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CONTENTS Interview with Mr Kane

Pg 4 - 6

Scottish Catholic Education

Pg 7 - 15

Week 2018 Interview with SCIAF

Pg 16 - 17


Pg 18


Pg 19

New Staff

Pg 20


Pg 21 - 22

School Events

Pg 23 - 33


Pg 34 - 36


Pg 38 - 40

Sports Column

Pg 42


Pg 43 - 48

Pg. 7

Pg. 19

Pg. 42

AN INTERVIE St. Joseph’s Academy welcomed our new Head Teacher, Mr Kane. The Young Journalist Society interviewed him: 1. One of our school values is 'make a difference'. How do you aim to make a difference at St. Joseph's Academy as Head Teacher? For me, in order to make a difference as Head Teacher you need to know the school community well and you need to commit to a school for a long time. As someone who is new to East Ayrshire, a big part of making a difference will be in getting to know the staff, parish communities, parents and pupils of St. Joseph's Academy. I want St. Joseph's Academy to be a school that the local community continues to be proud of, a school where young people feel valued and safe, and a school where staff feel motivated to continue to give their all for our students. 2. Our school values are; aim high, be curious, be open to inspiration, make a difference, make your mark, take part, think of others, working together makes great learning. Which of these are your favourite? Two stand out for me, 'Aim High' and 'Think of Others'. I think it is really important that staff and pupils aim high and work towards always aspiring to improve. Sometimes, that improvement relates to work ethic, sometimes to relationships and sometimes to self-worth. Working hard, feeling part of a community and having a strong sense of self-esteem and self-respect underpins my vision for our young people and staff. Thinking of others is a way that we can maintain and build a school that makes us stand out. In our care for one another, we can express the values of our patron saint, St. Joseph. It would have been easy for St. Joseph to abandon Our Lady. He chose not to. He chose to care for Mary and Jesus. Choosing to look out for one another and to nurture the gifts and talents of our classmates and colleagues is a value I am drawn to.

EW WITH MR KANE 3.Our school's vision statement is 'Inspire and Transform.' Who/what inspires you? There are lots of people who have inspired me in my life. Young people and colleagues in school inspire me every day. My parents, my wife and children, siblings and many former teachers and colleagues are sources of inspiration. Several saints also inspire me, such as Padre Pio, Mother Theresa, St. Leopold Mandic and Solanus Casey. In terms of popular culture, I take inspiration from some of the top sports men and women, such as Roger Federer. 4. What was your favourite school subject and what did you want to be when you grew up? My three favourite subjects were Computing (which I now teach), RE and Geography. To be honest, I enjoyed all subjects at school but I was better at some than others. I think it is important to recognise where your skill set is. My favourite teacher taught French and took time to get to know me as a person. I changed my mind a lot when I was growing up. I wanted to be a police officer, a spy, a footballer, a programmer, a teacher or a lawyer, all at different times in my school life. Other than teaching, which I love deeply, I would like to be a criminal lawyer as I enjoy analysing evidence and engaging in reasoned debate.

5. What advice would you give to your teenage self? I would definitely advise that I read more. I really enjoyed reading as a young child, but as I got older I read less and less. I had dipped my toe in writing a little and would have focused more on that part of my education. I would also advise myself to worry less about the future and to embrace the present. Finally, I would advise my teenage self to spend time understanding day to day finances and the cost of living - in preparation for the world of work. 6. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? I have five young children, so most of my free time is spent with my family. Beyond time with my family, I try to play five a side football as much as I can and played a lot of eleven a side football until fairly recently. As a Computing teacher by trade, I also enjoy a little gaming, mainly FIFA with my young sons or CBeebies games with my very young daughters these days. Their enthusiasm and sense of fun reminds me of the importance of relaxing from time to time. 7. What is one thing about you that most people wouldn't know? There a few things about me that people won't know, particularly in relation to work in Africa. I also used to work as a night shift security guard in Edinburgh, where I kept watch over a complex with two houses, an industrial kitchen, an underground crypt, a church and over fifty hotel/conference rooms through the night.


