Senior School newsletter: December 2019
The monthly digital newsletter from Rydal Penrhos Senior School.
Rydal Penrhos newsletter
Foreword from the Head
Another eventful and poignant month
It has been another eventful month here at our Senior School site, which has seen our pupils’ really hit the ground running since the start of half term.
They are simply thriving across all areas of school life, whether it be their development in a classroom environment, in team sports or during the wealth of enrichment opportunities we offer them on a daily basis.
This is really heart-warming to see, and there is a real excitement building at Rydal Penrhos ahead of a busy series of events and activities during the Christmas period.
A large number of our swimming squad will be heading to Cardiff for the Urdd National Gala after an exceptional performance at the regional heat, and this ties in nicely with the re-opening of our Swimming Pool in the coming days following a significant upgrade.
Academic departments are busy preparing our pupils for mock examinations and coursework deadlines and their conduct has received some high praise during recent educational visits throughout the region, something that has undoubtedly aided their respective knowledge and development considerably.
There was a poignant feel to our annual Remembrance Day service that honoured the 103 members of the Rydal Penrhos community that perished during World War I and World War II, and we also played a role in the Civic Remembrance Sunday Service held in Colwyn Bay and were extremely proud to do so.
Our annual BBC Children in Need fundraiser was full of hilarity and in some cases pain (for staff members and Head Boy Ioan), which raised more than £700 and I would like to thank everyone that supported the event.
We also revealed our new RPS Sports Programme for aspiring athletes and scholars that has already proven to be immensely beneficial for those involved, and this is something that will go from strength-to-strength in the coming months and further enhance our excellent sporting provision.
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and the very best wishes for the New Year.
It promises to be an exciting one for all involved here at Rydal Penrhos School.
Mrs S A Harding
Head of Senior School
RP honours fallen war heroes
The school gathered in the Memorial Hall on Monday, November 11, where a service was held in addition to a moment of silence to mark the Armistice in 1918 that signalled the end of World War One.
During the service, there were readings from Head Boy Ioan Peake-Jones and Head Girl Millie Collins, with Ethan Bytheway playing The Last Post superbly.
Mr Waszek and Mrs Harding read out the names of those who died that were members of Rydal Penrhos during both wars, and Rev'd Sissons also delivered a moving speech.
Two wreaths were laid at the World War One Memorial situated in the Learning Resource Centre, with another placed outside the Memorial Hall to honour those that lost their lives in the Second World War.
Following the service, 106 individually named crosses were planted in the Memorial Quad to commemorate school members who lost their lives during the two World Wars.
Sixty-three former pupils lost their lives during World War One, with a further 43 killed in the Second World War.
Children in Need
Hundreds raised for national campaign
The school’s Sixth Form Charity Committee devised an action-packed schedule for the annual BBC Children in Need Day, which took place on Friday, November 15.
All year groups dressed up to mark the occasion along the theme of “what you wanted to be when you grew up”, which saw some outstanding costumes such as a Farmer, Doctor, Builders, Superman and a Rocket Man.
Plenty of tasty treats were on offer at a charity cake sale during morning break, and male staff members had their legs waxed during lunch to raise further funds for the cause, where they were joined by Head Boy Ioan Peake-Jones.
In addition to the leg waxing, staff also had their make-up done by a select number of pupils who donate.
More than £700 has been collected for Children in Need from the Senior School.
Mrs Harding, said: “Our Sixth Form Charity Committee did an incredible job of organising this year’s BBC Children in Need Day, and it was great to see the entire Rydal Penrhos community enthusiastically supporting every activity for a very worthy cause.
“They can be enormously proud of their efforts and I would like to thank them all for giving up their time to put on such a brilliant event.”
RPS Programme launched
Following a recent review of the Scholarship and Talented Athlete schemes since the start of the academic year, the school announced a new RPS Sports Programme that will feature a wealth of information and specialist training to ensure they reach their long and short-term goals.
