Just before Christmas, we received a kind donation of two copies of this out-of-print Young Adult novel set in Civil War Scilly from the author, Ann Schlee and her daughter Hannah, who is a regular St Agnes visitor. I was thrilled to receive a new copy of this novel, which was a great favourite of mine when I was growing up, loving the Isles of Scilly with a passion and dreaming one day of living here. I devoured the book over the holidays, finding that it had lost none of its magic and drama with the passing of the years.
The book tells the story of an extraordinary time when trouble, treachery and tragedy touched the islands, and in particular the life of Kate Nants - born and bred on Tresco, but caught up in events that were rocking the country on a national scale: as the Parliamentarian forces attacked the islands in 1651 to subdue one of the last outposts of Royalist loyalty. I was as captivated in 2018 as I had been in 1988 by the idea that these tiny islands were seen (as so often in history) as so important by those battling for power in England. I took great delight, too, in reading about long-remembered scenes of drama among the black, slippery, rusty rocks of Piper's Hole. I hope that new generations of children will read this book now, and admire Kate and her father's brave attempt to frustrate the Roundhead army by luring them onto the rocky shores of Northwethel.
There are a much greater selection of novels set in Scilly than many would imagine, and I am aiming to create a new collection for our students to explore: from 'Why the Whales Came' by Michael Morpurgo to Sam Llewellyn's 'Hell Bay'; 'Somewhere More Simple' by Marion Molteno to 'Breathing Underwater' by Julia Green; and, of course, Victorian classics such as 'Armorel of Lyonesse' by Sir Walter Besant, or 'Major Vigoureux' by Sir Walter Besant. If anyone has any fiction or non-fiction they would like to contribute to a Scilly school collection, please do get in touch with me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Accelerated Reader is now up and running across the School, and is bringing new excitement to our children's reading habits. All pupils from Year 3 to Year 10 have newly sorted and labelled AR books, and are reading them regularly in class, during Drop Everything and Read time and at home. We are thrilled to see pupils beginning to complete successful quizzes on the books they have read: with quite a few gaining the coveted 100% scores. We will be celebrating reading success in the school newsletter and on this blog over the next few weeks, and rewarding quizzers with House Points and Star Reader awards. Some of our students are already aspiring to join the Millionaires' Club: a prestigious award for those who have read 1,000,000 words!
Miss Robson has sent information about AR to all parents; if by any chance you missed the letter, you can find it on the Letters page of the website, along with an AR Guide for parents. She has also run a parents' workshop to explain how AR works, and is working with teachers and TAs across the school to get the AR buzz going. Ms Thornton and her students in Lifeboats really enjoyed their session with Miss Robson, and are now quizzing enthusiastically.
Top tip from Miss Robson: if you are quizzing at home, or want to look up a book to check its reading level, you can access the Accelerated Reader website via the VLE tab on our school website. Your username is your school P number (e.g. p2105), and your password is the P number twice (e.g. p2105p2105).
We are so proud of our team of Student Librarians, who showed great leadership skills in planning and organising World Book Day this month. The whole school (Primary and Secondary) celebrated the world of literature by coming dressed up as their favourite book characters. Interestingly, quite a number of Secondary students seem to be inspired by JK Rowling's Muggles.... Prizes were awarded for the best costumes in each Year group, including a subtle, thought-provoking Anne Frank from Rosie in Year 8 and a much less subtle but very entertaining team effort from the Mundesley girls in Years 10 and 11 as characters from Peter Pan: Sophie's commitment to navigating the corridors all day in her enormous cardboard crocodile head was particularly admired.
The morning's Secondary assembly was delivered bravely and with confidence by Rosie, Daisy and Freya, who explained why we celebrate World Book Day and shared their favourite books, supported by readings from Kerry, our Head Girl, and Miss Sibley. Toby, Josh, Piran and Sienna followed this in the afternoon by presenting an entertaining assembly for our Carn Gwaval Primary children, featuring great videos of Mr Songhurst, Mr Morel and Jojo talking about books they love. Aidan and Anna created a popular book-themed scavenger hunt at lunch time, Years 8 and 9 enjoyed shared reading sessions with children from Yellow and Blue Classes, and Lily showed us the way to go with a fantastic literary signpost for the courtyard. Thank you so much to all the students who worked hard to make the day a success.