SCOTTISH CATHOLIC ED From the 28th of January to the 3rd of February, Scottish

Catholic Education Week was celebrated. This year's key theme was 'Serving the Common Good', celebrating the importance of educating children and young people to serve the Common Good in our homes, schools and parishes. The purpose of the week is to highlight the significance and importance of Catholic education, whilst continuing to develop as a community of faith and learning. This year of Catholic Education Week is extra special as it marks the centenary of the 1918 Education (Scotland) Act which saw Scottish Catholic schools change from Diocesan control to State governance. This centenary plans to celebrate the positive impact that the Act created for the relationship between Church and State in Scotland, showcasing how Catholic schools are not only good for Catholics, but also for Scotland. 100 years since the Act, Scotland now has 366 state funded Catholic schools as well as a number of independent Catholic schools. It is important to recognise the hard work done in the past to secure Catholic education and the hard work done by Catholic schools today that make them 'Good for Scotland.' There will also be another Scottish Catholic Education Week celebrated the week commencing 16th of November.

DUCATION WEEK 2018 On the 30th of January at St Margaret's Cathedral, Ayr, following a great deal of planning and preparation leading to a wonderful occasion, pupils from our school along with pupils from all over the diocese attended a Mass of Thanksgiving for Catholic Education Week and the launch of the Jesus Christ Icon on its tour of all 8 diocese in Scotland. It was a joyous occasion, bringing everyone in the Scottish Catholic community together. Special banners bearing the badges of the schools in every education group formed part of the procession. To mark the end of the week, teachers and pupils from our school attended local parishes to play a part in the liturgy. Teachers and staff from our school alongside teachers from our feeder schools participated in a Mass led by Bishop Nolan on the 15th of February at St Joseph’s Church, Kilmarnock ( photograph of Mass on page 7 ). The beautiful Icon of Jesus Christ our Teacher, created by Artist Bernadette Reilly, was commissioned by the Scottish Catholic Education Service to mark the centenary. It bears the image of Jesus Our Teacher in the centre, holding a book with words from St John’s Gospel in both English and Gaelic: “You call me teacher and Lord and rightly so, for that is what I am.” Behind the image of Jesus is the story of Catholic education, beginning with St Andrew’s call, which mirrors our own call to God. Then, it moves to the arrival of Christianity in Scotland, with an image of Iona and the Celtic Cross, as well as a Saltire in the clouds. The impact of Scottish Catholic Faith is symbolised with images of St Margaret, St Mungo and St John Ogilvie. Also present on the Icon are the Scottish canal diggers, miners and weavers who voluntarily paid for Catholic schools in the past, despite being some of the poorest in their communities. A girl and boy in school uniform holding a scroll illustrates the success that saw young people move from Catholic schools into higher education systems, and the children of today, portrayed by difference races and from different backgrounds to show the diversity within Scotland’s Catholic schools and communities nowadays. All together, there are eight figures to represent the eight Scottish dioceses.

Pope Francis said, "Education cannot be neutral. It is either positive or negative; either it enriches or it impoverishes; either it enables a person to grow or it lessens, even corrupts him. The mission of schools is to develop a sense of truth, of what is good and beautiful. And this occurs through a rich path made up of many ingredients. This is why there are so many subjects - because development is the results of different elements that act together and stimulate intelligence, knowledge, the emotions, the body, and so on. True education enables us to love life and opens us to the fullness of life."

This true education spoke about by Pope Francis is delivered by St Joseph's Academy, as East Ayrshire's only Catholic secondary school. On the wall of the street are words from St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians - "be ambitious for the higher gifts." Our school strives to do just that. As well as this, our vision statement is: 'Inspire and Transform'. The word 'inspire' is derived from Latin and means 'to breathe life into.' This sums up the ancient traditions and values of the Catholic Church, and encapsulates how pupils should feel about the opportunities given to them at St Joseph's. As pupils of St Joseph's Academy, we follow our school values much like St Joseph followed God's commandments, holding fast to the teaching of Jesus Christ.

