Intermediate Maths Challenge
Equestrian Team News
Y9 Rugby Cup Winners
KS4 Catering Trip to CCN
Berlin 2019 Special Report
The Newsletter of Fakenham Academy Norfolk
Issue #4 April 2019
Dear Parents and Carers
Welcome to the fourth #bFANtastic newsletter of this academic year. Almost two thirds of the way through the year but still with many more challenges ahead! This term has been exceptionally busy and has had so many highlights that it would be hard to mention but a few:
OFSTED visiting in the first weeks of January and confirming that we are a still a ‘Good’ school, on the journey towards becoming ‘Outstanding’ was a busy yet exciting way to start the term.
There have been numerous sporting achievements throughout this term, most recently Badminton success, and only last week we saw our U14 boys win the Norfolk Bowl Championship in Rugby. We had an amazing turnout of parents, students and staff to watch our boys triumph in the final!
We have also had some students achieving individual successes in Mart Arts with two girls receiving their black belt in Tang Soo Do.
We have had a huge amount of extra-curricular trips and visits happening too - an unforgettable experience for our Sixth Form students when they went to Berlin last month and some new experiences with some of our KS3 girls off to York to take part in a national debating competition, to name but a few.
Year 11 students have now received their Mock grades and are on the final stretch towards their GCSE exams; after school revision sessions are as popular as ever and we wish them the best of luck as they start their exam season in May.
We have also seen some work to improve the quality of our building this term too (as you may have seen in February!). We now have a completely refurbished set of girls toilets outside the KS3 confab, more improvements are planned for other toilets and some extra work is planned to the outside areas of school which should give students more areas to socialise in during break and lunch times.
More and more students are now wearing the new academy blazer too. Even though they are not mandatory for current students until 2020, they are available to purchase from Birds of Dereham now, and can form part of your current uniform.
‘Student Voice’ is an incredibly important part of school, they have a say in how their school is run. If you are a student here, you can speak to me at any time whilst I am on duty, or come to my office.
We have recently also launched our parental communication app called Xpressions, which enables you to see up to date information on your son/daughter, attendance, behaviour and also allows you to quickly send and receive messages from school. You will find letters explaining how to sign up on our website and social media pages, also information regarding Xpressions can be found on the next page of our newsletter, as well as links to both Apple and Android app stores where you can download the app for your mobile devices.
As we approach this Easter break, again I would like to thank the staff and students for all their hard work. Please ensure that during this next two weeks away from school we all take the opportunity to relax, so that we might all come back refreshed for the summer term!
Fakenham Academy have launched a useful new free parent app, Groupcall Xpressions, which will allow you to view information about your children and receive messages from us directly onto your mobile phone or tablet. The app is available from your app store, and is compatible with Apple iOS and Android devices.
Once downloaded, you will see a Welcome Screen. Press OK.
Enter the email address you have registered with us in your contact details.
Enter your mobile phone number.
If you have not given us your up-to-date mobile number or email details, the process will fail at this point. Please contact our Student Records Controller, Mrs Susan Moore, on 01328 857030 (email@example.com) to update your information.
If we do hold your correct information, once you have entered your mobile phone number, you will receive a 6-digit code by text. Type this code into the app and log in.
You will be asked to set a password, which you must type in twice for security. Press ‘NEXT’.
The system will then display small icons of your children’s school photograph. Select the child you wish to view. You can see:
Timetable – displays both weeks, with the current lesson highlighted if during school time, plus the names of the staff who teach each lesson.
Attendance – overall percentage, a pie chart, statistics, graphs (there is a slight time delay between entering marks in the register and the mark displaying on the app).
Assessment/Results – we are not currently using this functionality.
Achievements/Behaviour – all Achievements and Behaviours for this academic year will be displayed. If the tab is not displaying, then there are no Achievements or Behaviours for this student yet.
Messaging – instead of receiving text messages, all messages will come through the app in a messaging stream. This is at no cost to the Academy, whereas text messages are chargeable.
Please do contact the Academy if you have any questions or technical queries.
