12 July 2018

Guys and Dolls

The show ran over three evenings and one matinee, delighting audiences with heartfelt storytelling and high-octane song and dance numbers.

Set in the gambling world of New York, the show followed the adventures of high-roller Sky Masterson, who falls in love with mission worker Sarah Brown; gambler Nathan Detroit in his ongoing quest to find a safe place for his famous crap game; and his fiancée of fourteen years, Miss Adelaide, in her pursuit to convince him to marry her. Students impressed with rollicking performances of “Luck Be a Lady”, “Guys and Dolls” and “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat”.

Principal Stephen Carville said: “It was a brilliant show! Our students and colleagues did an amazing job and I am awestruck by the talent and commitment of the cast and crew. It was truly a production of West End standards.”

The annual College Production is one of the many enrichment activities available to students at Peter Symonds College, who sign up to take part at the start of the academic year and rehearse until the summer, including through exam periods.

Peter Hedley, Director and Musical Director for the production, commented, “We have a hugely talented group of singers, actors, dancers and musicians at the college and it is always a delight to bring them together to showcase their abilities and give them the opportunity to perform to the public. The show was a great success and I’d like to thank everyone involved for all their hard work.”

Credits:

Based on a story and characters of Damon Runyon. Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser. Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows.

This amateur production is presented by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe). All authorised performance materials are also supplied by MTI Europe: www.mtishows.co.uk

11 June 2018

Symonds Students Set to Cure Anything

A total of 52 students have been offered places to study medicine, six students have places to study dentistry and six students have been offered places to study veterinary medicine.

Principal Stephen Carville says, "Places on courses such as medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine are notoriously difficult to obtain and so I am thrilled that the hard work and dedication of these students has paid off. With approximately 5000 medics starting in the UK every year a staggering 1% of all new trainee doctors nationally went to Peter Symonds College.”

Biology teacher Julian Foster said “These students have done exceedingly well. Their diligence and motivation has carried them through an extremely rigorous selection process with a demanding set of entry requirements and we wish them every success with their future studies.”

12 June 2018

National Recognition for our Student Support Services

Mindful of the increasing volume of students suffering with mental health difficulties, Peter Symonds set up a support service for students in 2016 called the Hub. This provides mental health and wellbeing support for all sixth form students at the College, with the goal to support students to develop resilience and independent strategies to manage low-level difficulties such as low mood, anxiety, stress and low self-esteem.

The Hub co-ordinates a four-pronged approach comprising of daily drop-in sessions; one-to-one sessions with the Mental Health Advisor; groups, workshops and activities, including student mentoring and visits from a therapy dog; and information and resources for students and staff.

Julia Tucker, Deputy Principal for Students, said “It’s a great achievement for our team to be shortlisted for the student support award by the SFCA recognising their hard work in supporting our students. Since its establishment in 2016 the Hub has proved an invaluable source of support to our students and the team work tirelessly to ensure every student receives the support they need to manage their difficulties, improve their mental well-being and reach their full potential.”

11 June 2018

Peter Symonds Principal Stephen Carville Celebrated at Number 10

Mr Carville met with the Secretary for State for Education, Damian Hinds; Anne Milton, Minister of State for Skills and Nick Gibb, Minister of State for Schools. Prime Minister Teresa May gave a speech at the event on the importance of education and praised the devotion and commitment of teachers.

Speaking after the reception, Mr Carville said “It’s a great honour to celebrate the outstanding work of the nation’s teachers. Despite leading one of the biggest and most successful sixth form colleges in the country I still see myself first and foremost as a teacher. I am delighted that the Prime Minister recognises the vital role that teachers play.”

11 June 2018

Local Author Shares Her Secrets with Peter Symonds Students

The competition was open to entrants from across the college. First places went to two writers whose stories impressed every judge with their control and originality: Katie Bennett for ‘The Incinerator’, a story about an everyday job in a recycling centre which soon takes a dystopian twist, and Elsbeth Goodwright for her untitled piece on 9/11, a poignant story of an office worker in her final moments.

Second place was awarded to Ollie Redwood Mears for ‘A Bathtub of Cooking Oil,’ about a marriage which literally ends in flames, and Serena Watkins with ‘A Bright Spark,’ a dark story which takes a chilling twist for the heroine capable of independent thought.

Michael Rudling with ‘Aiden,’ detailing the daydreams of a fiery student, and Madeline Donnelly with ‘The Heart of the Flames,’ a lyric narrative describing a frenzy of pyromaniac violence, were awarded third place.

After the prizegiving Claire Fuller, winner of the 2015 Desmond Elliott Prize for her debut novel 'Our Endless Numbered Days,’ gave a short talk with advice for the aspiring writers based on her own experience. Commenting afterwards on the students’ work Claire said “I thought they were really creative and unusual stories, and all extremely interesting.”

