Rydal Penrhos newsletter
Foreword from the acting head
Welcome to our July Newsletter, an edition that comes at the end of an incredibly busy year.
The rich diversity of all that goes on at Rydal Penrhos shines through on every page, whether it is high academic achievements, Eisteddfod success or Weightlifting records, to name but a few.
I am particularly grateful to Mr Smith for his contribution and know that as we are all looking forward to him beginning in January, how valuable it is to hear his thoughts and opinions.
Whilst many of us now enjoy a Summer break, there is still plenty going on at school and many support staff work throughout the holidays. Whether you are on holiday or not, I hope the summer brings you some special times with the ones you love.
Finally, many thanks, once again to Dean Jones for putting together this wonderful record of our great school.
Q&A with Simon Smith
Our headmaster elect Mr Smith has been answering your questions as part of a special feature to get to know him better ahead of his January appointment.
Here is Part One of the Q&A:
Do you believe in having parent input in terms of parent teacher meetings?
What is your view on the role of the parents in the Senior School?
I think both questions invite a similar response. Parents entrust their children to this school, many making significant sacrifices to do so and, whilst we are the professionals as educators I think it is not only entirely reasonable but actually essential that parents feel they are part of that educational process too. Schools are a three-way partnership between teachers, pupils and their parents.
I will certainly welcome the views of parents on all sorts of matters and I look forward to having the opportunity to explain our decisions and actions too. I also encourage parents to take an active supporting role in the school.
I am already impressed with what appears to be an enthusiastic FORPS committee and I hope to see as many parents as possible at concerts, drama productions, lectures, sports matches and social occasions. In my experience pupils are incredibly proud to represent their school and perform - having parents sitting in the audience and standing on the touchlines makes them even prouder and more willing to engage in such activities.
I appreciate for parents of boarders it can be more difficult for those living further afield but I hope with enough notice we can find ways for them to attend too. Where they can't the school's staff are trusted in loco parentis and are equally, if not more so, as supportive of their charges, their extended boarding family, on the sports pitches and in the audience.
I know how well staff at Rydal Penrhos fulfil that responsibility - creating a warm, supportive home from home when parents are geographically far away etc. Finally, it is my intention to offer all parents the chance to meet with me from January onwards; watch this space.
How will you ensure that sport doesn't overwhelm the academic provision?
How do you intend to encourage Arts (Drama, Music, Art, Dance) provision in our school to ensure they aren't marginalised?
Again I'll try and deal with these together. The Roman Rhetorician said "Virtuo preceptoris est ingeniorum notare discrimina" - "The excellence of the teacher is to identify differences in talents of pupils." Rydal Penrhos is blessed with hundreds of pupils all with their own talents (some, as yet, undiscovered!) and interests. Offering an education that caters for such a diverse range is demanding and finding a balance across the school is not for the faint-hearted.
Schools are fundamentally places of academic study; we must be intellectually ambitious, academically successful and known for the quality of teaching and learning in our classrooms. In order to ensure our pupils have the best chance in life they must fulfil their academic potential and get the best qualifications they can. However, that doesn't have to be at the expense of the incredible and dare I say fun opportunities that Rydal Penrhos prides itself on offering.
We know that to enhance their employment opportunities and to ensure they develop and grow into decent, healthy human beings we have to encourage participation in the co-curricular as well as the curricular; developing the all-important soft skills essential in leadership. The use of the term co-curricular is very important. Some schools refer to the extra-curricular as if it's some sort of add-on. Instead we need to recognise that all activities can contribute to pupils' academic success.
Speaking well in Drama can help with languages, swing bowling in cricket can make one think about the laws of physics and the demands of learning the violin can be applied to remember key dates in History. This is a very long-winded way of saying that we must promote a breadth in education and a realisation that all aspects contribute to a pupil's experience at Rydal Penrhos. As an IB World School that philosophy of a holistic education encompassing Creativity,
Activity and Service can permeate throughout the Senior and Prep School to complement academic excellence. Getting the balance right requires clear and constant communication, careful management of the timetable and calendar and most important of all a generous appreciation of each aspect's worth. A child gets only one go at education - I want it to be superb.
Our staff work long hours and give a lot of themselves to the school. How will you support and encourage them, bolstering their wellbeing?
Having lived and worked in busy day and boarding schools for 20 years I know full well just how dedicated the staff (both Teaching and Support Staff) are at excellent schools like Rydal Penrhos. Such dedication requires commitment, resilience and good humour! It also requires recognition, encouragement and appreciation of all that the staff do on a daily basis.
