schools’ Dry Ski Slope qualifying competitions last term, Harriet (Year 7) and Carys (Year 6) have been selected to train with the English Schools’ Ski Team. Harriet will go to Italy in February and Carys will go to Austria at Easter. After competing at the Midland Schools’ Ski Championships in Welwyn and coming 2nd, Under 14 team members Josie, Alina, Ellen, and Harriet went through to the English Championships held in Norwich on the weekend of 5/6 October and were placed 4th. Our ‘Open Team’ came 14th – an excellent result as three of the team, who compete against many Under 19 girls, are Under 14. This year the Gymnastics Squad took part in the District Trampette and Tumble Competition at Roundwood Park School, where they performed to a very high standard and won more than 40 medals across all year groups and categories.

In October, the U19, U16 and U14 teams played in the county round of the National Schools Netball Competition.

Sports Round-up

All teams played some exceptional netball with the U14 being crowned County Champions and the U19 and U16 teams finishing as runners-up.These results will enable all three teams to progress to the Regional Round of the competition, to be held later this term, for the first time. County, Regional and National Selection in Lacrosse and Netball Many girls have achieved great individual success this year.

Gym Squad



There are currently five girls playing Regional netball, six girls playing County netball, nine girls playing County lacrosse, two national lacrosse players and one national netball player.

U19 Squad

U14 Squad

U16 Squad Lacrosse Following pre-season training, the Senior and U15 Lacrosse Squads made a strong start to the season, with the Senior Squad winning all friendly matches in preparation for the County tournament. Unfortunately in the County Competition, the girls were unable to replicate their earlier success and were placed 3rd in Hertfordshire. In the Indoor County tournaments, there were some very close matches with the 1st team finishing as runners-up and the 2nd team being crowned as County Champions.

St Albans High School for Girls | Senior


January 2014 | Newsletter Year 9 augmented their awareness of global development issues in November as they attended their own Development Conference organised by the Geography Department. One of their tasks was to design, in groups, a simple product or tool to help improve the lives of those living in less economically developed countries. Each group presented their prototype to the rest of the delegates and explained the strengths of the product and how it would transform the lives of poor people.

Global Development Conference Community Rotary Young Chef

In early November, 70 Sixth Formers participated in the Senior Mathematics Challenge, 54 of whom were awarded certificates, of which 37 were Bronze, 13 Silver and four were Gold. Sixth Form students Alex,Victoria, Rachel and Jenny took part in the UKMT Senior Team Maths Challenge which tested mathematical, communication and teamwork skills.

8 St Albans High School for Girls | Senior

In early October, Year 9 were privileged to spend the day working with the poet Cliff Yates. The aim was to demystify poetry and help us to enjoy writing creatively. At the start of the day, we heard some of his favourite poems and the stories behind them. It was very interesting to see how small moments could lead to such creative poetry. Each teaching group then spent some time with Cliff where we put some of our ideas into practice. He gave us the first line of a poem and we had to complete it. It was extremely interesting to see the different creative paths the class members took. We were then given a poem which we had to edit to suit our personalities and to show what we appreciated in life. These turned out to be both sweet and funny! The day was challenging and stimulating and really helped to improve our poetry writing. Most importantly, we had lots of fun!

The beauty of numbers Year 9 pupils enjoyed attending a series of Maths Masterclasses held at the University of Hertfordshire last term. The sessions, which stretched pupils’ mathematical skills and logical thinking, included topics such as ‘Archimedes’, ‘Mathematical Modelling’, ‘Wicked Wizards’ and ‘Devious Dwarves’.

Poet Cliff Yates

By Maddie & Louise, Year 9

A large number of girls entered the Rotary Young Chef competition in November. Following the first round of the Competition, which involved an internal cook-off, the Rotary judges selected Ella, Anisha, Alicia, Emiola, Katherine and Georgina to represent the school in the next round held at Marlborough School. The girls had to prepare and cook a two course healthy meal for under £10 within timed conditions. They competed against three other Hertfordshire schools and all six girls reached a very high standard. We were delighted that Georgina came in third place and Ella won this stage of the competition and will now be entered into the Regional finals in March.

