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Notre Dame’s Passiontide Services

Students re-enact elements of the final journey of Jesus.

As Lent continued into the first week of April, assemblies at Notre Dame focused on the Passion of Jesus.

Each year, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. These weeks are some of the most important in the calendar of the Catholic Church. For many centuries, the fifth Sunday in Lent (Sunday April 7 in 2019) was known as Passion Sunday. This marked the start of Passiontide. Here at Notre Dame, we commemorated the Passion and prepared for the miracle of Easter with a week of Passiontide services.

The Passion (from the Latin passionem, meaning suffering or enduring) refers to the final period in the life of Jesus. Our Passiontide services focused on the Stations of the Cross, which recall the mental and physical wounds Jesus suffered between his trial before Pontius Pilate and his crucifixion on Good Friday. A group of staff and students re-enacted elements of his last journey. Readings and prayers were interspersed with beautiful but solemn hymns and music. Those listening did so respectfully, and left each service in quiet reflection.

The student who played the role of Jesus said, ‘It has been amazing to actualise one of the most important parts of the Christian calendar, bringing this story to life.’

Notre Dame’s Passiontide Services

Students re-enact elements of the final journey of Jesus.

As Lent continued into the first week of April, assemblies at Notre Dame focused on the Passion of Jesus.

Each year, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. These weeks are some of the most important in the calendar of the Catholic Church. For many centuries, the fifth Sunday in Lent (Sunday April 7 in 2019) was known as Passion Sunday. This marked the start of Passiontide. Here at Notre Dame, we commemorated the Passion and prepared for the miracle of Easter with a week of Passiontide services.

The Passion (from the Latin passionem, meaning suffering or enduring) refers to the final period in the life of Jesus. Our Passiontide services focused on the Stations of the Cross, which recall the mental and physical wounds Jesus suffered between his trial before Pontius Pilate and his crucifixion on Good Friday. A group of staff and students re-enacted elements of his last journey. Readings and prayers were interspersed with beautiful but solemn hymns and music. Those listening did so respectfully, and left each service in quiet reflection.

The student who played the role of Jesus said, ‘It has been amazing to actualise one of the most important parts of the Christian calendar, bringing this story to life.’

(posted 10 April 2019)

Students Support Cambridge University Project

The University of Cambridge.

Upper sixth A level Sociology students met Notre Dame alumna Eloise Pearson at the end of March 2019.

Eloise is completing an MPhil in Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies at the University of Cambridge. She attended Notre Dame from 2012 to 2014, studying A level Classics, English Language, and English Literature, attaining grades A, A* and A* respectively. Before coming to us, she went to St John Fisher Catholic Voluntary Academy.

As part of her master’s degree, Eloise is completing a research project that focuses on the experiences of young women in terms of social media use. She was keen to speak to our female students, to find out their opinions on how social media posting affects their aspirations.

Eloise conducted one-hour focus groups with our students on 20 and 21 March. She showed our students trending images from the Instagram accounts of public figures, then asked them to respond. Students discussed a number of question prompts in relation to each picture.

The following week, Eloise returned to Notre Dame to carry out 20-30 minute interviews with the same students. Areas discussed included their social media posting habits, favourite blogs, and most used sites.

(posted 8 April 2019)

Higher Education Day: Epic Event

Students from Notre Dame and Cardinal Heenan explore their university options.

Every year we offer our lower sixth students a higher education event on a scale unmatched by any other sixth form in Leeds. This year, we invited year 11 pupils from Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School to come along.

Higher education day took place on April 28. The Notre Dame Careers Department invited 58 universities to set up stands in the sports hall, where our students asked them about their courses, locations, entry requirements, and every other aspect of degree-level study.

As well as speaking to a huge range of local and national universities, our students had the chance to find out about worldwide gap year opportunities. They also attended a carousel of presentations with topics including how to choose a degree course, student finance, and how to write a personal statement as part of a university application.

On the afternoon of the event, our students took part in two subject-specific workshops of their choice from a list of 38. Some of the most popular were law, business, and health. Our lower sixth particularly enjoyed the student life panel, where they quizzed current undergraduates, and got a realistic idea of life at university. Those who wanted to explore options other than higher education were able to speak to the Leeds Apprenticeship Hub about the growth sectors and upcoming roles in our region and beyond.

After Easter, these students will continue to research their post-18 options with support from their personal tutors and the careers team. So that their parents and carers are equally well informed, we’ll invite them to a Higher Education Parents’ Evening on Thursday April 25 from 6-8pm. In the meantime, we’d like to thank Mrs Dickinson, our Careers Manager, who led on the organisation of this year’s remarkable HE Day.

(posted 4 April 2019)

Social Science Undergraduates Inspire Future Students

A University of Leeds student discussing her degree subject.

Here at Notre Dame, we have five ‘Future’ programmes designed to support students with their career aspirations. One of these programmes is Future Public Services, perfect for students interested in studying subjects like politics, geography, or law at university. Those who sign up take part in a suite of activities to inspire them, build their confidence, and give them an insight into higher-level study.