I shan't go into too much detail now but I can certainly promise a genuine and active interest in all areas of the school community from the classroom to catering. Professional development is terribly important. I will say more about this in the next article but appreciating that the staff are professionals and therefore need to be given the opportunity to feel valued, develop and improve is, in my experience, another means of supporting the teachers' professional wellbeing.
I also think it's important that the Headmaster leads by example not only by being around the site to thank people but by being as hardworking and committed to the pupils' wellbeing as anyone else in the school.
When will you be visiting our school to meet and get to know the staff?
I have already been up once since my appointment and had a great two days meeting many of the staff at the Senior and Prep School. It was lovely to get to talk with some of the teachers, the Caterers, the Admin staff, the Chaplain and so on. I will be bringing my family to visit in August and then returning for several visits in the Autumn Term. I'm hoping to get to meet some of the parents involved in FORPS and some alumni in that time too. It's going to be a busy six months and I'm going to get to know the M6 pretty well!
Teaching morale across the whole profession (due to reforms and government pressure) is at an all-time low. How can we buck the trend?
I am aware of frustrations within the profession. One only has to watch the news and read education blogs to feel this anxiety. I am also a Governor of Haileybury's State Sponsored Academy and so I have a sense of frustration with the regulatory demands of inspection bodies. However, I believe that morale is much more buoyant in the independent sector.
Yes, staff are anxious about public exam reforms and the like, but I think there is a much greater sense of community and therefore positivity in schools like ours. Boarding schools have their challenges but I think that we at Rydal Penrhos should utilise our independence to teach more widely and imaginatively, to prepare our pupils the way we know is best and enjoy being able to offer our brilliant pupils such a rich life outside the classroom.
I became a teacher because I loved my subject, I enjoyed inspiring pupils and because in a boarding school I could get paid to run around on a rugby pitch in the sun and play pool with the boys in the house on an evening. If we can focus on the pupils rather than the paperwork then I think we will all love walking into work on a morning; particularly in such a glorious setting as Colwyn Bay.
Which areas of your expertise or experience will be most useful to you in your new role?
I hope it's an accumulation of experiences. I've worked in boarding schools for 20 years, I've worked in IB schools for 14 years, I've been a Governor of two Prep schools, I've run a large History Department and am currently responsible for the academic performance of a large boarding school; Haileybury has 780 pupils of which nearly 3/4 board.
And most importantly of all in that time I've always taught. I'm confident that everything I've learnt along the way will mean I can lead and support the staff in making Rydal Penrhos a first class school which is the preferred choice for families both near and far.
What is your proudest moment as a teacher?
That's a great question and makes me feel very old as I sit and try to remember the highlights of my career. In my very first year I was a given an Upper 6th A Level class of just two pupils.
They both got As (there was no A* in those days) - that was great and reassured me that I could do the job! I remember giving a half-time team talk to my rugby U-14 team and us coming from behind to beat Brighton College; that year we won 8 and lost just 2 matches. Most recently I remember watching in awe as Haileybury hosted a TEDx Conference and our pupils gave polished talks about a variety of topics without notes (find them on YouTube).
Their confidence was humbling. Being able to speak confidently and articulately in public is such an important skill. I know the Drama is already very strong here and I can't wait to see my first performance but I will certainly be looking to introduce more public speaking opportunities at Rydal Penrhos.
Latest goings on at the school
Pupils are celebrating another superb year of achievement as International Baccalaureate results were announced.
The school maintained its high calibre of IB results this year with a large number of candidates achieving exceptional results well above the worldwide average of 30.07 points.
In total, the school achieved an average score of 33 in the internationally-recognised diploma, with two candidates scoring 40 points or more – the equivalent of over four A* graded A-levels.
The standout performer was Anjalina Mitra, who achieved an incredible 44 points, one point from a perfect score, and the talented pupil will now go on to study Economics and Maths at the prestigious London School of Economics.
This achievement also puts the 17 year-old in the top one per cent of total scores worldwide.
Hannah Patrick, an upper sixth pupil last year, scored 40, while other scores of note came from German pupil Karl Holthaus, who scored 37, with Molly Jones and Tobias Broering both scoring 35 for their efforts throughout the two-year course.
There were 12 top scores of seven achieved by pupils.
Russell Group universities are accepting applicants with 35 points or over, and no fewer than nine pupils managed to achieve this feat.