As the crowning glory of World Book Day, a whole school story was created. It travelled from St Agnes, where the scene was set (a Cloud Kingdom, ruled by a cold hearted and terrifying queen), across all the off islands, up through every class in Primary and on to its dramatic climax and hope-filled resolution penned by Years 10 and 11. Mrs Maddy is putting all the component parts together, and we look forward to reading and sharing the finished Five Islands tale.
We'll upload the photos from World Book Day here very soon (although Mrs Lewin is a bit embarrassed by how extraordinary she looked in her Miss Havisham costume).
Here are just a tiny selection of the wonderful new books we have just bought for the Secondary Library. We have consulted widely with students, and focused particularly on new non-fiction books, books for people who are interested in sport, survival and the outdoors, and books for our humour section. But there are also a good range of new Young Adult novels, such as 'Coraline', 'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children', 'Girl Online', the 'Divergent' series, 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' and 'The Potion Diaries'. Can you spot any books below that you'd like to read? Come to the Library and browse the whole selection....
Paperback Christmas Trees
We welcomed Jackie Page, from St Agnes, in to our Library Session this week, to show us how to make Christmas decorations out of old unwanted books. Now, before we go any further, here's an important message: please don't destroy books that are in good condition and that other people might enjoy reading! Donate them to our Library instead! We are always grateful for new books for the students to read.
However: if you do have some books that you really think are no good for reading (perhaps they have damaged spines, or are very tatty), they are fabulous for making literary Christmas trees. You don't need any scissors or glue - just a bit of patience and some meticulous folding. We had a great lunchtime with Jackie, learning how to make the decorations, and are now all a bit addicted to paper folding. It is so therapeutic and peaceful.
There are some photos below of our workshop, and of the finished articles. You can leave them plain, which some of us think looks understated and cool; or you can go crazy with glitter and baubles to decorate them... up to you. Have a look at this YouTube video which tells you how to do it, and please do send Mrs Lewin photos of your decorations to post up here. We'd love to see them.
The Student Librarians meet every Friday to organise book-related activities such as World Book Day, book art sessions, book group discussions and improvements to the Library. You will have seen the beautiful murals that welcome you into the Library: painted by Student Librarians and artists from a range of year groups, with support from Miss Pearce and Mrs Lewin. But the Librarians also work every day to ensure that the Library is tidy and welcoming for all students: updating displays, organising shelves and responding to student book requests.
As evidence of the responsibilities they carry out, they work towards their Bronze, Silver and Gold Librarian certificates: keeping records of their shelving activities, cataloguing books, writing book reviews and taking skills tests. We have more and more students joining our busy group - and all are welcome! Please come along on a Friday lunchtime if you are interested in joining us. Meanwhile, if you are in the Library and would like advice on reading matters, look out for the students illustrated by Lily on our Secondary Library noticeboard: Sophie Poat, Rosie Julian (Bronze Librarian), Aidan Smith, Freya Jenkins (Bronze), Daisy Davis (Bronze), Toby Hicks, Anna Garman, Lily Chuter, Sienna Hathway, Charlotte Bond, Piran Julian and Fraser Clark. Thanks for all their hard work!
The Student Librarians have just stamped and shelved a great new selection of books donated to us from the organisation 'BookTrust'. There's a really good selection of short stories, real life adventures and future fiction classics by well-respected authors. Have a look at the titles below; download the reading guide if you are interested; and come to the Library to browse and borrow.
The Secondary Library was delightfully busy on World Book Day, which was celebrated fully in Secondary for the first time at the request of Student Council. Literary villains, heroes and heroines strode the corridors of the school - the costume contest being won against strong competition by Sophie 'Katniss' Poat and Fireman Sam Stephan. Special mention should go to some of the excellent staff costumes: Professor Branestawm-Leeman, Gansta Granny Sara Symons and Miss Danny's Dad Turner, among others. During the day, Primary and Secondary staff collaborated to organise successful shared reading sessions with Year 7 and Yellow Class, a model we hope to build on in the future. And at lunchtime in the Library, three teams battled it out over a Bumper Book Quiz, a mixed age team led by Jasmine Hoyle emerging the victors. Well done to all who participated!