Saint Paul’s Gifted Garden – Official Opening by Mike Kane MP

July 24th, 2014

The Gifted Garden at Saint Paul’s Catholic High School in Wythenshawe was officially opened by local MP, Mr Mike Kane. Despite the monsoon conditions, staff and pupils had the opportunity for a chat with the MP about the work they had been doing and about the aims of the newly created outdoor space.  

The school plans to use the garden to convey some key messages such as where food comes from and the role of farmers and growers; what constitutes healthy eating and why it matters; and the interdependence of the urban and rural environments. 

Mrs Cathie Halbert, who is leading the project, said: “We were delighted when Mike Kane accepted our invitation to open the garden which is so special to all of us. The pupils were able to have a lengthy talk with Mr Kane and were delighted to tell him that it was all their own work. They were equally enthusiastic about our Phase 2 plans for the extended veggie plot, blossom and fruit trees designs.  A keen gardener himself, Mr Kane was most impressed with the planting scheme, especially the patriotic beds featuring the red, white and blue colours to commemorate the fallen soldiers of both world wars.” 

Mrs Halbert added: “At one stage, Mr Kane surprised the children by asking if it was ok to sample the lettuce.  After getting the ‘green light’, he proceeded to snip off a couple of leaves and said that “the lettuce was fabulous”.”

“We were thrilled to have Mike Kane visit Saint Paul’s and officially open our new garden. The pupils have devoted a great deal of time and energy to the project so it was fantastic for them to see this recognised by a Member of Parliament,” commented Mrs Fiona Minshall, Head Teacher at Saint Paul’s. “We are hoping that the garden will bring many health and nutrition benefits for the pupils; they will be having outdoor exercise, whilst learning a useful lifelong skill. We want to encourage healthy food choices and we see the growing of fruit and vegetables as a way to do this.”

Budehaven Community Schools – lasting memories of Ethiopia

July 23rd, 2014

Budehaven Community School has established links with their partner school in Ethiopia for the past 7 years. Initially through a project called Dreams and Teams, pupils and staff visited Assosa High School and the game of netball was introduced. Led by Mrs Denise May MBE netball not only became a sport played in Assosa but its success spread throughout the country.

Recently 3 staff and 6 pupils from Budehaven Community School visited Assosa High School as part of another project promoted by the Olympic legacy and called the International Inspirations Project. Selecting the accompanying pupils was not an easy task as initially 60 pupils showed an interest in the project. After several informative meetings, letters of applications were requested and then the shortlisted pupils had to present their skills to an interview panel. The successful Budehaven students were Caz Dyer Year 12, Caitlin Griffiths-Bird, Sky Bolitho and Chloe McGrath Year 11 and Kelsey Wosnitzka and Lizzie Mitchell Year 10. These 6 pupils then had to work together and plan many fundraising events in order to raise the finances to make the dream a reality. The school were a good source of support and the first Budehaven’s Got Talent concert set the ball rolling. The Blanchminster Trust very kindly supported the pupils, Botts and their tool company donated tools to take to Assosa, local businesses donated gifts and prizes and quizzes, coffee mornings and a big breakfast raised much needed funds.

Lizzie Mitchell Year 10 writes, “I was lucky enough to go as part of a team of 6 students and 3 teachers to the town of Assosa in Ethiopia. The purpose of our trip was to collaborate with Assosa High School and take part in several projects that involved languages, leadership and raising environmental awareness. The experience proved to be exciting, engaging and most of all, life changing. Out of a trip that offered so many surreal experiences it would be impossible to talk about it all, so I have chosen a few of my highlights to share from the amazing journey. After a whole day of travelling we arrived in Assosa, exhausted but cheerful. We were greeted by two friendly men; Milatu, an ex PE teacher of Assosa High who served as our guide for the trip and Yohannis, the Head teacher of the school. We spent the afternoon settling into our amazing hotel, newly built and run by lovely locals, and preparing for the adventures of the week. This was certainly modern accommodation and a complete contrast to the facilities Mrs Walter told us about when she visited Assosa two years ago!

Assosa is a town rich in culture, during our stay we were given the opportunity to immerse ourselves in some of their traditions, a good example of this was the coffee ceremony. A coffee ceremony, we learned, is a ritual that many Ethiopians take part in to welcome friends and guests or during festivals. To welcome us to Assosa High School, members of the environmental club, a group with whom we worked closely throughout our trip, hosted one of these sacred ceremonies. The coffee (buna) was made from roasting coffee beans over hot coals and brewing the ground beans in hot water. As well as coffee we were given bread and popcorn (Vanisha) by a beautiful girl named Zanash. Everyone wore their finest clothes (one girl even wore a wedding dress!) and it gave everyone an opportunity to get to know each other and make new friends.

