It was cold and dark outside but inside our 7 storey school Christmas lights twinkled, corks popped, galactic cocktails were created and the atmosphere was warm.
The evening was set up to mimic an exhibition whereby people could come and go at their leisure, browsing our 7 floors, chatting to teachers, students, and other parents in an informal atmosphere. Well over 100 guests joined and entry was by COVID certificate only (2G). A small Christmas tree, music, snacks and warm drinks provided comfort to our two groups of students who manned the entrance with effectiveness, politeness and fortitude.
Start at floor 6: winter wonderland, balloon launch into space and galactic cocktails
Most people started on our 6th floor which had been tastefully decorated with twinkling Christmas wreaths, fairly lights and candles. Our Christmas tree decked in gold and red baubles stood close to our gardening clubs’ vision board alongside rich soil, seedlings and lavishly decorated wreaths. Small tables were decked with crisp white tablecloths, some with bottle light Christmas decorations. For the more courageous we provided a dry outdoor seating area on our balconies where guests could sit in the fresh night air with views across the rooftops and church spires of the city.
People could wander at their leisure into the auditorium where our STEAM club had some interesting and creative ideas to help raise money for their balloon launch into space. One stand hosted their raffle where the big prizes (3 nights in a North Yorkshire cottage, and language school vouchers worth 300CHF) were snapped up as were other attractive prizes consisting of wine, chocolate and tuition offered by our subject teachers. The second stand was a festive bar selling alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Beneath a blazing log fire projected to the wall, lit by pink flamingos and tealights our STEAM bartenders Sidd and George did a roaring trade with their galactic cocktails. Dressed to the nines in suits the boys were busy all night with visitors keen to taste their space-themed creations. The STEAM team successfully raised over 500CHF that evening and are very close to their target of 700CHF so that they can proceed with the next step of their ambitious project.
To the far right of the auditorium one could find tables with huge maps, compasses, and other information. This was the Duke of Edinburgh Award (D of E) information stand headed by teacher Aoife Milford and student Sophia Wigmore. Visitors could find out much more about what our students are doing for their D of E bronze and silver awards. Where they are going, why they are going and important for planning when they are going.
Top floor 7: Art & Design studio, interactive Art display and wellbeing
The evening was designed as an event where parents, students, teachers, and those interested in our school could connect. Our 7th floor, hidden away in the roof, is home to our Art and Design studio and senior student common room. German teacher Nicole Coulibaly who is a qualified wellbeing coach provided an interesting, calm and candle lit space where guests could take quizzes, pick out motivational slogans as well as find out more about mindfulness and mental health. We heard this space was as popular with parents as it was with students. Adjacent to Nicole our Art lead Christine Berger encouraged guests to participate in an interactive Art display
Floor 4: Deep dive into Art across curriculum
Floor 4 saw a flurry of visitors beneath the Modern Foreign Language ‘growth mindset’ tree where students’ growth mindset slogans in French, German and English fluttered from real tree branches.
A rich, deep and at times provocative display from our Historians showcased their Artwork and interpretation of growth as seen in the trenches at Hartmannswillerkopf and the wider context of the first World War. While some exceptionally creative pieces from our Advanced level historians depicted censorship through Art and examined how the dada art movement reflected cultural changes in the Weimer republic. Meanwhile, our geographers had taken the theme of growth in relation to population growth using both paper and 3D images to represent population growth in a variety of countries. Our German A level students examined growth through successful migration stories with some very inventive Artwork employing layering of text, images and dimensions whereas our English students decided to use an entirely different genre (film) to depict the horrors of life in the trenches using perspective, voice and descriptive writing. In a haunting, high-quality movie, students read out their descriptive monologues from the perspective of a young solider in the trenches and his fiancée back home. These movies took many hours to cut and edit and recognition must be given to student Isamar Omland who led this process.
Floor 3: atomic model, brain analysis and wavelengths of light vs. vertical gardening, life cycles and tolerance poems
Floor 3 is where our Science labs can be found. Chemistry A level developed their research skills deepening their understanding of the scientific process and how it relates to learning by focusing on the development of the atomic model. Whereas A level Psychology focussed on the development of the brain where students analysed evidence provided from scans of brains in various stages of development and then compared these findings to theories by leading developmental psychologists such as Piaget and Vygotsky. The psychology reports were accompanied by exceptionally high-level pencil sketch work from student Mia Jost. On the same floor the A level Biology exhibit investigated different wavelengths of light and its impact on photosynthesis.
Gardening club, STEAM and Double Science embarked on a joint project looking at Tropisms and plant propagation. The focus was on the growth of plants in response to light gravity and touch and the resulting exhibition was a delightfully attractive set of vertical gardens. Growing crops vertically is a very topical theme as society looks to improve air quality in crowded inner cities and attract wildlife back to urban zones. This also linked to asexual reproduction in plants which was another practical experiment biologists did. Biology teacher Carol Tye created a design competition between Science, Gardening club and STEAM. Students Louisa Hoffer and Alessia Dotti won the science design recognition for their vertical garden. Interestingly, the logo on the STEAM club vertical garden is ASSA which is a play on NASA – ASSA stands for Aeronautical and Science Students Academia.
Lifecycles was another joint project between YR 1 IGCSE Double Science and Maths classes. In biology students learned about life cycles (plant and animal) and in Maths they were taught the equation for calculating % increase which they then used in calculating the % increase in growth at the different stages of the life cycle.
The English foundation class are second language speakers who grappled with some controversial and emotive topics in their exhibition under the umbrella title “The growth of tolerance”. They looked at Black Lives Matter, tolerance towards Muslims and the LBGTQI community. Whereas English literature did an analysis and visual representation of unseen poetry that spoke to the topic of growth. They worked in groups to explore their poems and question the implicit meanings in the poem. As their analysis of the poetry developed, they explored key images within the poetry and then had the freedom to create a visual expression of their poem which took many forms from collage drawing to preserving natural materials. Our Artists chose to focus on taking photo portraits and recomposing them to create Dada like compositions – this linked into the some of the History work exploring Dadasim, art and the anti-war movement. Finally our Amnesty International campaign stand proved extremely popular and we can assure you we have now posted off the 60 letters our community and visitors signed to help people in unimaginably difficult circumstances around the world.
Our open evening seemed to surpass and exceed everyone’s expectations. Following government guidelines, we were able to provide a safe environment for people to connect in an atmosphere of warmth and good cheer. Indeed, many people commented on how important that was for their own wellbeing particularly at this time of year where so much of life remains restricted. We thank each member of our community and our visitors for making this an evening of warmth and positivity.