Senior School newsletter: January 2019
Rydal Penrhos newsletter
Foreword from the Head
Throughout December a well-known retailer was running the strap line sometimes a gift is more than just a gift.
Curiously the retailer question doesn’t actually sell the gift - a piano - which is central to the advert’s storyline.
However, the idea of something having far greater impact than immediate gratification is absolutely right.
"Throughout December we have seen the School community enjoy many such gifts: food, competition, friendship, music, service and, the greatest gift of all - learning, all covered in this latest newsletter."
My highlights were certainly the musical and charity events but it is reassuring to see so much academic success and learning continue.
I am indebted to all the Staff, but especially Mr Williams, Mr Davies and Rev. Sissons, and the pupils, themselves, for their stamina at the end of a long term and their sharing such gifts.
"I hope in return they have shown the appropriate levels of gratitude. As we read this newsletter and reflect upon a joyful Christmas period I hope the pupils are ready to return for the new Term and all its challenges and opportunities."
Happy New Year to you all!
Mr S R Smith
More than £1,500 raised for Ty Gobaith
There was plenty of festive cheer to be had at Rydal Penrhos’ annual Christmas Market in aid of a regional children’s hospice.
The school’s Sixth Form Charity Committee organised a fantastic event on Friday, December 14 that has become one of the highlights of the academic year, with the market once again raising funds for Ty Gobaith Children’s Hospice in Conwy.
A packed Sports Hall enjoyed a host of different activities throughout the event, with Commando X-Fit lending their inflatable assault course which proved to be a popular addition.
Local businesses were also in attendance, purchasing stalls for anyone looking to get their hands on some last minute Christmas gifts, and there was also a special raffle with a fantastic hamper up for grabs donated by Panzi’s Deli in London.
A virtual reality suite, racing computer game, a Hula game, face painting and the ever popular cake stall and barbecue were other notable highlights from the market, and a number of pupils across all age groups also helped out at stalls and provided entertainment during the celebration.
Although the final total has not yet been announced, Head Boy Nick Fiorita revealed that the sum is already at more than £1,500, which represents a significant amount with donations still to come in.
UKMT Senior Challenge triumphs
A large number of talented mathematicians carried on Rydal Penrhos’ rich history of success in a national competition.
The school’s number-crunching hopefuls sat the United Kingdom Mathematics Trust’s Senior Challenge earlier this term, and they produced a wonderful set of scores thanks to their sterling effort under the guidance of department head Rhian Williams and her team.
Four pupils managed to secure Gold Certificates and qualification to the Senior Kangaroo, with the Sixth Form trio of Alex Sorokin, Imogen Camp and Vanessa Ma securing this feat alongside Year 10 pupil Juan Rajagopal.
Year 13 pupils Caitlin Qu, Carol Chen, Zac Blomeley and Head Girl Gowri Pradeep managed to secure Silver, with Head Boy Nick Fiorita, Jamie Smith and Venus Kwong attaining Bronze to round off a successful set of results for the Upper Sixth.
There was further cause for celebration in the form of the Year 12 contingent, which saw Bijou Rajagopal, Ioan Peake-Jones, Perris Wang, Prompt Utenpattanun, Tallulah Batley and Abhishek Bathula all sealing Silver certificates as a result of their efforts.
Rounding off the success were Matt Fiorita, Edward Patrick, William Stewart, Jamie Lavery, Eddie Farrell, Sam Jones, Morgan Kendall and Adrian Lewis, who all secured Bronze Awards from the nationally recognised challenge.
Year 13 group praised for project work
A group of Business pupils at Rydal Penrhos have been praised for their application during their latest portion of their curriculum.
The school’s Year 13 A-level Business candidates have been working on a special project, where they were they were given a notional £10 million to invest in the shares of a company of their choice.
As part of their task, the pairs were asked to provide analysis on a variety of different areas surrounding the company of their choice, including revenue growth, their status in the ever-growing digital age and why they chose this specific company to invest in.