During February and March, our NCOP Higher Education Progression Officer and NCOP Public Services Champion organised four presentations for Future Public Services students. University of Leeds student ambassadors delivered these, visiting Notre Dame to provide tailored information for our lower sixth students. As well as explaining the degree courses on offer, the ambassadors answered our students’ questions.

The degree subjects discussed were:

  • Politics (including parliamentary studies) and social policy
  • Geography with transport, and business management with marketing
  • Social science subjects, and law

The purpose of these presentations was to help our students develop an understanding and awareness of the range of undergraduate subjects available. The University is keen – as are we – to ensure that all our students feel able to aspire to higher education, and can overcome any barriers to attending university.

Our students benefited from being able to ask questions of current undergraduates and develop more realistic ideas about life as a student. They asked about everything from study techniques, to the university social life, to job prospects as a graduate. One commented that the sessions, ‘really brought the idea of being a university student to life.’

(posted 3 April 2019)

Bright Lights of Media City

Students marvel at the Match of the Day studio.

According to a recent government report, the creative industries in the UK could generate 600,000 new jobs by 2023. This was exciting news for Notre Dame’s Future Media students. To find out more about how they could secure a career in the media sector, our NCOP Media Champion took them to Media City and the University of Manchester.

Future Media is one of the programmes we offer to support students with their career aspirations and help them explore possible degree options. Thanks to NCOP, we have five Future programmes that our students can join, giving them access to subject talks, workshops, and many other activities. Also invited to join the trip on March 19 were students aspiring to create a college newspaper.

The first stop was Media City in Salford, where our students took a tour of the BBC. They visited the largest television studio in Europe, where programmes such as The Voice and Jerry Springer are filmed. In the Match of the Day studio, our students heard about the latest technological developments in the media, including augmented reality graphics and smart lighting. When they visited the Good Morning Britain set, three of our students relished the opportunity to give a weather report and present topical news items.

The next stop was the University of Manchester, for an introductory lecture in film studies and English literature. Our students also learnt about future careers in the media, particularly the recent shift towards a freelance model that requires staff to be skilled in a range of different areas. Afterwards, they went on a tour of the student media facilities at the University. This included a radio and television studio, and a newspaper production office. A resounding message from the visit was that a degree is just one requirement for being able to secure a media career. Building a portfolio of work is also vital for success. Universities such as Manchester offer a wealth of easily accessible extra-curricular opportunities so that students can develop this.

Student Amy Thackray commented, ‘At the BBC studios I learned loads about the way some of my favourite TV programmes are made and about jobs in the media sector. I didn’t think university was for me, but the tour of the University of Manchester showed me that there are so many incredible experiences on offer that can help my chances of working in the media industry.’

(posted 2 April 2019)

Bish Bash Boff: Anarchism Explained

Musician, playwright and anarchist Boff Whalley visited Notre Dame on Friday 22 March to speak to A level Politics students.

Mr Whalley, who many will know for his role in the band Chumbawamba, explained the origins of his interest in anarchism. He read theoretical books about anarchism at a young age but attending anarchist meetings didn’t inspire him. So when he moved to a squat in Armley in the early 1980’s, his residence there became an anarchist experiment. He and his housemates made every aspect of their houseshare communal: wages, food, chores. There was no one in charge and all decision making was cooperative and based on compromise, not a voting system.

This equitable approach extended to Chumbawamba. For Boff, creativity is key to anarchist principals and he’d always felt that music and politics were interlinked. So everyone in the house was invited to join the band, and everyone received an equal share of the money they earnt from performing. As a result, the band stayed together for almost 30 years.

In response to questions from students, Boff said he did vote but felt that action outside of this was important, such as attending peaceful demonstrations. When asked to recommend anarchist authors, he suggested Noam Chomksy and Rebecca Solnit. Our students also asked him how anarchy could work on a national scale, whether anarchy could become the dominant political system in the UK, and whether he felt that ‘anarcho-capitalism’ was a legitimate idea.

Boff left our students with a simple definition of anarchism, describing it as a system where no one tells others what to do and no one is told what to do by others. He added that anarchism is always evolving and that culture is a powerful force to bring about social change.

(posted 2 April 2019)

Student to Compete for Great Britain!

Abbey Calvert has been selected to join the Great Britain
Underwater Hockey Under 19 Ladies team.

Lower sixth student Abbey Calvert is certainly making a splash! She’s been selected to join the Great Britain Under 19 Ladies team for the Underwater Hockey World Championships in August.

This is a fantastic opportunity for Abbey, who will travel to Sheffield with her 11 teammates to play against countries such as New Zealand and Australia. This will be the 18th year for the annual tournament, which will attract players from across the world. You can find out more on the Team GBUWH Facebook page.

Abbey is very proud to have been selected. She has worked extremely hard and is now facing the final hurdle: fundraising to pay for her uniform, accommodation, travel and kit.

As Abbey says, ‘The sport is not centrally funded, so all athletes have to raise their own funds. I’m hoping my family, friends and peers will be kind enough to help me play for my country.’

Here at Notre Dame, we wish Abbey the best of luck with her training and fundraising. We’ll be keeping our fingers very firmly crossed for her in August.

You can donate and find out more on Abbey’s Just Giving page.