In November, the Art Department were delighted to welcome to the school two leading contemporary artists; Paul Brandford and Jeanette Barnes. They worked with GCSE, AS and A2 Art students in a series of dynamic drawing workshops. Using historical and contemporary photojournalism as a starting point, Paul worked with the A Level students to create experimental and ‘playful’ drawings which explored the creative processes behind composition. Jeanette set our GCSE girls an exciting ‘urban challenge’; where they went on to create imaginative structural drawings based on the city environment.This was our fifth year running the highly successful Artist in Residence workshops and with many of the girls taking these ideas further into their own work, it is clear they have become a vital and inspirational part of the art calendar.


January 2014 | Newsletter

Nurturing a love of poetry In the first week of December, Year 12 English Literature students studying Michael Symmons Roberts’ poetry collection ‘Corpus’, winner of the Whitbread Poetry Award 2004, were delighted to welcome the poet to the school. They were able to discuss the stunning poetry collection with Mr Symmons Roberts before joining guests and staff in listening to him read several of his poems.

in Residence

Described as intriguing, unpretentious yet meticulous, his poetry explores seemingly abstract and traditional ideas and grounds them in reality. Symmons Roberts is winner of several prestigious awards and with his latest collection ‘Drysalter’ which made its debut this year, has already secured the Forward Prize and is nominated for the prestigious TS Eliot Poetry prize.

“I liked that every piece I did was challenging and new to me’’ - Art student Charcoal Workshop

Urban Challenge

High School pupils entertained in true style at the Amnesty ‘Raise Your Voice Concert’ in the Jubilee Hall in October. Organised by Year 12 pupils, with the help and support of members of staff, the concert showcased the music and drama talents of a cross section of the Senior School. Supported by parents and pupils alike, the concert raised over £2000, an amazing amount of money for Amnesty International, whose aim is to protect individuals wherever justice, fairness, freedom and truth are denied.


Amnesty Concert

Wear Pink Day

Sixth Formers demonstrated a true spirit of fun and goodwill as they continued to raise funds for a variety of charities. The ever-popular Pyjama Day, complete with onesies and teddy bears of all shapes and sizes, enabled the Sixth Formers to donate £213 to Children in Need. Members of the Sixth Form were busy little elves in the run-up to Christmas. Their efforts meant that 60 presents were delivered to the Home Start charity based in St Albans which will help a number of local families enjoy a brighter Christmas.They also donated £128 to Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Finding items old, new and in some cases, long forgotten, girls wore pink and raised £140 for Breast Cancer Awareness.

The season of goodwill

Santa’s Little Helpers


St Albans High School for Girls | Sixth


January 2014 | Newsletter At the annual Year 12 Physics trip to Thorpe Park in October, students combined having fun whilst having the opportunity to explore aspects of their studies on the rides. After attending a talk about the various physics/ engineering applications used in the rides, they calculated the energy transfers that took place on ‘Stealth’ and how the topics of pressure, electromagnetism, g-forces, equations of motion, circular motion and Newton’s Laws were utilised in the ride’s design.

Aiming high Young Geographer of the Year Competition 2013

Having fun with Physics

Students visited CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which is home to the biggest particle physics laboratory in the world, and to the infamous Large Hadron Collider. Following an introductory lecture by one of the professors working at CERN, the group enjoyed a tour of the visitor centre that exists 100m above one of the particle detectors called ATLAS

CERN visit

(A Toroidal LHC Apparatus) which provided data that contributed to the discovery of the Higgs Boson. Afterwards the group visited the magnet testing facility where they test the components that have to be cooled to -2710C which is colder than outer space! The following day was an opportunity to see the town of Geneva, and pay a visit to the History of Science museum which contained fascinating artefacts used by scientists.

At the end of November, Bryony in Year 12 received a Highly Commended award at the Royal Geographical Society Young Geographer of the Year Competition. Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme

Six former High School pupils and four Year 13 students, including Lauren, Tobi, Arabella and Gargi have achieved Gold awards last term. Additionally 23 Silver and 54 Bronze awards have been completed. In addition to the girls working towards their Gold award in the UK, 25 girls will fly out to Morocco in July to complete their Gold expedition and residential phases of their award.They will be staying in the Toubcal region of the High Atlas and working with local Berber tribes people to refurbish their school.

Year 13 Leaver receives Physics A Level Award We were delighted that Sarah Weeks, who left the school last summer, was presented with an award at the Salters’ Institute Annual Awards Ceremony for being placed second in the country in her A Level Physics examination last summer. This prestigious event held at the end of November at Salters’ Hall celebrates excellence with the science education sector.