After concluding their research, the five pairs delivered their respective presentations to a group of their peers, in addition to a number of teaching staff including Head of Careers Mike Farnell and Head of Middle School Paul Sanders.
Each presentation was very well received and there was time for the audience to ask a series of questions once they had concluded.
Teacher Alan Irvine, who led the group during the project, said: “They all worked incredibly hard on their research, and this really came across very well during their presentations. It was a very time-consuming project for the group and they applied themselves very well, and delivering presentations such as these in front of others is all great experience."
Trio receive praise
Three aspiring engineers at Rydal Penrhos have received praise from a leading industry figure after securing a prestigious scholarship.
Arend Franssens, Ioan Peake-Jones and Prompt Utenpattanun, Year 12 pupils at Rydal Penrhos, all successfully came through a thorough assessment process and have been awarded Arkwright Engineering Scholarships to continue the exceptional work already done by the trio in their chosen field.
The trio were handpicked from 1,600 hopefuls who applied for the scholarship in 2018 following a rigorous selection process, which assesses their academic, practical and leadership skills in engineering disciplines.
Dr Kevin P Stenson, chief executive of the Smallpeice Trust, the UK’s leading national STEM education charity that runs the scholarships programme, said: “This year has seen an incredibly talented group of young people become scholars. We hope that this is the first step towards a successful and rewarding career in engineering.
“We are also immensely proud to see a large number of girls taking part in the programme. It is vital to the future of the UK engineering industry that we nurture these talented individuals to fulfil their potential as future leaders.”
Successful term concludes with annual event
The Rydal Penrhos community turned out in force for its annual Christmas Carol Service.
A large congregation descended on St John’s Church on Tuesday, December 18, which is the last formal engagement at the school before the highly anticipated Christmas break.
There were a host of songs to enjoy throughout the performance, which were sang superbly by the audience and Rydal Penrhos Choir.
The audience also enjoyed a special sermon from Tim Gough, who was the special guest at the service, with the Reverend Nick Sissons, Governor Debbie McKinnel and Headmaster Simon Smith also speaking to the congregation during the event.
This was the final official engagement before Rydal Penrhos breaks up for the Christmas break following what has been an immensely busy autumn term littered with highlights and phenomenal achievements.
"It is always heart-warming to see so many of our school community lending their support to our Christmas Carol Service, which brought St John’s Church to life to further add to the occasion. Everyone was in very good voice and there is always a great sense of excitement surrounding the service at the end of what is an eventful penultimate day of term for all involved."
Year 7 explore Methodist foundation
Year 7 pupils at Rydal Penrhos got the opportunity to explore the school’s Methodist links thanks to a special learning initiative.
The group descended on St John’s Church for a Methodist Workshop Afternoon with the Reverend Nick Sissons, the school’s Chaplain, prior to the Christmas break.
They began by taking part in a special activity around the theme of Connections, and explored what connects the school, the community that surrounds it and the wider world.
To mark their findings, the groups created a long chain outlining the specific things that connect them, in addition to the Methodist values and ethos that is the cornerstone of the tremendous success of Rydal Penrhos throughout history.
Each House then looked at the leading Methodist figures they are named after, their key strengths and what they believed in to make the inception of Rydal School and Rydal Penrhos possible.
The contingent then ended the session with a final creative task centred on “The things that warm our Hearts”, where they discussed in their opinion what makes life worth living before putting their suggestions on to a poster that is proudly displayed within the confines of St John’s Church.
Festive celebration showcases talent
A wealth of musical talent took the stage for one of the prominent dates in the Rydal Penrhos calendar.
The school held its annual Christmas Concert on Tuesday, December 11, which featured performances from staff, pupils and the Community Choir.
Also featuring heavily were the Rydal Penrhos choir, orchestra and jazz band, with a host of outstanding solo effort from exceptional musicians such as Niamh Cook, Alicia Zhou and Louise Weis.
