Rydal Penrhos newsletter
BBC Radio Wales visit among highlights
BBC Radio Wales pay us a visit as part of 'How Wales Works'
We had the privilege of being interviewed by a national radio station last month.
As part of the week-long series entitled How Wales Works, BBC Radio Wales visited us on Wednesday, January 27, where they conducted live interviews with four pupils and Mr McDuff.
We were the only independent school in Wales to be featured for the series due to the wide range of options given to pupils who study here.
Adele Parry, Theo Smout, Kate McCarthy and Geoffrey Fu spoke with journalist Chris Dearden during breakfast in the canteen, where they spoke about the benefits of independent school education and the range of curricular and extra-curricular activities that are available.
Mr McDuff then spoke about the school’s diverse curriculum and the advantages of not being tied down to the state school curriculum during morning assembly at St John’s.
Upper sixth pupil James Sanders, who has done some voluntary work with the station’s religious department, was then shown the technology within the BBC Wales van and given a demonstration of how it works.
Mr McDuff, said: “I would like to thank the pupils for getting up especially early for the interviews, and they were all a credit to themselves and the school.
“We have so much to offer here and it was wonderful for the BBC to choose us to appear on their How Wales Works series.”
Hundreds raised for RNLI from charity bag packing
The generosity of our pupils and staff was once again evident at the annual charity bag packing event.
A number of volunteers from the school took part, where they packed bags of Morrisons customers for a donation in aid of the RNLI.
Thanks to their hard work, a total of £669 was raised in total from their efforts on the day.
This is the latest in a long line of fundraising events we run for the charity, with the recent Christmas Carol Service also raising hundreds for the cause.
Mr Cashell, said: “All-in-all it was a fantastic day and I would like to thank all the staff and pupils that took part.
“We are very proud of our association with the RNLI, who provide a superb and critical service along our coastlines.
“It has been another extremely successful fundraising event and hope that we can carry on this fine tradition next year.”
First Open Doors event hailed a success
Last month also saw the first of our Open Doors events here at the school.
Prospective pupils and their families were given the chance to see what goes on day-to-day with us on Friday, January 15, and the event attracted a significant amount of interest from those who visited.
This was the first of three events of its kind to be held this year, with the next two set to take place on Friday, February 26 and Friday, March 11.
Mr McDuff, said: “It was incredibly successful and I would like to thank all staff and pupils’ for their efforts.
“We have had a great deal of interest from the prospective pupils that visited the school, so that in itself certainly justified the change of format."
Would you like to see more Open Doors events at Rydal Penrhos in the future?
Swimmers claim haul of medals in Cardiff
Host of pupils' claim medals from Urdd National Gala
A host of our talented swimmers came away with medals from this year’s Urdd National Gala.
Following their success at the regional heats last November, the group descended on South Wales for the event, which took place on Sunday, January 24 at the Wales National Swimming Pool, Cardiff.
There were a number of impressive performances from the team throughout the gala, with Swim Wales international Martyna Ruszkowska adding to her impressive medal collection with a double gold effort.
The 14 year-old claimed the 100m butterfly in fine style, before also taking home gold in the 200m individual medley.
There was further gold medal success when Zach Speakman won the 200m individual medley, and he narrowly missed out on a double of his own by finishing second in the 100m butterfly.
Teddy Roberts had a bronze medal to show for his efforts with a third placed finish in the 100m freestyle, while Tom Cuddihy finished just outside the medals with fourth placed finishes in both the 100m backstroke and butterfly.
A pair of medals were also gained in the relay events, with Adam Lee-Browne, Mason Clarke, Rafeez Martusa and Finlay Hare finishing third in the Year 9/10 medley relay.
Another bronze was secured in the Year 7/8 mixed relay with Roberts, Speakman, Lily Rose-Leong and Bella Rutherford achieving third place.
Mr Ruszkowski, said: “It was a marvellous effort and all swimmers are to be congratulated for their performances.
“Martyna proved once again why she is one of the best swimmers in the country, and Zach also produced an incredible effort to achieve gold.
“All of the team prepared superbly for this event and it showed with their overall results and I am absolutely delighted with the amount of medals we managed to bring home.”
