Have you ever wondered what a lemur sounds like?
I’ll tell you now, every time you hear a car alarm from now on, just imagine a lemur, and that is almost 100% what they sound like!
On Wednesday 17th of July 2019 a small group of students, most of whom didn’t know each other at all and two very professional teachers, embarked on a twenty-four-day life-changing experience to Madagascar with world challenge.
Madagascar is a third world country, experiencing some of the most extreme poverty in the world. To help you to understand the condition people live in, here are some facts; almost a third of children aged between fifteen and twenty-four cannot read and write, Madagascar is the fourth most food insecure country in the world, and in 2015 forty-five thousand children were orphaned across the country due to Aids.
Since 2014 World Challenge has sent over 50 teams to Madagascar to work with local charities such as Feedback Madagascar, to build, renovate and teach in schools across the country, collaborating with over 17 different communities, and if you’re reading this, you could be a part of one of those teams like I was.
Despite the facts mentioned prior, one of the most extraordinary things about Madagascar is its population. Everyone is included and part of a massive community, from bus drivers leaving their vehicle to help disabled people to cross the busy city streets, to children lifting what I can only guess is triple their body weight to contribute to their family’s income working in the rice fields which span for miles. The world feels completely different in a country like Madagascar. Everyone you meet is ecstatic and passionate about what they do, and even those in the worst of conditions happily go about their life.
When we set our feet on Madagascan soil for the first time, it was a strange and terrifying moment. For many of us, we had never been over nine thousand kilometres from home, but we were quickly reassured after an acclimatisation period, and over the first few days we began to get systems in place for how we would be handling money, dealing with food, and establishing plans for the activities we had ahead.
Our first destination was the Ranomafana National Park, a tropical rainforest which is the exclusive home to the critically endangered Golden Bamboo Lemur (which we had the privilege to see), as well as many more exotic species of wildlife, from Ring-tailed Lemurs to the Mongoose, and even to the smaller (and admittedly more terrifying) golden orb weaver (That’s a spider by the way!). The rainforest is full of wildlife, and the greatest thing about it is how natural it is and , unlike being at a zoo, you get to see how animals interact with their environment and what they do to survive. It was here that we realised how beautiful (and cold!) Madagascar got at night, with stars littering the sky for miles.
Soon after we completed our three-day venture into the rainforest, we moved on to a remote community in Ifanadiana, where we stayed for four days working with the locals to renovate three classrooms in a local primary/secondary school. Before we even began work, we received an emotional greeting from the school, who were already so appreciative of our arrival alone and after witnessing a traditional Malagasy dance, we began to get to know the people we would be working with, and for. For the rest of our first day at the school, we played with the children and may or may not, have been completely and utterly destroyed by their football team.
The experience of renovating a school in the middle of nowhere, where the children and staff don’t even have what we would call proper toilet facilities, was truly impactful. The people we met such as our nineteen-year-old translator Matthew and the children who worked with us to help scrape and paint the school the colours of the Madagascan flag, were among some of the most inspirational people you could ever meet, and after days of hard work, and a few cooking lessons in-between, we were ready to leave, knowing that we had accomplished something truly special.
Eventually, it was time to head to our greatest challenge, the mountain of Peak Boby, and the forbidden bridge (which may or may not be forbidden again- don’t ask) which was challenging for various other reasons than what we expecting. It was at our accommodation within the area of Andringitra that we noticed how food scarcity affected the country. Every day we dined at the hotel restaurant the food was subtly different, with meals varying in portion size and sides, even if you ordered the same thing as someone else – this is simply because of how limited food is in the country, and it is admirable to see how the people provide for you despite these conditions.
On our trek up the mountain, we saw some of the most breathtaking views Madagascar had to offer, from the twin waterfalls to a sunrise unlike any other. It was a scene completely unique, and when it was time to descend, we knew we had seen things that we would never be able to see elsewhere.
After conquering the mountain (or maybe it was the other way around!), we headed to the D’Anja community park, which is a narrow forest bordering the base of the three sister mountains, full of ring-tailed Lemurs and your fair share of Zebu. Here we learned about traditional practices of the ancient tribes who originally lived in Madagascar, and it is also where we discovered just what a Lemur sounds like. We also witnessed plenty of spiders, cacti, and oddly enough, a really big snake.
Soon enough, it was time to head to Toliara, the tourist city within Madagascar, and home to plenty of Baobab trees. It was refreshing to finally have access to the facilities we take for granted back at home, such as a shower with mixer tap, or beds with actual mattresses. Here we ventured into the markets and brought Madagascan produce, including fruits which we had no idea what they were (But the Madagascan friend we met certainly did!). Once we had spent a day relaxing in a hotel resort, we moved to our final challenge - The Honko Mangrove project. Honko is a massive swamp where the ocean meets what can only be described as a desert, and I know what you’re thinking. The words ‘desert’ and ‘Madagascar’ don’t seem to mix, but trust me it was a desert with a surprising amount of crabs and a large swamp. Here we were tasked with renovating a boardwalk and creating a dock for canoes – which we got done with the help of a fellow World Challenge team. Honko was absurdly warm, and we spent the night cooking a relatively large feast with all the food we brought from the city. Afterwards, we sat on the dunes and watched the night sky.
