Cornwall 2022 – Student Voice

Here is a short blog post from Rory in Year 7 with accompanying pictures from Finn in Year 9. Thank you both for your contributions.

The days at Cornwall were nothing short of marvellous but now everyone is wondering how we got through the nights. Well, it is quite the story…. 

First there was the knocking on the doors; when answered there would be no one there, haunting after the tales told by Shanty Baba. Then came the whooshing in the walls, the footsteps, the pitter patter of water from seemingly untouched taps. Opening the door to catch the foul spirit off-guard we were met with the sight of… Alex S from Year 8 ready to knock and run. His face on being caught was worth the small amount of terror we had suffered; he ran away frantically knocking on the door of his own room to escape our wrath. I think the teachers thought that organising lots of activities would mean that we would go quietly to sleep at 8pm – alas, this was not the case.

Despite the late night shenanigans we did have a brilliant time and are looking forward to our next adventure with RIC!!!

Cornwall 2022 – Final thoughts

Before I hand the blog over to the very capable hands of our students I thought I would take this opportunity to offer some final thoughts and thanks to those involved in the trip.

In other schools I’ve worked in and with other staff teams, the question “do you want to help with a residential trip with fifty 11 to 14 year olds?” is normally greeting by an eerie silence and an uncomfortable shuffling of feet. Not at RIC. I had a plethora of staff volunteers from across the staff team, even when I mentioned (as an aside) that the trip was going to be at the weekend. So my heartfelt thanks go out to Mark, Sonia, Nadia and Sally for helping to make this work, with their tireless efforts over the last few days; the trip would not have succeeded without them. I’m really only putting this is the blog as I find being nice to people to their face hugely challenging.

We are currently making our way along the A303 largely to avoid fuel VAT protests, but also to catch a fleeting glimpse of Stonehenge, a final bit of history and culture at the very end of our trip. Whilst all of the kids have been absolutely brilliant this weekend I would just like to acknowledge one student who has really stood out and excelled during this trip. So let’s have a virtual round of applause for Charlie S in Year 8 who has been an absolute legend this weekend; his enthusiasm, organisation and dry sense of humour has been superb. It would be fair to say that Charlie has been a quiet presence at RIC since he joined during this academic year, but he has truly stepped out of the metaphorical shadows this weekend; well done to him!

Cornwall 2022 – The last night

It’s fair to say that it’s not what we teaching staff would have wanted, but it’s the last night so why not give the kids a chance to do something all teenagers want to do for some inexplicable reason… the arcade. Here are some pictures – I have run out of words. Stay tuned for a student write-up next week!

Cornwall 2020 – Eden Project

After a surprisingly quiet night (as far as I’m aware) we headed off across the A30 to the beautiful Eden project in Bodelva this morning. I was lucky enough to visit Eden in the Summer of 2001, at which point the plants and flowers were just seedlings ready to spread their roots and burst into life. Visiting the project 21 years later and seeing the growth and development of the plants, supported by the careful stewardship of the team at Eden was wonderful. A more sentimental chap than myself, would at this point draw a metaphorical comparison between the seeds growing, maturing and flourishing and our students, who have been such great company this weekend. They may even liken the Eden Project to RIC where we hope to nurture and promote potential and growth, with the support of our team; fortunately I am not a sentimental chap and will not indulge in such nonsense…

One of the highlights of the visit is the aerial walkway which hangs suspended from the roof of the jungle biome, the designers of which have helpfully ensured that there is a slight wobble from the suspending wires and that the metal grate flooring very much allows those who undertake this challenge to see the full 150 metre drop to the ground below. Some students handled this with stylish aplomb, striding purposefully along the stairs as if they were simply taking a leisurely Sunday afternoon stroll; others crept along hands firmly gripping each of the handrails with absolute terror in their faces and knuckles white with effort. However they tackled it, it was great to see so many students having another life experience, which they will remember for a long time.

We are now heading back to St Ives to give the students a chance to shop for souvenirs, so it might be worth texting your parental requests now, lest you find yourself with glass domes filled with coloured sand, sea shell sculptures or ‘I love St Ives’ merch, tomorrow evening. Personally, I think fudge is the way forward.

Cornwall 2022 – Game night and skittles

For our penultimate night in St Ives we headed off to Country Skittles to do some ‘proper bowling’ none of this ‘American nonsense’; the words of our host, not me, I hasten to add. Despite being somewhat bemused by the lack of neon lights, arcade machines and pounding music normally found in bowling alleys in retail parks in Kent and Medway, the students soon embraced the wooden balls and pins; a throwback to, well, I’m not sure to be honest. No electronic scoring system here; just pens, paper and a healthy dose of dishonesty.

On the return to the Cohort the game theme continued with all of the classics; Scrabble, Battleships, Connect 4 and Uno all continued well into the night, with rematches promised for this evening. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was defeated at chess by a Year 8 student; he has been on washing up duty ever since due to his excessive celebrations. I let him win, obviously; no hard feelings.