Rydal Penrhos’ incredible vocalists also demonstrated their incredible prowess on stage, with Niamh Smith, Darcie Harker-Weston Tegid Goodman-Jones, Isobel Bateson, Alison Hourihane, Arthur Hind, Amy Yue, Sean Hughes and Deputy Head Boy Miles Poller all contributing significantly to the overall success of the event.
A number of notable duets were also part of the bill, with Zahra Shamsi and Oliver Gibson catching the eye with their performance, as did Ada Vonbank/Caitriona Searl, Hannah Davies/Shruthi Ganapathi and Cerys Howells/Nishita Koushik with their efforts. There were a number of other collective performances from pupils across a wide range of different age groups.
Festive singing throughout community
Talented singers at Rydal Penrhos have been spreading some Christmas cheer across a number of sites across the region this week.
The choir, which consisted of both prep and senior pupils, took part in three special carol singing sessions across three venues on Monday, December 17.
Shoppers at the Victoria Centre in Llandudno were greeted with a variety of festive carols on the tour’s first stop, where the group were also raising money for charity via collection boxes.
This included a stunning rendition of the Mariah Carey hit ‘All I want for Christmas’ by Lower Sixth Form pupil Zahra Shamsi, before the contingent moved on to Merton Place Residential Home in Colwyn Bay.
During their second stint, the group sang various carols including Little Donkey and 12 days of Christmas, with Arthur Hind, Darcie Harker-Weston, Hannah Davies and Urdd National Eisteddfod winner Tegid Goodman-Jones also lending their support with outstanding solo efforts.
Director of Music Pete Williams, said: “This is something we have done for a number of years now and it was another fantastic way to bring some Christmas cheer to the community."
RNLI Carol Service
Hundreds raised for maritime charity
Rydal Penrhos held an annual Christmas Carol Concert in aid of a national maritime charity.
The school hosted the RNLI Service on Thursday, December 13 at St John’s Church in Colwyn Bay, which featured a number of performances from pupils and staff members, in addition to the Rydal Penrhos’ Community Choir, Jazz Band and Orchestra.
There were also a series of solo contributions in front of a large congregation, with a retiring collection managing to raise a total of £357.05 for the lifeboats.
An RNLI spokesman, said: “I would like to pass on our thanks to all involved at the school.
“As usual, they delivered us a very enjoyable and lively service. I also thought the School choir were excellent.
“I hope they have a Happy Christmas and New Year and a well-earned break.”
This is the latest in a series of fundraising drives organised by Rydal Penrhos in aid of the RNLI, which continues the association between the school and the charity that has lasted for more than two decades.
Wesley retain Christmas Crown
Staff and pupils at Rydal Penrhos took to the stage for a festive competition, with first reserve in the dinner queue up for grabs.
The much-anticipated Inter-House Christmas Singing competition took place on Tuesday, December 18, which saw Wesley, Osborn, Payne and Morgan compete for vital House points.
Each house had been working incredibly hard in the lead-up to the showcase during a number of different rehearsals, and after a hugely competitive morning of entertainment it was Wesley who emerged victorious for a second year in succession.
Other notable highlights included Ewan Luke dressing up as a Snowman for the Payne contribution, and Duke of Edinburgh co-ordinator Dr Jim Lewis started the Osborn song with a comical rap solo.
There was also a performance from staff to conclude proceedings, and the competition was judged by the exceptional eyes and ears of Rydal Penrhos’ Director of Music Pete Williams.
He said: “The standard of our Christmas Singing competition seems to get higher and higher every year, and once again it was a wonderful demonstration of the vocal and musical we have here at Rydal Penrhos."
Festive Cake Competition boosts Christmas Market
Lower School pupils at Rydal Penrhos put on their baking caps for a special Christmas cooking competition.
The Year 7 and 8 groups were given the chance to get creative during their Food Studies lessons this week, producing some fantastic creations for a Festive Cupcake competition.
Each pupil was given a specific set of ingredients by Head of Food Studies Laura Gardener, before making their designs a reality within a specific time period.