The model of Jesus Christ is a person who presents Himself as a person who lived his life intentionally and prophetically. His words, actions and example reflect our school values by which we follow a life characterised by faith, compassion, hope and love. Through the Catholic education we receive, our whole person - spirit, body and mind - is developed, shaping our ethos and identity as a Catholic school. The strong relationship we have between school, Church and home gives us this true education and in turn, leads us to God. We are a strong community of faith. Our school allows us all to grow as valued individuals with a strong sense of purpose, and enables us to communicate and embody our Catholic values in all that we do. At St Joseph's, the education that we receive is more than just about exam results. It’s also about having the ability to make a difference in the wider school community. This allows us to carry out the Catholic faith and values by serving others. We continually think of others, ensuring that our school is a caring environment where all are valued. There are regular charity events as well as assemblies and weekly prayers in the oratory. Fr. Chambers, Fr. McGrattan and Fr. Kitchen come into our school to celebrate Mass for key liturgical events such as All Saints' Day and St Joseph's Day. This Catholic education provided at St Joseph's enables us to leave school as young 'men and women of dreams', much like our patron Saint himself. AmÊlie Davidson

PRAYER Lord God, We celebrate our Catholic education along with pupils from all over Scotland. We thank you for always being by our side, both in times of stress and in times of joy. Together we pray that under your watch, you help us to make the right decisions, guiding us on our path to you. You are our teacher of truth, love and wisdom. Enlighten and guide us so we can achieve excellence in our journey with our faith. Help us to work our full potential as pupils. Children, and as friends. Let us grow in wisdom and reflect your image in all that we do. Teach us to love and respect our peers as we live the message taught to us by your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. We ask you to pray for all those who support us in our Catholic education. We pray that you watching over us as we continue our journey of faith and education. Let us follow in your footsteps during hardship and decisions. Continue to shine light upon your children’s lives as we grow in your image. Thank you for our community of faith and for the educators who guide us through your teachings. Lord, thank you for giving us the opportunity to explore our faith, not only in school, but also in our parish community. Through you, we are capable to grow in Christ.



ACHIEVEMENTS Rotary Young Chef West of Scotland Final Well done to Helen McGiffin (S2) who came second place and received special commendation for her delicious food. Police Scotland Young People Awards Cumnock Congratulations to Kieran Preston (S5), Ashton Little (S5), Mary Beth Sweeney (S4) and Alice Hatfield (S4) who each received an award for their excellent effort and hard work whilst participating in work experience with Cumnock Police. Caritas Group Brilliant effort from our S6 Caritas Group who helped to raise over £3,400 at the HCPT fundraiser held at St. Matthew’s Church. Fr Chambers will travel with the HCPT Group 138 to Lourdes this Easter with the children’s pilgrimage. StJoBots Comp After an intense day at the TE Robotics Challenge, Miss Horrey’s StJoBots did us proud! SCIAF Bake Sale The Director of SCIAF visited our school to launch their Lenten appeal, and pupils organised a bake sale where teachers made delicious cakes and raised over a £100.

THE YOUNG JOURNALIST SOCIETY Thank you to everyone who reads our 100% pupil made school magazine! We have reached an amazing 5,500 reads all together, with our magazines having been read for 110 hours! We have readers everywhere including Italy, France, USA, Venezuela, Singapore and Mexico! We'd love for anyone to join us! It's great fun, especially since it's completely run by pupils - no teachers allowed! If you're not sure that you'll like The Young Journalist Society, then come along for a week and if you don't like it - there's no commitment. Even if you just want to write one article about a recent trip you went on, that'd be great too. We meet every Thursday at lunch time in Modern Languages, the classroom with our poster on the door. Meet our new member Hi, my name is Abbie! I'm 12 (nearly 13). My hobbies are writing, reading and watching TV. I have two sisters and a brother. I have no pets sadly, but I have had two hamsters. My top three favourite subjects are English, Modern Languages and Music. I'm looking forward to be being part of The Young Journalist Society because I would like to meet new people and have been waiting for an opportunity like this!

FACTS ABOUT ST. JOSEPH’S With Mr Kane new to St. Joseph’s Academy and Kilmarnock, here are some facts about our school and the best places to visit in Kilmarnock on the next page: 1. St Joseph's was established in 1955 2. St Joseph's has three houses - St Margaret, St Andrew and St Columba 3. The school colours are red and black 4. The St Joseph's campus includes a large playing field, comprising of a red blaze hockey pitch, running tracks, and space for 4 grass football pitches 5. St. Conval's High School was later mixed with St. Joseph's in October 1998 and became known as St. Joseph's Cumnock Campus. In 2004, however, St. Joseph's Cumnock Campus was closed due to falling attendance and pupils moved to the new St. Joseph's Academy campus in Kilmarnock, which went on to serve the entire Secondary Catholic population of East Ayrshire 6. In 2008, the new St Joseph's was opened - including St Andrew’s Primary and the early childhood centre 7. Currently, the school enrols pupils from local Catholic Primary schools including St Andrew’s, Mount Carmel, St. Sophia’s, St. Xavier’s and St. Patrick’s 8. St Joseph's school vision statement is ‘Inspire and Transform’ and its motto is ‘Fidelis, Justus, Prudens.’ 9. St Joseph's currently has around 700 pupils 10. Famous former pupils include Lauren Currie OBE, Mark Bennett (Scottish rugby union player) and Lorraine McIntosh (Deacon Blue). Abbie Spence

BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN KILMARNOCK Dean Castle Country Park Although a three year, £5.2m restoration works to the Castle have begun, the Country Park boasts a 14th century castle and beautiful woodland walks. It has a new rural life centre, play park and visitor centre, only opened last November. The castle courtyard and Medieval Kitchen are also open to the public. Burns Monument Centre Set within Kay Park, the custom built centre provides East Ayrshire with a unique facility for ancestral tourists and attracts visitors from across Scotland. Inside, local and family history collections are held such as newspapers, maps, historic photographs and books. Jungle Madness A family owned three storey soft play structure including an Astra Slide, Spiral Slide, Sports Court with football and basketball, and Go - Karts. There is also a toddler section where you can enjoy delicious food, home baking and freshly ground coffee, whilst keeping an eye on your children. Varani’s Forum Café The ice-cream shop which has been serving Kilmarnock for over half a century offers 49 different flavours of ice-cream and sorbets every day! Brownings the Bakers Try a famous Kilmarnock Pie, awarded best savoury pie in Scotland two years running as well as picking up the best pie in Scottish football!

NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY OUTING On Monday 18th of December, the After School Art Excellence programme and Higher Art students visited the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. We met at 8:50 and left by bus for a two hour journey to Edinburgh. By the time we got to the museum, we were all very excited! We split into groups to set off around the museum, and got to see the artworks from the BP Portrait Award Gallery, which were all amazing. After we had seen the BP Portrait artworks, we looked at lots of other wonderful and exciting pieces while also analysing each small detail. When we were finished going around the entire museum, we ended the day by getting some lunch. We then left to get the bus and travelled back to the school. Overall, I really enjoyed the trip! Ayla Murray

TRIP TO HUNTERSTON POWER STATION There was an S3 Chemistry trip of February 8th to the Hunterston Power Station, near Largs. Around 35 pupils attended and we were shown around the station. We learned about how electricity is generated and how the majority of energy in Kilmarnock is generated at the station. We also saw the main control room for the station, the turbines and generators, as well as the many different rooms where electricity is generated. Then, we listened to a talk from a couple of the police officers working at the station and learned about their jobs and how they protect the power plant. We asked them some questions too. All in all, it was a very interesting day and we learned a lot! Kerry McGahan

FOOD FOR T BREAKFAST CLUB The HE Department have started up a Breakfast Club running from 8:15 - 8:40am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in Mrs McErlean’s classroom. There are several options available from tea, coffee and hot chocolate to cereal, toast and breakfast bars. The stressful morning rush to leave the house in time for school often leads to pupils having to skip breakfast. There has been research carried out by scientists into the benefits of children having a good breakfast. These include: • Improved concentration • Improved attendance and punctuality • Better behaviour • Improved attainment and achievement at school

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, so come and join us!

THOUGHT MILKSHAKE BAR Pupils and teachers alike can’t wait until St Joseph’s Milkshake Bar opens, organised and run by a group of S5/6 pupils led by Mr Irvine (PE). They recently received their Princes Trust development awards as well as a cheque for £2,070 by the DYW Ayrshire to fund their project. DYW (developing the young workforce) Ayrshire is part of a Scottish Government initiative to reduce youth unemployment and encourage better connectivity between education and the world of work. The signage, designed by Ashton Little (S5), has been put up outside of the HE/Woodwork Department. Everyone has passed their hygiene exams, so the countdown begins!

