On Friday 26th January, a group of Year 10 students who have an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) competed in the first round of the annual STEM Young Engineer Competition held at Blackpool & Fylde College. The team were given the challenge of engineering a 75cm high crane that had to rotate, move forwards and backwards, have an arm that could lower and put together a magnetic charge that when switched on had to collect 5 different balls worth different values that had to be deposited in a jar. The team had to brainstorm ideas, discuss manufacturing techniques, sketch quick ideas and spend 4 hours producing, manufacturing and testing their design before going head to head against 16 other local Schools. They worked incredibly hard to become overall winners on the day and are now through to the finals where they have a chance of winning £10,000 to go towards STEM subjects. A massive well done to Michael Woof, Jonathan Seville-Parkins, Lewis Dyson and Matthew Ellis, bring on the finals!
On Monday, we waved a temporary goodbye to Aleks, our “Gapper”, who has set out for her trip to El Salvador and Nicaragua. She will visit CAFOD’s partners and learn about the projects that the money we raise support. While away, Aleks will be visiting education projects in universities, women’s empowerment projects in local communities and climate projects in towns and villages. She will hopefully also learn about the life and impact of Blessed Óscar Romero, one of our Learning House Saints.
We look forward to hearing about her trip over the next few weeks, but this is what she had to say about her forthcoming adventure before she left:
“What I know is that God will put us in the right places at the right time. Whomever we meet, whatever we see and experience will help us all and I can’t wait to experience it all! Meeting people we pray for, seeing CAFOD’S partners at work overseas and being able to be a witness back here with you. I simply cannot wait!
“That’s why, as a part of my prep, I am making an alteration to my own life. I’m letting God take control and trusting that what he plans for us is right. Swapping anxiety for excitement and prayerfully waiting for a visit that will change our lives.”
After a journey lasting 24 hours, including a short stopover in America, Aleks has arrived safe and well in El Salvador and spent a day resting ahead of her first visit to a CAFOD partner. Keep checking the website here at the Gaplains Blog page and our twitter page @TheGaplains for all the latest updates!
On Monday 15th January, a small but very excited group of 22 students from Y8 and 9 made their way to Castlerigg Manor in Keswick for a 3 day retreat. Although we only had 3 days together, the timetable was packed with activities, games and of course walks in the beautiful (though rather cold!) surroundings. The views were incredible, surrounded as we were by snow- capped mountains, and we were even treated to snow of our own on our final morning. Naturally, we had a huge snowball fight in the grounds before we left!
In all, staff and students had a wonderful time at this special place, having the chance to make new friends and take some time out of school to reflect on their journey and learn about our faith. Huge thanks to Mr Cassidy for joining us on this trip, which provided a taster of the full- week programme that will be offered to our Y10’s next year.
For those who enjoyed the trip and want to return next year, and for those who missed out this time but would love to have the Castlerigg experience, keep your eyes open for information about the Y10 retreat next school year!
The Chaplaincy and Creativity & Enterprise Learning House have recently worked together to produce a Fairtrade chocolate 'Footprint in the Sand' motif as a parting gift for their Mass. On Thursday 18th January, Miss Anderton's form presented the rest of the Learning House with the delicious milk chocolate, which the Chaplaincy had donated.
On Tuesday, 19th December for the fourth time the Polish students and teachers at St. Mary’s organised a Christmas Vigil to celebrate Christmas together as a school. Over 50 people attended and spent time praying, sharing Polish ‘wafers’ (white bread), eating traditional Polish Christmas dishes, prepared especially for this occasion, and even singing Polish carols. Both Polish and English students and teachers together celebrated this special time of the year. We also had the privilege of trying a traditional Spanish Christmas dish brought by a Spanish student, Angelyms.
According to our Pastoral Manager, Mr McLaughlin, it was ‘the best social event he attended during his time at St. Mary’s’. Of the few teachers that attended, Miss Lynch and Miss Hetherington managed to sing the Christmas carols in Polish, and Mr. Heyes discovered his great love for the traditional Polish dish, Bigos.
It's another record breaker as this year we raised a fantastic £3,887.23! Bringing our total since the appeal began, 15 years ago, to £47,759.03!
Once again the charity representatives were overwhelmed with the piles of gifts. They spoke of children in the homeless hostel and children whose parents are suffering imprisonment or from mental illness or substance abuse who would receive their only gifts from our students. Elderly people alone at Christmas and families without the means to shop for themselves and homeless young people who would now receive warmth, literally in the form of socks, gloves and sleeping bags, and symbolically in the knowledge that our students are thinking of them. Thanks so much to all our students for all they have done to raise such a phenomenal amount and thanks also on behalf of the 140 people who will now experience the true joy of Christmas.