The initiative will feature weekly seminars every Tuesday from 4.20-5pm, covering a wide range of elements such as injury prevention, time management and making the most out of your training sessions.
They will be delivered by the school’s committed teaching and coaching staff, in addition to visiting speakers.
There is a dedicated slot in Rydal Penrhos’ Performance Centre every Wednesday from 3.30-5pm, where those taking part will be given a custom strength and conditioning programme to follow that they will be able to do both at school and in their own time.
The impending re-opening of the school’s Swimming Pool will also be utilised to full effect by the initiative, with one swim session a week also implemented into the RPS Sports Programme.
Any pupil is welcome to join the programme, which is compulsory for those who have achieved a sports scholarship.
On Tuesday, November 5, the GCSE Art pupils all visited the Tate Liverpool.
This was part of their GCSE coursework and the pupils found work in the first part of the gallery that they felt related to their own personal project and made notes and drawings while in the gallery.
Later in the morning and in the afternoon the pupils visited the Keith Haring exhibition. We had booked a tour and talk given by an Art Historian employed by the Tate and this proved very informative, stipulating and illuminating for the pupils.
A favourite part of the exhibition was an area this New York artist had created a nightclub feel for his painting with coloured and ultraviolet lights and vibrant painting.
On returning to the studio the pupils have been creating notes and drawings in the their sketchbooks in response to the exhibition and making links with their own work.
Harings’s work has already inspired some new work by the students and it will live long in memory.
It turned out to be one of the best trips we have had in years.
The pupils seemed to really respond well to Haring’s work, the talk was excellent, we have some great notes already and the pupils behaved more like Sixth Formers the whole day and were great company.
Mr M Sherrington
Head of Art
Y13's university visit
The Year 13 A Level Biology candidates visited the University of Manchester for a special workshop, which saw them take part in a host of different activities surrounding the subject of frog forensic science.
Head Girl Millie Collins, Arend Franssens, Holly Battersby, Keira Bonnington, Brona Richardson, Fin Hare, Raha Aminnejad and Alexandra Williams utilised techniques like PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and Gel electrophoresis to determine if frogs were related after looking at their DNA profiles.
Mr Richardson, said: “Learning about the importance of PCR, allows us to determine ancestors and untangle evolutionary mysteries.
“Manchester University plays a crucial role in conservation of species and the group were allowed access to the vivarium to observe several critically endangered frogs which are currently being studied.”
Once each pupil completed the workshop and recorded their impressive findings following extensive work in the university’s research laboratories, they were given the opportunity to view the Manchester Museum exhibits, which included a huge Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The Sixth Formers were also given an insight into University life, with some of them in the process of applying to the university via the UCAS system.
Liverpool Everyman workshop
The school welcomed Allan Williams, Learning Manager at the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, for a special GCSE and A Level Drama workshop.
It proved to be a very informative session for the group, who found out more about various aspects of acting and delivery of performance.
This included voice projection, movement, enhancing emotions and focus with Mr Williams, before each pupil worked within a group setting to put their newfound knowledge to good use with a series of performance-related activities.
The workshops were arranged a day prior to a GCSE and A Level Drama trip to see ROAD, which is part of external opportunities to gain a broader knowledge of how to deliver the perfect performance from industry leaders.
Mrs Harding, said: “We were thrilled to have Allan here at Rydal Penrhos and I am sure the information and knowledge he bestowed onto our A Level and GCSE candidates will be invaluable ahead of their examination performances.
“We have had a tremendous amount of success with workshops like this in the past, which directly affect performance in a hugely positive way."
Ethan's Blackpool Zoo experience
Ethan Davies successfully completed the Sam Sykes Zoo Keepers’ Residential Programme at Blackpool Zoo to fulfil the residential component of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award.
The teenager flew independently from Cyprus, where he was based during the summer holidays, to the prominent attraction, where he spent a week with zoo staff and other people using the programme from across the country.
