4 February 2021
The “spice of life” variety is on offer after school each day in our #VirtualValley as a quick trip around some of Woldingham’s extra-curricular clubs reveals.
Poetry has been the focus of the Literary Society’s meetings. Tilda in Year 11 made an excellent presentation about the powerful impact Wilfred Owen’s poem Dulce Et Decorum Est had on her, which inspired a thought-provoking discussion on the power of literature to expose the truth behind political propaganda. This week Ava in Year 10 led the discussion by presenting a poem, The Incredible Bouncing Man, her father wrote about his grandfather. In the week of Joe Biden’s inauguration, Mrs Alexander chose to focus on The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, who read one of his poems at John F Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961.
Women of Woldingham
US politics was on the agenda elsewhere too. The impact on women of the recent US election was one of many talking points for the school’s feminist society, Women of Woldingham (WoW). Since the return to remote learning, WoW has continued with enthusiasm. Weekly talks and discussions, led by students, cover a wide range of issues and topics. This term’s discussions have included intersectionality, portrayal of people of colour on television, colourism and misrepresentation and social media’s influence on female body image. WoW started as a Sixth Form society, but was recently extended to Year 11 students, who have embraced the opportunity to discuss issues they feel strongly about. Last week Zoe in Year 11 led a fascinating session questioning whether feminism will eventually lead to the discrimination of men. Her peers offered a wide range of insights and thoughts leading to meaningful debate about the issue. With February being LGBT+ History Month in the UK, WoW is also going to look more closely at the LGBT+ community, the difficulties they have faced, the progress made and some inspirational individuals.
Nature Journaling Club
Topical - or rather seasonal - nature is at the heart of the newly created Nature Journaling Club. For the last 18 months Mr Peachey, Teacher of English, has been keeping a nature journal with his children, regularly recording what they see in the garden and in the local area. They do this not with a camera, but with a pencil, a paintbrush, or a pen, sometimes writing, sometimes drawing, and sometimes painting (the featured painting of Woldingham's trees is one of Mr Peachey's). Mr Peachey’s enjoyment from watching the slow roll of the seasons brought about the creation of Woldingham’s Nature Journaling Club. It meets briefly each Friday after school to discuss what members have noticed over the previous seven days and to share suggestions. Then they get away from their screens and spend some much-needed time outside. The club has members from Year 7, Year 10 and the Sixth Form, plus a few members of staff. New members are welcome - no artistic skills are required, just a desire to get outside and really look at the wonderful world around us.
Things are more competitive on Tuesday afternoons as Year 8 students take part in the CyberFirst Girls Competition. Inspired and led by the National Cyber Security Centre, the competition provides a fun but challenging environment to inspire the next generation of young women to consider a career in cyber security. The competition went live on 25 January and Woldingham has two teams of four students competing in the online qualifying round. The competitors are putting their cyber security skills to the test, taking part in a series of online puzzles covering topics such as logic, networking and cryptography. If successful in the online qualifying round, the teams will have an opportunity to compete in the Home Nations and English Regions semi-final in March. Whatever happens, our students will have had an opportunity to develop their cyber security skills and consider if they would like to do this kind of work in the future.
The French Department is also encouraging students to get competitive and practise their language skills by entering the French Flash Fiction Competition, which asks for stories of no more than 100 words on a topic of their choosing. Among those entering will be Woldingham’s French bilingual students who have weekly extra-curricular lessons. The Marden girls are following a course called Décibel, which reinforces vocabulary and grammar on a variety of topics, enabling them to keep practising their spoken French and develop listening, reading and writing skills. Students in the Year 9 group have started their GCSE course, with the view of sitting the exam at the end of Year 10, and our Year 10 students are covering the higher material of their GCSE course to take it at the end of this year. In addition, students really enjoy playing games, such as “Le petit bac” and the year groups have previously joined forces to learn French songs to perform at Woldingham’s international evenings, which we all hope will return soon.