Archive | November, 2011

Choose2Reuse Fashion show

Year nine and ten students who chose fashion for enrichment are this year producing a fashion show using reused materials courtesy of Oxfam. Each team came up with their own themes, some of which include Punk, Princess, Vintage Weddings and 60s Style. All the girls seem to be enjoying each lesson stating that “it’s great” and “it’s fun learning new skills” Enrichment gives students the chance to come up with new ideas and get creative. The show will be held at the Pavilions on the 17th December.

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Book Review: The Stand by Stephen King

Regarded by many as one of Stephen King’s finest books, The Stand is set in America in 1990. The book begins with a deadly “superflu” virus escaping from a military base which proceeds to wipe out every human on the planet apart from a lucky few, who all share the same thing in common: frequent and vivid dreams. The survivors soon discover that they are all having two dreams; one about an elderly woman in Nebraska, and another about a sinister ‘dark man’. It quickly becomes clear that the virus was only the start, and the survivors must choose where they stand in the ensuing war.

King tells the story brilliantly, giving every character their distinctive and believable personality, dropping numerous cliffhangers to keep you hooked and expertly upping the tension until the story comes to its shocking conclusion. During the books 1400 or so pages, the story remains riveting; and for those looking for a long read, I would highly recommend this.

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Not A Carribean Cruise

The James Cook is a 70ft ketch (that’s yellow!). The Rotary Club sponsors 3 people from HGS to go on the ship each year during the summer holidays. The voyage this year was 5 days long and was very exciting with wind speeds of 90 km/h and waves over 23ft tall.

We started our voyage in North Shields, and travelled 23 miles to Amble. On the second day we headed north and made for Aberdeen. We set off at about 1pm and night sailed north into Scotland. We never actually got to Aberdeen (we got into Scotland) because the conditions were too rough. There were storm force winds (force 10) and 7m waves we broke a sail and most of us were sea sick. We harboured in Blythe instead of carrying on. We slept in Blythe port and had a well-deserved BBQ on the beach; most of the crew ended up thrown in the water. The next day we spent most of the day in Blythe and set off to Scarborough in the late afternoon. We got to Scarborough in record time and made 12 kts.

During the trip we were tested on our ability to helm and rig the boat, tie all the knots; know the parts of the boat and use the flares. Some of us got the ‘Start Yachting’ award and others (me) got the higher tier award ‘Competent Crew’.

We spent 17 hours night sailing and had the worst / best conditions that the skipper had ever sailed in. There were Force 10 winds, 7m waves and were sailing at 45 degrees. It was quite exciting.

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School Sweet School?

We will all remember our time at school, whether for good or for bad reasons it will never leave our memory. If only our “glory” days were like those on the TV screen and the media’s stereotypes: head cheerleader, football quarterbacks and the nerd belting out a ballad in the corridor; but no, the average British teenager spends their day being told off for little things and in lessons they simply don’t like. This normal British high school somehow manages to produce an enthralling mix of humour, drama and interesting storylines, a true phenomenon.

Educating Essex is a real life documentary that films the everyday dramas of high school, capturing the highs and the lows of both students and teachers it brings a sense of reality to our TV screens. Passmore School in Harlow, Essex bravely welcomed the cameras in to film the real school life; it is both comical and surprising, but if it is enough to change students and teachers beliefs of one another I don’t know. I would agree as a student it does bring a new sympathy for teachers and what they have to go through, but also it almost gives a warmth to know that they are human and really do have a life outside “sir” and “miss”.

Mr Drew is one in million, and a favourite of many students; his sarcasm and friendliness gains respect from everyone. However some students test him and his colleagues to their absolute, limits facing pregnancies, family problems and everything in between. Is this a chance for us to reflect on our own school life? Or does it really only matter where you live and who else lives there?

To see this popular reality documentary yourself it is shown on Channel 4 on Thursday night at 9pm.