(posted 29 March 2019)

Alumni Impress at Oxbridge Conference

This year’s annual Oxbridge Conference at Notre Dame took place on 22 March. 114 of our students who are part of the Enhancing Excellence programme attended. We also invited students from other Leeds schools.

Dr Matt Wise, Schools Liaison Officer from Selwyn College at the University of Cambridge, led the conference. He delivered a series of engaging and informative talks, first describing the distinctive teaching methods at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge (Oxbridge). He then went on to talk about the academic and social life at Oxbridge, before moving on to what the Universities look for in prospective students. He finished by explaining how our students should present themselves in an Oxbridge application.

Alumnus Joe Marsden, who is now Student Access Officer for Selwyn College, delivered a presentation about life at Oxbridge Universities, assisted by other Notre Dame Alumni whose details are below:

  • Joe Marsden attended Cockburn John Charles Academy (was South Leeds Academy), then studied A level Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry achieving four A* grades, and is now studying chemical engineering at Cambridge.
  • Joely Hopwood attended St Thomas à Becket, then studied A level French, Law, and Politics achieving grades A* A* A respectively, and is now studying law at Oxford.
  • Caleb Dodd attended Carr Manor Community College, then studied A level Economics, Maths, and Politics achieving grades A* A A* respectively, and is now studying politics and philosophy and Oxford.
  • Laura Gerrard attended Woodkirk Academy, studied A level Economics, Geography and Maths achieving A* A A respectively, and is now studying law at Cambridge.
  • Isla Gerrard attended Woodkirk Academy, studied A level Biology, Law, and Psychology achieving B, A A* respectively, and will begin her law degree at Oxford in September, having taken a gap year.

Towards the end of the day, alumna Maysha Nowrin, who is reading medicine at the University of Leeds, answered questions from those of our students who wish to study the same subject. Maysha attended Cockburn John Charles Academy, then studied A level Biology, Chemistry, and Maths achieving three grades A’s.

Our current students really benefited from their interactions with alumni who were only a year or two ahead of them. They were able to ask a range of questions and get a realistic idea of what would be expected of them as an Oxbridge or medical applicant.

(posted 29 March 2019)

Students get to Bare Bones of Archaeology

Notre Dame students experiencing osteoarchaeology.

Notre Dame’s A level Classics students took part in a People in the Past workshop on 20 March. The University of Bradford’s Archaeology Department ran the session, which focused on osteoarchaeology and Pompeii.

This is an annual trip for classical civilisation (classics) students. They always enjoy the opportunity to speak with the university’s archaeology lecturers and undergraduates. During the morning, our students had the chance to gain practical experience in the university’s state-of-the-art labs, learning about osteoarchaeology. Defined as the study of bones found at archaeological sites, our students were able to analyse parts of the human skeleton. They carried out age and sex assessments as well as looking for signs of injury or disease.

In the afternoon, our students learnt about the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. Volcanic ash and pumice buried Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. The ash preserved the city, which archaeologists have since excavated, providing a unique insight into life for its inhabitants at that time. Our students learnt about food and feasting in ancient Pompeii. They also used virtual reality headsets to get an idea of how technical developments are influencing modern archaeology.

Our classics and geography students will have the chance to visit the city as part of a college trip to the Amalfi coast in the summer of 2019. This trip fits with the classics curriculum, which focuses on the literature, history, archaeology, culture and ideas of the ancient worlds of Greece and Rome.

We’re proud to offer such a fascinating and unusual subject here at Notre Dame. If you’d like to know more about it, please click here.

(posted 25 March 2019)

Science Festival: Biology Takes Main Stage

Teacher Mrs Sue Lowe with A level Biology students.

Notre Dame’s students were lucky enough to get involved with the 2019 Leeds Festival of Science.

Running throughout March, the Leeds Festival of Science offers a wide range of events for the public, as well as a programme of activities for schools and colleges. It aims to provide fun opportunities for people to engage with science and technology. This year, it will ‘showcase plate tectonics, interactive space toys and the funny side of climate change’. Hosting the events are the University of Leeds, Leeds City Museum, Lotherton, and Café Scientifique.

It was the University of Leeds that treated our A level Biology students to two visiting roadshows. On 11 March, 18 students took part in an interactive and inspiring How Do We Use DNA? session. This focused on gel electrophoresis, which scientists all over the world use to explore DNA. Our students used electrophoresis to diagnose patients at high risk of developing breast cancer. They looked for a lack of BRAC1 and BRAC2 tumour suppressor genes.

On 12 March, another 20 students attended Playing Dice with Epidemics. This session explored how we can use mathematics and computer programmes to simulate real-life epidemics. The students used a video game called Hospital Infections. They had to work out how long an epidemic would last and how to organise hospital wards to limit its spread.

Upper sixth student Fran Alexander-Guthrie commented that, ‘The electrophoresis workshop was enjoyable, useful and gave me the opportunity to complete a practical that we wouldn’t do in college.’ Her peer Joy Bromley added, ‘The epidemics workshop was challenging but it was interesting to see how maths could be applied to biology.’

To find out more about the Festival, please visit the University of Leeds website here.

(posted 22 March 2019)