Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

I hope your week is going smoothly – feels like anything is good compared to the misery and suffering the people of Ukraine are enduring. Last week, the history department created an informative presentation on the background to the Ukraine War and the key players to help students understand the situation and they were also given tips on how to avoid misinformation. Please do ask your daughter/son about the presentation – I hope they remembered some of it – it was very clear. We talk often about fundamental British values in school and this current crisis really does make us reflect and be grateful for our freedom, democracy, rule of law, tolerance, and respect – that we take for granted. Some of our humanities and PSHE staff are putting together a Thought for The Week on these values for form tutors to share with students.

Last week the drama and music department entertained many members of the Holt community with the Bugsy Malone performance, with over 500 people coming to watch over the four nights. It was great to see parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, siblings, staff, governors but also friendship groups on a night out to support the cast and to have fun!

Miss Edwards, Head of Drama wrote the following

As the Bugsy Malone musical comes to a close, it has given me time to reflect on why it is so important to have music/drama productions at The Holt. The production itself has been an eight-month journey in which staff and students have devoted their time and energy to.
A school production is an excellent vehicle in which we can educate our students in performing, directing and design. We can show them how a theatre company works from blocking scenes to producing a well slicked production. We are also able to train students in sound and lighting, set and costume design, as well as being part of a band, working as front of house and backstage roles, giving our students practical experiences of theatre careers.
It has been two years since our last Holt musical production and in that time, due to covid lockdowns and restrictions, students have missed out on so much. Not only have students missed out on their education but they have also missed out on being part of The Holt community. This has been most evident during the Bugsy Malone rehearsals. Throughout the process students from all year groups have supported each other in learning lines, blocking scenes, and choreographing dance numbers. These experiences have enabled students to build friendships across all years.
Not only have students experienced a real sense of community, but students have also been given the tools to develop character traits such as stoicism, humility, resilience and confidence during rehearsals, helping students to develop into well rounded individuals.
It has been a joy to see some of the Year 10 and Year 11 leading vocal warm ups on the show nights, Blousey (Holly McKinnon) teaching the other students some of the singing warm ups she knows, and then passing on to Fat Sam (Lily Lewis) to take the cast through some challenging tongue twisters in order to be able to deliver their lines on stage with flair and articulation, and then on to Knuckles (Emilie Hancock) to work on their projection with Emilie comically shouting “LOUDER” until the cast had reached an impressive decibel level.

Last week was a truly heart-warming experience for all involved and a huge thanks to Miss Edwards, Mr Gray, Mrs Bennett, Miss Harris, Mrs Williams and Miss Stanborough for making the production happen.

Last Friday, Year 12 were off timetable period 1 to learn about interview skills from Adviza. Year 12 students Nia and Anya wrote the following

On Friday 4th March, we were given a day to learn about the importance of interviews. We had a talk from Adviza which was helpful in building up our aspirations for life beyond sixth form and informing us of what employers and universities look for in candidates. During the talk in the morning, we were given very helpful tips and advice on how to complete interviews successfully. After the talk, each student had a short 15-minute private interview with an employer, so that we could get experience an interview setting. They gave us tips and helped boost our confidence in our interview abilities. After the interview, we were given feedback to help us improve our interview technique, from giving stronger handshakes, making direct eye contact with the person we were talking to and making sure we confidently speak about our strengths and experiences. These skills will be helpful to us for the rest of our lives, so we are very grateful to the school for providing this experience to us.

Thank you to Mrs Hart, Miss Ward, Mrs Thomas and Mrs Calliss for organising the day and to Adviza and the twelve interviewers who gave up time from their busy jobs to interview the students. It was an intense day but worthwhile for sure.

Year 7 celebrated World Book Day last Thursday with creativity and energy. During their English lessons students gained tips from famous authors on how to create plots, develop characters and write within their chosen genre. They listened to tips from illustrators on what brings plots and characters alive. Students presented their favourite books to their peers, and they also delved back into memories of their younger years to see what they remembered of their experience of books at various stages of their lives…before nursery, nursery, primary school, and then finally secondary school. Thanks to Ms Mirza for leading the day and for delivering World Book Day assemblies all week which focused on how technology has enhanced our reading….with kindles, apps to borrow books and online dictionaries.

Last Thursday Miss Cardy took the U13 girls hockey team to the Berkshire Schools Hockey Tournament at Reading Hockey Club. The girls progressed so much throughout the day, playing some very hard teams (we were the only non-private school in the tournament!). The girls secured 3rd in the plate competition which they were very pleased with. Well done and thanks to Miss Cardy for organising the event.

Finally, well done to Year 13 for finishing their final PPEs before their actual A levels – they now need to take on board the feedback and pace themselves for May/June. Good luck to Year 11 who have another round of PPEs starting this week in maths, English and Science, again the last ones before they take their actual GCSEs in the summer.

Best Wishes
Anne Kennedy