‘WAR OF THE BUTTONS’ PLAY On Thursday the 8th of February, Mrs Greengrass' S2 class (our class) performed a show inspired by the film, War Of the Buttons, to the rest of S2. War of the Buttons is set in Ireland and is about two rival gangs of kids, the Bally’s and the Carrick’s (we see everything from the Bally PoV, they are the good guys). As they battle it out, they capture enemies and take their buttons, shoelaces and belts etc. as war trophies. We had watched the film countless times, written a critical essay on it, and lots more, but we wanted to go further. We were going to have the first ever whole class challenge, so we started brainstorming ideas when we decided we should do a play. Everyone had a role to play in pulling through this production, whether it be acting, making props or advertisement. We all worked really hard and practised everyday. Everyone in the audience loved it, including the teachers. We finished off by doing our bows and everyone left, looking happy and praising their friends and favourite characters. It was amazing! And even though all of our hard work seemed to be gone in the blink of an eye, we all knew it was definitely worth it in the end and the four weeks leading up to it paid off. Michael Duff and Ayla Murray

PRIMARY 7 TRANSITION DAY On Wednesday 24th January, we had another Transition Day visit to St Joseph’s Academy. It was a jam packed day! The day started with a talk from PC Lynch about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and smoking. The youngest person they had caught smoking was only 10! Next, Mr Boyle told us to take a break in the ’street’ so that we could be used to how busy it was. Afterwards, we were put into groups with people from other schools, and we were told to make a poster and a film on the iPad about what we had learned. Some S6 pupils helped us, my group were helped by Morven and Eve. Then, we spilt into 2 groups, some of us made a film which had to last for 1 minute and the rest of us made a poster. In our film, we told the story of a drug addict who lived on streets and the people who helped him to recover. When we were finished, we presented it to the other groups. It was a really fun day… apart from the long walk back to Mount Carmel! Joseph Davidson, P7 pupil at Mount Carmel Primary

MODERN LANGUA What a busy month it has been for our school’s Modern Languages Department! •

S1 pupils Eva and Gary have been working hard for the past month with Miss McAlinden as they are entering SCILT’s Word Wizard Competition - a multilingual spelling competition. They will be competing in the French semi-final held at the University of Strathclyde on the 9th of March, bonne chance! S2 pupils finished their Spanish projects this month, which focused on finding out more about the culture of Spain. Some created posters on their favourite Spanish celebrities and produced PowerPoints on their favourite Spanish sports team, whereas some even made their favourite Spanish delicacy. Fantastic effort from everyone! S3 pupils have been learning about the importance of learning foreign languages in their future careers and then attended a ‘Languages for Business’ event at the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce. Pupils listened to business leaders who view being able to speak another language as a key skill and then had the opportunity afterwards to speak to them at Marketplace stalls. Senior pupils participated in a language day organised by Mrs McDaid which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. We had the chance to listen to guest speaker’s, such as Jim Fleeting (ex-footballer), Mark Bennett (ex-pupil and rugby player) and Clare Leitch (Depute Provost ), opinions on the importance of languages. Then, we went to the assembly hall where we had the opportunity to speak to ex-pupils about their view of the benefits of being able to speak another language. Amélie Davidson


ROBERT B Robert Burns Day was celebrated on the 25th of January, his birthday. He was a Scottish poet who is known world wide. My favourite poems by him are “To a Mouse”, “Red Red Rose” and “To a Louse”. After his death he became a great source of inspiration, and a cultural icon in Scotland. Other than Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus, Robert Burns has more statues dedicated to him around the world than any other non-religious figure! Kilmarnock has two - one at the Burns Monument in the Kay Park and one at the Kilmarnock Cross. His influence has been strong on Scottish literature and in 2009, he was chosen as the greatest Scot by the Scottish public in a vote run by STV. At school, pupils enjoyed haggis, neeps and tatties and then afterwards some delicious jelly! Mòran taing airson a 'leughadh! (Thank you for reading!)

Reece McNaught

BURNS DAY An Ode to Scotland by Michael Duff

Land o' kilts

And haggis too Plus shortbread And Irn Bru This country is filled with hidden gems From lochs to mountains, to hills and glens Ewan McGregor, James Watt William Wallace, Rabbie Burns J.K Rowling, Andy Murray Famous scots at every turn Scotland really has it all Come over and have a ball The only thing that is a pain Is the dreich constant rain

PRELIMS Prelims have been going on since December, starting with maths and ongoing until the beginning of February. Some were cancelled due to weather conditions and pushed back and so they ended up going on for longer than planned but now they are finally over! Although nerve-racking, they are a good way to find out how well you're doing in your classes as well as a good experience to get comfortable with doing exams before doing the final ones. After all, exams are fast approaching! Molly McGahan

Positivity Corner “An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming high.” - Anonymous

SUPPORTED STUDY Senior pupils have been given a Supported Study timetable showing what department is offering after-school classes on what days. It has been noted in the past that pupils who attend after-school classes perform better in exams, so it’s definitely worth attending. For pupils who usually get a school bus home, the school has received funding for taxis for 10 days. Exams are only two months away!