The Creative Writing Competition was organised by teacher Isobel Simons and generously supported by The Symondians Association, which provides a focus for ex-pupils and staff, and support and sponsorship for events and departmental initiatives throughout the College.

Isobel Simons, Head of English Language and Literature at Peter Symonds, said, “Many students from across the College entered the competition and it was absolutely brilliant to see such enthusiasm alongside a very high standard of writing. It's great to see so many young people writing for pleasure despite having such busy lives. Interestingly, of our two winners, Elsbeth is an English Language and Literature student and is planning to do a creative writing degree, whilst Katie is a mathematician and scientist who plans to study robotic engineering. The English department at Peter Symonds is very supportive of creative extracurricular activities and we host and promote lots of competitions and events to give our students as many opportunities as possible whilst they are here.”

Winning Entries

The Incinerator, by Katie Bennett

I didn’t think I would ever turn out like this when I was a young man. I always thought that I was going to save the world or at least be some sort of hero. I was never going to be a scientist finding a cure for the earth or a politician seeking to solve shortages so when the regime offered me a chance to do something I took it. And I truly thought that working at the recycling plant would give me the opportunity. The labour may have been menial and I was never going to be rich but I was proud and to do it at the start.

When I started working there everything was just as expected; except for the incinerator. Before we’d always been told that burning rubbish was bad and doing it damaged the environment, and that instead we should always attempt to recycle whatever we didn’t want. So I felt cheated when I found out all they did with our rubbish was burn it by throwing it into the incinerator. My superior told me that the incinerator made power, even after fuel was no longer available.

For all my negativity about the plant, the first few years working there weren’t too bad, just not as heroic as I imagined. It was just dull. Day after day, we spent our time sorting what we received. The only part of my day that was slightly interesting was when I got to throw the rubbish into the fire. I loved the way it reminded me of flesh-eating monsters from story-books. It even smelled foul, like death.

Unfortunately the monotony of this time passed, and the rubbish we received grew to be more interesting. Amongst the usual scraps, were objects I couldn’t fathom being given away. There were things like photographs, ornaments, even toys. They were loved things and loved things were never thrown in the incinerator. Once I even saw a teddy bear, its fur faded grey and its arm half ripped off. That was the first time I had ever felt doubts, though I squashed it. I believed in the regime and that it would protect me, even as conditions worsened.

Tension among my co-workers grew. They didn’t like throwing items away that were clearly needed. When one of my friends expressed his dissatisfaction to our superiors, he was just told that anything he was given should be thrown into the incinerator, without question. I don’t remember that co-worker ever coming back into work after that. At the time, I disagreed with him. After all, they were going to be used to keep the power on.

Shortly after, the books started arriving. To begin with it was only a small number, though it wasn’t long before there was abundance. This time no one questioned our superiors. I had never been a reader so I didn’t really care when I threw them to the flames. What did surprise me was how many of them there were. Some were so old that they were unreadable anyway, falling apart at the spine.

Eventually men came to our homes and asked for our books. It didn’t occur to me then that I should fight it.

For a long time after, things remained much the same within the recycling centre, even as life outside began to deteriorate. We continued to burn what they gave us and they continued to protect us.

Then everything changed. One day a woman dressed in official uniform came to the plant. She told us that they were planning to close the majority of the facility and would only be keeping workers loyal to the regime.

At the time I thought I was fortunate, being chosen to stay on. I was so glad that I had never questioned and now I was being rewarded. I barely gave a thought for anyone else leaving the security of the factory.

Those of us left expected things to continue as normal. The usual the lorry drove up to the plant, and workers brought the rubbish inside.

I didn’t notice at first, as I would never have guessed. Even when I looked at them, it still took me a moment to register what I was seeing. I thought it was fake until the smell confirmed it for me: human bodies, stained red. There was rarely a torso that didn’t have multiple gun wounds, though I didn’t spend a long time searching.

After all those years working in the recycling centre, my responsibilities had not changed. I was still my job to take the rubbish to the incinerator. I had to pick them up. I had to carry them to the incinerator. I had to throw the rubbish inside, to be burnt and eaten by the heat.

It was jarring realising that I had never been the hero I imagined. I had been the villain, feeding the monster.

Untitled, by Elsbeth Goodwright

She touched the wall, a split-second refuge, spinning her head. Her breath was far behind catching up with her. It was not the contorting roar of orange that pressed fear deep inside her stomach, but rather the rapidity with which it spread. The smoke billowed in every corner of the room for as far as she could see, threatening to seep inside her lungs. She was not a fast runner, she often admitted, but she reminded herself that she knew this place. Or, at least, she did before the plane hit. Everything now appeared to be rubble, dust, or melting metal framework. It was not something she had ever considered witnessing, let alone experiencing.