By Mia Gair

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Take a step into the past with Downton Abbey…

Downton Abbey is a period drama, on ITV1 every Saturday at 9:00pm. The new second series was premiered in the UK on the 18th September 2011. The second series is a lot more down to earth than the first series was, as it is set two years on in World War One, in 1916. The series starts off mentioning the war often, and progresses to talk about the soldiers being treated for their very serious war wounds, and the community in Downton Abbey raising money in many charity events. Love and lust is in the air, as the oldest sister, Mary, is uncertain as to whether or not she should tell her true love, Matthew Crawley, how she really feels. The series has recently acquired a Guinness World Record, of the “most critically acclaimed television show” for the year, and has become the only British show to win the award. Downton Abbey is both an educational and exciting period drama, which reinforces anyone’s ideas on the 20th century, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to take a step into the past and peek through the keyhole at an upper class family living through World War One in a different way than anyone would have expected.

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Book Review: HIVE: Aftershock by Mark Walden

Following the destruction of Overlord in Zero Hour, Nero has disbanded the council of the Global League of Villainous Enterprises and replaced the former members with old students of his own in order to stem the corruption that the organisation faced before. The former council members are angered by this, and after an assassination attempt on Nero, the council members are contacted by the Disciples, the organization who attempted to bring Overlords plans to fruition in previous books, who promise to aid them in regaining their old places at the head of GLOVE. Meanwhile, HIVE has sent its most promising Alpha students on the Hunt, an infamous training exercise where the students must avoid being captured by the assassin Raven for as long as possible. However, a spy has leaked the information on the Hunt to the Disciples, and soon Otto and his friends are fleeing for their lives through the icy wastes of Siberia.

As the seventh book in Waldens series about the Higher Institute of Villainous Education, Aftershock takes the story on a different tangent; as the antagonist has changed from the psychotic artificial intelligence Overlord to his Disciples. The book also reveals more of Raven’s past, explaining to some extent how she became a professional assassin, and, in a flashback at the end of the book, gives a shocking revelation as to how she first met Nero. The story is pacey and exciting, and packs in plenty of humour; and takes several unexpected turns of events. For HIVE fans, this is an essential read.

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Book Review – Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer

Following on from the events of Mortal Coil, Death Bringer sees Skulduggery and Valkyrie investigating Melancholia St Clair, a young Necromancer who has suddenly developed extraordinary power and who is now being hailed as the Death Bringer: the person the Necromancers believe to be responsible for breaking down the barrier between life and death to create a “better world”. This both shocks and relieves Valkyrie because, as Darquesse, she was supposed to be the Death Bringer, a title she didn’t want. Soon though, things get out of hand and Valkyrie and Skulduggery must stop Melancholia from becoming the Death Bringer before it is too late.

As with previous Skulduggery Pleasant books, Death Bringer is action-packed and pacey, with the trademark humour of the rest of the series. Landy reveals more about Skulduggery’s past and delivers a shocking revelation as to his true identity, as well as an explanation as to how he returned from the dead. Landy also develops Valkyrie’s personal life, as her relationship with Fletcher becomes strained and Caelan the vampire confesses his love for her. At first this plot line could be accused of trying to steal the success of the Twilight series, but it soon develops its own twists. All in all this newest instalment in the Skulduggery Pleasant series is a brilliant addition and won’t disappoint fans of the books.

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A Midnight in Paris (7th October)

Midnight in Paris is directed by Woody Allen. It is a comedy, but true humour is a hard thing to find in many other films carrying that same label. So is it funny? Naturally, we expect no less from the blend of Owen Wilson and such a progressive yet well established director as Woody Allen. We have seen this formula work so well when applied to Wilson and Wes Anderson. However, Owen Wilson’s return to romantic comedy did stir some apprehension. Wilson was at the heart of the trashy ‘rom-com’ scene of the 00s. However, with Woody Allen there is a clear effort to go beyond simply ‘funny’ and there is no hesitation in satirising the stereotypically American ‘cultural-tourist’ opinion of Paris. He also highlights what he makes out to be the similarly misguided view of modern times being inferior, whether in an artistic or moral sense, to the bygone days that so many of us long for. Surrounded by such a dense mix of comedic and intellectual insulation, Owen Wilson never strays back to the dark realms of last year’s How Do You Know or Hall Pass.