University hopefuls have been begun preparations ahead of possible placements next year.
The Lower Sixth took a trip to the UCAS Higher Education Exhibition, which was held in Liverpool on Monday, June 13.
During the event the 49-strong group were able to attend subject specific talks and engage with admission officers from a large number of UK universities.
The trip was in preparation for their Higher Education Preparation Day, where the pupils will begin filling out their UCAS forms in the hope of gaining a place at the University of their choosing next year.
The whole-day programme saw pupils working with their tutors, recent alumni and teacher Michael Pender to research universities, courses and prepare their personal statements.
In addition there will be specific talks for international pupils, as well as those looking to apply to American universities.
Mr Lavery, said: “The pupils have shown a tremendous application to the process already, which has been very pleasing.”
Mr McDuff, added: “This can be a daunting time for pupils as they look to the future, so it is fantastic that we have events such as this, which give them as much knowledge and preparation as possible in order for the process to go as smoothly as possible.”
A world renowned choreographer will be holding a summer camp with a number of special guests.
Dane Bates, who has worked on shows such as Britain’s Got Talent and a host of West End Shows, will be leading the four-day camp at the school from Wednesday, August 3 until Saturday 6.
He will be assisted during the camp by Jack Higgins, who reached the BGT semi-finals after wowing judges with his audition during week two of the show, which was likened to the movie Billy Elliot.
Also joining the DB Masterclasses will be Ben Davies, who has worked with the likes Ellie Goulding, and Jess Glyne, in addition to popular shows such as X Factor and The Voice UK.
British champion gymnast Jessica Jones will also be on hand to lend support during the camp.
There will be a host of different activities throughout the camp, including technique, jazz, acro/gymnastics, commercial/street dance and musical theatre.
The cost of the camp is £80, with day booking also available at a cost of £22.50.
Each day will run from 10am-3pm and children aged six and over of all abilities are welcome to attend.
For more information or to book contact 07745 314967 or email email@example.com.
Congratulations to Richard Wolfendale, who won the Year 7, 8 and 9 writing competition at the Llanrwst Eisteddfod, and was presented with a certificate and a cash prize for his efforts.
In order to achieve his prize, the 13 year-old had to write a short piece for a local newspaper, and his detailed and informative piece was deemed a worthy winner following the judging process.
This is the latest in a series of accomplishments for the pupil this year, who recently performed at a 1940’s Themed Dance and Cabaret evening at Venue Cymru, which was part of Llandudno’s annual Victorian Extravaganza festivities.
He was also part of the school team that finished runner-up in the UKMT Maths Team Challenge, and finished third in the Mathematical Education on Merseyside Challenge, which is run by the University of Liverpool.
Mr McDuff, said: “This is yet another fantastic achievement by Richard and he is to be congratulated for his efforts.
“He is a very bright pupils which a great determination to succeed, two traits that ensure he is going to be a success in anything he applies himself to.
“Everyone is extremely proud of his continued success and hope to see more of the same in the future.”
Summer Fair raises thousands
Crowds braved the torrential rain for this year's Summer Fair extravaganza.
The event, which is organised by the Friends of Rydal Penrhos committee, took place on Tuesday, June 28 and it was once again a great success despite heavy rain forcing last minute changes to plans.
Normally held in the school quad, organisers moved the event into the Memorial Hall, where there were a host of stalls, a tombola, and a representative from the RNLI, while the candy floss machine proved to be a popular addition for fairgoers.
Those attending were kept entertained by a variety of music performances from pupils, staff and the Jazz Band, while refreshments were available in abundance in the form of a cake stall chocolate fountain and barbecue.
There was also a grand raffle with a host of superb prizes on offer, including large hampers, a family ticket to Portmeirion, tickets to see Aladdin at Venue Cymru, a £245 Venture Photography voucher, dinner for two at the Deganwy Quay Hotel and afternoon tea at the Llandudno Bay Hotel.
Prep School pupils were given a special golden ticket, which put them into the hat with a chance of winning a £20 voucher for Smyths Toy Store, and Year 5’s Oliver Davies was the lucky recipient.
All proceeds will be split between FORPS projects at the school, and the RNLI to support their new lifeboat station in Llandudno.
Mrs Crimes was one of hundreds of women that completed the Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, which was held in Rhyl on Sunday, June 12.
She completed the five kilometre course in 25 minutes and 30 seconds, and has currently raised £140 for the national charity in memory of her father Wyn Cunnah, who passed away when the teacher was a teenager.