TOP 10 STUDY TIPS 1. Make a study plan - Creating a studying timetable is a time management method that will help to reduce stress by being able to set aside the necessary amount of time for studying and how to use your time wisely. 2. Take regular study breaks - Nobody can study 24/7 and you don't have to do all your work in one go. Take regular breaks to give your brain a refresh. 3. Be positive - Effective studying begins with the right frame of mind! The most productive study happens when you are convinced that you are working to improve yourself. 4. Don't cram, give yourself enough time to study - Do not plan to study for a whole afternoon or for 6 hours non-stop! Thinking of studying in terms of objectives or small chunks of time, say 20-25 minutes. But ensure those small chunks of time are 100% s tudying. 5. Organise your study space - Find a place to study which suits your study habits and keeps you focused, whether it's a quiet library or your bedroom! 6. Get enough sleep - Lack of sleep stops the brain from absorbing information as effectively so skip the caffeine-fuelled all-nighters, get a good night of rest and you'll feel more prepared! 7. Set goals - At the beginning of each week, determine what you need to study and what you plan to accomplish in each subject. 8. Try different study methods - Everyone is different, with different methods working for different people. 9. Don't be afraid to get help and ask questions - Curiosity is one of the most important features of learning. Be curious. Ask questions. Learn faster. 10. Eat healthy and drink lots of water - Like the rest of your body, your brain requires appropriate nutrition to function properly. Improving your food choices will help to boost your academic performance. AmĂŠlie Davidson



DATES FOR THE DIARY March 2018 12th March – Parent Council Meeting (7pm) 16th March – Feast of St Joseph 20th March – International Francophone Day 21st March – S2 Inspire Day 30th March – Good Friday Holiday

April 2018 2nd April to 15th April – Easter Holiday 16th April – Pupils and Staff Return (9am) 18th April – S1 Inspire Day 26th April – SQA Exam Mass 27th April – S6 Celebration Day/Leavers’ Mass 30th April – SQA Exams Begin / Study Leave 30th April – Parent Council Meeting (7pm)

NUMBER OF MERITS AWARDED MERITS AWARDED JANUARY: S1 - 227 S2 - 271 S3 - 120 S4 - 9 S5 - 19 S6 - 16 MERITS AWARDED FEBRUARY: S1 - 136 S2 - 136 S3 - 86 S4 - 68 S5 - 9 S6 - 17




SPORTS COLUMN - ARCHERY Have you ever seen Lord of the Rings or The Hunger Games and looked at Legolas or Katniss Everdeen and stared in pure awe and amazement, wishing you could be like one of them? I know I have. Well if you try your hand at archery, you can take a page out of their book, literally. Archery is the sport of firing a bow and arrow at a target that's about ten metres away. The target consists of five coloured rings (white, black, blue, red, yellow, in that order) each of which are split into two. When you hit anywhere on the board, you get a certain amount of points - 1 point for the outermost ring and 10 for the innermost. If you'd like to try archery, the North West Centre in Onthank offers adult sessions on a Monday evening from 7:30 - 10pm. They also run a children's session on a Sunday from 2 - 4pm. Anyone can join! The sport is so cool to watch and even more cool to play.

Michael Duff

ST. VALENTINE’S DAY Around the world, February 14th is the feast of Saint Valentine. It is a celebration traditionally celebrated in honour of 'Saint Valentinus' - his Latin name, whereas in today's society it is now recognised as more as a cultural event, associated with romance and love. Valentine's Day evolved into this romantic occasion in 18th century England, in which lovers would express their undying love for one another by gifting there significant other with flowers or more commonly today, the typical greetings cards. Over time it has evolved into so much more, couples buying overpriced gifts for one another to try and prove there love for each other. In fact, it was estimated that Britain spent over £985million on Valentine's Day for presents such as gift sets, restaurants and organising spectacular activities. To add, studies reveal that those living in East Anglia, London and Scotland were the biggest Valentine’s Day spenders. But with all these acts of love, do today's society even know what they were originally supposed to be celebrating? Saint Valentine, who lived between 226-269 AD, is commonly described as a Roman priest, during the reign of Roman emperor Claudius Gothicus, who was arrested and imprisoned after being caught marrying Christian couples and helping other Christians who were being attacked by Claudius. At this time, aiding Christians was a crime, so Claudius had Saint Valentine arrested, and after an attempt to convert the emperors beliefs, was sentenced to death. There are other stories of Saint Valentine’s efforts to marry husbands to their wives all for different reasons, thus giving him the title of being the Saint of 'courtly love'. To conclude, although a large sum of the world will be celebrating romance and love with tremendous expressions of their love - and some will not — it is important to think back as to why today is so special in its purpose, to celebrate Saint Valentine and his efforts for marriage and helping Christians. Luke Gallagher

