This competition was advertised by the department before lockdown and Ursula put her time to good use researching the subject of Witold Pilecki. We are very pleased that her time and effort were rewarded in this way and hope that she achieves further success in the future.
Our KS4 History club have been working on a project surrounding Black History. They have written and recorded their own song about Black History and created a presentation to go alongside. They did an excellent job researching and crafting this project:
Written by Sophia T and Ella M
On 12th November 2019, we were given the incredible opportunity to visit the small town of Oświęcim, Auschwitz I, and Auschwitz-Birkenau. In one incredibly emotionally charged day, we were able to see the extent of the Nazi’s attempts to exterminate every single member of a people. We would say that the phrase ‘you have to see it to believe it’ applies to Auschwitz to some extent. Visiting these sites demonstrates the sheer scale of the Holocaust and forces you to confront what happened head on, as it is very easy for the human mind to subconsciously push away such monstrous displays of destruction. There is a certain shock value that comes with being there in real life and there is much that is hard to explain; we both agreed that one thing that is impossible to put into words is just how big the camps are. However, much of the information that we learnt through discussions and reading during the seminars and the trip has equal value to visiting itself. We hope that this article can at least give you somewhat of an idea of what it was like and how, if presented with the chance, we think it is an incredibly worthwhile trip to take.
Before our visit to Poland we had varied expectations. It’s difficult to predict how one will feel visiting the site of a genocide and you don’t know how you will react. We knew it would be a packed day, flying out at 4am and arriving back incredibly late at night that same day, visiting the site of the Great Synagogue in Oświęcim, Auschwitz I, and Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The first site we visited was the town of Oświęcim (more commonly known as its germanised name Auschwitz) which is the closest town to the camps, and it gave us a sense of Jewish life before and after the Holocaust. Before the war, the town had a huge Jewish community that made up 58% of the population with a Great Synagogue built that seated 1,000 people and was the heart of the town for the Jewish people that lived there. The rabbi travelling with us told us that this synagogue was brutally burnt down by the German forces and almost all the Jews removed from the town. It was shocking to us to find out that there are now no Jews living in the town. It really demonstrated to us impact that the Holocaust had and to see that the site that was once the Great Synagogue was now simply a patch of grass was heart-breaking.
We then moved to Auschwitz I. We walked under the infamous gates with the words ‘Arbeit Mach Frei’ (‘Work Will Set You Free’) towering over us and into the camp with our tour guide. We then toured the blocks that had exhibitions in them, walking through rooms filled with shoes, suitcases, pots and pans, shoe polish bottles, combs, canisters of Zyklon B that was used to kill millions, and even a room full of human hair. It is strange, you think you will break down in tears at such masses of items, and it takes a lot to force yourself to remember that these belonged to real people and even children. However, looking around us, we felt more of a numbness both in ourselves and in the people in our group. We imagine this is due to the human brain being somewhat unable to comprehend the prospect of so much death, but it brings with it a haunting feeling. Mostly, our entire group stood in utter silence, eyes scanning what was before us, with the constant reminder that each shoe, each bag, each pot of shoe polish, had a life behind it. A key concept that the LFA course kept at the forefront of our minds was this individuality. Focussing solely on the incomprehensible statistic of 6 million prevents us from understanding the Holocaust in its entirety. We were led into a room which held a book and told that it contained roughly 4 million names of people murdered in the Holocaust, their date of birth, and the date they were killed. Held up on multiple stands with the pages pressed into each other, the book spanned almost the entire length of the room; we were told there were more being added each year.
Auschwitz-Birkenau was the final stop on our journey. The train tracks leading under what are commonly known as ‘the gates of death’ seemed to go on forever. Once inside, you could not see from one end to the other – it seemed never ending. The Russian army destroyed some of the wooden barracks on the right side of the camp in order to control the spread of disease upon liberation, but the chimneys had been rebuilt in order to maintain the demonstration of the number of barracks that were really there. There are no exact figures of those who died at Birkenau, though it is estimated to be around 1.1 million. As the hours went by, it got darker rapidly and this darkness seemed to settle over us as we walked over the ruins of Crematoria II and III. Finally, we walked the path that so many walked all those years ago through the registration rooms, most of which looked like a cattle farm. They would have their heads shaved, showers, uniforms given, a number on their arm, and then be put to work.
