November 30th, 2009
Politics students have been engaged in debating the key contemporary events at the Sixth Form Politics Conference in the Abbey and at a series of lectures at Wellington College. At the Abbey conference, proceedings were chaired by Larry Elliot (OA), the Economics Editor of The Guardian, and the panellists were Emily Thornberry MP, Dr Adam Rutherford, a science journalist, Dominic Grieve MP of the Shadow Cabinet, and the historian Dr Jonathan Foyle. Issues raised included Afghanistan, compulsory sex education, climate change, and what could be done to involve young people in politics. Sixth former Alex Dismore stood to defend eloquently the training of the Afghan police and army, citing recent problems as exceptions and not the rule. At Wellington, the students heard a challenge to ‘stunt-based’ pressure groups by Professor Wyn Grant of Warwick University and an examination of the Conservative Party under David Cameron by Philip Lynch. This was balanced by a presentation on ‘Gordon Brown as Prime Minister’, which looked at changes as Brown became leader of the party after Tony Blair, while the final talk analysed the current political situation with an election in come in 2010, considering how the Government will change in the coming year. Both events helped the AS and A2 level students helped contextualise their studies and brought home both the breadth and depth of feeling about politics.
Report by Emily Gorton and Alex Turner
November 26th, 2009
Skiiers from St Albans School have broken the Scottish stranglehold on the British Schools Artificial Slopes Championships. They travelled to Pontypool in Wales having already won the English Schools Championships, but were in unchartered territory trying to win the British competition. There was a full entry of 25 girls’ teams and 25 boys’ teams, producing races of exceptionally high quality. Through the squally showers and sunshine, the St Albans School team raced with skill and commitment, becoming the first English school to win the competition. The team, comprising Gerard and Niall Flahive, Douglas Reid and Max Greenfield, performed admirably on the day. Gerard Flahive, captain of the team, was the fastest boy in the competition and he was awarded the magnificent crystal trophy donated by the Boyd Anderson Trust in memory of George Boyd Anderson, the founder of the Championships in 1968. So it was with two trophies that the team returned to St Albans, deservedly proud winners.
Report by Matthew Gheradi
November 20th, 2009
Tim Emmett goes to extremes: he goes scuba diving, solo climbing, mountain biking, base jumping, mountaineering and does General Studies talks. He was welcomed by an enthusiastic audience of Upper Sixth students to share some of his thoughts on Possibility. He is perhaps most famous for climbing up a mountain faster than Jeremy Clarkson could drive up it, and he revealed his secrets for doing the seemingly impossible. In his talk he focused on the importance of open mindedness, effort, perseverance, focus and calm. He said that these qualities would make pretty much anything possible, if only you would give it a go. He recounted how he had coached Jack Osborne to do big wall climbing, climbed a 2000m rock face and camped at 6200m above sea level at -30˚C.
However, Tim Emmett also advised knowing your limits, and suggested that, even when using a wingsuit, you should reduce risk. He gave sound advice for the CCF, many of whom are hoping to make an assault on Kilimanjaro this summer. He advocated determination, stressing that more effort brought much more reward. His book, Preposterous Tales, is strongly recommended, as is his website.
Report by David Bagg
November 14th, 2009
In recent weeks the Hylocomian Society has entertained two guest speakers who have enthralled GCSE, AS and A level students who study Ancient History, Latin and Greek. The first lecture was given by Paul Cartledge, entitled, Spartans on the Silver Screen. Paul Cartledge compared the variety of different ways in which Spartans have been portrayed in the film industry. He showed brief excerpts from The 300 Spartans, a film from 1962, which was employed as American propaganda during the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was then compared to the flight of fancy that is entitled 300, the dubiously historical drama which he considered to be an extremely entertaining film, yet much less historically accurate. The second lecture, entitled, Cicero, Catiline and the Fall of the Roman Republic, was given by Dr Gesine Manuwald. It provided a whirlwind tour of the history of the Republic and how Cicero contributed to the events. We had an in-depth talk about the speeches that Cicero made to both the Senate and Forum and the different styles of speech he utilised in order to persuade his audience. Both lectures were fascinating and they will prove vital in helping students to extend their classical studies.
Report by Tim Smith
November 12th, 2009
Billy Collins’ turn of speed on the final leg regained the Haskell Cup for St Albans on 11th November. Having lost their grip on the Cup to Judd School in 2008, the School’s runners were determined to make amends. Even at full strength and fitness, they knew they had a fight on their hands if they were to be successful.
The A team ran lap for lap against runners of equal standard from the Judd School. On the first leg, Tom Brooks held his position to finish just ahead of his Judd Rival, and Captain Euan Mackenzie ran a true captain’s leg, to give us a small lead. Vasudev Zaver had a tough leg and was passed by the Judd runner, but worked hard to stay in touch, and handed over to Billy Collins just 10 seconds adrift. Billy then ran the leg of the day, not only catching up with the Judd Captain, but running a tactical race that allowed him to take the lead in the last 500m, winning for St Albans with a 15 second lead.
Among the five St Albans teams entered, the B Team of Antonio Razzano, Alex Stride, Mark Pearce and Victoria Webster was the fifth team to finish, winning the B team award, completing a very satisfying day.
November 10th, 2009
Sixth Form Politics students shrugged off popular notions that young people are not interested in politics by attending a debate hosted by the Hansard Society inside the Palace of Westminster. Amongst the grand paintings of bygone Prime Ministers and statues to Britain’s ‘Great Men’, the debate, entitled ‘Constitutional Change: Who gains? Who Loses?’ included members of the select committee for constitutional reform, Professor Vernon Bogdanor, constitutional authority, and Sir George Young MP, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons. The debate covered a variety of issues, from reform of the House of Lords and the Judiciary to how to deal with the West Lothian question and whether Proportional Representation should be introduced. It was fascinating to hear from those central to a debate on a topic so important to political study.
Report by Tim Smith