CONSPIRA Hey, have you ever wondered if aliens are real or what really happened to JonBenét Ramsey and if the moon landing was fake or not? If so then we’re in the same boat. So from now on, I will be investigating some of my favourite conspiracy theories. First up this month is... THE ODDLY SUSPICIOUS ASSASSINATION OF JFK. Let’s start with the facts. John F. Kennedy was publicly assassinated on the 22nd of November 1963, he was hit by two bullets, the second landing in his head and instantly killing him. Three bullets were fired but one missed Kennedy altogether and instead hit Former Governor, John B. Connally Jr. who survived. The whole event was filmed by Abraham Zapruder and the film was later used in the official investigation because it allowed frame-by-frame analysis. The three bullets were fired from the 6th-floor window at the Texas School Book Depository, a building along the motorcade route. The official decree was that the shooter was a man named Lee Harvey Oswald. Then two days after his crime, Oswald was murdered by Jack Ruby at the Dallas Police Department, which was actually broadcast live on television. The motorcade route was chosen by Secret Service agents, Winston G. Lawson and Forrest V. Sorrels but remarkably the route itself has been criticised for its large amount of turns -which meant that the car would have had to slow down very frequently-. Furthermore, the Secret Service was sent to check the route, including the 20,000 windows that were overlooking it, but, the good ol’ Secret Service decided that because they didn’t have enough agents to cover all of the windows, they covered NONE of the windows. And as a result of this hiccup, President John F. Kennedy was shot dead in his car. Let’s get into the theories. First, let’s get Mr Obvious out of the way. The Official Ruling was that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone with no conspiracy involved, simple, right? The second bullet was the most controversial, in that the Warren Commission suggested it hit both JFK and Connally. This idea was referred to as the Magic Bullet Theory. This theory suggests that from the sixth-floor window the second bullet entered through the back of JFK's neck, exiting downward, then entered through Connally's right side of his back, exited out his right lower chest, and then entered and exited through Connally's left thigh.

ACY THEORY This also suggests that Oswald would have enough time to fire two bullets, one straight after the other. Which, if he was indeed using a rifle, would mean that he wouldn’t have enough time to reload his rifle that fast. Which means, that if the Magic Bullet Theory isn’t real, then there had to be two shooters. Another theory is that the Vice President at the time, Lyndon B. Johnson, had JFK assassinated for his own gain of political power. We can tell just from the way LBJ and JFK interacted, which was very sternly, that LBJ had a feud with JFK. Which was most likely due to political affairs. Someone who plays a large part in this conspiracy is Madeleine Brown, a woman who claims to have had an affair with LBJ. She also stated that she, LBJ, Richard Nixon, and J. Edgar Hoover had all attended a party the night before JFK was assassinated. She further states that LBJ had whispered to her that “after tomorrow, those Kennedys will never embarrass me again. That’s no threat. That’s a promise”. This evidence proves that LBJ and JFK had an unstable and tense relationship, but nothing here says, for certain, that LBJ was indeed behind The President’s death.