The question of conserving such sites is still a highly controversial topic and, unfortunately, there are still some people out there who deny that the Holocaust ever happened. 5% of the UK deny the Holocaust ever happened and 1 in 12 believe that the extent has been exaggerated. We feel that the preservation of these places therefore is crucial to remember what happened. As the 75th anniversary of the Holocaust has just passed, we are reminded of the phrase ‘Never Forget’ that survivors plead year in year out. The Rwanda Genocide of 1994 and the Xinjiang re-education camps in China that exist today bring into question whether this phrase is simply decorative. Therefore, we firmly believe that passing on the information we learnt is necessary in every way to ensure the permanency of the message and warning that remembering the Holocaust brings. The Lessons from Auschwitz experience has taught us both so much and we encourage students in the coming years to embark on this trip as it is incredibly worthwhile. Taking the time to recognise the lives of all those involved, the modern-day relevance and impact, and trying to prevent something like this from happening again in any shape or form by passing on this information has been invaluable to us. There is no straightforward way to address the site of a genocide, but we are grateful for the opportunity the Holocaust Educational Trust has given us to develop our understanding of it.
Sophia T and Ella M, Year 12
On Saturday and Sunday 14th/15th December, delegates from AGGS, representing the states of Brazil, Nigeria and Poland made their way over to Manchester Grammar School in order to enjoy a ‘fruitful’ debate at MGSMUN2019.
As always our school performed brilliantly in an incredibly high standard of debate. MGSMUN, as always, tends to be the first conference that new year nine delegates take part in and this year surely held up to this tradition. The conference welcomed new delegates warmly and supported them with help when they needed it. Some of our new delegates went on to win some prestigious awards; namely Shloka who won a “Highly Commended” award at her first conference! (Although she deserved to win the outstanding delegate).
Debate in committee was fruitful as ever and all delegates participated and enjoyed debate. In the Science Technology & Media committee AGGS delegates formed alliances with other delegates, even with delegates from Altrincham Boys! MUN is a brilliant opportunity to meet other people who share similar interests as you. Youth committee was rather interesting with countries such as Brazil being renamed to “Boomer-Brazil”. Debate in the health committee was very professional thanks to the chairs. In Security Council, debate was as lively as usual, with the P5 being enemies of the UN as expected. Historical council maintained their prestigiously high standard of debate as always.
Joint committee was exhilarating, our delegation of Brazil was able to pass a rather interesting clause about the hunger games! Delegates from AGGS took the floor countless times and spoke thoughtfully and eloquently. New delegates spoke well in joint committee and were constantly engaged in debate and participated throughout. Personally, I find it rather nerve racking to speak in front of hundreds of people in joint committees and yet I and many other AGGS delegates overcame our fears and spoke passionately.
After committee and joint committee sessions, we came together for the closing ceremony and the announcements of the awards. Our school were delighted to receive many awards, as follows:
- Gowri (Brazil-Science Technology & Media) – Special Mention
- Katie (Poland-Security Council)- Highly Commended
- Lauren (Poland-Historical)- Best Young Delegate
- Shloka (Nigeria-Youth)- Highly Commended
- Hedye (Brazil-Politics- Highly Commended
- Teeba (Poland-Youth)- Special Mention
- Ruth (Brazil-Youth)- Commended
We are overwhelmed by the amount of awards we were able to win. We cannot wait for are next conference, see you next time for even more ‘fruitful’ debate!
Written by Gowri
A lot of people assume RS is just a study of a few different religions, maybe the differences between them or the practises which may be involved in them. In actuality, it’s far from this. RS is about understanding everything from human nature, to how we should live our lives, to how and why the universe was created. It answers all the big questions, tying them together with both religious and secular ideas. A big part of this is ethics and philosophy. I think the best part of philosophy is how everything flows together, meaning you can jump between ideas and link them together, using them to answer part of a bigger picture or to focus on a finer detail; another thing is how easily and frequently it applies to everyday life. Every time you make a decision, it can be regarded as morally right or wrong, and which one of these it is classed as is down to philosophy.
