News From The School
By: Phil Fladgate
In the Michaelmas half-term break twenty three VIth Form students experienced a life-changing trip to Rustenberg, South Africa. They were hosted at Tapalogo by Brother Joseph and Sister Georgina, who have been working at the Catholic mission for thirty three years. The mission is an HIV outreach centre and hospice, which provides crucial support to the local area though medical treatment, education and services. One area of focus for the trip was to visit schools, church groups and adult education centres so that the Whitgift students could teach the ‘Six Thinking Hat’ de Bono skills. The pupils represented themselves and the School superbly in this role and there was evidence of possible future teachers in the ranks!
The other main aim was to try and make a difference for children and families based in squatter camps in the Rustenberg area. The students spent a number of days working in the ‘Caesar’ settlement, cleaning and painting shipping containers for conversion into a crèche and classroom.
Through charity fund raising at Whitgift a donation of £5,650 was made to help with various community initiatives; many of the students are already planning possible ways for them to return in the future.
The Nepal Charity Expedition was an unforgettable experience according to Alastair McWilliam (UVIth). ‘Trekking through the Nepalese region of Ghorepani on the Annapura Circuit left us awestruck by the natural beauty as we encountered waterfalls, exotic wildlife and suspended rope bridges over stunning rivers, not to mention a few terrifying cliff edges! Getting up in the early hours of the morning in order to scale Poon Hill for the sunrise was a particular highlight for me, because the 360 degree view of all the surrounding mountain ranges was spectacular. At night, the tea houses we stayed in provided some much needed warmth in the cold evenings, and a comfortable night’s sleep helped us to re-energise after a challenging day’s trekking.
After the trek we took a short bus journey to Pokhara, the second largest city in Nepal, where we undertook our charity project for five days. The project involved painting an ICT centre which had been paid for by the fundraising of Whitgift students from the year before. The hard work we put in translated into a great sense of pride and achievement that was shared, not only within the group, but with Childreach Nepal and Sindhartha Club as well, the two charities working with Whitgift on the project. The evenings in Pokhara also gave us an opportunity to relax and explore a vibrant city with a unique culture. Upon returning to Kathmandu for our final day, we explored the city, dodging motor-bikes, cows and street vendors as we went.
Nepal is a fascinating country and throughout the trip we were made to feel very welcome. The local people were incredibly hospitable and always shared a smile as we passed, making our trip even more enjoyable.’
An impressive Dinner was held in Big School at the end of November to launch the Whitgift International Music Competition; this competition is open to young string players from the UK and around the world and has several major prizes, the Grand Prize being a Scholarship to the School. The evening was attended by many OWs involved in the Arts and Music.
The School musical ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ was a tremendous success, playing to sell-out audiences over four nights. There were some outstanding performances from the cast of Whitgift boys and girls from Croydon High.
SPORT AT WHITGIFT
There has been considerable sporting success during the second half of term. The Swimming Club had five teams qualify for the ESSA National Relays at Coventry; the U18 Freestyle team was knocked out at the semi-final stage, the U14 Freestyle and Medley squad (Freddie Benians, Finn Slattery, Charlie Goriup and Will Ward) won silver in both their events. The U16 Freestyle and Medley squad (Kunmi Ogumfeibo, Rhys Warner, Fred Biggs and Henry Choong) went one better and won gold in the Medley and the 4x50m Freestyle – a remarkable double! Whitgift had never won a National title an Open English Schools Event and now has two!
The hockey season has been going very well; the U14 Indoor team won the Divisional Championships defeating Trinity 3-2 in the final. Both the U18 and U16 sides have qualified again for the National Indoor Finals which are being held at Whitgift in January. On Saturday 15th December a Hockey Festival was held at Whitgift in Charlie Hutton’s memory; all money raised on the day has gone to the RNLI. Further donations can be made via the website www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/hutton
The U18 Squash team has reached the knock-out stages of the National Championships and the U13 Football team has again reached the Semi-finals of the ESFA Cup.
The rugby season has again been a very successful one at all levels. The 1st XV has had notable wins over John Fisher (twice), RGS High Wycombe, Stowe and Warwick.
The 1st XV has reached the 6th Round of the Daily Mail and will play Hampton School in the New Year for a place in the Quarter-finals. The U15 XV has to beat Dulwich College to reach the 6th Round, where the opponents will be St. Paul’s.
Will Smith (‘02-‘10) gained a blue on the wing for Cambridge in this year’s Varsity match and Richard Russell (’03-’10) played in the U21 match for Oxford.