The five-day residential involved learning the work and role of a modern zoo, with important elements such as research, conservation, education and recreation featuring prominently throughout.
A large number of other components including the relationships between zoos and conservation, animal welfare, wildlife enrichment, enclosure usage and food preparation were also part of the programme, and Ethan was also given the opportunity of feeding some of the animals himself.
The programme also focused on academic elements, improving presentation skills and engaging with the public.
New radio show for Director of Music
Pete Williams, who is the school’s Director of Music, has agreed to host a new weekly show on Bayside Radio, a rising local station that broadcasts across the North W ales region.
Having been a music teacher for nearly 25 years, Mr Wills’ has a passion for communicating the pure joy intrinsic to all genres of music, as well as encouraging musicians of all ages.
His day job sees him teaching, composing, arranging and improvising music, but he has also had two of his musicals performed locally; ‘Hot Wheelz’ and ‘Ebeneezer Scrooge’.
He also plays a leading role in the wide range of concerts put on at Rydal Penrhos throughout the academic year, in addition to prominent Dramatic Society productions such as Les Miserables and Annie the Musical.
Like many musicians with today’s access to technology, Mr Wills’ loves to make recordings in his spare time, and his new weekly show entitled “Pete’s Eclectic Arena” will air every Friday from 8pm.
Mr Williams, said: "I have lots of hobby projects that I put onto YouTube, under different names; ‘LOBES’, ‘Ivor and the Discoverables’, ‘Pedro’s Recordshelf’, ‘The Eclectic Vibes’ ‘EOS’.
“I am a big believer in getting the music in your head, out to be listened too.
"There are wonderful listening experiences to be had, irrespective of genre. Whether it’s a classic recording or a performance given in a local school, I’m hoping to present as many of these as I can."
Christmas Fun Day
Charity Committee event for Ty Gobaith
The school’s Sixth Form Charity Committee have been working hard to plan a Christmas Fun Day, which will once again be raising funds for Ty Gobaith Children’s Hospice in Conwy.
This year’s extravaganza will take place on Wednesday, December 18 from 3.30pm until 5.30pm at Rydal Penrhos Prep School, and there will be a host of stalls available throughout the event to give those in attendance the perfect chance to buy some last minute Christmas gifts for friends and family.
There is also a charity raffle with plenty of impressive prizes on offer, and Father Christmas is also set to pay a visit to the event at his Grotto situated within the Forest School.
The school’s choir will also be on hand to keep people entertained alongside Mr Williams, with plenty of refreshments also available.
Members of the Sixth Form Committee are seeking donations relating to the raffle, which can be left in either Prep or Senior school receptions.
Ty Gobaith provides care and support to life-limited children, young people and their families from Shropshire, Cheshire, North and Mid Wales.
Mrs Harding, said: “Our Charity Committee have done a wonderful job in recent years with our Christmas Market, and we are hoping for similar success."
For more information contact Pupil Liaison Officer Sarah James via email at SJames@rydalpenrhos.com.
Marathon attempt on 17th birthday
Morgan Kendall has registered for the Milton Keynes Half Marathon on May 3 next year, his 17th birthday, which is the earliest he can compete at an event of this kind.
He is running in aid of Cancer Research UK just over five years after his father Stuart was diagnosed with the disease.
The keen runner is already working hard on his fitness levels to give a good account of himself at the event and has set an initial target time of one hour, 35 minutes for his debut run.
A post on Morgan’s Just Giving page, read: “Running has been one of my biggest passions for a few years now and I always like to have a goal, whether it be a new PB or a milestone.
“Currently, you must be 17 years old to run a half marathon and as mentioned, I am only 16.
“However, what if I ran a marathon on my 17th birthday in aid of Cancer Research UK? Why not?
“On May 3, I turn 17 and it marks just over five years since my dad, Stuart Kendall, was diagnosed with cancer.
“As a result I would like to run the Milton Keynes Half Marathon not only for him, not only for personal goals and ambitions but also for people who have or will have cancer in their lifetimes.”