Groupcall Xpressions Parent App
Download the App for your mobile device using the links here:
Welcome to the latest edition of the #bFANtastic newsletter. As this is our last full term as Head Boy and Head Girl, we thought it would be a good opportunity to keep you updated with what Year 11 students have been doing in the lead up to our exams. It has been a really challenging time as we get coursework completed and focus on revision. Some of us have already started our exams with English speaking and listening assessments, language orals and the Drama practical performance under our belts. Our teachers have given up their time to help us with lunchtime and after school revision sessions; Form Tutors have helped us with revision timetables; and there has been plenty of support available through assemblies reminding us to look after our physical, as well as our mental, health. Last week we received our mock exam results, which gave us a timely reminder of how much we have covered, but also the areas we still need to work on. It’s important that we all make the most of the time left at school, so that when we open our results envelopes in the summer, we can be proud of what we’ve achieved, knowing that we’ve done our best. And it’s not just Year 11’s doing all the hard work - making the most of every learning opportunity, from the very start, will make sure you’re successful at every stage.
We are nearing the end of our last year here at Fakenham and I believe this is the appropriate time to reflect on the achievements that have taken place, exams that are near approaching and exciting events that we are all looking forward to. It's funny to think that for the Year 11’s, we have spent nearly 5 years with one another and very soon everyone will be leaving the school to move on to the next chapter of their lives, wherever this may be. However, first we have the dreaded but fast approaching exams which people are preparing for. The amount of time and effort that everybody is putting in will truly pay off in the end; picture how you want to feel when you open your envelope on results day-this is what will keep you motivated to achieve. These next two months are going to be extremely intense and hardcore, however we have many exciting events to look forward to like prom and the summer holidays! This will be a celebration of all the hard work and perseverance shown by so many people and is a chance to be together as a year group for one last time.
We hope that you all have a lovely Easter break.
From The Head Prefects
Follow us on Twitter: @FANINFOTECH
Over the last two weeks of the Spring 1 half-term Computer Club ran a Cryptography Escape Room competition, a follow-on from the first Cryptography Challenge last November. Students had to decipher clues using their knowledge of cryptography. This meant they had to learn how to use several cryptographic tools as they went along - with lots of help from Simon Singh’s Black Chamber! Hints and tips were available if they got really stuck! Each day a new clue was posted in the Computer Club Classroom. All the deciphered answers had to be kept and brought along to the Computer Club (the Escape Room!) on the last day.
The decrypted answers could then be used to open various boxes and baskets to retrieve keys to open more boxes and reveal the contents inside - another box and another key! Once all the boxes were open the last box contained the Final Challenge!
Students then had to go to the Library to find a specific book and a page in that book to complete the Final Challenge!
Walter and Russell (very sensibly) worked as a team to decipher the cryptography challenges and worked as a team to escape the room and solve the Final Challenge. Both boys got all the correct answers to the cryptography challenges - makes using them easier if they are correct! - and opened the boxes and found all the keys. Then they had to complete the Final Challenge. They completed the Escape Room part of the challenge in 19 minutes 30 seconds!! A super performance.
If you would like to try the Cryptography Challenge or the Escape Room challenge then all you have to do is join the Computer Club Classroom ( g0tlai ) and you’ll find both challenges listed there.
Year 12 Fakenham Sixth Form A Level Geographers completed annual coastal monitoring of the Salthouse shingle ridge on the north Norfolk coast on Monday 25th February 2019, during unseasonally warm weather. The fieldwork comprised the first of four days of A level Geography fieldwork, in order to allow students to complete their Non-Examined Assessment in the form of independent geographical investigations.
This year’s survey work showed a slight increase in the height of the shingle ridge since last year, with depletion in shingle levels further down the beach. Fieldwork completed by Fakenham College/Fakenham Sixth Form A level Geographers at this same location over the past seven years, have shown the shingle ridge not only reduce in height but also migrate inland in response to a series of significant storm surge events.
The impact of the longer term changes in this landform were further analysed through studies of flood risk along this length of coastline during fieldwork on Tuesday 26th February 2019, together with studies of the neighbouring town of Sheringham and how its interaction with the coastline has changed the character of this settlement over time. These studies were supported through a visit and presentation at Sheringham Museum.
Colin Bye FRGS, Head of Geography, Head of Humanities, Social Sciences, PE and MFL Faculty.
A Level Geographers Complete Coastal Fieldwork
FAN Students take part in Maths Challenge
On Thursday 7th February, students from Years 9 and 10 braved the annual UKMT Intermediate Maths Challenge. This is a 60 minute paper with 25 multiple choice questions. The questions are challenging and require creative thinking and use of Mathematics to solve correctly.