In a strange turn of events some of our Year 9 boys seem to have befriended a group of local girls. I had no idea that Ethan B and Jacob were so charming!

Cornwall 2022 – Surfing

What better way to celebrate a relatively tepid English summer’s day than plunging into freezing water? Like a colony of seals off of Zennor our lovely students embraced the salty depths of the ocean like a second home today, plunging into the breaking waves with an abandon that only childhood can allow.

It’s really easy on these sort of things to write generic ‘we did this’ or ‘we did that’ stuff so tonight I thought I’d share the story of the lovely Sam G in Year 9. Sam has been with us since Year 7 and has always been an absolute delight, what I didn’t know is that he has never been in the sea before. Today he donned his wetsuit and got involved with no fear, managing to catch a few waves and almost achieving the elusive board pose. This is the beauty of a residential in microcosm; children doing things which are out of their comfort zone in a safe environment and enjoying experiences which will stay with them forever.

Rather than me rattling on – here are some more pictures..

Cornwall 2022 – Ghost Walk

One of the most challenging things about a residential trip with 46 children is getting them to go sleep. To send them to the land of nod with happy memories, feeling content, calm and safe is Chapter 1 in the teacher’s residential handbook. Unfortunately that particular text was sold out when I completed my teacher training in the middle ages, hence why we undertook a ghost walk with local St Ives character Shanty Baba, as the sun sank in the west on our first night in St Ives.

Shanty’s lantern lit tours are legendary in St Ives and he didn’t disappoint. With stories of human scarecrows, decapitation and a rat-filled cemetery, the children, initially full of bravado, crept noticeably closer together as the night grew darker, with initial giggles and laughter replaced by nervous titters and sidewise glances. It was a great chance to see the town in a different light and for the children to stay up a bit later; of course the content was delivered with a healthy dose of irony!

The Barnoon Cemetery rising ominously above Porthmeor Beach provided the perfect crescendo for the tour. Ducking under the looming elm tree at the entrance filled staff and students with an acute sense of foreboding, not least due to the fact that the elm is closely linked to the underworld in Celtic mythology. The students listened raptly to the tale of the corrupt vicar who used his position to profit from the grief of his parishioners and to the story of the woman who walked three times around the grave of a famous smuggler. We walked quickly back to the hostel regularly checking over our shoulders.

All that being said, the scariest thing we have seen during the residential so far is the Year 9 boys this morning.

Cornwall 2022

Of course, the first thing you know you’re going to have to deal with on a school trip are the constant inane questions. Does Cornwall have wifi? Am I allowed to bring my iPad? Are we nearly there yet? These are the pitfalls of inviting a Drama Teacher and a French Teacher on a residential.

That being said the morning went surprisingly smoothly; my draconian warnings of leaving people behind clearly struck a chord and all 46 students were settled and ready to go by 6am. In fact one student, who shall remain nameless, arrived at 5am just to be on the safe side yet somehow still managed to be the last on the coach. Our journey was very smooth, like a hot knife through clotted cream, and after a brief stop to feel the full effects of the cost of living crisis at Taunton Services (£4 for an almond croissant) we arrived at the lovely Cohort Hostel at 1:30pm.

After a swift sit down and a bit of orientation we headed straight for the harbour and a dip in the Atlantic. It always amazes me that 46 children can disperse over an area of approximately 10 square miles in about 15 seconds, leaving phones, sliders, t-shirts and towels on the sand like a ship carrying designer gear had just been shipwrecked in the harbour. It was however genuinely heart warming to see the absolute joy and excitement of the kids; it’s been a tough few years with the pandemic limiting all of our freedoms, so today was just brilliant.

I write this as the children are watching the new Minions film at the refreshingly authentic Merlin Cinema in St Ives. We’ll be heading off on our ghost walk once the sun goes down; hopefully we’ve done enough to make them sleep tonight.

Historians at the British Museum

“Year 7 travelled to the British Museum – we went there to look at the displays for some inspiration on how to display our witch’s bottle discovered in the grounds of RIC last year.

We looked at some of the Egyptian, Korean and Chinese relics in the museum; it was very interesting. In addition to this, we also looked at relics from Stonehenge – there were lots of different types of rocks there.

Finally, we looked at the Islamic world section. My favourite items were the cones – to me they stand out – and it was funny to learn that people used them for pointed hats!”

Words by Jennifer (Year 7)

Images by Nell (Year 7)

Year 7 Digital Art Exhibition

Year 7 students are proud to present their digital art exhibition. It is being displayed virtually on a limited-event website between 28th April – 12th May 2022. You can view their work here: https://sites.google.com/rochester-college.org.uk/year7digitalart

Over the course of the year, Year 7 have been using their iPads to create digital art. Led by Gretel Warner, they have worked on two projects, ‘Sweets’ and ‘Untitled’. Some students have created further ‘Art at Home.’

Students will be presenting a Private View to parents in New Road House on the 28th of April.

Like all exhibitions, this is a strictly limited run so catch it while you can!

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