The final word for the 19/20 academic year belongs to our Year 11 students. The lockdown in March caused huge disruption for all of our staff, students, parents and carers but it was particularly challenging for our Year 11 students. Friday 20th March was their last day at Sharples. The GCSEs they were working towards: cancelled. Celebrations like prom: put on hold. The relationships they had developed with their teachers and classmates over five years: cut short.
We asked some of the students to offer their thoughts about their final year as students at Sharples. Fatima, Sam and Tuba offer their take and Amin, because he’s Amin, took a slightly more poetic approach.
When I joined Sharples I never thought it would end like this! Being the only Year 6 pupil in my primary school to choose Sharples, I found secondary school quite daunting at first but, thanks to the incredibly supportive teachers, I was able to fit in instantly. One teacher in particular who helped me to settle in was the brilliant Miss Molyneux. In Year 7 she encouraged me to join the Astronomy club and pushed me to try a wealth of experiences and opportunities. Looking back, I’m very glad that I took on board her advice. More recently, Miss Molyneux has taught me Biology and it’s down to her that I’m pursuing Biology at a higher level.
Another teacher to have inspired me is Mr. Callaghan. In Year 8 he acted as my mentor; he was someone I found really easy to talk to, was someone I could trust and is a genuinely nice person to be around. Again, it’s down to his fantastic teaching style and his personality that I’ve chosen to continue to study Geography at A level.
My passion for sport was clear from the off but Mr. Baldwin helped me to improve mentally and physically as well as encouraging me to represent school in various sporting events. He is someone who gave me confidence in my ability, offering good advice which I try to apply to everyday life. I owe a lot to Mr. Baldwin and I hope I have one last chance to play against him!
During my time at Sharples I’ve had so many great opportunities made available to me. If not for the encouragement of a member of staff, I would never have auditioned for, or go on to play, the role of Oliver Twist, an experience which gave me lots of self-belief and enjoyment. Other opportunities include a Spanish exchange in Javea where I had the pleasure of cooking paella with Mr. Stanier and it is thanks to Mrs Mitrea’s excellent teaching that I was able to communicate with others and make the most of this unforgettable experience. A history trip to France, in Year 8, was made even more memorable by teachers going out of their way to arrange a detour which allowed me to visit my great-great Uncle’s grave. This was incredibly special to me and my family. Many thanks to Mr. Davies for coordinating the DofE scheme, an experience I have benefitted from as will many others who elected to take part.
Other highlights from my time at Sharples include attending events at the Royal Northern College of Music, the National Space Centre and Operation Theatre Live – perhaps useful in deciding future career paths? These experiences will stay with me forever.
I am incredibly grateful to all teachers who, without exception, have supported and encouraged me over the past five years. Big thanks to the friends I have made along the way who have somehow managed to put up with me! I hope I get the chance to thank everyone in person for everything they have done. I want to say that your efforts have helped set me up for a bright future.
Rewind to September 2019! “Cheers to a new school year. This year’s going to stand out!“ So it did. They say beauty is often deceptive; was 2020 a miracle in disguise? Sharples is not the bricks that keep it standing, nor the paint on the walls. It’s the hearts who carry more dreams than the night sky has stars. Sharples is the emotions, our stories and our love for each other.
The beginning of the new year, I still recall it clearly. Bustling corridors, cluttered classrooms, noisy chatter, bright displays. The wind howled as we arrived through the gates, we hustled and bustled down the corridors. Friends greeted each other with a hug or a playful punch while newcomers stood looking scared. The ambiance was chaotic; just so perfect. The bells rang and everybody scuttled clearing the corridors except the occasional slowcoach or chatterbox. Everybody went in. I smiled to myself. “Another school year begins,” before running in to join the others.
Into the canteen to queue alphabetically then straight into the theatre. The monotone buzz of a couple of hundred voices hummed like an orchestra of deadbeat droids. A single figure entered the room, sheer authority silenced the mass. Ms Webster – the leader of the family, the one who kept us going. To her right, Ms Denning and Madame Fairclough – honestly such exceptional teachers who strive for their student’s success. Towards the side were a myriad of teachers but I spotted Mr Hesford with his bright smile lighting the room.
Over the stress filled haze, it’s the smiles of the teachers, their motivational speeches, the support they give and the fact they will sacrifice above all for your success. It’s the endless hours of Byron to Owen to Dharker. The hours at home memorising French vocabulary. The hours on Mathswatch – which in fact works wonders! The hours spent on bonding – from covalent, ionic to metallic to bonding with each other. The hours designing for my Graphics coursework. The hours spent on the formation of volcanoes and earthquakes. All to not sit our exams, but for the thousands of memories we can cherish forever.
Lockdown has been an adventure! Obviously, not everything’s all well – with lockdown threatening to undo the work of generations of feminists. But a valuable lesson has been learnt: if you have good health you are the richest person. Because now, even money cannot buy you life. But most importantly I value school a lot more. Routine. I value my teachers, the classrooms, my peers. I miss the smiles of the teachers which warm heartedly welcome me, the classroom atmosphere and all in all school! The memories Sharples has created are timeless treasures to cherish forever.
COVID-19: The Abyss
Our soft Sea Shimmered,
The water never ceased to dimmer,
The tranquil winds never quivered.