We had an excellent set of results this year. The best in school was Tom Flint Y10 with Dan Harrowing Y9 following closely behind. Both achieved Gold Certificates. Silver Certificates went to Toby Pollicott-Reid and Barnaby Heazel in Y9, and Max Rabone and Ashley Kelk in Y10. Then a further 10 students between both years getting a Bronze award out of a total of 55 entries in the academy.
Gold awards are given to the top 6% of entrants, Silvers to the next 13% and Bronze to the next 21% to put into perspective how well these pupils have performed.
The Maths Challenges are part of the UK Mathematics Trust (UKMT), a registered charity whose aim is to advance the education of children and young people in mathematics. The UKMT organises national mathematics competitions and other mathematical enrichment activities for 11-18 year old UK school pupils.
Debate Club Visit To York
Despite the early start (5.45 am!), the girls were keen and used the time to chat and practice their first debate motion, ‘This house would allow performance enhancing drugs to be used it sport.” The rules had changed this year so that the teams didn’t know what side of the debate they would be arguing so they practised both.
We arrived at the beautiful St Peter’s School (the third oldest in the country), just in the nick of time and got see just how many other schools were in the competition. Our team was told they would be arguing against the motion so used the 20 minutes practice time to go through their points. After being shown to their debate classroom the girls got the opportunity to watch another debate, the motion being ‘This house would allow criminal trials to be televised.’ The girls then got the chance to compete on their first debate. They all did brilliantly and it was a close run thing when the judges made their summing up. The FAN content was deemed as better but the opposing team just pipped them at the post with their delivery. I couldn’t have been prouder as the girls had worked really hard but, all being new to debating; had only really had 4 weeks to practice. It transpired that the opposing team ended up in the final so really well done FAN debaters!
The afternoon saw the FAN debaters in an impromptu round. They had to propose the motion, ‘This house believes that coursework assessed courses give a truer representation of the student than a single exam.’ The girls argued coherently despite a very lively opposition. Despite the result going to the opposing team the girls, who were significantly younger than their opposition; kept their heads and got some much needed experience arguing in a debating format. They all came out feeling that they had really achieved something and were ready to practice and take their debating skills to the next level…Watch out 2020!
Debate Club is open to all key stage 3 students every Thursday lunchtime in L46 with Mrs Dockery. Whether you would like to be a debater or prefer to be an audience member or timekeeper we welcome anyone.
Thursday 7th March saw the results of the Terry Sewell World Book Day Challenge announced.
Terry, a children's book author, and former student of Fakenham High School, had set the challenge for students to write a short story. Winners would be published in his new and upcoming book, alongside his own work.
Fakenham Academy Students' creativity started flowing and winners were selected from the entries.
Unfortunately due to illness, Terry was unable to join us for the winners to be announced, however we presented the certificates on his behalf to:
1st Place - Elisha W (Y8)
2nd Place - Kataleah C & Maddison K (Y7)
3rd Place - Sophie B (Y7)
A further prize for a highly commended entry went to Isla H (Y9).
The stories written by the winners will be published in Terry's upcoming book, which he will announce the title of shortly; as well as this, Terry will be donating the profits to a charity of the Academy's choosing.
Well done to the winners of this fantastic competition, and we also thank Terry for his support and contribution to this competition.
Terry Sewell World Book Day Challenge
Well done to Ella, and all of our other Merit award holders!
I am currently the first student each year, for the last 3 years, to reach the Gold award. I have done this through sheer hard work, so receiving it makes me feel incredibly proud and happy. So, what l am saying is getting the Gold award means a lot to me as it symbolizes all the effort l have put into my studies. If you think about it from my perspective, every merit shows good work, so l have done 120 pieces of good work.
I try to take every opportunity l can in life and l don’t waste any of my time or effort. Why not put in the effort? Trying your best shows dedication to your studies. I want the top GCSE results and the only way to do that is by making sure I am putting in as much effort as possible and taking pride in my work.
Another one of my perspectives is why not try your best? I want the best from life but that does not come naturally so I need to try my hardest to achieve that. I need to stand out in today’s society so I can achieve something great like getting to the best university or getting a very good job. All of these are in the long term, but my Gold award is an example of getting a small success now, helping to lead me to a great future. Plus, not only is my effort towards my Gold award helping me now, but it will help in the future because it is a great thing to put on your CV.