Budding pilot earns place on major course
There was even more good news for our budding pilot Alex Sharples recently.
The upper sixth pupil has made it to stage three of the Virgin Atlantic Training Programme, beating out more than 4,000 other applicants.
This feat ensures he is guaranteed a place at CTC Aviation, regarded as the top flying school in the country.
Things could get even better for the 18 year-old in the near future, as he is waiting to see if he has made stage four of the programme, which would mean that Virgin Atlantic would pay for his training and Alex would be guaranteed a job with the firm.
Only 130 applicants made it to stage three from 4,400 hopefuls, with just 60 places up for grabs at the highly sought after fourth stage.
Alex will learn of his fate at the end of February after undergoing a number of tests including Maths, aptitude and a group interview.
He said: “I am waiting very nervously to see if I have made it to stage four, but I have already beaten the odds to get this far and I have worked very hard, so hopefully it will be enough."
The 18 month course will see Alex spend six months initial training in Southampton, before spending the final year in New Zealand.
Bella set to star in Rhyl Pavilion musical
Brilliant Bella cast in Rhyl Pavilion Musical
Talented Bella Rutherford will play Eva in the musical Her Benny, which will take place on Friday, March 11.
She will also be in the ensemble at both performances on Wednesday, March 9.
After open auditions were held for the smash hit, Bella proved to be a hit with the judges and was cast, with rehearsals now underway ahead of the highly anticipated show.
Miss Murphy, said: “We are delighted that Bella has been cast as Eva and it is going to be amazing to see her on stage.
“She is very talented and has come a long way in a short space of time, and the drama staff at Rydal Penrhos have been brilliant with her.
“Bella is now working hard to learn her lines and it is going to be a very proud moment to see her take the stage.”
Her Benny is a classic rags to riches, heart warming tale of a young orphan boy’s struggle to survive the harsh streets during the intense poverty of the Victorian era and to look after his sister, little Nell.
Harry Grocutt achieves LAMDA grading success
Another of our gifted pupils achieved success at a recent London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art grading.
Year 8 pupil Harry Grocutt gained a merit in his Grade four Acting Solo exam.
In order for Harry to pass the exam, he had to give two speeches in-front of LAMDA examiners, and then fielded questions from them about each speech.
He said: “I put in quite a bit of practice before the exam and following it I thought I did quite well.
“I think the questions part was the hardest and I was very happy to not only pass, but receive a merit too.”
Despite his talent, Harry added he does not plan to pursue acting as a career but “really enjoys it as a hobby”.
How important are extra-curricular qualifications for pupils?
Lydia Dickson aiming to go out on a high at annual Dramatic Society production
Upper Sixth pupil Lydia Dickson has been heavily involved in a number of productions since Year 7, and will take the stage for the final time when she plays the role of Sherriff Heck Tate in this year’s Dramatic Society showcase.
Rehearsals are now well underway ahead of this year’s show, which will be an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird.
The 18 year-old said that acting is “her passion” and is also active in helping with the junior productions at Rydal Penrhos.
For her A-level exam, Lydia teamed up with pupils Alexa Rowlands and Scarlett Salisbury adapted the Five Kinds of Silence by Shelagh Stephenson to perform “What is Love?”, which was a dark and shocking piece.
Following her time with us, the talented actress will head to University where she will carry on her drama studies.
This year’s performance will be held over three days at the school’s Memorial Hall from Wednesday March 9 to Friday 11, and all performances will begin at 7.30pm.
Anyone wishing to book tickets for the production can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tributes paid to former school master
Rydal School Master 1962 – 1995
We are very sad to have to announce the death of Mr Harry Stanley, who died on January 5.
Harry, who was an Oxfordshire boy, came to North Wales after studying at Loughborough College and completing his National Service. He began his long teaching career at the school in 1962.
He was what used to be called a woodwork teacher in the days before the title Design Technology had been thought up and his domain ‘the woodwork shop’ existed in the bowels of the Costain building where Biology is currently housed. There Harry taught generations of students the skills of woodworking and also passed on the benefit of his talents to members of staff in the days before people popped out to IKEA to buy their bookcases.
His workshop was not limited to wooden products and one former colleague recalls that when he arrived at the school he discovered that Harry had just completed a student project to build a working hovercraft the size of a car!