However, just because this subject covers such large and important questions, finding out about it doesn’t have to be so daunting. There have been many great books about philosophy and RS, and a large portion of these are actually fiction.
One such book which is particularly enjoyable, as well as being approachable, is ‘Sophie’s World’ by Jostein Gaarder. This book follows the story of 14-year-old Sophie Amundsen, and a philosopher, Alberto Knox, who’s mission is to teach Sophie about the history of philosophy. This book is great for understanding the development of philosophical ideas over the course of history, and also has an enticing, yet philosophical, plot.
Another similar read is ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ series, a four-book series by Douglas Adams. These books combine science, mathematics, technology and philosophy into an incredible yet informative story about a man called Arthur Dent, who is caught up in a complex series of events and a bizarre journey through the universe.
One of my favourite philosophical fiction books is one I read recently from the school library, called “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery. It tells the unique story of three very different people from very different backgrounds: the middle-aged concierge of a large apartment building, Renée; a twelve-year-old girl, who lives in the building, called Paloma, and a resident who newly moves in, Kakuro. They all share a passion for philosophy, art, literature and culture, but for different reasons, have kept this secret. The book is a brilliant collection of Paloma’s “Profound Thoughts” and of Renée’s quest to keep her intelligence under wraps. It has both an amazing plot and an abundance of important thoughts and questions. Reading books such as these is a brilliant way to gain an understanding of philosophical questions, without necessarily having to tackle heavier non-fiction works.
The skills you learn in RS are unique to those learnt in many other subjects, because they can be applied not only to everyday life, but to other areas within school. RS teaches you about problem solving, logical thinking, and how to give clear and developed arguments to a statement or question. It allows you to be evaluative and creative. It contributes greatly to writing skills; RS is very beneficial when it comes to forming solid, persuasive answers. Debating issues in lessons is brilliant for confidence building, teamworking skills, leadership and communication. Above all, RS is an opportunity to be incredibly passionate, whether it be about an event, a belief or an ethical issue.
RS is, without a doubt, one of my favourite subjects, because there are always opportunities to get involved and to voice your thoughts, each lesson brings something new, exciting and different, introducing you to new cultures and ideas which can literally change your life – and not least because of the amazing RS teachers at our school.
There really is something to love for everyone when it comes to RS: and for many people, like me, that’s basically just all of it.
By Nishi, Year 9
For the past couple of months, the whole of year 9 have been working on a Campaign Makers project in their Citizenship lessons. This project has led them to learning about social issues in their local area, to finding a charity who are just as passionate about that issue as they are. The whole year group have become active in tackling their chosen issue, raising money for their charity, and many may continue to support the charity in the future.
Groups of a few students chose an issue, and prepared an informative and persuasive presentation about their issue and charity to show to their classes. The best group from each class were voted for by their own peers, and the winning group from each class was put through to the final, which was held on Friday 17th.
There was a very wide range of issues discussed during the final, from sexism in the streets to addiction, from mental health to gang violence.
Each group put forward an explanation of why they were passionate about their social issue, why they had chosen their charity and what they had done to help. They had chosen a variety of creative, and very successful, fundraising methods; there were car boot sales, dog walking, car washes and sponsored walks. All the presentations were incredibly creative and effective, including homemade videos, songs, dances and role plays.
After all 7 groups had presented, the judges reached a decision. The winners of the £500 prize to their chosen charity, generously donated by the PTA, were…
Grace S (9-3), Rosa H (9-4) and Amelie Q (9-2) from 9A! Their chosen charity was The Wellspring, a homelessness charity based in Stockport. They had an eye-opening presentation about the reality of homelessness, an engaging true or false quiz, and an amazingly emotive dance capturing the story of someone who was homeless for a part of their life. They also raised an amazing £200 from a car wash and cake sale for The Wellspring, as well as the £500 prize.
