March 30th, 2010
Pupils gained an insight into very different aspects of engineering on two days of trips organised by the Engineering and Technology Society. Younger students travelled to Thorpe Park, not only for the thrills of the rides, but for privileged access to the intricacies of the machinery which makes them work. One of the School’s partners, AECOM, subsidised the trip and sent an engineer to accompany the boys and explain the technology. As one of the fastest rollercoasters in Europe, Stealth, was closed for maintenance, they were able to get inside and examine the workings which send riders 205 feet into the air at 80mph. They learned about the two hour safety check before the ride is used each day and examined the wheels, which last a maximum of two weeks.
The following day, more senior pupils journeyed to London to examine the developments for the 2012 Olympics. A tour of the Stratford and Docklands areas put the Olympics into a social, historical and geographical context, before the group entered the Olympic Park itself to take a closer look at the construction on the Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Centre and Velodrome, marvelling at the cutting-edge application of engineering in the architectural designs. The pupils gained a real sense of excitement about the Olympics themselves, but also came to appreciate the scale of the regeneration of the whole area and the emphasis being placed on the legacy that will be left behind after the athletes, media and crowds have left.
March 27th, 2010
Building on the huge success of last year, this year’s Sport Tours Dinner was another packed occasion with star names to entertain the guests. Guest of Honour was legendary Sir Ian McGeechan, the British Lions and Scotland rugby former player and coach, and the evening was kicked off by a video message of welcome from Britain’s double Olympic gold medal winning heroine, Dame Kelly Holmes. All who attended the dinner were delightfully entertained by Rory Bremner, impressionist, TV celebrity and one of the finest after dinner speakers in the country, while the principal speaker for the evening was the British & Irish Lions communications officer, Burnley fanatic and the Labour Party’s former Director of Communications Alastair Campbell. Sporting inspiration, wit and political insight accompanied fine food and wine on a hugely successful evening which raised funds for the School’s various sports tours, including the forthcoming Hockey Tour to Malaysia.
March 24th, 2010
Boys who will be joining the St Albans School in September came for an early taster as the School hosted its first ever 11+ Matriculation Evening. 64 out of the 70 boys who will be starting next year came along with their parents in order to find out more about life at the school, meet other newcomers, and get to know some of the staff.
Boys were given a welcome pack, which included a brochure giving them all sorts of useful advice about making the most of their time at St Albans, as well as a key ring, bookmark and pen – all implements vital for success in secondary school. The boys were then invited to sign the Matriculation Book and have their photographs taken, giving them an official record of the start of their St Albans School career. Afterwards, whilst parents mingled, there was the chance for the boys to sign up for a number of further taster sessions taking place during the summer term, including Code-Breaking, Music, Drama, Creative Writing, Rugby and Cricket.
The evening was a great success and was enjoyed by all who attended. One boy commented: ‘Tonight has been really helpful. It has been good to see the school again and made me feel more confident about coming.’ We now look forward to the new boys joining us fully in September.
March 23rd, 2010
A Sixth Form pupil has made his mark in the International Chemistry Olympiad. David Phillips, who achieved similar success in Mathematics, not only gained his Gold Award in the recent Royal Society of Chemistry 1st Round of the Olympiad, but was also selected to progress to the second round at Cambridge University. The 25 students gaining the highest marks in Round 1 were invited to this selection weekend at Cambridge. From this select group, five students will be invited to a training weekend at the University of Oxford. This session will involve intensive training for the Olympiad events – with tutoring and testing in both theoretical and practical elements. David is aiming to be part of that group, and would love to be part of the UK Olympiad team competing in Tokyo this summer.
March 18th, 2010
Jack Stephenson, member of the L6th and keen economist, hosted this controversial attack on the very bedrock of economists’ statistics. This well researched and interesting lecture was titled: ‘Is GDP an accurate measure of economic performance and standard of living?’ The talk covered a number of alternatives, which Jack discussed and then proceeded to discard as the disadvantages of each became evident, with GDP also being denounced as outdated and inaccurate. Fervent arguments took place over whether our measurements of economic performance should be changed to reflect the relative inequality of wealth in different countries, but no agreement could be reached. In the end it was agreed upon by most that GDP was not helpful in judging standard of living, but that we are unlikely to ever be able to gauge this accurately. However, GDP was not discarded entirely; it was deemed the ‘least bad’ tool for measuring economic performance. As the passionate debate came to a close, we realised that we had talked through some of the hardest and most disputed concepts in economics today. Further seminars are planned for next term, and students are looking forward to reaping the benefits of a pupil-led lecture again.
Report by Matt Gherardi and Tim Smith
March 18th, 2010
Dr Peter Sarris OA, a renowned senior University Lecturer at Trinity College, Cambridge, entertained and enlightened an inquisitive audience in the BLR on the subject of Rome, Persia, Islam and the End of the Ancient World. An eminent speaker, Dr Sarris is a highly respected expert in the field of late Roman and Early Medieval History and has penned a variety of books on the subject. Dr Sarris’ talk was not only fascinating, but its content was invaluable for students and teachers alike in broadening their knowledge of the Ancient World. The impressive speaker focused on the spread of Islam, culminating in the decline of paganism and the infiltration of the religion into the Sasanian Empire. The captivating topic provoked some challenging questions from the audience and we thank Dr Sarris for providing such an enthralling lecture for students.
Report by Azeem Alam and Matthew Jennings