Harry was a keen sportsman and at school was in charge of coaching tennis for many years. With his great height he was also the lynchpin of the staff basketball team! Outside of school he enjoyed shooting game at Bodorgan on Anglesey with other colleagues and also kept sheep on the Heights.
He met his wife Mary whilst teaching at the school and as House Master ran a girls’ boarding house, Heathfield, where his quirky sense of humour made it a very happy place to be. He had a great love of dogs and his labradors were constant companions throughout his life.
After his retirement Harry continued his close links with the school and was a great supporter at many functions organized for Old Rydalians. As a long standing member of Colwyn Bay Rotary Club he also helped out with mock interviews for sixth formers prior to their university interviews.
Harry’s legacy can be seen today not only in the many items of furniture which still grace the premises and in the Design Technology building on Combermere Road, which he and his colleague Rick Maple ensured was completed, but also and especially in the memories of colleagues and pupils who benefitted for many decades from his knowledge and wisdom and care - Nick Sissons, Chaplain.
Langston Education group visit school
A group of young Chinese visitors signed off their stay in style with a musical performance.
The six young pupils spent two weeks with us as part of an integration programme run in conjunction with the Langston Education Language Centre, and they brought the curtain down on their visit with a performance of The Story of Persephone on Friday, January 29.
During their stay, the young pupils were given a taste of what life was like on a day-to-day basis, and they joined our current pupils in a number of classes including Chemistry, Music and Drama.
They also took part in a number of extra-curricular activities including visiting picturesque sites including Conwy Castle and the Welsh Mountain Zoo.
After their performance of the Greek Myth, which included singing and acting, the group were given a standing ovation from both pupils, staff and their families that attended, and were also presented with gifts to thank them for their effort and exceptional behaviour during their stay.
Sports coach Miss Jones, who looked after the children during their visit, said: “For them to perform as they did with just two weeks to rehearse was fantastic.
“They have been a credit to themselves and their families and they have been a pleasure to have here.”
Pupil Imogen Camp talks about Imam visit
On Friday, January 22, Imam Mohammad visited Rydal Penrhos School to talk to Year 10 about Islam.
He started off by defining the word Islam, which comes from the Arabic word ‘salam’, meaning ‘peace’. It also means to submit oneself to God.
He then went on to explain how different Muslims lead different lives, depending on their devotion to God, describing the three different levels of devotion. He also discussed with us various ethical issues, such as euthanasia, abortion and organ transplant. The Imam talked about the different Muslim viewpoints, often dependent on where in the world a Muslim comes from or lives, before telling us his own ideas on the subject.
"He also shared his opinions on ISIS, claiming that they are not true Muslims, as a true believer would never commit the atrocities that ISIS has."
Year 10 pupil Imogen Camp
Finally, we ended the lesson with any questions people wanted to ask about Islam, mostly related to the GCSE course we are currently studying. Unfortunately, there was little time left, and there was only time for a few questions before we had to finish. We would all like to thank Imam Mohammad for taking the time to visit, and we hope to see him again sometime in the future.
Living for Sport
Women's rugby star visits
We had a special visitor last month as part of a popular Sky Sports initiative.
As part of the TV stations Living for Sport scheme, women's rugby star and former Wales international Philippa Tuttiett visited us on Wednesday, January 13.
During her visit the 32 year-old gave a presentation to GCSE pupils, before speaking about her life as an elite athlete with the Living for Sport group.
The day concluded with a number of activities, where pupils were encouraged to work in teams on tasks designed to develop teamwork, hunger to succeed and problem solving.
It was a great experience for our pupils to have Philippa visit the school. She has reached the pinnacle of her profession and her knowledge and experience was inspiring to those who heard her speak.
Achievements of our former pupils
Hannah Patrick, an upper sixth pupil last year, has been offered a place at Somerville College, which was originally founded for women when they were barred from the University.
She has been incredibly busy during her gap year after winning a place in the energy sector of the DNV GL at Loughborough as part of the Year in Industry initiative.
Mr McDuff said: “Hannah is a bright young mind and everyone at the school is delighted that she has won a place at such a prestigious establishment.