The whole year group really enjoyed becoming active citizens; getting involved with issues they are passionate about near them and raising money and awareness to try and make a difference. Thank you to the three judges: Mrs Ogunmyiwa; Maddie H, the AGGS charity head girl, and Sue, part of the PTA, and thank you to Miss Mitchell for organising everything and making the final run so smoothly.
Hi AGGS! In year 9 we’re doing a project called Campaign Makers, where my group and I had to choose a social issue that we were especially passionate about and also a charity that promotes the same cause.
We decided that our social issue was going to be homelessness; an issue which is most prevalent in Manchester currently, and as our charity we chose Trussell Trust, as they provide excellent help for people in difficult, unimaginable situations. This charity campaign to make sure that, one day, no one will have to turn for their help. They support a nationwide network of food banks and together they provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty.
Currently in the UK, more than 14 million people are living in poverty – including 4.5 million children. Imagine that, being a young, vulnerable person out on the streets all day, all year. The Trussell Trust support more than 1,200 food bank centres in the UK to provide a minimum of three days’ nutritionally-balanced emergency food to people who have been referred in crisis, as well as support to help people resolve the crises they face. Between April 2018 and March 2019, food banks in their network, provided a record 1.6 million food supplies to people experiencing the current homelessness crisis, a 19% increase on the previous year!
As part of the project, we were set the task of organising a social action, this means we had to be pro-active in raising awareness for our social issue in our community. So far, we have created ‘care packages’ including some essential items that a homeless person living rough may require, including toilet paper, tinned goods, hygiene products such as feminine products and wipes and much more. Now, we’ve understood how something so simple, such as these necessities, can be much more valuable and long-lasting for homeless person. Not only that, but they can also help people in crisis maintain dignity and feel human again. These care packages are now going to Trafford’s Trussell Trust Food Bank, in appreciation of the work they do for our community.
As well as making these packages, to raise awareness about our social issue, homelessness, we decided to write a blog post that would feature on the school’s Humanities blog to, hopefully, educate our fellow students on why we believe homelessness is a crisis to be dealt with today, not tomorrow…
We hope this inspires you to be more pro-active in your community and educated you more about such a significant issue, that is happening right now. If you would like to join us in demolishing homelessness for good, then you can drop off your food parcel or a non-food items to the RS department. For more information on what they are specifically looking for, you can visit their website – https://www.trusselltrust.org/
Thank you for taking your time to read this,
From students in Year 9
Eleanor H of Year 8 created a petition to get a crossing by St Margaret’s Church on the A56. Eleanor gained over 500 signatures and as a result the local council have listened to her present and then debated this issue on Wednesday 20th March 2019.
Eleanor has the backing of the local green party and is a young green member. The local Green Party launch for the May local elections saw the leader of the Green party, Jonathan Bartley, throw his support behind Eleanor’s campaign. She passionately spoke about it and he was very impressed with her campaigning skills, Eleanor is clearly a politician in the making, her achievements are amazing.
See Eleanor presenting her campaign at Trafford Town Hall on Wednesday 20th March – Minute 11:
Also – see an article about it on Atrincham Today:
To celebrate Women’s History Month, AGGS hosted a ‘Women and War’ fortnight of exciting activities and inspiring us all with the fascinating stories of some of history’s most remarkable women.
As part of the fortnight, a variety of women and their amazing stories were told in the form of documentaries. Starting the week off, Stacey Dooley’s documentary, ‘Stacey on the Frontline: Girls, Guns and Isis’, explored the stories of Yazidi women and how they were trained to fight against Isis in 2016. The Yazidi population in northern Syria were targeted by ISIS and survivors grouped together and trained to fight alongside male fighters against ISIS at the front line.
Islamic Society watched the film ‘The Breadwinner’ which follows the life of Parvana, an 11-year-old girl who lives under Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Parvana decides to dress like a boy in order to support her family and the film follows Parvana in her fight to reunite her family. This is a brilliant film of a young girl’s courage during a period of Taliban rule and the violence young girls and women faced.
A careers talk on Monday was given by Major Jill Winters about her career serving in the army within the army medical team and her deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. As a former student, her career path is fascinating and admirable and the talk was a great opportunity for those wishing to pursue a career in medicine or the armed forces.