Mrs Crimes, said: I ran in memory of my Dad who died of cancer when I was 17.
“It really affected me and my family; I want to help to make sure no-one has to feel that again."
Anyone wishing to donate can still do so by visiting this link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/leahcrimes2.
Mr Lewis joined three others, which included teachers from Ysgol Eirias to cycle from Workington in Cumbria to Tynemouth on the North Sea coast.
The group, were raising funds for Clatterbridge Cancer charity, the Oncology and Radiotherapy Unit for Wales and the North West.
Anyone wishing to donate can do so by visiting the group’s JustGiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Tim-HardingCtoC4Clatterbridge.
Pupils praised for expedition efforts
Pupils have been working hard all year to achieve either a Bronze, Silver or Gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards, which involves taking part in a series of expeditions and tasks in order to achieve their goal.
No fewer than 34 pupils have begun their Bronze quest this year, with 32 of those completing a special expedition in April.
A further 14 pupils have since completed the qualifying expedition and another 17 are take on the challenge in the coming days.
Ana Richardson, Martyna Ruszkowska, Jack Jones, Josh Thomas, Zach Blomeley, Nicholas Fiorita, Ewan Luke, Nia Seenan and Fraser Williams have now all completed their Bronze awards, with Luke Davies submitting the entire award in just one year.
Six Year 11 pupils signed up for the Silver award, and all have now completed both their practice and qualifying expeditions.
The group received praise from recent assessor Tim Harrop on a recent expedition, who said: “After the first day the group learnt from any ‘mistakes’ and worked extremely well together.
“One of the nicest and most efficient groups I have come across in a long time – well done.”
Eight year 12 pupils embarked on the demanding Gold level scheme, and successfully completed their practice expedition in April. They will take be tackling a traverse of the Rhinog mountains in September in order to complete their assessed expedition.
Mr Lewis, said: “The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award continues to be a worthy and popular activity within the school, available to all pupils from Year 9 through to Year 13.
“This year has seen an increase in the number of participants who have successfully completed their award – and we look forward to receiving submissions in the near future from those who have started, but for whom the scheme is ongoing. “
Second welsh weightlifting record
Josh Lynch put in another standout showing at the prestigious Gemau Cymru showcase, which was held at Sport Wales National Centre on Friday, July 1.
Despite being just 12 years-old, Josh competed in the under 15 category and defied his age by adding a second Welsh record to the one he recently achieved at the National Schools’ Weightlifting Championships.
Competing in the 50kg weight category, the sports scholar managed to lift an impressive 53kg snatch and a 68 kg clean and jerk – 121kg in total – to become the new record holder.
He now holds the record for both 45 and 50kg body weight classes for all lifts and totals.
In addition Josh also posted one of the best Sinclair scores at the event, with his score coming out on top in Group 4, which included some under 16 lifters.
Only the under 18 national youth team posted higher scores than the Colwyn Bay resident, who trains at NW1 Strength and Conditioning in Llandudno.
Mr Boyd, said: "He has worked immensely hard in the lead up to Gemau Cymru and to add another Welsh record to his accolades is something he can be extremely proud of."
Motorsport project hits Anglesey Circuit
Year 8 and 9 pupils have been working for a number of weeks on designing and building a vehicle, which competed at the F24 Greenpower race at Anglesey Circuit on Thursday, June 30.
Mr Sutton, said: “It was a fantastic event and full credit should go to the pupils for coming up with such a fantastic design.
“They have all worked tremendously hard on the project, and it was a great experience for them all at what is regarded as one of the most prominent race tracks in the country.”
The event involved two 90 minute races at the circuit, which allows a two hour break in-between where competitors were allowed to make changes to their cars as a result of experiences in the first race.
All teams had the same motor and one pair of 12 volt batteries per race. During the race at least three team members drove the car, and up to six further members acted as pit crew.
Drivers were only allowed to drive for one car and for one team for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Schools from across the region descended for a special robotics event.
Pupils were joined by groups from Ysgol John Bright in Llandudno, Ysgol Aberconwy and Eirias High School took part in a Vex Robot Challenge, where they were given numerous tasks throughout the day including designing and racing their very own robots.
In order to prepare for the challenge, pupils visited the Jaguar Factory in Castle Bromwich the previous day, where they got a first-hand insight into the creation of the world famous vehicles, while also having an opportunity to witness the entire production process from sheet metal to Jaguar car.