All cakes baked will be sold at Rydal Penrhos’ annual Christmas Market, which is raising funds for Ty Gobaith Children’s Hospice in Conwy for a third consecutive year.
Newly appointed Friends of Rydal Penrhos Committee chair and school secretary Sarah James judged the Year 7 entries, with India Livingstone securing a box of chocolates after winning the competition.
Communications Assistant Dean Jones was tasked with choosing the Year 8 winner from a fantastic collection of tasty treats, and Ariana Milligan’s creative entry scooped the prize.
Mr Jones, said: “The standard was very high and it really looked like the Year 8 group I witnessed really enjoyed themselves and threw themselves into the competition with their customary enthusiasm and determination."
Children in Need
Rydal Penrhos’ Sixth Form Charity Committee raised a considerable sum as part of their support of a recent nationwide fundraising initiative.
Pupils and staff at the school enjoyed an action-packed schedule as part of the annual BBC Children in Need Day, which was held on Friday, November 16.
All year groups took part in the official Children in Need quiz throughout the week, and there were tasty treats on offer at a charity cake sale during morning break on the day. Male teaching staff went through the pain barrier for the good cause by having their legs waxed, with Head Boy Nick Fiorita also braving the wax to raise further funds for the initiative.
Head of Design and Technology Phil Sutton agreed to have his head shaved by different pupils in exchange for a contribution. There were plenty of creative fancy dress outfits with a P theme, and other came dressed in their own clothes or in Pudsey outfits for a small donation.
Nick took over the Rydal Penrhos Snapchat account to document the occasion, with fellow Sixth Former Alex Williams taking photography duties during the lunch time activities.
The grand total raised from the fundraising day was £1,354.70.
Group rewarded with Christmas Ball
Sixth Form pupils at Rydal Penrhos brought the curtain down on the autumn term at a specially arranged social event.
The department’s annual Christmas Ball was held at the Kinmel and Kinspa in Abergele on Monday, December 17, which saw staff and pupils enjoy a lavish meal and various other festivities as part of the occasion.
Head Boy Nick Fiorita and Head Girl Gowri Pradeep gave speeches during the event, with Deputy Head Boy Miles Poller and Deputy Head Girl Nuria Montolio also addressing those in attendance.
Some lucky pupils received awards for their exceptional efforts throughout the opening stages of the academic year, and pupils danced the night away with a disco to round off the evening.
This followed on from the annual Year 11 Christmas Ball at the same venue the previous week, which was set-up with a similar format and was another hugely entertaining affair once again.
News from former pupils
Sara Owen, who left the school this summer, won an award for her efforts in the Salters-Nuffield Advanced Biology examination, which saw her claim one of the highest marks throughout the country from those taking part.
The 18-year-old travelled to Salters’ Hall on Friday, December 7, where she received a certificate acknowledging her superb mark and a cheque for £150. This represents another significant milestone for Sara, who secured a plethora of different accolades across various fields of Rydal Penrhos life thanks to her sterling efforts under the guidance of the school’s teaching and support staff.
Her achievements are even more remarkable when you consider the former Prefect was receiving treatment for a brain tumour during the final year of her school life, which involved a trip to a specialist centre in the United States of America and regular hospital visits. Despite this, Sara secured A* grades at A-level in Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics, in addition to an A at AS level in Physics.
This incllded an overall mark of 585 out of a possible 600 in her Mathematics papers, and she is now studying Medicine at King’s College London following a superb time at Rydal Penrhos that began as a Reception class pupil at the Prep School in 2007.
Sara also successfully achieved her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award under the stewardship of programme co-ordinator Dr Jim Lewis.
Alex Sharples, who left the school in 2016, was accepted on to the prestigious CTC Aviation School, which has seen him undertake a gruelling and highly advanced series of modules in the hope of securing employment at the end of the programme.
Part of this saw Alex reside in Hamilton, New Zealand, where he successfully completed his foundation flying training on an aircraft called the DA20 Katana.
The 21-year-old also spent considerable time enhancing his skills in multi-engine aircraft DA42, and he logged hundreds of hours of experience before returning to the UK for his multi engine instrument rating.