Fakenham is providing me with the opportunities to gain success by pushing me. They challenge me and help me be the best I can be. My Gold award is one example of the school helping me achieve something to be proud of. If my teachers didn’t challenge me, l am not sure l would have such success. They help me to understand the direction l need to take to improve my work.
Plus, it really doesn’t harm to make your parents proud once in a while - they are collecting my certificates for my 18th birthday scrapbook. I just wish the reward they gave me for all my hard work was more monetary based!
By Ella, Y9
What It Means To Be A Gold Award Student
STEMM Visit to John Innes Centre, Norwich
Our STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine) group went on a trip to the John Innes Centre which was a STEMM based afternoon consisting of various aspects of STEMM. Once we arrived and got signed in there were an assortment of stalls for us to walk around and ask questions to STEMM professionals and enthusiastic students who were studying that specific topic.
The stalls had a wide variety - some based on plants, the genetics of foods and how they have developed, human bones and muscles showing how different joints work. We all went to a certain stall which spoke about dysphagia which is a condition that affects all ages, it is where a person cannot swallow effectively. This causes aspiration which is when food/drink goes into your lungs causing possible infection or pneumonia if not removed or stopped. To help those with dysphagia we were shown how they are given their liquids such as water putting in a thickening agent, we were then all given a spoonful of thickened water. Our reactions involved a lot of gagging and disgust, none of us could describe the taste or the texture it just required us to wash it down with a lot of water. We even held a venus fly trap, however when it went off we were highly startled much to the amusement of the man running the stall and to us after.
After about an hour of walking around we entered the lecture hall where we listened to scientists, who came to the John Innes Centre to do experiments involving STEMM, describe what they were testing. We got an insight into how their careers developed, and different events they took part in which moved their careers forward and developed their knowledge. We were shown different diseases which had been printed on a 3D printer this meant we could physically see them and see what work and progress they had made. We had an insight into the biology of plants and seeing how certain substances came from plants, this was all made possible because of the facilities at John Innes.
I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and found it useful in seeing how different students got into the careers they’re in now, and all the various paths you can take to get into the industry that you enjoy. Thank you to Mrs Scarfe who organised the trip and Mrs Price who drove us there and back.
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Y9 Rugby Vs Wymondham
It was the afternoon of Wed 13th March when Fakenham eagerly anticipated the arrival of Wymondham High for the semi-final clash in the County Bowl competition. Other than a strong wind, conditions were good for a game of rugby.
Fakenham started at a blistering pace with Arminas Dovainis successfully catching the kick off from Wymondham and running almost the full length of the pitch with the ball weaving in and out of defenders. A try quickly followed, but on this occasion was not converted.
A good contest between both teams ensued with hard hitting tackles and neat footwork on display to the many teachers, parents and pupils that had come out to show their support. Despite taking an early lead and scoring another try, Wymondham would not lie down and by half time had scored two tries of their own, one of which they had converted, taking a lead of 12-10 at the mid point in the game.
Fakenham came out positive after the break and played some lovely fast-paced rugby, which demonstrated their handling skills in windy conditions. Fortunately for Fakenham, Wymondham's discipline let them down in the second half and they gave away numerous penalties. Fakenham capitalised on these and scored another two tries; one of which came off a driving maul which captain Alex Lockhart placed down.
Fakenham's defence deserves a special mention as Wymondham drove many attacks at Fakenham's try line but could not break through, meaning Fakenham won the second half 14-0. The game was brought to a close with the final score being 24-12 to Fakenham, which now means they have progressed to the final of the competition in only this year group's first year of being in it.
One more game to go boys!!
FAN Equestrian Team compete in Eventers Challenge
On the 30th March 2019 the FAN Equestrian Team competed at Forest Edge Ariana in the NSEA Eventers Challenge. The Eventers Challenge is a course split into two halves. The first half is show jumps and the second half are cross country jumps. It’s aim is to test riders skill and ability.
Two members of the team competed at the event: Maxwell Lake and Robbie Bell. They both competed in the 75cm Class and the 85cm Class. Robbie went first in the 75cm Class on Arden Silver Shadow. He had a lovely round coming home with a clear round. After a short break Maxwell had his round on Schoolmaster, he had a nice round but had four faults due to a stop in the transition between show jumps to cross country fences. Robbie then went last out of the team on Liscannor Prince. He had eight faults due to knocking down two poles but still a lovely round.