With the environmental club we carried out several different projects. The High School had a garden which is paired with our two gardens at Budehaven. The environmental club, who run and develop the garden, asked for our help with several different aspects of it. Some of us constructed a gate to protect the garden from the goats and chickens that often came and ate the seeds that grew in the garden. Mr Barnes, a design teacher at Budehaven who accompanied us also managed to develop a system where rain water from the roof could be collected and stored for use in the garden. It was decided that to create a lasting memory of our school’s collaboration we should paint a mural highlighting important aspects of Assosa, of Cornwall and our partnership. This Mural was painted on a wall of the school and we aim to recreate it at Budehaven. The project proved a huge success especially as on our last day it rained so we could see the seeds that were growing and the water butt in action. It was inspiring to see teachers and students working together on something we were all really passionate about.

I consider myself exceptionally lucky to have met so many amazing people and to have shared these incredible experiences with them. I have been inspired by the fact that even in an area of extreme poverty everyone can be so cheerful, hospitable and welcoming. I’m sure I speak for everyone involved when I say that it has been an unforgettable experience that will be treasured forever.”    

Mrs Walter who led the project spoke highly of the pupils, “As well as working with the environmental club the pupils organised and led two sports festivals, one at Assosa High School and the other at the linking primary school. At both events they worked with pupils to pass the baton in a relay competition and they also introduced the game of rounders which the schools had never seen before. Both schools thoroughly enjoyed the sports festivals and the primary school in particular said they would continue to promote the game of rounders throughout the whole school.

The third strand of the project was to improve language skills in the Assosa High School through a pen pal writing scheme. Ms Gowan led this strand of the project and our pupils linked in with the Ethiopian English Club lessons. English speaking is a necessity to the pupils of Assosa High School because all their subjects are taught in English. For most of the pupils Amharic is their second or third language, their first being one of many tribal languages, so because English is a world spoken language and for this reason important all pupils are taught in English. Although this might seem ideal there is often confusion with difficulties in pronunciation and understanding of the true meaning of words. Our pupils linked with the English club over the week and helped them in their lessons. Pen friends between the two schools have now been established and the aim is to continue these strong links.

Since returning from Ethiopia the team have shown their slide show presentation in school assemblies and to school staff, the community and parents.

 Now in July, the final stage of the International Inspirations project is coming to fruition, we have an additional water drinking fountain for all pupils to access in the PE Department and over the past few months our school gardens, the one in the Arbour (Area Resource Base) and the other close to the design department have been developing. Fruit and vegetables have been growing and many pupils have developed an interest in gardening. The last two full days of term are Activity days and several  pupils have signed up to the Ethiopian Mural project – the opportunity to recreate the mural we left at Assosa High School.  Chloe and Caitlin who have now completed their exams have kindly offered to come into school to help oversee the mural. Our dreams could not be any better, all the pupils involved have been inspired by the story of our Assosa visit and not only has the mural been recreated but Mr Barnes has managed with the help of pupils to create an outdoor classroom”.

Caitlin and Chloe commented, “Bringing the mural back to our school after painting it in Ethiopia has been a great experience. It has been really great to get other students involved and to see others experience what the International inspirations Project has been about”. Amongst others  Jimmy and Lauren worked hard on the mural on the first day, Ella in year 9 said “ I have really enjoyed doing the mural project. I joined in for the second day but there was still lots to do. I found it really fun doing the mural so it’s like the one in Ethiopia. After doing this activity I hope to go to Ethiopia in the future. Sopphie a year 7 pupil said, “I thought doing the mural with everyone was a really fun activity! I got to know lots of people and the mural looked amazing at the end. I didn’t pick this activity but I’m glad I did it and it was great fun, thank you”.

Ms Gowan summed up the days by saying, “The Activity Days have taken me straight back to Ethiopia. Recreating the mural with two of the students who came to Ethiopia, alongside younger pupils who participated eagerly, was a fantastic way to bring Assosa and Bude together. I am looking forward to sharing the outdoor classroom with more pupils next year. This project has ensured the spirit of Ethiopia will continue to stay alive at Budehaven”.

Mrs Walter finished by saying, “There is no doubt that the strong link between our schools is of great value to both communities. We hope through a new project called Connecting Classrooms to welcome visitors from Assosa High School to Budehaven in the Autumn term