As well as this, Mrs Lovelady held a workshop emphasising the role of women in manufacturing roles. Here are some photos of the brilliant work the Year 7 and 8s have done:
Finally, on Thursday, several members of staff were dressed up for the Women and War theme for an exciting activity for Year 7. At lunchtime, Year 7s had to walk around and find out each character’s fascinating fact and complete a form. We had our very own Queen Elizabeth I (Mrs Hulme), Boudicca (Mrs Cooke), Frida Khalo (Mrs Wells) and many other characters walking around AGGS. Here’s a few of the members of staff with their facts:
Mrs Cooke- Boudicca
When her husband died, Rome tried to take her money and land, saying women could not inherit men’s property. This didn’t go down well with this war paint covered Celtish warrior.
Q: Approximately what year did Boudicca fight against Rome to reclaim her rights at the battle of Watling Street?
Mrs Stokes- Auxiliary Territorial Services Member
ATS members wore red crosses to show they were involved in medical services such as ambulance driving and allowed them to participate as part of a voluntary service.
Q: What was unusual (by today’s standards) about most ATS ambulance drivers?
A: They had never driven a car before they drove an ambulance- few women drove cars at all.
Mrs Hughes- Modern Soldier
Fighting today all across the globe, modern day soldiers have equipment and clothing made of specialist equipment, things previous generations could have never imagined.
Q: In which year were women allowed to fight as part of the same battalion as men?
A: 1992- before that, women were part of the Women’s Royal Army Corps.
Mrs Willmott- Women’s Land Army
These women took to the fields and farms to take over the roles previously done by men and feeding the nation. A muddy job…
Q: How much were WLA paid?
A: 28 shillings per week – 10 shillings less than med doing the same job!
Women’s History Month aims to celebrate the work and strength of admirable women and their contributions to society. We hope the fortnight of activities were enjoyable and the stories told will inspire you and your future.
And here are some more questions for you to find the answers to!
Q: At what age did Joan lead the French troops against the British Army?
Q: Which Emperor of Rome did Cleopatra fight against to secure her throne?
Q: Between 1914-1919, how many British nurses served overseas?
On MUNday 4th March 2019, 6 months of hard work, planning and preparation came together in the AltyMUN 2019 conference hosted at our school. In the months upcoming to this fateful day, the Model UN team here at AGGS slaved away liaising with the participating schools; planning and filming a crisis video; writing up briefing papers for the debate and much more. It was possibly one of the most nerve-wracking days in my life, as I had the most major part in the whole organisation of the process as Secretary-General of the conference.
After school, all the chairs and delegates gathered together in the Main Hall as we waited in bated breath for all attending schools to arrive after making the final preparations. 4 schools attended (Altrincham Grammar School for Boys; Loreto Grammar School; Loreto College and St Ambrose College), each bringing 7-10 delegates. There were students from AGGS also selling snacks that were necessary for the delegates to bribe us chairs! After a short opening ceremony, the chairs took their delegates to their respective committees: Political, Disarmament and Security (DISEC), Economic and Social (EcoSoc); Environment and Human Rights.
Our committee was intense from the very beginning. We only got around 10 minutes into debate and I could have sworn there had been around 20 Points of Order, with delegates blatantly flouting parliamentary procedure, much to the disappointment of us chairs. However, we were pleased once fed with bribes of cookies from Venezuela! Venezuela also blessed the committee with comedic sound effects when needed. After forcing the delegate France to do a rendition of Dancing Queen by ABBA, we continued our debate on Western Intervention, passing a resolution with the acronym CHINESETAIPEI. In the end we awarded Commended Delegate to Venezuela; Highly Commended to USA and Outstanding to China. The standard of debate was incredibly high and the two of us are extremely pleased to say everyone in the committee spoke at least once!