After that class there was the 85cm Class. Robbie went first on Arden Silver Shadow. He again had a lovely round but had four faults due to a pole being knocked down. Next Maxwell had his round on Schoolmaster, it was a lovely round but had four faults due to a pole being knocked down as he went too deep into the fence. Finally Robbie went in on Liscannor Prince. He had a good round but had four faults due to again going too deep into the fence.
All in all it was a good day and enjoyed by all. From the whole team we would like to thank our Team Manager Helen Bell and sponsor Jeremy Lake ( Jem Lake Handmade Kitchens and Interiors) for helping the team throughout the day. We would also like to thank our other sponsors: Wensum Valley Veterinary Surgeons, Jacks Gentlemans Barbers, Grocott and Murfitt Property Developments, as well as Jem Lake Handmade Kitchens and Interiors for their continual support.
Local Barber Shop Sponsors FAN Equestrian Team
Local business “Jack’s Gentleman’s Barbers” has set up a sponsorship program with the FAN Equestrian Team as of 01/03/2019.
On behalf of the whole team we would like to thank Jack for his kind generosity and supporting the local community.
Year 9 Rugby Final Win For FAN!
In a highly anticipated match, Fakenham took on Northgate at Thetford Rugby Club, with a host of spectators who had travelled down with the boys by coach. After a thorough warm up and team talk by Mr Savage and his assistant, Mr Curtis, the boys were ready to start the biggest game of their lives.
Fakenham got off to a flying start with Arminas Dovainis weaving in and out of the defence and speeding past the opposition fullback to score an early try. Despite conceding early, Northgate were not willing to take this and fired straight back with a try of their own. Both teams battled hard trying to gain ground and put in some superb tackles. Special mentions must go to Will Rands, Alex Lockhart and Charlie Fish for putting in some big hits and rucking well over the ball.
Fakenham continued to push hard and were rewarded for their efforts with a try from the powerhouse Charlie Fish. The game continued to be a close fought contest with the Northgate scrum particularly dominant. Through some excellent supportive play from the forwards, Arminas and Charlie were able to pick holes in the defence and find the space needed to stretch their legs and score further tries. Special mention must go to Nathan Hann for taking on the role of 'human battering ram'.
The game continued to be tight after Northgate pressed hard into the Fakenham half and were successful in scoring another try. As the game went on, Fakenham began to tire and were up against a barrage of attacks from Northgate, one of which resulted in Fakenham stealing the ball from a scrum on their own 5m line and running the full length of the pitch for Arminas to score yet another try, much to the delight of the travelling supporters, who certainly made their voices heard!
Northgate were still not ready to give up though and scored two late tries to close the gap between the sides. Fakenham continued to battle hard and both Joe Curtis and Robert Bond were regularly forced to make quick decisions due to the speed of the Northgate defensive line. Thankfully with the steady hands of Liam Spooner at fullback and the sheer athleticism of Arminas and Charlie, Fakenham held out to become champions and the best state school in Norfolk for rugby at U14.
Such an achievement for only their first year of competitive rugby. The boys should be very proud of their efforts this season, as they have a very bright future ahead of them if they keep working hard. A big thank you to all for attending the final and roll on next year...!
A very happy and proud, Mr Savage
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The Big Bang trip was a fun, interesting and inspiring school trip that we are definitely not going to forget any time soon! There was an extraordinary amount of variety with the activities they provided. For example, we went from being in the International Space Station to going in the first ride in the Bloodhound SSC racing car through virtual reality. We gained so much knowledge through this fun and thrilling experience.
Each stall had its unique purpose. For example, in the Halford University of technology, they had a challenge to stack as many wooden cubes on a programmed moving wheeled vehicle before they fell off. Another fun experience was a display in Specsavers, as you got to see the layers of your own eye and how they are constructed in a lot of depth.
One thing we enjoyed the most was visiting the International Space Station through a film. We had to enter this blueberry bouncy castle looking thing in order to view the film that was showing at the top of the dome. Another one of our favourites was the Help Save the Planet stall. One activity we would have to do was compete against another school to get all of the plastic out of the water tray as quick as possible. We also had to write a note of how we should help the planet. Many answers consisted of “cut down on carbon dioxide emissions” and “ban single-use plastics” which was brilliant to see.