She took a chance, and crawled towards the pristine glass lifts so as to avoid the thick cloud of grey above; they shattered upon her arrival, the force of the flames firing glass shards in her wake. She had already dashed to the next refuge spot - a window. She threw it open, gulping in the fresh air as if her life depended on it, realising that her life really did depend on it. She tried to think logically; the smashing of the lifts had eliminated one of her three methods of escape. Despite being on the 61st floor, she had felt the impact. The shockwaves. The crash had been an accident, she had concluded, merely a miscalculation of air space.

She surveyed the scene below her, and the screeching sirens of the police and fire departments met her ears. The sound seemed almost melodic; there was some hope of escape. The magnitude of events caught up with her, however, and it was at that point that panic overcame her, racing through every nerve, every heartbeat. Her breath quickened despite not having run anywhere, adrenaline pumping through her veins as if it were oxygen.

The worst part of it all was the noise; most prominently was the crackling of scalding flames, roaring behind her, however the echoes reaching her beneath this were the screams of her colleagues. The pleas for help. The hysterical crying. The wheezing, suffocating breath. She turned to her right, for a cry for help had seemed particularly loud, and realised her boss was also leaning out of a window. He had tears streaking down his face, just as she did. He had annoyed her only half an hour ago, for he had not offered her the promotion she so desperately wanted. That annoyance now seemed extremely irrelevant. Petty. She stretched out her hand to him. She did not know why. It just seemed like the right thing to do. To be united in the face of disaster.

A sudden, dull, deafening rumble caused her to swing her hand back to the metal framework she was holding on to, breaking the clasp of hands with her boss. She let out a piercing scream. Looking out upon the unaffected horizon, she realised her height, and the building’s height, had dropped. The ground seemed closer than before, and there was seemingly no hope for escape now. There were no police sirens anymore. She began to say her mental goodbyes, hoping that her husband, parents, brother and sister would somehow know she was thinking of them. That somehow, the beating of her heart might ring in their ears, and they would know, too, that a mental goodbye would have to suffice. Remembering how normal the horizon had looked, she gazed out again, as if trying to convince herself that she was safe. Cloudless blue skies stretched over southern Manhattan, and for a second, she was safe. The congregation of buildings beneath her looked just as inspiring as they did half an hour ago. A scream plunged her back to reality, for someone had jumped to safety. Although, she thought, more likely their unplanned suicide.

Amidst the noise, the smoke, the uneasiness of breathing, she reflected upon how if she hadn’t sprinted for the subway, if she hadn’t skipped breakfast just to arrive early for work, if she had stopped to talk to her neighbour who was crying this morning, she wouldn’t be here. She wouldn’t be in this predicament. Fate has a funny way of working, she thought. There was a reason why she was here. In a burning building with only a shred of hope remaining. She felt so far away from everything.

The fire raging behind her seemed to intensify faster than she could process, and suddenly it seemed as if even the open window wasn’t a refuge anymore. She longed to be safe, to feel as if she could survive this. The whole building shuddered, shook, shattered. The flames licking her legs caused her to shriek in pain; she edged closer to the window, but found she could not risk going much further. It seemed quite fitting, she thought, that a disaster like this would push her to the edge. To the edge of her life. She had already seen Cathy from the 77th floor jump, as well as several unidentified faces. She wondered if what awaited them at ground zero was better than this. It had to be better than this.

17 May 2018

Celebrating A Fantastic Year of Sporting Success

The guest speaker was Simon Hazlitt, a British former field hockey player who competed in the 1996 Summer Olympics, has represented England in hockey 125 times, and coached the Peter Symonds Men’s Hockey Team to victory in both the AoC Cup and the AoC National Championships.

Award winners included Kate Wiseman as Sportswoman of the Year for her efforts in Women’s Hockey and Jon Page, Sportsman of the Year in Men’s Rugby.

The Mike Conlan Bursary of £1500 was awarded to Alice Monaghan, a talented cricket player who is playing in the England Women’s Senior Academy, recently playing for England in the EWSA tri series tour in South Africa.

Team of the Year was awarded to Men’s Hockey for delivering outstanding performances and sweeping up nearly every trophy available this year, including Gold at the AoC National Championships, the Hampshire Cup, the AoC Knock Out Cup and reaching the Quarter Finals in the National Schools.

Coach of the Year went to Mike Marchant, coach for the Men's and Women's Rugby Teams. Recent successes saw his teams bring home the Wren Cup, Hampshire Under 18’s Cup and the honourable 4th place at the AoC National Championships.

Event organiser Kirsty Fargher said “Sport is a key part of college life at Peter Symonds and the Sports Awards are a great way to celebrate the achievements of our teams, individual competitors, coaches and support staff. We are lucky to have a great number of talented young sports men and women and to be able to offer them the opportunities and facilities to enjoy competitive sport at a high level alongside their academic studies.”

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