Safa (Year 12)
Our committee began with the breaking of bread from France- literally, as he brought in a whole baguette and shared it between chairs and delegates respectively. We debated our first clause while simultaneously voting for who we thought were best for the joke awards- which later led to some discontent from dr Congo, who was unfortunately voted the ‘do nothing candidate’. After numerous points of order from Venezuela and the dream team of UK and Saudi Arabia powering through every single interruption, the session came to an end with USA winning the Outstanding Award; Venezuela winning Highly Commended and Australia winning Commended. It was highly enjoyable for all as by the end, all delegates got involved and had something to say.
Sanaa (Year 12)
We started the debate with an ice breaker (even though we were told not to) right from the start it was obvious that the debate was going to be comedic and full of personality. The ice breaker truly allowed for us to get to know each other and for us to get more comfortable with each other. Soon after, many bribes were handed to the chairs from almost every delegate. Then, the debating began, right from the start dozens of points of order were called and all speakers spoke with passion and character. After some more humorous comments from the USA in regards to climate change, we continued to the voting procedure, although our resolution did not pass, there were many amendments that were added. In the end, we awarded Commended delegate to USA; Highly Commended to Saudi Arabia and Outstanding to Dr Congo. Debating was that of an extremely high standard and every single delegate contributed to the debate!
Gowri (Year 9)
Economic and Social:
In the Ecosoc committee, we received clauses from several delegates, where we were debating ‘the issue of economic sanctions on vulnerable populations.’ One of which from China who almost every time he spoke, had to be asked to make their closing remarks. Many delegates spoke very well when taking the floor, responding and giving points of information – some of which from other delegates still had to be asked to come to their closing remarks! The delegate from France had brought in a cake with a familiar face on the front, as it was their birthday, and we were shocked to find he didn’t want to bribe the chairs with it. In the end we awarded Commended delegate to China, Highly Commended Delegate to Russia and Outstanding Delegate to Venezuela. The debate become quite heated between the delegates and even though not everyone spoke, everyone was very engaged!
Emily (Year 11)
Disarmament and Security:
DISEC committee was debating the weaponisation of big data (the analysis of statistics of the public) and saw such recommendations as requesting individual governments to use big data analytics to predict and prevent future terrorist attacks in their own countries from Russia and calling for China to withdraw it’s social credit system (a system already in place in areas in China which gives citizens a credit number according to big data analytics of all their public and private data) from UK. It was argued on many fronts that big data analytics, and the Social Credit System in particular, violate the basic human right to privacy. Others insisted that safety and order should come first. Despite all this fruitful debate, the only amendment actually passed was Venezuela’s command that all countries implement China’s Social Credit System as soon as possible because, like a post apocalyptic, teenage dystopian, it would be “cool”. By the end, the awards given in DISEC were: Commended to Venezuela and China; Highly Commended to France and Outstanding to UK.
Lucy (Year 10)
When committees ended, all delegates and chairs reconvened in the Main Hall to debate the crisis in General Assembly, which proved to be a chaotic affair as the projectors weren’t working for a good 10 minutes, which we regarded as the real crisis. However, Mr Copestake came to the rescue (we’d like to award him the joke award of delegate’s delegate) and we managed to get some debate going. We debated a range of clauses submitted from member states, including the acronym ONEPEOPLEONECHINA. We gave Australia Commended Delegation; Highly Commended Delegation to Venezuela and Outstanding Delegation to China, with each Chinese delegate receiving a special AltyMUN 2019 keyring.
As Secretary-General, I brought AltyMUN 2019 to a close with a closing speech, where I reflected on my first MUN conference 3 years ago and encouraged all delegates to have the confidence to speak out in MUN. I thanked all delegates for coming and the AGGS MUN team for making the conference happen. We thanked our advisors Miss Mitchell and Mr Humphrys for their invaluable help in the conference and gifted them with flowers. AltyMUN 2019 ended when I hit the gong and it fell over in an iconic moment that led to a standing ovation from the floor. Then, Bella and Beth in Year 13 spoke and I was delighted, surprised and incredibly emotional to be gifted flowers and a card from the MUN team for organising the conference. Everyone at AGGS worked incredibly hard to make the conference happen and I am happy to say that it was a huge success.
“I now declare AltyMUN 2019 closed!”
Safa Al-Azami Year 12