This trip was like being in a new world as it was so surreal. There was never once a moment when we were bored as there was so much to do. We have gained a lot of knowledge and understanding through this trip as it helped us link what they were showing to what we have being doing in school. It was a day where everything clicked. The best part was that you learned without realizing it!
By Mollie and Ella
FAN Students Visit Big Bang Science Fair At NEC
On Friday 22nd March, Year 10 and 11 Hospitality and Catering Students visited City College Norwich to see their hotel school in action and get a feel for the different job roles there are in the industry. A great educational experience in preparation for forthcoming exams.
We arrived and were greeted by Catering Manager, Mark Bradley, who spoke with passion about the industry in which he has worked for many years and some of the fantastic opportunities the hospitality and catering industry has given him during his career.
We then met a former student of the hotel school, she had arrived in England from Africa, not being able to speak a word of English, and who is now studying for her Masters Degree in International Hospitality Management. Her story was inspirational and showed us that if you want to achieve something, anything is possible.
Next we met Adam, one of the Departments' chefs. He had also worked in the hospitality and catering industry for many years. Adam also bought with him a host of ingredients, including a whole salmon! Adam demonstrated how to prepare the salmon and left this to cook whilst we had tours of the hotel school. We saw lots of different preparation areas and kitchens for all types of food preparation (the patisserie and chocolate preparation areas smelt delicious!) We also met up with a few ex FAN students who are furthering their education and gaining their careers.
At the end of the tour, we met James, the Head Chef, who was busy preparing our meals for lunch. The food looked amazing and we were all ready to be seated in the restaurant.
The waiting staff, all students attended to our every needs and, once we were all seated, served us a two course meal. For some, this was a new adventure, trying foods we had never had before, for others the meal was exactly what was needed!
After lunch, it was time for us to depart, so back to the coach and for some, it was time for an after-meal nap - no names mentioned - Callum and Myles!!
Thanks to all of the staff at City College Norwich, especially Mark, Adam and James for their support for our students. The college training restaurant The Debut restaurant is open every week day to the public to go and enjoy a fine dining meal at a very reasonable price so why not go try it out and give support to our future chefs, waiters, managers of hospitality and our local community.
Mr Lloyd & Mrs Smith
KS4 Catering Students Visit CCN Hotel School
172. Over the past six years Fakenham Sixth Form has taken 172 students to study one of the most tragic periods of the twentieth century, of human history. They have seen the the House of the Wannsee Conference, where the plan to exterminate those deemed ‘racially inferior’ was agreed upon. They have walked around the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen, the labour camp of Plaszow, the Ardeatine Caves of Rome and the extermination camp of Auschwitz Birkenau, where unspeakable crimes occured and many never brought to justice. Unfortunately, 172 is not the most important number here, it is the approximately 11,000,000 who were murdered and the countless millions that have, and continue still, to be affected even to this day.
It is important to recognise that these trips are not as pessimistic as they may seem. Not only have our students seen many amazing landmarks and places, such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, the Colosseum, the Vatican and the Cloth Market that stands in the centre of Krakow, but life long friendships have been made and eyes opened to the good in the world. Last year one student lost their phone and through secure methods it was able to be returned. The person who found it was able to contact the student’s parent and (with Dr Burrows and I close at hand) arrange a public meet and return the phone. After what we as a group had been through that day, the kindness of humanity was able to shine through.
This article contains a write up of the trip by Adam Rivers as well as follow up piece by Sophie Brown, exploring what it is like to revisit the topic in a new setting one year on. Both pieces capture the emotions and experiences from the perspective our students. As with Krakow, Berlin is a wonderful city with so much culture and vibrancy so it is important to recognise this alongside the dark history due to only twelve years of Nazi dictatorship.
I would again like to thank so many people for making this happen. Mrs Higgins who is now a veteran of five trips and insists on the early departures, Mrs Hart and her impeccable timekeeping and Dr Burrows, who enables all of us to access the finer points and puts context and understanding to our experiences. I would also like to thank Ms Syer and Mr Cubitt who help with the organisation of these trips and are always on hand to help me with my requests, even those late in the day. To Catherine Stevenson, Jenny Barker and all at Study Trips who put together a great package. Finally, to the thirty three students who acted with respect and dignity which made the trip so smooth.