Anyone wishing to donate to Morgan’s fundraising efforts can do so here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/morgankendall
Pupil raises money for Ataxia UK
Gregor Perry successfully completed five Park Runs throughout the year in aid of Ataxia UK, raising £85 for the very worthy cause in the process.
In recognition of this superb achievement, the teenager received a special certificate from the charity, together with a letter of thanks.
This was presented by Mr Waszek, much to Gregor’s surprise, on Wednesday, November 6.
Ataxia UK is a charity that is close to the heart of the Rydal Penrhos community, with former pupil Scarlett Salisbury suffering with the condition before passing away earlier this year.
Thousands of pounds have been raised since by the school from events such as the Charity Ball and the Creative and Performing Arts Dinner.
"This was a wonderful gesture from Gregor and highlights the incredible impact Scarlett’s story has had on each member of our thriving community here at Rydal Penrhos.
Ataxia UK do so much incredible work across the country to those in need, and we will continue to support them whenever possible both collectively as a school and the fine individual work from our amazing pupils like Gregor."
Morgan House Day
Three-legged race highlights activities
The school held its annual Morgan House Day on Friday, November 22, which is held in honour of William Morgan (1545 – 10 September 1604) a Bishop of Llandaff and of St Asaph, who was the translator of the first version of the whole Bible into Welsh from Greek and Hebrew.
There were plenty of tasty treats on offer during a morning bake sale that was hosted by Sixth Form quartet Aisha Jidda, Brona Richardson, Niamh Hall and Orla McGagh, which saw a large number of pupils descend on the Food Studies department to lend their support.
All eyes then turned to the Sports Centre during lunch for an Inter-House Three Legged Race competition, which featured all year groups and a special staff race that also drew a significant amount of interest.
Mrs Harding, said: “Our House system is something that has been the cornerstone of our success for many years here at Rydal Penrhos, and it really does mean a great deal to our youngest Year 7 pupil to our Upper Sixth Formers.
“It proved to be another eventful and memorable Morgan House Day and I would like to thanks everyone who organised the event so well.”
Excellence in Safety Certificates
Catering providers Holroyd Howe have achieved two significant distinctions thanks to their sterling work over the last year.
The school’s exceptional provision for staff and pupils at both Prep and Senior sites have been rewarded for their exceptional work throughout the last year with two Centre of Excellence certificates for both education establishments.
The recognition, which was issued by Navitas/ESB, recognises Holroyd Howe’s commitment to food safety in a working environment and is the latest in a series of outstanding accolades for Ian Caddick and his committed staff in recent months.
Rydal Penrhos works with industry-leading catering providers Holroyd Howe – offering pupils a wider variety of choice and a higher quality of food to boost their overall school experience and maximise their learning potential within a classroom environment.
Holroyd Howe has 20 years’ experience working with schools and particularly those within the independent sector.
The company have been recognised for their outstanding work with a number of industry awards, including Independent School Caterer of the Year in 2015 and 2016.
Mrs Harding, said: “This is fantastic news and congratulations go to Ian and the whole team on a marvellous achievement.
“They are always striving for improvement despite the already high quality of service provided, and it is great to see their hard work paying off.”
News from former pupils
Andrew Fenby, Nathan Jones and Marcus Copeland have arranged a Dinner to celebrate the careers of Mike Leach and Phil Mather, who retired last summer from their teaching roles after a combined 64 years of service to the school.
The event will take place on Saturday, January 25 at the Ferguson Centre, with the festivities set to begin at 6pm.
In addition to drinks and a three-course meal, there will also be the chance to catch up with old teammates.
Mr Leach played a significant role in the development of rugby and cricket players during his time at Rydal Penrhos, which saw professionals such as Fenby, Sean Lonsdale, Tom Williams and Pat Leach come through the ranks.