Mr Sutton, said: “The while day went really well and all pupils that took part really got a lot out of it.
“It was great to see them having so much fun with the various tasks that we put on, and I would like to thank all three schools for taking the time to visit us for the Vex Robot Challenge.”
Mr Sutton also stated he is looking to hold a similar event next year with the focus on the Land Rover vehicle.
Castle project winners announced
The winners of a special competition for History pupils have been revealed.
The Year 7 group at the school were given the task of creating their very own castles as part of a special task given to them by teacher Morgan Burgess, and the completed designs were put on display in the library for all to see.
Three pupils took their creativity to the kitchen to produce castle cakes, and pupils across all year groups were asked to vote for their favourite creation.
This was all part of an ongoing project for the group, which explored life during Tudor times and the different castles that still lie prominently across the country today.
Pupils across all age groups were encouraged to vote for their favourite, and after the votes were counted Josh Peevor’s design came out on top.
Second place was awarded to Tom Hughes, while Isobel Bateson placed third for her fine effort.
There was also a prize for the best cake, which was won by Emily Penwright.
News from former pupils
Tom Williams, who now plays for Ospreys after coming through the school’s Rugby Academy, took part in the World Rugby U20 Championship opener at the Manchester City Academy Stadium, where Wales were beaten 26-25.
The Six Nations Grand Slam champions raced into a 17-0 lead in the first 20 minutes thanks to scores from Shaun Evans, Keelan Giles and a free-flowing try from Reuben Morgan-Williams. But the Irish hit-back to cut the gap to 17-15 at half-time, before full-back Jordan Stockdale handed them a 26-20 advantage.
Flying wing Giles darted over for his second score at the death, but Jarrod Evans could not land the conversion from out-wide, and Wales begin their campaign with defeat.
Tricky winger Williams, who missed all of the Six Nations campaign through injury, was presented with his first cap following the clash, and will be looking for further international experience when Wales take on Georgia at the AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday and New Zealand next Wednesday.
Mr Boyd, said: “Tom showed that he belongs at this level of rugby, and everyone at is immensely proud of his accomplishments.
“Our rugby academy, which is run in partnership with newly promoted RGC, has produced a number of international players in recent years, and we are delighted that Tom now adds himself to that list.”
Dr Mark Baker, who left us in 2003, has led a group of volunteers’ intent of fixing the historic Gwrych Castle, which overlooks Abergele, and a special event has been organised at the site to celebrate the life of former middleweight world champion Randolph Turpin on Saturday, August 13 and Sunday 14 from 12-5pm.
Despite his life’s tragic ending, Llandudno resident Turpin had briefly been one of the most famous men in Britain and was formerly an inspiration for many ethnic minorities.
He was born in Leamington in 1928 to a black Guyanan father and white English mother at a time when there were almost no people of mixed race in the country.
When European Champion, Turpin won the world title after beating Sugar Ray Robinson, widely regarded as the greatest fighter in history, on a 15-round decision during a bout in London on July 10, 1951.
He became an instant celebrity and, for a brief period, spent each day being besieged by fans at his training base at Gwrych Castle.
There will be a host of activities throughout the weekend, including exhibition fights, a Randolph memorabilia exhibition and guided tours of the castle.
Yvie Johnson, mother of Year 8 pupil Sydney, has become the first person in history to run from Land’s End to John O’Groats and back, and she completed the 1,680 mile journey on Tuesday, July 5.
The Denbigh resident and mother of three suffers from bi polar and in addition to raising funds for a number of mental health charities, she has also raised significant awareness of the subject during her three month trek, which began on April 2.
Greeting her at the finish line was mother Sue, who hopped on a train from North Wales to see her daughter achieve her monumental feat, which is now a Guinness World Record.
The 35 year-old, said: “My legs are jittery, cranky, and my feet and ankles feel ready to turn into powdered dust, but after 1,680 miles, I did it.
“This wasn’t a journey about enjoyment, but it was about mental health, and the biggest thank you goes to my hero, my mum Sue, who proves yet again what love is - by making a last minute train journey from North Wales to the south coast to make sure I had someone there at the end who loves me.”
The former pupil has raised more than £3,000 for Bipolar UK, Mind, Scottish Association for Mental Health, Young Minds and Place2Be.
Anyone wishing to donate can do so by visiting http://virginmoneygiving.com/FierceMind.
Rob Hall, who left us in 2011, performed at the Glastonbury Festival with his chart-topping indie band Catfish and the Bottlemen on Sunday, June 26.