It was almost the end of our expedition, but we still had more to do, because now we were finally able to relax on the beach of Mangily. We spent our final days in Madagascar in beach apartments, taking part in snorkelling and whale watching throughout the day as well as spending time by the infinity pool in the Bamboo club.
Before we left Madagascar we took a flight from Toliara airport back to Antananarivo, where our adventure began, where we spent the final day in a huge craft market, buying souvenirs and keepsakes, until we finally packed our bags for the last time and made our journey back to the UK.
With all that said, if you are reading this, you are hopefully considering the Academy's next World Challenge expedition and I’d like to take this opportunity to offer some advice.
First of all, live in the present. I know that when I was preparing for Madagascar I was terrified of malaria and all the other diseases that could exist there. But as long as you get the vaccinations and take your tablets whenever you need to, you are very unlikely to get ill. The most any of us ever got was travellers diarrhoea which passes after a day or two.
That also applies to technology, I was really worried about not having a 'phone to call my parents on, but I feel that if I had a 'phone the trip wouldn’t have been the same. There is something so refreshing about being truly independent and you come back a far stronger and bolder person.
Secondly, don’t worry about fundraising. If you want my advice, write letters asking for sponsorships then raffle what companies give you in support at tombolas. It works surprisingly well and if possible try your best to get a part-time job. The money comes in surprisingly fast if you get stuck in.
Oh, and finally, if you do decide to go, travel light, and make sure you take some of those flavourings for water as well as some ear muffs because you may just hear some snoring whilst you’re camping!
In January thirteen students from the Year 9 Food and Nutrition group volunteered to take over the HELP Yourself campaign from the original members who have just completed Year 11. It was a challenge to take over from where others have left off, but we were all on board and keen to follow in their footsteps after they won their category in the EBP Schools Challenge at the Lincolnshire Show. The focus initially was to rebrand the campaign with the new logo and make our material more professional. The criteria of the competition includes the academy food plan and brain foods. To be successful we had to work as a team and divided a range of tasks between us so we all did our bit. These tasks included an awareness session, house competitions, recipe development, preparing our allotment proposal, researching both brain foods and the academy food plan. We wanted to make the HELP Yourself campaign self-funding so we created a range of merchandise to advertise our brand throughout the Academy and generate funds. This culminated in the opening our of shop in the Tech concourse at lunchtime on Thurs 13th and Fri 14th June. This helped prepare us for the Lincolnshire Show on Wednesday 19th and Thursday 20th June. We had the opportunity to man a stand, display our wears and explain our campaign to students from other schools, teachers, judges and the general public. The competition standards were very high this year. We achieved 3rd place in our category. The whole experience has been both challenging but enjoyable. We will continue to push our healthy eating and lifestyle campaign forward to make a difference to well-being of the academy community. We hope too that you enjoyed our next project - Health Wee- which started on Monday 1st July.
The HELP Yourself team
On Wednesday 17th July 2019, the Priory CCF Dining Dut Night was held at the International Bomber Command Centre. Over forty cadets and officers attended alongside the Head teacher, Mrs Hopkinson.
The evening began at 1800 when everyone arrived at the venue, dressed in their formal attire. We were then offered non-alcoholic drinks, just before our tour of the grounds. A guide showed us around the different gardens and various memorials laid there. We then walked up to the spire, which resembled a plane wing. This was surrounded by the names of many people who lost their lives whilst either flying a bomber or working in a station. From this point, there was also a beautiful view of the cathedral.
Shortly after, we made our way up to the dining area, where we were to have our meal. It was a very traditional, formal dinner and we were served three courses from a menu; everybody really enjoyed it.
Next, awards were handed out for those who had really stood out in the past year. Some of these awards included: Best drill and turnout; best shot and best cadet on each of the camps.
The evening concluded with goodbyes from the senior cadets who were leaving, as this was the main purpose of the event. There were also many inspiring speeches read aloud by three of the leavers.
Many memories were made, and we wish all the best for everybody’s future.
On Saturday 29th June, a selection of RAF cadets travelled to RAF Halton to begin a week long camp alongside other cadets from The Glasgow Academy. These cadets were split into four different flights.
The cadets enjoyed various trips and activities throughout the week. Trips included places like The RAF Museum in Hendon, Halton House, Bletchley Park and HMS Belfast. Activities included first aid training, team building, shooting the L98A2, flying in a Chipmunk simulator, low ropes and high ropes courses.