Midnight in Paris follows the story of Gil Pender (Wilson), a Hollywood script writer and budding novelist on a trip to Paris with his fiancée (Rachel McAdams) and his future in-laws. Gil is struggling with his novel and struggling to relate to his fiancée but with belle Paris as his muse an unanticipated and unashamedly abstract solution emerges for both his writer’s block and his relationship issues, while also revolutionising his perspective on life. ‘What sort of rom-com can provide such an array of topics?’ You ask. This is far from your typical meat and two veg, two people meet and procrastinate, rom-com. In a nutshell, Gil travels back in time each night to 1920s Paris, living out his fantasy of life in a golden age surrounded by inspiration. This also sparks an epiphany to solve his problems in the present. This simple step immediately steers the film far away from the area of the insipid, linear and predictable genre staple. This same step avoids what veered close to a sluggish start to the film by opening the door for a barrage of classically witty comedy from Allen. It is a purposefully ‘surreal’ moment when Gil bumps into F. Scott Fitzgerald and Salvador Dalí. He uses these – and other – universally recognisable names and the remarkable feeling of becoming familiar with their boldly characterized idiosyncrasies as his comedic fulcrum. So, before booking your cinema tickets make sure you have some knowledge of the 1920s literary and artistic scene in the French capital.

But it is the way in which Allen translates his own notoriously quirky sense of humour into the language of the romantic comedy that, in my opinion, paradoxically allows this film to transcend the archetypal structure of the genre. This rare breed of fantasy crossed with ‘rom-com’ is not, however, solely responsible in making Midnight in Paris the exceptional piece of cinema that it is. It is quickly apparent from the opening moments of the film that there has been earnest concentration on cinematography, capturing a typically romanticised image of Paris. This wonderful cliché, masterfully manipulated by Allen, and a balanced dash of fantasy combine to convey a profound sense of escapism. It is this that the audience falls in love with, not the characters, despite an enchanting performance by Marion Cotillard. The vivid escapism of the film grips the audience’s imagination and refuses to let go long after the cinema doors close.

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Student Finance – BBC Money Box with Martin Lewis


View the BBC’s Slideshow of the event by clicking on the photo below


Click above to listen to the podcast


For more great photos visit Tim Hardy’s blog.  He is a professional photographer and you may even be able to buy an image.  Click on the photo.

Changes in tuition fees, and the many questions about student finance generally, prompted the Sixth Form Team at Harrogate Grammar School to contact the BBC Radio 4 Money Box Live programme to seek advice from experts as to how to best advise students applying to university for 2013.

Student Adviser, Josie Guinness, emailed the programme with an invitation to bring the show North and answer questions from students, parents and staff. The whole school was delighted by the response from the senior producer accepting the offer, and plans started to be put in place.

In addition to the well-known presenter, Paul Lewis, the programme also put together a panel of experts to ensure that the many questions being prepared by students could be covered – and there were many. The final panel comprised advisers from universities, both in the UK and overseas and from finance experts.

Shortly before the programme was due to be recorded the school learnt that the BBC would also be sending their Look North team to cover the event which led to even greater excitement by the HGS students.

Broadcast live on Wednesday 16th, featured on Radio York, and televised on the Look North programme later that day, the planning, organisation and meticulous arrangements came together very successfully and made for an excellent experience for all.

The advice given by the panel to the students and parents was not only helpful in answering their questions, but also covered broader issues which clarified some of the complexities of student finance which baffle students and parents alike.

“It made us think of questions we didn’t know we even had,” said one student. “It hadn’t dawned on me that I would have to start thinking about paying for a television licence or my own grocery bill very soon!”


The panel included:

Download the full transcript here

• Mo Onyett, student welfare advisor, University of York

• Keith Houghton, head of student funding service, Kingston University

• Christine Ross, head of financial planning at SG Hambros

• Mark Huntington, managing director, A Star Future



To read the

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