After coming through his practical and written assessments with flying colours, Alex has now been offered a first officer position with EasyJet, where he will be flying the Airbus A320.
He said: “It’s been hard work. My first year was all theory exams. I had to do 14 exams in the space of six months, each exam is around 50 questions and it was a 75 per cent pass mark.
“Classes started at 8am and finish at 4pm Monday to Friday. I found each subject very interesting as it was about something I am very passionate about.
“For example learning the in depth technical details to how aircraft generate lift, how aircraft use satellites and ground based navigation aids to navigate around the world, learning how to plan commercial flights with regards to fuel and mass and balance and a lot more."
Squad dominates Urdd Regional Gala
A plethora of talented swimming squad members qualified for the finals of a prestigious national competition.
The Rydal Penrhos contingent will travel to Cardiff for the Urdd National Gala in the new year after achieving a significant amount as a result of their efforts in the regional heat, with 14 pupils booking their place in individual categories.
Leading the way was Swim Wales international Zach Speakman, with the sports scholar notching gold in both the Senior Boys’ Butterfly and Individual Medley events.
Mia Cole also achieved a notable double in the Senior Girls’ Backstroke and Butterfly races, with Ava Gardener also securing two victories in the Girls’ Freestyle and Breaststroke.
Another to secure qualification in two events was Josh Manning, who triumphed in the Boys’ Freestyle and Backstroke, and Mason Clark also produced a fine effort to emerge victorious in the Boys’ Breaststroke race.
There was further cause for celebration in the form of the Intermediate events, with Cameron Shaw (Boys’ Freestyle), John Williams (Boys’ Butterfly), Bella Rutherford (Girls’ Backstroke) and Emily Stubbings (Girls’ Breaststroke) all hitting the line first to seal Gold.
This fine form continued with the Rydal Penrhos junior team, which managed to produce five qualifiers in Zac Roberts, Corso Cramerotti, Ariana Milligan, Isabella Peevor and James Gilman.
The relay squads were also in dominant mood throughout the competition, winning no fewer than 14 of the 15 events at the showcase.
Director of Sport Allen Boyd, said: “We have enjoyed some superb success at the Urdd National Gala in recent years, and this current squad look sure to add to this if their performance in the regional championship is anything to go by.
“They have all worked incredibly hard under the guidance of dedicated coaching staff and they can be enormously proud of their respective efforts.”
Charley rises through Welsh Academy ranks
A Golf Academy star and sports scholar at Rydal Penrhos has been progressing well during his initial stages with a national squad.
Charley Simpson, a Year 9 pupil at the school, was rewarded for his exceptional form throughout the summer with a call-up to the Golf Wales youth squad, and he has now moved up to the Academy A fold in a further boost to his overall development.
The 13-year-old has achieved a significant amount since joining Rydal Penrhos as a Year 7 pupil, improving all areas of his game under the guidance and support of Academy coaches led by programme co-ordinator Ian Richardson.
This has included regional and national success in the form of the ISGA Junior Championships alongside fellow pupil and scholar Reuben Bather, and he hit his first hole in one at Nailcote Hall to secure qualification to the British Par Three Championships.
Charley will be training with the Welsh set-up throughout the winter ahead of a busy series of fixtures once the new season gets underway in the spring.
"Charley is an enormously talented individual who has worked incredibly hard both on his golf skills and with our strength and conditioning department, something which has produced a significant amount of notable achievements to date.
Our sports scholarship programme continues to produce talented athletes on a consistent basis, which is a real vindication of the commitment shown by our scholars and the staff who mentor them."
Inter-House comps take centre stage
Aspiring cricketers at Rydal Penrhos will once again benefit from the expertise of one of the most experienced and talented players on the North Wales circuit.
Upon the return of the school’s winter nets programme following the Christmas break, Dion Holden will be returning in a coaching capacity to lend his support to each player and ready them for the season during the summer term.