The same can be said of Mr Mather, who also thrived in his Head of Hockey role, was the school’s registered physio and secured a wealth of national championships over the years.
Mr Fenby, who enjoyed a standout playing career at the likes of Newcastle Falcons, Saracens and London Irish, also revealed that an international guest speaker is also set to appear at the dinner, which will be confirmed nearer the event.
Tickets are priced at £60 per person and anyone wishing to book their place should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A former pupil officially opened an impressive new facility at a nearby university.
Henry Williams, who left the school in 2016, holds the position of Athletic Union president at the University of Bangor, was on hand to formally open their new 3G surface alongside other dignitaries that were influential in the planning and construction process.
Williams, who is the brother of ex-Head Girl Olivia, said: “This is something the student body is incredibly excited about and I look forward to a full season of fixtures to be played on this new pitch.
“In the past, we’d had to cancel a number of our fixtures due to issues with the old grass pitches but the technology behind this artificial grass means that we can host matches all year round with ease.”
The new pitch replaces two grass sites that were often waterlogged during the rugby and football seasons.
Williams has enjoyed a hugely successful time at the university since leaving Rydal Penrhos, captaining their senior rugby side and become a significant addition to their athletic provision.
Denis Lavin, who held the positions of Head of English and Director of Drama during his time at the school, played a significant role in Rhyl Music Club’s “The Exquisite Heart and Mind”, a musical dialogue on the life and works of Fryderyk Chopin.
Mr Lavin, who was a hugely influential figure in the Performing Arts at Rydal Penrhos during his tenor, spent three months putting together a script for the production, which was performed by pianist Alicja Fiederkiewicz.
The popular Mr Lavin narrated the production impeccably throughout, with ex-Geography teacher Steve Leader responsible for organising the event and all such showcases from the Rhyl Music Club.
Frédéric François was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for solo piano.
He has maintained worldwide renown as a leading musician of his era, one whose "poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation”.
Urdd Gala success
The school’s talented squad came away with a host of outstanding results from the recent Urdd Regional Gala, enabling them to qualify for the National showcase in Cardiff early next year.
One of the standout performers on the day was Ava Gardener, who secured a notable double by finishing first in the Freestyle and Backstroke races in the Year 11 and over girls’ category.
Cameron Shaw’s exceptional performance saw him win the Y11+ boys’ competition, with Lara Pyves triumphing in the Y11+ girls breaststroke to book her place in the capital.
A determined performance from Tom Hughes resulted in a first-place finish in the Y11+ backstroke event, and the individual successes rounded off with Ben Sonfield’s victory in the Year 7 and 8 butterfly.
There was further cause for celebration during the relay events, which saw the Y11+ and Y7/8 boys’ freestyle teams secure qualification to the national finals, and they will be joined by the Y11+ girls’ freestyle team and the Y11+ mixed freestyle squad.
Year 8 pupil Jaydon Blears secured a pair of podium finishes with second in the Y7/8 breaststroke and third in the backstroke competition, and Josh Peevor also achieved two medals in the form of Y11+ breaststroke (2nd) and backstroke (3rd).
Gabriel Speakman performed well to come away with two third-places in the Y7/8 individual medley and butterfly events, and the Year 7 duo of Gracie Tavernor and Pippa Roberts finished third in the backstroke and butterfly respectively.
Further encouraging displays saw Gloria Johnson (2nd backstroke), Fflur Pierce (3rd IM), Ben (2nd IM) and Finlay Perry (3rd breaststroke) take podium place to conclude what turned out to be another superb outing for the Rydal Penrhos squad.
Pupil achievements aplenty
The U12 girls' hockey squad welcomed Birkenhead School for their latest competitive fixture during what has been a busy campaign to date, and they produced another performance of genuine quality to come away with a 5-0 success on home soil.
There were a wealth of strong individual performances to go alongside an exceptional team ethic, which enabled them to secure victory on a drizzly morning.