“We know that she has worked incredibly hard both in-and-out of school to get this opportunity, and her drive and enthusiasm is sure to help her gain further success in the future.
“I would also like to thank staff for all their hard work in getting Hannah to this point. Their commitment to making each individual pupil succeed is nothing short of outstanding.”
In addition to her gap year work, Hannah also spent a week in Westminster on work experience where she shadowed Clwyd West MP David Jones and his senior secretary Carys Taylor
Terrific Tom makes Wales U20 squad for Six Nations
Tom Williams, who now plays his rugby for Swansea and the Ospreys, was part of Jason Strange’s 31-man squad for the tournament, which kicks off next month.
He will get the chance to showcase his skills in Colwyn Bay once again, with Parc Eirias playing host to Wales U20 home matches throughout the tournament.
The Wales U20 head coach, said: "We get a huge boost from the crowd and the welcome we receive at Parc Eirias and we will be looking forward to returning there for the following two games against Scotland and France, and for the final game against Italy after playing England in Bristol.
"We will look to expose as many players as possible to this level of rugby during the Six Nations tournament, with one eye firmly fixed on the World Rugby U20 Championship in England in June.
“There are a number of players ruled out through injury at the moment who could bolster the squad for that tournament."
Will Wales U20s win the 6 Nations?
One of our old music scholars was part of a production at the world famous Sydney Opera House recently.
Joe Crossley, who left us in 1998, now resides in Australia and is a new media artist using light, projection mapping, motion sensors and more to activate public spaces and create large-scale installations, while also studying for his PhD in new media art at the University of Sydney.
He has worked with a number of fashion and advertising agencies, in addition to high profile festivals such a Burning Man and VIVID Sydney.
Joe's recent achievement saw him become part of the free event Samsung for Sound and Vision, which took place at on Sunday, January 31.
He said: “The show went fantastically went and the visual effects throughout really were spectacular.
“We put the entire show together in three weeks, which was a huge task for artists and tech, but the artists were great and everyone’s hard work definitely paid off.”
Group gives account on French school visit
We started our trip to France by airport transfer from school, and arrived at Manchester Airport around 11 o'clock.
We had about an hour to look around the airport, before we went out to our plane. We took off at 12.30pm.
There were amazing views of France through the cloud, and a great sight as we flew over the bay next to Marseille. We landed in France at Marseille airport about 2pm. From there we travelled to the hotel by shuttle bus, and unpacked.
Afterwards, we walked down to the old port to find somewhere to eat. We passed through the Christmas market and saw some of the port, although it was not as good as we think it will be in the day. Although lots of the restaurants were expensive, we were able to find one eventually, called Hippopotamus. It was a really nice place, apparently specialising in steak and burgers.
"The students were friendly and enthusiastic which made us feel welcome."
We planned our day for tomorrow, as we would be looking around Marseilles before heading to the school we would liaison with. We would catch the train to Aubagne, a town near Marseilles, in the afternoon tomorrow, and go to the hotel.
Sunday was a very relaxed day. We started off by eating breakfast which was a pain au chocolat or a croissant with a half baguette and yoghurt. Then we checked out of our rooms and we went to a very impressive church. The architecture was "majestic".
We mainly did window shopping. Then we split off into smaller sections to have lunch. After lunch we rode a bus to the Notre Dame de la Garde. It was beautiful.
The view was amazing and we could see all of Marseilles. Once having a look inside the church and the crypt we departed to go to Aubagne. We travelled by TGV and arrived shortly afterwards. We travelled to the hotel and freshened up. We ate dinner at a nearby restaurant and then headed back to the hotel to get some rest for Monday.
Monday: We started off our day with breakfast in the hotel and then when to the bus at 7:30. When we arrived at the school and were welcomed by the teachers. We followed the staff to a English language class for their morning lesson.
The students introduced themselves to us in good English and we reciprocated. They were friendly and enthusiastic which made us feel welcome. We then headed to the common room to begin discussing our work on the project.
There was a slight language barrier between us but overcame by the school's English teacher. The school used symbolic pictures to help avoid the barriers. We then went to the canteen where we had a choice between spaghetti bolognaise and fish and breadcrumbs. We had a traditional French cake for dessert. Then we went back to the common room to present our work on the Erasmus project.
