Yes, we can: Yes we did!

The former American president Barack Obama was a master wordsmith, one who knew the power of language and clearly understood, just like Jonathan Swift, the Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist and political pamphleteer, that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’, when he laid claim to the positive phrase ‘Yes we can’ prior to his winning campaign of 2008. One could even argue that Boris Johnson’s ‘Get Brexit done’ was the game changer in the 2019 British election. Whatever one thinks, no one can deny the power of language and especially not the power of language in the hands of a master.

It is hard to argue that the greatest master wordsmith of all time didn’t know a thing or two about the art of rhetoric and the power of language. He did. However, more importantly, he understood the power of individual words as well as the effect of syntax. Shakespeare understood the effect of language and how a pithy turn of phrase or even a sound bite can persuade. From laying bare the futility of our existence in Macbeth (“a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”); to the preaching of the importance of integrity in Hamlet (“this above all; to thine own self be true”); to warning of speaking without thought in King Lear (“mind your speech a little lest you should mar your fortunes”)  as well as urging us to take control of our dreams in Julius Caesar (“it is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves”): Shakespeare’s grasp on the power of the English language is arguably still peerless. Nevertheless, six virtuoso speakers from Shipston High School have learnt their lessons well and presented a stellar public speaking performance at the Rotary Youth Speaks competition held in late January which even the Bard would have admired!

Shipston’s Year 10 speakers (Sasha Turner, Emelia Berry, Cameron Collie, May Redshaw, Jasmina Lichem and Jonty Guise) delivered incredible performances in the Senior Competition (14–18 years old) at The Croft School on 22nd January, 2020. Shipston’s speakers competed against three other teams, two from King Edward VI and one from Stratford Girls’ Grammar School, but more importantly they competed against and beat sixth form teams. The winning team, Turner, Berry and Collie, delivered a formidable tour de force fifteen minute debate in which they spoke extempore on the subject: ‘This House believes the youth have never had it so good’, as well as expertly handling an unseen and unknown question from a member of the audience. Redshaw, Lichem and Guise also spoke with great authority, wit and energy on their chosen topic of ‘Materialism’, with Lichem possibly delivering the individual speech of the evening.

Overall, our Year 10 students once again presented all that is excellent about many of the students at Shipston High School: endeavour, fortitude, desire, and we commend them for their sterling efforts. In Shakespeare’s dark comedy Twelfth Night, Malvolio claims:

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

However, at Shipston High School we value and know that hard work and application is the recipe for success. So, to borrow from the Bard again:

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”

(Hamlet  Act 4 Scene 5)

The mantra for every student in our school or as Obama put it ‘Yes, we can’ and ‘Yes, we did’!

By Mr A G Warren

Swimming gala success!!

Congratulations to Holly Larkin, Leah Bowen, Ava Callan-Foster and Keana Pearce who took part in the Midlands Schools Championships in Worcester last Friday, 24th January 2020.

They reached the final for both events (4 x 50m medley and 4 x 50m freestyle) and finished 4th overall for the medley and 2nd for the freestyle.

4th and 2nd in the Midlands out of 30 schools is a superb achievement…they only missed out on 1st place by 0.3 of a second!

Working for Marcus

On the afternoon of 27th January we were delighted to welcome into school Loudmouth Theatre in Education company.

Loudmouth delivered a PSHE session “Working for Marcus” to our Year 11 students which focused on Child Exploitation, Sexual Exploitation, County Lines, Grooming and Knife crime. The aim of “Working for Marcus” is to make young people aware of the signs of grooming, develop empathy for its victims and be aware of the impact of child exploitation. Students learned how perpetrators can be any gender, ethnicity or age and set out to target a person’s vulnerability and they also gained some knowledge of the laws surrounding coercive and controlling behaviour.

The session comprised a piece of theatre followed by a very lively question and answer session, picking up points raised in the play.

Feedback from the students after the event indicated that the session had been extremely well received and had given the students much food for thought arising from the issues addressed.

We are very grateful to the office of the Police Crime Commissioner for funding this very worthwhile event and also to the Stratford District Council for facilitating it. Our thanks also go to the Youth Justice Service for making one of their representatives available to join us.

Modern students are often vilified in the media for lacking motivation, appearing to be rather lackadaisical in their outlook and are even labelled by some as work shy. Nothing could be further from the truth with five supremely driven students at Shipston High School.
James and Matthew Barrett, Laurence Barnes, Jedrzej Jakielska, and Jasmina Lichem demonstrated drive and discipline way in advance of what you would normally expect of students who are all sixteen or under in such a high tech competition and world. The five entrepreneurial youths engaged the tight corners and hair-pin bends that was the gruelling F1 Schools Regional Finals held in Birmingham on 15th January, 2020. Within a time period of four weeks they needed to: design a model race car, make it, test it up to race standards, gain sponsorship from businesses, as well as documenting all of the evidence in two portfolios. Not exactly a Sunday afternoon drive for students who already have huge commitments towards their school studies (James, Matthew and Laurence are Year 11 students preparing themselves for their GCSEs in the next few months).
Enterprising and Collaborative
On top of everything else these dedicated petrol-heads needed to take responsibility for individual aspects of the project as well as working collaboratively to ensure the whole process was completed to incredibly high exacting standards, and most importantly they were ready to race!
On your marks. Get set. Go!
On the day, all of the students admitted to being nervous regarding the performance of the car and the other tests they would need to negotiate, but their endeavours were fruitful and they were rewarded with an exhilarating experience and some fine performances. Their super compressed-air powered car was third fastest overall, covering 20m in an amazing 1.56s! They also won the overall verbal presentation award, demonstrating their confidence and eloquence in a five minute oral presentation to a range of industry expert judges. Overall, these students performed way beyond their years in maturity, application and yes, drive, in their pursuit of their future dreams.
World of Work
How often do we hear about Britain’s youth not being ‘work ready’? Well, that certainly couldn’t be levelled at this team! All of them showed the desire and skills to become successful young adults in our ever-changing world, as well as the resilience to make it in the tough post-Brexit economy they will inherit. All of them realised the enormous benefit to themselves that the experience presented and how it has reinforced the views that they all want careers in engineering, F1, technology and commercial enterprise, but the best bit was the atmosphere on the day, seeing the car run and winning their first ever race! Now if that doesn’t motivate you….
Blistering, Graining and Marbles
The world is full of jargon, some quite technical and some just plain obvious if you are in the know. The marbles here do not refer to little glass orbs for playing a game with, nor is it part of a euphemism for someone not in complete control of their faculties. Here it refers to a rather complicated scientific process which occurs to F1 tyres depending on the differential in temperature within the actual tyre…, but you knew that of course? I bet our super team did!
by A. G. Warren
Literacy Co-ordinator