Fakenham Sixth Form Visit to Berlin
During the early hours of Thursday 7th March, 33 students, accompanied by three teachers and our excellent ‘tour guide’ Mr Eaves, travelled to Berlin. While in the capital of Germany, we experienced a culture rich in history and a public enthusiasm for ‘Currywurst’ (which I did not share).
On our first day we visited ‘Checkpoint Charlie’, the former border crossing between East and West Berlin (1963-1991) where we learnt about the victims of the city’s division and had just begun to learn about the tragedy embedded in Berlin’s history. We then walked a short distance to the ‘Topography of Terror’ which is situated where the old ‘Gestapo and SS Headquarters’ was during the ‘Third Reich’. In it's place stands a modern exhibit which explains the ‘terror tactics’ of the Nazi Government, the exhibit described the range of atrocities committed by the Nazis. That evening our tour guide ‘Herr Eaves’ gave us a night time tour of Berlin where we visited the Reichstag (the German Parliament building), the Brandenburg gate and the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe. The memorial is a symbolic monument located in the centre of the city, which has no definite meaning, but in the dark it appeared like a graveyard; creating an atmosphere frightening enough to scare some members of our party…
The next day we visited the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen, where we saw a different type of graveyard, as although Sachsenhausen was a concentration camp, tens of thousands of prisoners were either executed or worked to death within the compound. This was the most difficult visit, as it forced us to view the physical consequences of the Nazi regime; we were no longer talking about stories of hardship to question ‘how an omnibenevolent God could allow this’ for a Philosophy and Ethics exam or figures in textbooks for our History course, we had to remember these were real people who were forced into horrible conditions. Not fiction. In the afternoon, we visited the ‘Berlin Wall Documentation Centre’, where we received a tour of the Berlin Wall and discovered more about its evolution, its victims and why it was built.
On Saturday, we revisited the ‘Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe’ where our tour guide spoke about the possible meanings of the monument. Afterwards we went beneath the memorial where an exhibit dedicated to the Jews, details the horrors they suffered and provides names and faces to the collective group. In the afternoon we travelled to the ‘Wannsee Conference house’ where the Nazis finally made the decision on how to deal with their biggest issue; the Jewish question . That evening, we revisited the Reichstag, however this time we went inside and climbed to the top of the building which holds a beautiful view of the city, especially at night.
On the Final day, we ventured to the 1936 ‘Olympic stadium’ and discussed how the whole world was misled by the Nazi ‘Theatre of politics’, as the Olympic games were a distraction for the construction of the sinister Sachsenhausen concentration camp. We also went beneath the city into a World War two bunker featuring antiques such as; board games, weapons and war related objects which had been adapted into household items (like a helmet made into a colander).
After four days, crammed with history, philosophy and (lots of) walking we returned home completely exhausted Monday morning. Berlin has a tragic history but the modern city is even more admirable after you understand it’s past and what it has overcome. However, you may wonder why the country keeps so many constant reminders of the horrors of its past but these serve as moral reminders for people to consider their actions and to make sure to never repeat the past.
Fakenham Sixth Form Work Study Trip to Berlin, March 2019
A Year On From Auschwitz
I am still surprised I said yes to Berlin. After visiting Krakow in March 2018, you would think my journey with the Holocaust was over. But, like the opportunity taker I am, I jumped at the chance. I thought it would be easy; after all, we weren’t visiting an extermination camp like Auschwitz-Birkenau. Surely after walking through the gas chambers in Poland I could face anything. Oh how naive I was.
I will be the first person to admit I was scarred by my experiences in Poland last year. So much so it has influenced my work at Sixth Form and my own personal writing. But, until a couple of weeks ago, these scars had healed and became a distant memory - one that no longer haunted me at times when I least expected it. I had no more tears, no more moments staring into nothing and no more bouts of silence that are so uncharacteristic for me. A year on, I learnt that it can take approximately three minutes for a year's worth of healing to be completely forgotten and those scars, which I thought had healed so well, to be gouged open again.