We showed the documents on discrimination law and cases and spoke about our research into sexism within print media. After school hours we walked into town to see the scenes created with Santon figures. After seeing the town centre and the figurines we took the bus back to the hotel. We then dined at a nearby restaurant.
Being at the French school was interesting, as we were able to see the many differences between English and French education. We saw that the French school was more focused on vocational education, rather than the varied British curriculum.
Tuesday: After breakfast we returned to the French school and worked alongside their pupils trying to develop a common survey on discrimination and its effects.
We also had to translate a lot of work from French to English. Kate McCarthy, Ed Patrick and Mr Farnell were interviewed once the survey was complete for a video which is to be edited and uploaded to YouTube.
During lunchtime the local press came to school and interviewed us about the project. After school we took the bus to Aix en Provence which was about 50 minutes away.
This was a beautiful town with lots of ancient streets and a real French Provençal buzz about it. Teaming with restaurants and tourist shops it was probably the highlight of everyone’s visit to Provence. A late night back with time to pack before our flight back to Manchester.
Pen y Bryn visit
Young pupils enjoy series of workshops
A group of pupils from nearby Ysgol Pen y Bryn spent the day with us last month, where they took part in a series of activities.
Almost 60 Year 6 pupils visited us on Wednesday, January 20, where they took part in a series of practical lessons in Art, Design Technology and Music.
Led by Mr Wright, the visitors went through a host of their favourite songs, learning about rhythm and echo in music, while also getting tips on how to improve their singing technique.
During the Design and Technology sessions, pupils worked in pairs and were tasked with making their very own sweet dispenser, which they were allowed to take home with them.
Creating their own prints was the feature of the Art sessions, with pupils making printed paintings under the watchful eye of Mr Sherrington.
He said: “They have been very attentive and we have tried to make things as fun as possible for them, so that they can get the maximum enjoyment from each session."
The pupils were split into groups of three, partaking in two out of three activities before heading back to school following their dinner.
Pupils achieve national honours
Table Tennis star Abishek given Wales development call-up
Our resident table tennis star Abhishek Bathula won the U15 Cadet category at the Burton on Trent Table Tennis Tournament.
In addition to this success, Abhishek also made the quarter finals in the U18 tournament despite his tender age.
He is currently playing for Rhyl Community Table Tennis Club and has represented North Wales, winning gold and silver medals at the Welsh National Games.
If that wasn't enough, the 13 year-old has been invited to train with the Welsh development squad and is the youngest player currently performing in the Llandudno and District Table Tennis League.
The talented player won seven events last season and will be in action again when Abhishek competes at both the four star Blackpool tournament and Glamorgan Open.
Father Victor Bathula, said: “His ambition is to play for Wales one day and he is putting every effort and working hard to achieve this goal.
“I would like to thank everyone at Rydal Penrhos for all their support.”
Teddy is a record breaker!
Swim king Teddy Roberts turned in another record breaking performance at the Holywell Valentine Meet.
He is ranked the number one ranked butterfly swimmer in Wales for his age category, and won the 50m fly in fine style to take home gold.
There was further success in the 200m butterfly, where he took 12.5 seconds off his personal best and was just one second off meeting the qualifying time for a prestigious meet in Swansea, which will be held during the Easter weekend.
Mr Ruszkowski, said: “Teddy has come on leaps and bounds as the season has progressed, and the sky is the limit for him in terms of what he can achieve.
“Our swimming programme has brought tremendous success in recent years, and Teddy is the latest in a long line of talents that we have had the pleasure of working with here.
“To be ranked the number one swimmer in Wales is no mean feat for someone so young, and we are confident that he can progress even further with more experience in competitive environments.”
Strongman Josh claims Welsh Schools Powerlifting title
Our very own Weightlifting hopeful Josh Lynch turned in a gold medal winning performance at a national event.
Year 7 pupil Josh achieved his success at the Welsh Schools Weightlifting Championships, and managed to become a record breaker in the process.
The 12 year-old set a new national record that had stood since 2009 on his way to gaining gold.
His first triumph was in the snatch, where he set a new record of 40kg, before digging deep to claim the clean and jerk title.