On Friday 5th July, individual flights performed their drill sequences on the RTS (Recruit Training Squadron) parade square, in front of staff and officers. The cadets had been practising drill and preparing their Wedgewood uniform throughout the entire week for this drill competition. All of their hard work paid off as the flight sergeant was very impressed and complimented the flights on their excellent drill.
After the stress of the drill competition, the cadets all enjoyed a lovely day out in London. Firstly, they went to HMS Belfast which is a town-class light cruiser that was built for the Royal Navy and is now a museum ship on the River Thames. Then, the cadets also saw a variety of landmarks such as the Tower Bridge, London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament.
Overall, everyone had an educational and enjoyable week.
This year, army camp was held at Beckingham training area near Newark. The trip lasted a week and it is safe to say that all of those who attended more than earned their weekend afterwards!
The week itself consisted of many different lessons ranging from section attacks to basic fieldcraft. The days started at around 6am where all the cadets would get up, get dressed in their uniform and march down to the mess (canteen) for breakfast. After this, they would collect their equipment for the day and head to the parade square, ready for the start of lessons at 8:00am.
At the start of each day the cadets would be split into different groups. Those who are senior cadets (Y10s and above) who would do the advanced syllabus and the basics (Y9s) would learn the basic syllabus.
At the mid-week point, everyone was able to let loose as it was a personal development day. The day started with the water activities: sailing, raft building and kayaking. After lunch, everyone moved onto the dry activities such as, team building, orienteering and mountain biking. At the end of the day everyone was muddy and wet, but still smiling.
In the evenings, the camp would put on various competitions. This included military knowledge, drill and the obstacle course. Priory cadets won the Military Knowledge competition. The priory cadets did extremely well in the other competitions but sadly were against some stiff opposition. The camp staff acknowledged the cadets commitment and drive throughout the week.
The week ended with the entire contingent taking part in an overnight exercise. Everyone was split into different sections and put to test all of the skills and field craft knowledge they had learnt throughout the week. The exercise went well and many of the cadets enjoyed working together as a team and sleeping under a basher for the night. This was an exciting week that ended in an exciting way. Everyone passed their syllabus and received various badges during the next CCF session.
Throughout this academic year a small group of Year 7 students have worked hard to complete the Bronze Crest Award Scheme in the afterschool Science Stem Club. We picked the project: What is in our Food? Then we carried out a series of research tasks, including two practical activities, to look at the amount of energy and the nutrients contained in certain foods. Throughout their project they created a research booklet documenting and evaluating what they had done. The students finalised their work into posters or PowerPoints and presented their work to staff, including Mrs Hopkinson and Mrs Moss, at a celebration held last week. The poster seen here is by Haania. All the students did exceptionally well and have been awarded the Bronze Science badge.
The Arts Extravaganza on Wednesday 3rd July was a fantastic celebration of the artists, musicians and performers at the Priory Academy LSST . The evening showcased a range of performances, including exhibitions, art workshops, music ensembles and soloists, drama scripted and devised work, film and media and dance performances. All ages took part and it was fantastic to see so many people supporting this event!
A quote from Sam in the Sixth Form following Arts Extravaganza " The Jazz Group has been some of the best moments of sixth form and I’m very proud of where we have come."
On Friday 28th of June, 162 Year 13 students and 39 staff descended upon the Hilton to celebrate their end of year, and the end of their time at LSST, ball. The weather was very pleasant and many of the outfits caught the eye, some even glittering in the sunlight. The end of year “thank yous” were well met with Lily delighting those gathered with the announcement of the Yearbook Awards. After the awards almost everybody stayed behind to trip the light fantastic or say some emotional goodbyes before disappearing off into the late evening festivities (students) or home (staff!). Year 13 will be missed… honestly, as they move on to bigger and better things, but we do hope that they will keep in touch and let us know how they are getting on.
On Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th June three Year 12 students attended a Pathways to Success conference held by Murray Edwards College at Cambridge University. Ella, Chloe and Katie all attended workshops and lectures given by some of the admissions team and fellows at the college on subjects as wide ranging as university applications, the interview process, 14th century artwork, war literature and "What is success?" The girls were particularly inspired by the stories told by a Murray Edwards alumna, Dr Alison Cooke, who regaled the audience with tales of how she had fought expectations and sexism to become a chartered engineer - all whilst raising a family and designing shuttlecocks! The girls thoroughly enjoyed the visit, not just because of the copious amounts of food on offer, and it has given them food (!!) for thought when decisions are made about university applications in Year 13.
On Friday 21st June over 200 Year 11 students were joined by staff at the Engine Shed, Lincoln to celebrate the end of their examinations. The weather was kind and the students looked stunning in their beautiful dresses and smart suits as they danced the night away! For some this marked the end of their Priory journey as they venture on to pastures new for their post 16 education. We wish all students all the best for their GCSE results in August.