In my article last year I wrote about feeling ‘numb’ as the pain from the death of over six million people was ‘simply too overwhelming to comprehend’. I now comprehend. I understand the pain and not just from the death of six million innocent lives, but of the eleven million (civilians, P.O.W, homosexuals and other minority groups) who died due to the Nazi regime. I wish I felt ‘numb’ now. Instead, I now feel physically sick; a throbbing pain in the pit of my stomach and the tears, which were absent for so long, have returned.
How do you grieve for eleven million, innocent people who died before you were born, and you have only a small understanding of their pain?
I wish I knew.
When I told my family friends I was going to Berlin, they said to me not to mention the war. The dreaded N-word was definitely not to be used, even when talking about historical events. Under an hour into the trip I realised that the war and the Nazis are a central part of Berlin. You cannot escape the fact the Nazis rose to power, it is almost written into the very bricks of every building, or on the tips of everyone’s tongue. You cannot forget. Although this makes Berlin, much like Krakow, a city of ghosts, Berlin is so much more scarred than the Polish cultural hub. The majority of Berlin was either bombed by the Allies or demolished by the Nazis themselves, leaving very little of pre-WW2 Berlin standing. Furthermore, the iconic Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate - survivors of the war - have infamany due to their strong links to the Nazi Party. In fact, any buildings which survived the war will have some link to the Nazis. It is inescapable.
Berliners could have demolished everything that was left. But they didn’t. Although they are still rebuilding the capital today, and still find unexploded bombs when building a new apartment block, they aren’t trying to cover their past. Instead of demolishing the Reichstag, today it’s Germany’s parliamentary building. The Brandenburg Gate still stands tall and mighty. The Olympic stadium, where Hitler was notoriously pictured attending the 1936 games, is home to ‘Hertha BSC’ - one of Berlin’s football clubs. Even the SS run ‘Concentration Camps Inspectorate’ at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp is now Berlin’s police training academy. More shockingly, air raid bunkers still fill the walls of the metro stations, doors open to reveal miles of caverns, all of which were once filled with scared, innocent people. It’s a world away from Harry Potter.
Last year it was Płaszów which touched me. This year it was the ‘Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe’, a beautifully fitting sculpture in the centre of Berlin (again making it unavoidable). Walking through the maze of what may be interpreted as tomb stones really hit me; the weight of the concrete fell onto my shoulders. This is an experience I will forever have to carry, something I accept. It is a small mercy in comparison to the plight of those the memorial commemorates.
Krakow had no shame and could hide their scars. Berlin with all it’s shame, instead of covering sixty years of established history, wears their scars - not with pride - but with acceptance. For that I honour them; it takes courage to admit to and apologise for mistakes, yet it takes something more powerful to bare your scars to ensure history does not repeat itself. This is exactly what the amazing historians we met aim to do and, ultimately, was the whole point of the trip: to stop history repeating itself.
But it has, and will continue to do so. Prior to the trip I decided to do a little extra reading with the aim to fuel, not only my understanding, but my creativity. As a writer, there is nothing I believe in more than using my words for good. I wanted to understand what possessed fifteen men - before breakfast, in ninety minutes - to decide to systematically kill six million people. I also wanted to find out if this has happened again; I am sad to report it has. Different times, different wars, same story. From Auschwitz in Poland and Sachsenhausen in Germany to Con Dao in Vietnam; Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Omarska in Bosnia; history is still repeating itself today. I was disgusted after everything to find minorities still being persecuted for being just that: a minority. Of course, not everyone is innocent in such places as these, I fully understand that; but I can assure you many are just as innocent as you and I.
This was meant to be an article about my experience over four days, but if I wrote about just those four days I wouldn’t be writing the whole story. The Holocaust and Nazi Reign only lasted for a few decades; but we still see acts of anti-semitism, islamophobia and groups of Neo-Nazis today. From hate crimes at Sachsenhausen to the Charlottesville riots to the accusations within the Labour and Conservative Parties, it is still not over; it is just the tip of the iceberg. So many more minorities are being persecuted every single day.
But why is it our problem? We are just a group of Sixth Formers and I’m just an eighteen year old white girl, why’s it my problem? I’m not being persecuted; as far as privileges go, I’m near the top of the list.
That’s why it’s my problem. I have the privilege of freedom of speech and a voice which I can ensure will be heard. I vow to try and make a change, no matter how small. If there is one thing these trips have taught me, it’s that humanity is truly the most amazing thing. As cheesy as it sounds, together we really can achieve anything.
From All Of Us at Fakenham Academy
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