The four-piece, led by flamboyant singer Van McCann, gained widespread plaudits for their performance on The Other Stage, which proved to be one of the highlights of the weekend for festival goers.
A review from Telegraph reporter Alice Vincent, said: “Their show was a testament to a year of pulling their socks up – and with results. In February Catfish won the Best Breakthrough Act Brit Award, and in May their second album, The Ride, rode straight to number one.
“Perhaps because they've felt so vindicated, here they ditched their childish attempts at playing rock stars to deliver a tight set that did justice to the songs that have won them acclaim and record sales.”
In addition to their feature performance, the band also treated fans to an impromptu acoustic set on the BBC Introducing Stage on Friday.
Playing a short 15-minute set in-front of a capacity crowd, the band performed acoustic renditions of the likes of 'Fallout' and 'Seven'.
Attention will now turn to Wrexham FC’s Racecourse Ground this Saturday, where the Bottlemen will be the chief support to the Stereophonics in what is a landmark gig for the region.
Sissons brothers make impact for clubs
Jack Sissons, a Lower Sixth pupil at the school, made his debut for Colwyn Bay’s Liverpool and District Premier Division clash with Leigh.
Despite catching the eye on both sides of the ball, the 17 year-old was unable to prevent the current Welsh Cup holders from falling to a 101-run defeat.
Debutant Sissons ended his seven over spell with two maidens and figures of 0-28 as the home side set a target of 243-3 declared from 55 overs.
Although Sissons made a stubborn nine not out from 34 deliveries, there was no support at the other end of the crease as Bay fell to 142 all out from 46 overs.
He has gone on to claim his first senior wicket in a Welsh Cup triumph.
Mr Leach, said: “This was a very mature performance from Jack, who has worked very hard to earn his selection into a Colwyn Bay side that has enjoyed enormous success of late.
“Hopefully this will be the start of things to come and we are confident that he will be a tremendous asset to Sion Morris and the team.”
Will Sissons also made his senior debut for Llandudno, who cemented their place at the summit of the North Wales Premier Division after a dramatic two-run win over Connah’s Quay at The Oval.
Sissons looked comfortable during his short time at the crease to finish 15no as the home side set a target of 191-7, which was revised to 159 due to the conditions.
Following in his brothers footsteps, Sissons claimed his first ever senior wicket when he skittled captain Ryan Holloway for 33.
Despite a nervy ending, Quay fell just short of their target to end the day on 157-6 to give the leaders their ninth win of the campaign.
Mr Leach, said: “This was another milestone for Will, who acquitted himself very well throughout.
“To come into a side which is bang in form isn’t an easy task, but he showed that he is more than capable of making an impact at this level, and everyone is immensely proud of how well he performed.”
Pupils celebrate grading successes
A large number of talented musicians have been rewarded for their hard work with a series of grading successes.
Eight pupils in total came out with outstanding marks from their Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music exams, which continues our fine achievements in exam gradings this year.
There was a distinction for Vincent Kohm in his Grade Three Jazz Piano exam, which rounded off a fine few weeks for the 17 year-old, who achieved high praise for his performance at the Chester Music Festival.
Will Sissons proved he is just as adept with a piano as a bat with a merit in his Grade Four Jazz Piano grading, while Kevin Farrell received a pass in his Piano exam at the same level.
Brother Eddie Farrell came through his Grade Six Violin exam with a pass, which made it a clean sweep for the Farrell family as Prep School pupil Liam gained his Grade Two Clarinet certificate.
The girls’ at the school were not to be outdone, with Year 7 pupil Emily Madden achieving a merit in her Grade One Piano grading, and Isobel Bateson also secured the same mark in her Grade One Harp.
Poppy Goddard now has a Grade One flute certificate to her name, and Shruthi Ganapathi continued her exceptional work on the Piano by passing her Grade Three exam.
Laura talks all things Art
Laura Gataveckaite, an upper sixth pupil at the school, has recently completed a series of stunning pieces as part of her A-level coursework and examination.
Classmate and boarding roommate Jessica Mai interviewed the 18 year-old about her work, her time with us and her hopes for the future:
Has Art always been something you have been interested in?
Art has always been a subject that has remained a constant passion of mine. My passion for Art first developed at the age of 6 when I began participating in extra lessons. Since then my interest and desire to achieve in the subject grew.
What has your work been about this year or what themes have concerned you?
