On 10th October 2013 Alex (Y13) and I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust. As the two students selected from Tarporley High School and Sixth Form College, we joined a further 200 students from schools across the North-West.
After an initial welcome seminar the previous week, we were already familiar with our group and met at Manchester Airport at 5am ready to start our trip. Accompanied by an ITV News film crew, various photographers and local MP, Stephen O’Brien, we flew to Krakow, Poland on an aircraft chartered especially for the event.
Originally built as a labour camp, Auschwitz was much smaller than the recognised Auschwitz-Birkenau site of today. A Polish guide escorted each group; showing us everything from Nazi offices to the last remaining gas chamber. We were surprised at just how close such an horrific historical site was to its neighbouring major town and the atmosphere changed noticeably the moment we walked through the famous gates.
Auschwitz-Birkenau was built two miles away from the original site shortly after the start of the Second World War and had only one main purpose, to kill. It is hard to believe the scale of this operation and even harder to imagine spending your last moments there. We learnt that there would be up to 800 people living in one, small, crammed lodge which was not fit for humans to survive. As dusk fell, we attended a Jewish memorial ceremony, just meters away from the remains of a gas chamber which was built to slaughter up to 1000 victims in only 20 minutes. We were each given candles and, after the ceremony, we placed our candles around the site as an act of remembrance to those who died there.
Whilst on this trip, it was very important for us to remember to humanise the victims. Over one million people died at Auschwitz-Birkenau and this was just one concentration camp out of hundreds located around Europe. It was an eye-opening experience and one which I will never forget.
Alex and I intend to produce our own memorial to those who lost their lives by presenting our findings to the rest of school in year assemblies, as well as organising a Sixth Form event to mark Holocaust Memorial Day in January.
A group of students attended the Rowing World Cup at Eton Dorney in June. The school were lucky enough to be allocated 40 tickets to spend a day at the London 2012 Olympic Rowing Venue and what a fantastic day they had! Not only did they get to see some World Class athletes on the water, they also got the opportunity to meet some of the Olympic stars in the flesh! Helen Glover (Gold Medalist, London 2012) and Greg Searle (Bronze Medalist, London 2012) were on hand to have photographs taken and sign autographs for our students on what proved to be a very memorable day.
Students who attended the trip (Mainly Year 8) applied for a place, as a result of their own commitment to school sport. So a big well done to those students and all the remaining students who have represented a school team or attended a lunchtime club this year. Hopefully, similar opportunities will arise in the future. A fantastic day and of course, our students were fantastic ambassadors for the school.
Students of Spanish from years 11, 12 and 13 enjoyed a cultural trip to Barcelona from 19 – 24 April. We truly made the most of every minute we had in this amazing city by packing in lots of different cultural activities and opportunities to use our Spanish. We spent most of the time outdoors, taking in the sights of the city on foot and by metro.
On day 1, everyone went shopping for their picnic lunch in the famous market of La Boqueria on Las Ramblas. It really is a sight to behold with all the exotic fruits and vegetables piled high. There were also some scarier sights for the unaccustomed eye in the form of butchers’ stalls! We then travelled by metro, foot and outdoor escalator to the beautiful setting of Parc Güell, where we ate our picnics, under blazing sunshine, on the famous mosaic bench designed by Gaudí with a panoramic view of the city. On our way home we stopped off on Barcelona’s most chic street to see the famous houses that Gaudí built in his own personal style.
Day 2 was really special. We were lucky enough for our visit to coincide with a local neighbourhood festival, where a “concurs de castells” or a “human tower building competition” was taking place. We watched in awe (and occasionally fear) as the human towers grew ever higher and the smallest member of the team – the enanxeta – climbed fearlessly up the tower of up to 9 people high! We then visited the Sagrada Familia cathedral – you need to see it with your own eyes to believe it as pictures just don’t do this amazing building justice. How many cathedrals have you seen with stone crocodiles and snails slithering up the outside?! After all this excitement, some relaxation was called for, so we headed to the coast for a gentle stroll along the promenade of the Olympic Village and to rest on the sand.
On Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th April students in year 7 visited Chester Zoo with the science department, as an introduction to their next topic on habitats and adaptations. Pupils spent an industrious day walking round the zoo, looking at the special features and behaviour of a variety of different animals.
Highlights were the new baby black Rhino as well as the usual crowd pleasers in the ‘Realm of the red ape’ and chimpanzee enclosures, although some pupils regretted visiting these right before lunch! The elusive Jaguars also made an appearance, as well as the majestic tigers and lions. True to form, and as is tradition for year 7 at the zoo, at least one student left the bat enclosure with a supposedly fortunate, but nevertheless fairly disgusting present from one of the bats!
By the end of the day students had seen a huge array of different animals, as well as having walked a fair few miles. All pupils showed real enthusiasm and were a credit to themselves and the school.
During the half term holidays a group of 47 students went to Bormio, Italy. It was the first time that the school had taken students to Europe on a school ski trip for several years.
The students arrived on Saturday the 16th of February early in the morning after a few hiccups along the way including a few lost passports, boarding cards and forgotten suitcases, ready to hit the slopes the next morning. With majority of the group being newcomers to the sport, there was a lot of falls throughout the week that were worthy of a mention. Miss Pizzuto took the whole of her group out several times, people were trying to practice their turns on the button lift, which did not work out quite how they planned.
The beginner group managed to make it up to the top of the mountain by the end of the week, with many leaving feeling very confident skiers. Later in the week the group took a trip to the Bormio spa, which was very luxurious, they also went to a disco and a local pizzeria another night! There were as many funny moments off the ski slopes as there was on the slopes, with everyone having a great time, the trip was a great success.
We look forward to returning in 2015, newcomers or experienced, you will have a great time.
Hannah and Jenna