10 St Albans High School for Girls | Sixth

January 2014 | Newsletter Christmas Concert

Musical talent Scholars’ and Prize winners’ Concert

Autumn Orchestral Concert

This year’s Music Scholars’ Concert saw an impressive array of talent, with some fine playing both by soloists and string quartets. Particular highlights included some strong playing of Corelli’s La Folia, by Rosie, a lovely rendering of Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins, and the audience was visibly moved by May’s performance of Remembrances from Schindler’s List. All three quartets played with a sense of idiom and musical perception, together with a beautifully tailored performance by Emma of the Adagio from Mozart’s Violin Concerto in B flat.

The Symphony Orchestra, comprising over 75 players, gave a spirited and very tidy account of Vaughan Williams’ Folk Song Suite at the Autumn Orchestral Concert held in mid November. One of the gems in the programme was Nina’s wonderful vocal rendition of Ging Heut Morgan from Songs of a Wayfarer by Mahler, a truly notable achievement by soloist and orchestra alike. Following attractive pieces by the Intermediate Orchestra and Lower Strings Ensemble, the programme ended with an exciting performance of the first movement of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2, played on the new concert piano by Anna Le Hair.


The annual Christmas Concert featured the Senior Choir, the Senior Chamber Choir and the Gospel Choir, as well as a duet by Bryony and Megan, and the everpopular Year 11 Vocal Group.

The wealth of High School instrumentalists was on show yet again with performances by the Senior Flute Choir, the Brass Ensemble, Ringwood Band, Pop Group, Sax Quartet and Concert Band.

Service of Lessons and Carols

Harvest Festival

Once again the annual Carol Service for pupils, parents and guests, was held within the atmosphere of the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban. The charitable collection this year was for the continued development of the Annabel Memorial Health Centre in Mugoma, North West Tanzania, one of the poorest and most inaccessible regions of Tanzania.This is being built in thanksgiving for the life and work of Dr Annabel Joyce Jenkins, an Old Girl of the High School and daughter of another Old Girl, Mrs Ann Jenkins.

Harvest Festival this year involved the House and School Officers taking part in ‘I’m a House Officer get me out of here’ in order to win food for Herts Young Homeless. The response from the whole school was phenomenal and nearly 20 extremely large shopping bags were filled with tinned produce and personal care items for this year’s Harvest Festival collection. The donations were given to the Herts Young Homeless Association, a charity that has been supporting vulnerable people in Hertfordshire for over 15 years.


St Albans High School for Girls | Sixth 11

January 2014 | Newsletter

Music and Drama in harmony Over three consecutive nights in November, audiences were treated to a thoroughly entertaining rendition of Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale of river bank animals in the School Play, ‘The Wind in the Willows’.The delightful antics of wise old Badger, kindly Rat, gentle Mole and boastful, bossy Toad delighted audiences in the Jubilee Hall. An important aspect of the show was provided by the band composed of an array of eleven excellent musicians from the school, playing with both great finesse and exuberance. The music for the songs had been arranged specifically for this combination of instruments by Edward Kay, and there was some most engaging and appropriate Scene Change music composed, again specially for this show, by Year 13 pupil, Aurélie who is to be congratulated for this.

Young Enterprise Christmas Fair

On the evening of Friday 15 November, Michael House Hall was transformed into a Yuletide wonderland by Young Enterprise group ‘Blank Canvas’ who hosted a Christmas Fair for pupils, friends and parents. A variety of stalls sold products including jewellery, cupcakes and cards and featured the work of local artists, a photographer and an embroiderer, raising over £800 for their ‘company’. A magician mystified the audience with his tricks and the girls also ran a nail bar and henna painting stall which the younger girls loved. Additionally, Year 7 girls collected donations throughout the evening, for the Philippines’ disaster fund raising approximately £150. The other three Young Enterprise groups this year are: Infinity – making dip dyed and embellished sweatshirts Astra – making fairy light garlands Libra – making chalk boards and purses

12 St Albans High School for Girls

Noticeboard Beat Bullying A delicious sale of cakes, organised by Year 10 pupil Isobel and the Beat Bullying mentors, raised just over £100 for the charity last term. Senior School Charity Day Following a variety of fundraising activities on Mufti Day in December, an amazing £850 was raised for a selection of House Charities. HSS Forthcoming Events Chinese New Year Party Senior School Jubilee Hall 31 January

Easter Event Wheathampstead House 29 March

St Albans High School for Girls January 2014 Newsletter  

The January newsletter