This year I wanted to focus my art project on cultural identity, in particular Africa and China. Both of these cultures stood out to me because of their distinguishable traditions and features. The aim of my project was to allow viewers to recognise the culture I painted, without actually naming it, just through the details such as animals, race, clothing and even colour palette.
Is it important for your work to contain a photographic likeness or look realistic?
Whenever I paint I always tend to focus on a certain things and make it as realistic as possible, for example in my African painting the eyes of the lion was my main focus and then everything else that followed. However, in most of my paintings it is never my intention to provide a photographic element, I like to create a raw and strong impression in my paintings through tones and brush strokes rather than seeking the perfection that a photograph does.
What has been like studying Art with us and would you recommend it?
As a foreign A-level student the most difficult part of doing art was Critical Studies, writing has never been my strong side! Although over these three years, Mr Sherrington and Mrs Morris have helped me massively. Overall, the best part of doing art is the amount of support I received from those two teachers, sometimes it even seemed that they were worried about my achievements and success more than I was!
Will you continue to paint?
Even though I did not choose to continue Art at university level, Art is something that will always remain an important part of my life, and the desire to develop it further (even if just part time) I am sure will help me grow as a person.
Q&A with tennis ace and alumna Ellie
Former pupil and Tennis star Ellie Scarff recently returned to give a special masterclass to young pupils, and she also took part in a special question and answer session to discuss her year at the Patrick Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in the South of France, her time at the school and her hopes for the future.
How was the recent session at at the school?
I felt the session went smoothly and the children seemed to be engaged for the duration of the lesson. The Q&A section was interesting and gave me an insight into how the children perceived the life of a full time tennis player.
How has your first season been at the Academy?
It was challenging leaving home and moving to a foreign country at the age of 16, however I feel as though I have grown more independent and matured greatly. Over the last 9 months there has been many highs and lows, but over all I feel I have benefited from the whole experience and learnt a great deal.
How do you feel your game has progressed in that time?
I have had the opportunity to train with and play against many foreign players. Travelling and competing in international tournaments has been another great opportunity to progress with my tennis. The main areas of improvement have been my serve and backhand, thanks to the volume training available at the academy.
What are your highlights from the year from a personal perspective?
My main highlights of this season include progressing through 8 rounds to reach the semi-final, losing to a player ranked top 200 WTA, of my first French Women’s tournament held at the academy during October 2015. Secondly, competing in 18u International tournament held in Egypt, where I reached the quarter-finals of the singles and final of the doubles, therefore achieving a junior world ranking. I also had the honour of meeting Novak Djokovic during a training at the academy.
Was it nice being back?
I was lovely to return to the school to see my old teachers and friends.
What are your plans for the summer?
I have a series of 18u and Open Nationals tournaments throughout the summer alongside my usual tennis and fitness program. As well as learning to drive!
What are your ambitions for the coming year and the future?
My ambitions for the coming year firstly is to improve physically and mentally within match play. Secondly to improve both my British and junior world rankings. Lastly to achieve a WTA ranking through competing on the international pro circuit.
How did your time here help you as an athlete and person?
My time at Rydal Penrhos has rounded me both academically and sportingly, enabling me to meet the challenges ahead in my chosen career.
What has been the main thing you have taken away from the academy this year?
The most important thing has have taken away from this first year, is the importance of remaining fit and healthy insuring minimum injuries.
How happy were you to win the Conwy Young Sports Woman of the Year again?
It was a great surprise and honour to win the award a second year running.
School hosts prestigious event
Cadets and dignitaries from across the region descended on us for a special challenge.
The Prep School hosted a special North Wales Dragons Community Cadet Challenge on Saturday, July 2, where four teams competed against each other in a variety of tasks.
The teams taking part were made up from Army Cadets from Prestatyn and Colwyn Bay, St John Cadets from Colwyn Bay and Llandudno, Guides the 1st Llangefni and 1st Meliden groups and Young Firefighters from Prestatyn.
During the challenge they took part in six 20 minute challenges including a treasure hunt, water carrying and board game operation.
Among the dignitaries in attendance were Assembly Member for the Vale of Clwyd Ann Jones, chairman of Anglesey county council Cllr Bob Davies, mayor of Colwyn Bay Cllr John Davies and deputy mayor of Llandudno Cllr Francis Davies.
Also presenting awards on the day were the High Sheriffs of Clwyd and Gwynedd Mr J. P. O’Toole Esq DL and Dr Peter G. Harlech Jones and Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Clwyd Mr David W. Williams and the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Gwynedd Dr Elizabeth Andrews MA PhD MBE.