In the last week of the Autumn term, the Year 11 GCSE Art students took part in some pottery lessons.

Local Potter Andy Gill came in and talked about his craft. Andy is a master potter, being traditionally trained at Whichford pottery, where he worked for over 30 years. Now concentrating on his own distinctive range of hand thrown terracotta flowerpots, Andy showed the students how to work with clay and helped them all created their own distinctive pieces. The students (and Mrs. Costello) also tried making a pot on a traditional pottery wheel which was great fun. The pieces the students made will be fired by Andy in his kiln when they are dry.

The students really enjoyed using a different medium in Art and learning about another facet of Art as a career option. We are extremely grateful to Mr Gill for giving up his valuable time to provide such a great experience for our students.

As part of their GCSE course, the Science department took the Year 11 students on a voyage back through time, where they learnt about the history of earth.  In the morning they were given an insightful talk about the museum, Darwin, Wallace and how their ideas have shaped our understanding of evolution and natural selection.  In the afternoon they completed an evolutionary trail, where they immersed themselves in the complete history of earth, discovering how the horse evolved from a small dog like creature to what we see today; they looked at why some animals have similar characteristics when they have oceans between them and why birds developed feathers and flight.  This was followed by a workshop looking at how humans have evolved, where the students used hands-on techniques to measure the skulls of our evolutionary ancestors to work out how the skull has changed and what this means for the brain.  It was a wonderful opportunity for Shipston High School students to be immersed in the academic atmosphere of Oxford University.

Christmas Cheer at Low Furlong Care Home

During the afternoon of 17th December our school Choir visited neighbouring Low Furlong Care Home to give a Christmas concert for its residents. Sporting festive hats and singing in their best voices the choir, led by Mr and Mrs Hunt, entertained the residents with a mixture of Christmas songs which was well received and enjoyed by all.

We are grateful to Low Furlong for giving us the opportunity to meet and entertain their residents, which turned out to be a fun afternoon for staff and students alike.


F1 in Schools STEM Challenge

Following several evenings of planning and designing, students are well on the way to producing their compressed-air powered model Formula 1 racing car in preparation for the regional Final which is being held in Birmingham on 15th January 2020.

The team comprises five students, James, Matthew, Jasmina, Laurence and Jedizej.

Jasmina has written the following article which totally sums up the team’s excitement and commitment for the challenges the regional Final is likely to bring:

“The F1 in Schools STEM Challenge is a mind-opening opportunity for Shipston High School students to design and make a compressed air-powered model Formula 1 racing car using 2D and 3D CAD/CAM software and techniques, together with a 5-page design portfolio detailing their design journey.

This might sound daunting, yet Shipston’s skilled team, creatively named Apex Racing, have the knowledge and guidance to overcome any obstacle!  The portfolio and race car will be ready to be tested in competition at the Regional final.”

Year 11 Mock Interview Day

Very soon our Year 11 students will be having interviews at 6th forms, colleges and for apprenticeships.  We believe it is really important that prior to this they have the chance to experience what an interview will be like.  With this in mind all students take part in a mock interview session which this year involved sixteen volunteers from various local and national businesses and members of the Shipston on Stour Rotary Club.  All visitors, having much experience in interviewing people, held individual interviews based on the students’ pre-prepared CVs.

Students were briefed to wear “interview clothes” and without exception came into school very smartly dressed and ready for their interviews.  Everyone at school commented on how professional they looked. Although really nervous, the students found the interview to be a very rewarding experience, gaining some constructive feed-back which can now be used in class to improve their CVs and interview techniques.

Overall the students did really well, with our visitors being very impressed with their attitude, appearance and how they conducted themselves.

Miss L Moorman
Careers Leader

Shipston Rotary Club Victorian Evening

The Shipston on Stour Rotary Club’s annual Christmas Victorian Evening is one of the highlights of the Shipston calendar. For many, this very popular event marks the start of their Christmas celebrations with the switching on of the Shipston lights, the late night shopping and arrival of Father Christmas.
We were delighted when we were approached by the Rotary Club and asked if we would like to provide some entertainment during the evening. Led by Head of Music, Mr Hunt, and our Jazz Band stepped up to provide a range of both Christmas and popular music to entertain the shoppers. The event was made even more special as we were able to welcome back former Jazz Band members Oscar and Kat who made their “one night only” appearance with our students.
The school’s Christmas celebrations don’t end there. On Tuesday 17th December the Christmas choir will be entertaining the residents of Low Furlong Care Home and the school Christmas Concert takes place on Thursday 19th December at 7.00 p.m. in the school Hall. Tickets are available on the door and all are welcome.