Holden, who is a former member of the Glamorgan Academy programme, coached at the school’s winter nets programme last year and has overseen the development of each member of the scheme in the hope they can hit the ground running when their respective campaigns get underway.
He is also the head coach for the North Wales hub of the Marylebone Cricket Club Foundation, which is hosted by Rydal Penrhos and gives talented cricketers from the state school system a chance to gain some high-quality coaching during a number of specialist sessions in the off-season.
The former Glamorgan Academy product is no stranger to success and captained Menai Bridge to a convincing North Wales Cricket League Premier Division title last summer.
Talented Hockey stars at Rydal Penrhos battled it out for bragging rights at a highly anticipated annual competition.
The school held its annual Inter-House Hockey Championships, which saw the four houses take part in Junior and Senior tournaments to determine who went home with the spoils and much-needed house points in pursuit of the Yeung Bowl Cup. First up on the Astro was the Junior competition, which saw plenty of competitive fixtures that saw Wesley emerge victorious after a series of standout display from the team.
Osborn had to settle for second place after being pipped by just one point by the overall victors, with Morgan and Payne rounding off the places in third and fourth respectively. It was then time for the Senior Inter-House competition to take centre stage, which saw a dramatic conclusion after one of the closest fought competitions in recent memory.
After all matches had been played there was a perfect tie on “points, goals for and goals against” between two houses – Osborn and Wesley.
A penalty flick competition was to decide the overall winner, but with nothing separating them after three flicks, it went down to sudden death.
Cerys Cuddihy saw her final flick saved by stand in goalkeeper Kathleen Cheesley to see Wesley crowned senior hockey house winners, with Osborn (2nd), Payne (3rd) and Morgan (4th) all contributing significantly to the overall success of the competition.
After the full points were tallied, Wesley’s double ensured they scooped the overall title.
A talented hockey player and sports scholar at Rydal Penrhos has secured a sponsorship deal in recognition of his exceptional recent development.
Jacob Heaton-Rue, a Year 12 pupil at the school, is now an ambassador for STX Field Hockey and has been given a state of the art stick ahead of the start of the new season following the Christmas break.
The 16-year-old will be looking to add to his fine list of accolades both from a Rydal Penrhos and personal perspective, with Jacob part of both the U16 and U18 sides that secured the Welsh Schools’ Championships during what was a memorable campaign for the department.
He also received full colours from departed Head of Hockey Phil Mather and played a leading role on Rydal Penrhos’ recent pre-season tour of northern Spain.
Jacob is further enhancing his growing reputation as one of the brightest prospects in the region with Northop 1sts, and he has set his sights on securing a place in the Wales U18 squad for the Easter tests against Scotland after impressing considerably on the national stage to date.
Director of Sport Allen Boyd, said: “It is always fantastic to hear our aspiring sportsmen and women gaining support and recognition from various sources, and Jacob is thoroughly deserving of everything that comes his way."
A host of rugby players took to New Field in pursuit of much-needed House points at a highly-anticipated annual competition.
The school held its Junior, Intermediate and Senior Inter-House Rugby Championships on Saturday, December 8, which saw 120 pupils take the field throughout the event.
There were a series of impressive individual and team performances during the 18-game competition, and after all the points were tallied, it was Payne House that emerged victorious thanks to their sterling efforts.
This was largely down to their exceptional displays in the Junior and Intermediate tournaments, with director of sport Allen Boyd presenting the John Waggott Cup to the Senior side in recognition of the House’s outstanding collective contribution.
The points earned will be added to each House as they go in search of the coveted Yeung Bowl House Cup, which will be announced at Rydal Penrhos’ annual Speech Day next year.
Mr Boyd, said: “To have so many of our pupils taking part in the Inter-House Rugby competition is further proof of just how much pride they have in their respective houses and their willingness to compete against their peers in a relaxed and friendly environment.
“It was a wonderful occasion with some quality rugby on show despite the cold weather, and it was also fantastic to see so many spectators cheering them on which further added to the occasion.”