After a fierce day of competitive action, the Army cadets came away with the overall prize, with the Young Dragons finishing in second place.
There were also individual awards given out to the teams that had been most successful in the individual challenges.
Gerry Frobisher MBE, who organised the challenge, said: “The event was well supported and all participants thoroughly enjoyed the day. I would like to thank Rydal Penrhos School for sponsoring the venue and involvement during the lead up to the day.
“Thanks to the Lord Lieutenants of Clwyd and Gwynedd for sponsoring the Winners’ shield, and the High Sheriffs of Gwynedd and Clwyd sponsoring the Runners-Up Shield."
Pupils celebrate success
Charley Simpson, who will join us from September as a sports scholar, is gearing up for life at the school with a series of fine tournament successes.
The golf star recently qualified for the UK Kids British Championships at Woodall Spa in August after finishing 29th in the European Championship event, which was held at Craigielaw in East Lothian, with players from over 50 countries taking part.
The 18 handicapper also won a Wee Wonders British Championship qualifier at Porthmadog Golf Club, and will now move onto the national final in the Rhondda on July 16.
If he is placed or wins the event, he will test his skills at the home of golf St Andrews in the British finals.
In addition Charley has also represented Denbighshire under 15s and emerged victorious in a recent scratch clash with Dyfed U15s Penrhos Golf Club near Aberystwyth.
Mr Richardson, said: “We are delighted that Charley will be joining us this September, and it is great to see his golf game flourishing at both regional and national level.
“We are confident that he can be the latest in a long line of our sport scholars to achieve success, and we will do our best to ensure his potential is fulfilled.”
Year 8 pupil Zach Speakman competed at the Welsh Open Water Championships, which took place in Tredegar, South Wales on July 2.
The 13 year-old booked his place at the competition by achieving the qualifying times in comfortable fashion, and has already begun training for the event at Lake Padarn in Llanberis.
This success comes after Zach agonisingly missed out on the British Summer Championships by one second at a Sheffield Meet in May, where he claimed silver in the 400m individual medley and bronze in the 200m butterfly.
He is currently ranked 26th in the UK in the 14-year age category for the 400 IM, a considerable improvement on his 70 ranking just six months ago.
Zach is also ranked third in Wales in the 200m butterfly, and six in all other strokes thanks to medal winnings performances at prestigious competitions including the Urdd National Gala this season.
Mr Ruskowski, said: “Zach has enjoyed a wonderful season to date and is now taking his talents to the open water, which will be a fantastic experience for him.
“Despite missing out on the British Championships by one second, he comes an enormously long way this season and if he continues to develop at his current rate, then Zach will be making his presence felt on the British stage in no time at all.”
Six teams from the school travelled to the Queen Mary Reservoir in Middlesex to compete at the Inland National Championships, which were held from June 25-26.
The unlucky pair of Kevin and Eddie Farrell thought they had claimed a notable victory in the final race of the meeting, but after leading from start-to-finish they were disqualified after they were over the line at the start thanks in no small part due to the blustery conditions.
Welsh internationals Ewan Luke and Zac Blomeley also performed well to finish in mid-fleet, while the other competitors’ gave a good account of themselves in what was for some their first taste of national competition.
Mr Cashell, said: “In total 72 boats and 140 competitors made for an impressive spectacle and a great atmosphere in the boat park. Racing was over two days and a total of six long races made up the series.
“It was a great experience on the water for our young pupils, and a demonstration of the ability of the best in the country.”
Martyna Ruszkowska has been rewarded for a series of fine performances with selection to the Great Britain Summer Championship, which will be held at Ponds Forge in Sheffield from July 26–31.
During the event she will compete seven individual events, in addition to three relays.
The 15 year-old has enjoyed a standout season to date, with medal success at both the Irish Open and Urdd National Gala.
A member of the Swim Wales squad, Martyna is now ranked number five in Great Britain in the 50m butterfly and sixth in the 400m individual medley as she looks to gain further national honours in the future.
The talented swimmer has also been selected as part of the Wales squad for the 2016 School Games, which will be held in Swansea from September 1-4.
Mr Ruszkowski, said: “Martyna has enjoyed a fabulous season to date and is thoroughly deserving of her selection to compete at the GB Summer Championships.
“She is undoubtedly one of the most gifted swimmers in the country in her age category, and her tremendous work ethic ensures that she will gets the most out her gift."