And the third, final and my personal favourite theory is that the C.I.A ordered for JFK to be killed. As crazy as it sounds there is also some well-educated evidence surrounding this theory. Some suspect that JFK may have found out that the CIA had been scheming a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro - Former Prime Minister of Cuba- and the CIA felt threatened that Kennedy might have a different motive or even disband them, so they plotted to assassinate him instead. Some people even theorized that there were four CIA agents at the shooting and that three of them fired the bullets, but that puts Oswald in an awkward situation of how he was involved. Others suggest that the CIA chose Oswald to kill JFK as he was a well known communist and he also sympathized with the Russians. But, blaming the CIA for something is just like pointing the finger at a shadow. Weirdly enough, 55 years later, the majority of the U.S.A still believe that there was a conspiracy behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Helen McGiffen

STAR WARS: Warning! Possibility of mild spoilers, read at your own discretion! One of the biggest blockbuster movies to hit the theatres at Christmas time was Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the eighth instalment of the Skywalker saga (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story doesn't count because it was a spin off film). It stars your favourite actors from the Force Awakens such as Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (as Finn), Oscar Isaac (as Poe Dameron) and Adam Driver (Kylo Ren) and also reintroduces original era actors like Mark Hamill (as Luke Skywalker), the late Carrie Fisher (who plays General Leia Organa) and Frank Oz (as Yoda). The movie earned $220 million (£158 million) in its opening weekend alone. By comparison, Star Wars the Force Awakens made $247m on its opening weekend and Rouge One a Star Wars Story made $155m. Director, Rian Johnson received fantastic reviews from raving critics, yet was disappointed to hear the backlash from fans who claimed the film just wasn't 'Star Wars' enough. Personally, I thought the movie was great. In case you do not know me, I am obsessed with Star Wars‌ I can't get enough of it! Although in saying that, I can also see where the majority of the fanbase was coming from,. The film had too much humour, taking the story in unexpected directions. Despite the mixed reviews, however, Johnson is adored by Disney and Lucasfilm alike, their loyalty shown by the companies' giving them a whole standalone Star Wars trilogy to direct. The movie is split into three sections, each of which follows one of the main characters from the Force Awakens: Rey, Poe and Finn. Rey goes to Acht-to where she meets her childhood hero, Luke Skywalker to learn about the mystical force that binds the galaxy together. Poe and the rest of the resistance (the good guys) are pursued by the evil First Order. Imagine a car chase except it's in space, the cars are ten times bigger than skyscrapers and it's a lot, lot slower.

THE LAST JEDI Finn on the other hand meets the love of his life; Rose (played by Kelly Marie Tran) and they go on a super adventure to the other side of the galaxy to find a hacker to get them into the First Order. Everything in the garden is rosy (pun fully intended). Everyone meets back up and they flee down to an abandoned rebel (the old good guys) outpost on a salt planet called 'Crait' as the resistance prepare for an attack, the First Order sends down ten or so AT-M6s (All terrain-Megacaliber six), and some classic AT-ATs (All terrain-armoured transport) for good measure. Will the resistance escape or will the First Order capture them all, go and find out for yourself. The DVD will most likely be coming out April of this year and I would highly recommend that you do! Michael Duff

HAMILTON: AN AMERICAN MUSICAL On February 2nd, I went to see Hamilton: An American Musical in London. It played at Victoria Palace Theatre and starred Jamael Westman as Alexander Hamilton, Rachelle Ann Go as Eliza Schuyler/Hamilton, and Giles Terera as Aaron Burr. The show focuses around life of First Secretary of the American treasury. The musical is by Lin-Manuel Miranda and won eleven Tony's at the 2016 Tony Awards. The story, though deeply American, can be enjoyed by everyone and is simultaneously sad, funny and breath-taking. Jamael Westman, though a complete newcomer, is brilliant in the role and his portrayal of Hamilton is credited by many critics as one of the best to this day. It was inspired by Rob Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton. It is a rap musical, and the songs are catchy, though there are a few sad ones towards the end of the Second Act which show Hamilton's struggle towards the end of his life and excellently portrays his controversial and interesting life. The dancing is fantastic and there is never a boring moment, showing his rise through the ranks in the revolutionary war or his struggle to set up America's first National bank and his family life. The musical also shows Eliza Hamilton's life and struggle, and the lives of the women who experienced the freeing of America and helped build the nation, which is a story not often told amidst the many biographies of the Founding Fathers. It paints all sides of the story and focuses on Aaron Burr and his motive and life, which is interesting to see. All in all, the musical was breath-taking and incredibly enjoyable to watch, and although tickets are hard to get due to popularity, I would definitely recommend it if the opportunity arises. It's definitely not something to be missed! Kerry McGahan

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St Joseph’s Academy, Kilmarnock

St Joseph's Academy Magazine January/February Edition  
St Joseph's Academy Magazine January/February Edition