Year 6 duo Charlotte Payne and Lily Copeland were drafted into the U12 squad for the encounter, with both catching the eye despite their age with leading contributions to Rydal Penrhos’ comfortable triumph.
Charlotte’s prowess in front of goal was evident throughout the contest, with the talented youngster netting four of Rydal Penrhos’ five goal thanks to a clinical display.
The other strike was secured by player of the match Lily, and the Prep School pair was guided superbly throughout by teammates Amber England-Bryant, Fflur Pierce, Sophie Edwards, Safa Maqsood and Pippa Roberts.
Mrs Head, said: “This was an outstanding performance from our U12 hockey side and one that is in keeping with the season they’ve had so far.
“They work so well together as a team and possess plenty of individual skill to turn a game on its head, and this bodes very well as they continue to develop at Rydal Penrhos in the weeks, months and years to come.”
Rydal Penrhos is once again hosting the Marylebone Cricket Club Foundation Hub, which offers high-quality cricket coaching to talented children in the state school system, who have displayed the potential to become good cricketers.
The MCC will fund three coaches for 25 two-hour sessions at the school for under 13 and 15 players, which equates to a session every week in the off season.
The Hubs are put together, funded and mentored by the MCC Foundation. The day-to-day running of each Hub is left to a local manager, who runs local trials to identify talented children and who oversees the coaching sessions, which are open to male and female players from state schools across North Wales.
This is the fourth successive year that the MCC will be using Rydal Penrhos as their venue for the initiative, which has gone from strength-to-strength since its inception.
The scheme is available to players who qualify for U13, U15 and U18 levels and it has already seen success in the form of Welsh youth international Owen Reilly, who is also the school’s first XI captain and secured the North Wales Cricket League Premier Division title with Bangor this summer.
"The Marylebone Cricket Club Foundation Hub is a brilliant opportunity to work with young aspiring cricketers from North Wales and I a block of structured sessions at Rydal Penrhos can only aid their cricket development.
It aims to focus on all three disciplines of the game before testing skills against other MCCF hubs around the country in the summer."
Liam Farrell has earned a call-up to the Welsh National Feva Squad for the 2018/19 after impressing considerably during the assessment process.
The multi-talented individual will now take part in a busy series of training sessions throughout the winter squad with the Welsh squad, which is sure to be a busy time for Liam given his involvement with the UK Feva National Junior set-up.
This is the latest in a series of exceptional milestone for Liam, who is continuing the Farrell tradition of sailing achievements as brothers’ Eddie and Kevin have also earned national recognition during their careers to date.
Liam is a member of Llandudno Sailing Club and has developed his skills considerably as he continues to thrive both academically and during his extra-curricular activities at Rydal Penrhos.
Mrs Harding, said: “This is another superb achievement for Liam and one that I am sure he is tremendously proud of.
“He dedicates a lot of time towards his sailing and this has produced some remarkable success during his promising career to date. His involvement with both national squads represents another chance for Liam to develop his impressive skill-set with some of the best young coaches and sailors anywhere in the country.”
Harri Jackson was part of the North Wales Dragons football side that took on Trescal, which was held to raise funds and awareness for the Martin Gallier Project.
The contest was played at the Hollingsworth Group Stadium, home of JD Cymru Premier side Airbus UK, and Harri secured another notable milestone with the squad by becoming their youngest ever goal scorer thanks to a stunning individual effort that saw him beat several players before finishing superbly past the home custodian.
Although the Dragons’ eventually lost the contest 6-4, a considerable amount was raised for the, which aims to provide the families of vulnerable individuals with a much needed skill set that will save lives.
The project also supports the husbands/wives/children/parents of the individual when an attempt is identified or concerns of suicidal ideations are raised.
This was the final fixture of the Dragons’ tenth anniversary campaign that has seen the community initiative raise thousands for regional causes since their inception.
Harri has played a significant part in their efforts throughout the season, becoming their youngest ever player at 16 and has performed well in the face of older and more experienced opposition.