The trees never whimpered.
Beauty Bellowing Buxomy.
Sweet Symphonies of tingling tranquility,
Like an esoteric epiphany of efficacious empathy.
But then, the taste sours.
Bitter bluster of bellowing bulge,
The Crisp cryptic capricious,
The querulous quiver of quixotic proportions.
Buildings bellow bumptiously
Streets shimmer snootily,
Houses Harrow heraldically,
Churches churn childishly.
But, we’ll be alright.
Nature doesn’t bite.
The Storm Will Pass
In the outset, I felt a flurry of excitement; finally, my chance to prove myself. On the first day of Year 11, as per usual, I was running late. After scrambling out of bed, hastily getting ready, cramming as much cereal as I could into my mouth all whilst listening to gentle but firm voices of my mum and dad telling me to hurry up, finally, I rushed to school. As I set my gaze upon the school building, momentarily transfixed, it was so beautifully disheveled. It was home.
I lapsed into thought; this is it – my last year at Sharples. Consumed by sentimentality, I entered. Being accustomed to the constant clamour of the classrooms, I didn’t feel overwhelmed, I found it rather comforting. As the year progressed and we entered the depths of winter, pressure gradually began to be foisted upon us. We were hurled into cold waters but we had hope and we were still held in tact by our courage and thirst for success. Our ALS timetable was finally decided, after weekly changes, and our seating plan for science was finally decided, after daily changes. The storm began to gain momentum.
Year 11: a gruelling year. We had to endure a relentless workload – one that encroached on and stole all of our free time. After many unit tests for science, completing banks of Dr Frost worksheets for maths, drawing and colouring in many diagrams for geography, reading articles upon articles for English, watching a myriad of documentaries for history, having daily further maths sessions in form and constantly murmuring our French speaking questions to sleep, there came times when our confidence began to falter. Doubts crept in. The countdown to our exams slowly chipped away, almost mockingly. Despite the date teasing us and our failures testing us, our teachers prevented us from falling from the precipice we found ourselves on. Once again, our hopes were hoisted. We had to trust the process even if it meant failing sometimes.
After the several Thornleigh sessions we did for extra maths; several Starbucks sessions where we did practise questions for science; daily ALS sessions: you would think we weren’t enjoying ourselves. Despite this workload, our smiles never faded. The seriousness of this year was juxtaposed with our ‘metaphysical banter’ in English, Miss Molyneux’s cactus stories in science and by the people in our class. We had such a fun variety of personalities in our class. No matter which classroom we found ourselves in, there were many quips let out which would etch a smile on your lips that would get broader as the day went on. We toiled together.
Finally, it was time: our last mocks. The first mock having crushed my expectations and the second ones having crumbled them, I wasn’t sure how I felt about these last ones. Too exhausted to pay much thought to the matter, I just went for it. After repeated rundowns of exam protocol, it’d become habitual. After two weeks of rigorous exams and monotonous college interviews, I was exhausted. I took Miss Fairclough’s advice: ‘use your breaks to recuperate’. Meanwhile, coronavirus started gaining much attention in the media. We weren’t concerned. From our perspective, in the unlikely event of school closing were to happen, our content was nearly done. We would still sit our exams. So on we worked. What ensued, none of us expected.
Wednesday 18th March, 5pm: ‘The exams for the 2020 academic year are cancelled.’
We were left as merely incredulous spectators. Sunk into melancholia, seized by a fright and having lost my peace of mind, I didn’t know what to think. ‘But all.. our work’, I stammered.
The next day in school, finality hung in the air. Engulfed by uncertainty, we drew a blank -what now? All our efforts- for what- naught? We were waiting for the wind that would wipe our sorrow. We were nearly ready. We had so nearly made it. We wanted to make our teachers proud. To show them their patience, hard-work and the free time they sacrificed for us ,repeatedly, over the years was worth it.
I tried to comprehend the gravity of the situation behind the mellow background sound of Mrs Dudley wheeling the trolley around collecting in our mock exams. Discomfort descended as we realised what tomorrow was: our last day.
Ironically ,just like the first day, I woke up late. Just like the first day, I scrambled out of bed and hastily got ready. Just like the first day, I rushed to school. An ache lingered within, as I heard Linda say through her megaphone, ‘Enjoy your last day at Sharples.’ I ambled through the corridors. It was so peculiar; I could take my time. Mr Savage wasn’t there telling us to hurry to our lesson. I glanced into empty classrooms – silent classrooms. It was as though we’d been thrown into a void, an abyss getting darker, hollower. Our laughter still echoed in my head, merely memories now. Remnants of what had been. That day we exchanged tired smiles, fighting hard to keep things together. The realisation would hit us in the days that would follow: no more Sharples any more. Dazed and lost we entered the lockdown.
“Every cloud has a silver lining”. Looking back now, the truth stands: we are indeed ‘better versions of ourselves’ compared to when we began our Sharples journey. Our journey felt like a whirlwind- an unexpectedly fun one. We endured many challenges, eventually overcoming them. We weren’t going to let Year 11 leave us torn to tatters. Still brimming with expectations, we look onwards. Now, we set our sails and try to catch the wind as we prepare to embark on our next journey. Nevertheless, Sharples will still be our home. Our beginning.