Although St Mary’s Year 10 boys were not able to emulate their Year 11 colleagues, in winning their respective Basketball Competition, they did finish in a respectable position in the Blackpool Secondary Schools’ Basketball Competition.
Two narrow defeats, each by one basket, meant they finished third in the tournament that was held at Unity on Tuesday 21st January. The team were undefeated in their other fixtures.
Friday 24th January is the last day of term for our two Step Into the Gap volunteers, Francis and Daisy. On Monday, they are travelling to Cambodia with CAFOD to learn about CAFOD's work in that country and experience first hand what life is like for some of the poorest people in the world. On the eve of their trip, Daisy has been reflecting on her gap year so far and the adventure to come.
We’ve been at St Mary’s for 4 months now, and the time has really flown by. It seems like just yesterday, we were arriving in Blackpool, meeting all the staff and students, and getting lost in the school building. Since then, we’ve really found our feet, and I feel like I’ve really grown as a person. It’s crazy to think that pretty soon we’ll be leaving, and starting a new adventure in Cambodia, miles and miles away.
We were given a really strange piece of advice about going on this trip: “Don’t worry if you don’t enjoy yourself while you’re there, you’ll enjoy it afterwards,” This first came across as really scary - what if we have a terrible time? But on reflection, I feel as though we shouldn’t be focussed on trying to cram fun activities into every minute, watch all the best sunsets, and swim in the bluest oceans. We should instead appreciate the different way of life in Cambodia, and build real relationships with the people that we encounter. I hope to come home with lots of inspiring stories of the people we’ve met, and how their lives have been improved by the work of CAFOD’s partners.
I feel extremely privileged to be able to go to Cambodia with CAFOD and to see what life is like for the communities we’ll be visiting. I’m especially looking forward to seeing how communities are coping with the environmental situation when we visit CAFOD partner, COCD’s forestry and agricultural projects in Phcek Chhrum and Tam Por villages.
This trip is right around the corner and no amount of research can really prepare us for what we’re about to see, and the completely different world we’ll be visiting, but I’m ready to give 100% and immerse myself in Cambodian life.
Congratulations to the boys who participated in last week’s U16 Basketball Tournament. All secondary schools in Blackpool were invited to the tournament which was held at Unity Academy. St Mary’s won all their fixtures to finish first in the competition.
Their victories were richly deserved and were reward for not only their ability but excellent attitude, too. The following boys represented St Mary’s; Karl Pacheco, Jan Somcio, Declan Zeqiri, Christian Matibag and Michael Joseph.
St. Mary’s students once again discovered that Christmas can be ‘the season of giving, without a thought of getting’. Every form group in the academy was issued with two gift tags. Their task was to raise money and buy a Christmas gift for a child and an elderly person, family in need, elderly hospital patient or homeless person. Three weeks of fundraising followed including sponsored events, an ‘own clothes’ day, crisp sales, chocolate tombola, candy cane sale, donut stall, film club, learning house quiz, dodgeball etc. The fundraising culminated in a presentation of gifts for 82 children, 28 homeless people, 12 families in need and 10 elderly people. The school chapel was bursting with dolls, bears, footballs, trains, vouchers, make up, baby clothes, games, racing sets, 18 sleeping bags, hats and gloves and lots of food hampers. In total the students raised a whopping £3,598.82.
The gifts will be distributed by Caritas Care, Blackpool Coastal Housing, Christ the King SVP society and Streetlife.
The organisations who received the gifts were overwhelmed and spoke of how some of the most vulnerable children and adults in our community will now experience the joy of Christmas. Leah, who works with residents in a homeless hostel in Blackpool spoke of how a child had asked her this week “does Santa come to the hostel?” and her reply “he does now!”
Our Caring Community should be very proud of their efforts. As St. Francis said, “for it is in giving that we receive.”
With Mr Tierney retiring at the end of December 2019, the Directors are delighted to announce the Mrs Helen O'Neill has been appointed at the CEO of the BEBCMAT. Mrs O'Neill will take up post in February and is very much looking forward to her new leadership role. When appointed she told the Directors that, she was "really looking forward to working closely with all staff, pupils and their families and to seeing each child develop their God-given talents and become the best they can be".
A qualified teacher she has a Masters degree in education leadership and extensive experience of teaching and leadership in a range of schools across the North West and Midlands areas.
She is currently one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) working for Ofsted and was the national lead inspector for Ofsted’s curriculum research project. Mrs O'Neill has experienced working with a range of schools, including primary, secondary, special and independent.
Last week, a fabulous group of 42 students from Y10 & Y11 went on retreat to Castlerigg Manor in the Lake District. It was a week of fun, laughter, walks, food and reflection in the wonderful surroundings of Keswick. The team of young volunteers at Castlerigg were fabulous- they helped us to get to know each other better, build up relationships and share about our lives and our faith journeys, as well as teaching us new songs, fun games and leading us on beautiful walks to experience fantastic views. Our group bonded fabulously, had a great time singing and dancing at the disco, and parted at the end of the week with a tear in the eyes of many of them. It was a truly special week full of memories that will last a life time. Huge thanks to Mr Allen, Miss Patten, Mr Jones, Mr Eccles and Daisy who gave up their time to share the week with us and helped us to learn and experience so much.
SMCA Sports Academy pupils recently visited Cumbria University to sample their sports degree courses. Pupils took part in sports rehabilitation and fitness testing workshops. A great day!
Congratulations to Elliot Ward from Roseacre Primary School who was the winner of the Year 6 PE Olympic Challenge during St. Mary's Open Evening. A magnificent achievement with over 200 pupils entering. Well done Elliot.
On Wednesday 9th October St. Mary’s was lucky enough to host the Royal Shakespeare Company. The ‘RSC’ is known the world over and we were privileged to have our very own private performance of the ‘First Encounters’ tour of the Merchant of Venice. This performance was for 180 specially invited pupils only, and went down a treat, with 3 of our own pupils taking part in the performance acting as ‘casket bearers’. The pupils loved seeing the action happening right in front of their eyes and were captivated during the hour long play.
As well as this our very own Shakespeare club members got to work with the actors and actresses for the day to experience what it is like working behind the scenes in theatre. They got to take part in a team warm-up as well as work with the props and costumes used in the performance. Within our Shakespeare club we have two VIP ambassadors, who represent the school at various events. To top off their Wednesday Finley Hough and Katie Lambshead got to work behind the scenes at The Grand Theatre during the evening, when the RSC did a public performance.
Anyone wanting to join Shakespeare club should come to the Drama Hall on Tuesday after school, or speak to Miss Pollett or Miss Thackwray. With special thanks to Miss Anderton who made the gorgeous caskets for the performance.