Students keep pace with real-life Forrest Gump on charity run

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Fundraising students pulled on their trainers for a charity run alongside real-life Forrest Gump, Rob Pope.

Rob hit headlines around the world in 2016 when he embarked on a 15,700-mile journey which saw him cross the United States four times to raise money for Peace Direct and The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Last month, the 40-year-old completed the punishing six-day Marathon Des Sables, a 156-mile race in the Sahara Desert known as the toughest footrace on the planet.

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Rob, who runs wearing a ‘Run Robla Run’ t-shirt inspired by Tom Hanks’ character in Forrest Gump, was the guest speaker at last year’s Highfields Legacy Awards, and returned to the school to speak to students about the charities he has raised more than £20,000 for with his gruelling fundraising runs. He also gave the school a very generous gift of an adopted panda through WWF, which will be named by students as part of a competition in the coming weeks.

As part of his visit, students joined him on a one-mile fun run in parkland close to the school to raise around £80 for Rob’s chosen charities.

WWF (formerly the World Wildlife Fund) is an international non-governmental organisation founded in 1961 working to preserve wilderness and reduce the human impact on the environment.

Peace Direct is an international charity dedicated to stopping wars by supporting local people in conflict zones to build long term peace.

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Posted on May 24, 2019 .

Young football fans net refereeing qualifications

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Talented young female football fans have qualified as football referees, and are now preparing to put their new skills to the test as officials of grassroots games.

Highfields launched its first referee academy after the February half-term, which was open to girls aged 14 and over.

The course was the first of its kind run by Birmingham FA, facilitated by Highfields and supported by the ConnectED partnership.

Students from Years 9-12 took part in the inaugural programme.

Following weeks of coaching, all of the students completed their final examination after a motivational talk from Lisa Rashid, a professional referee who will represent the FA at this year’s Women’s World Cup in France.

They will be now be given the chance to take charge of all of the school’s boys’ and girls’ football fixtures, whilst also having the opportunity to apply their skills in the local community where they will be able to earn money for refereeing grassroots football matches.

Mr C Brickwood, Highfields’ Head of PE, said: “At the start of February half-term a group of enthusiastic future Premier League match officials started their journey to become fully qualified football referees, and it is with great pleasure that I can announce that all of the girls passed.

“This is only the start of the journey as we look to grow the academy for both girls and boys in the near future. It is an opportunity for us to enhance the leadership skills of our own students and those from other schools, whilst developing their knowledge and understanding of the game. It is a really exciting project and we are delighted that it has had such a successful launch. Congratulations to all of the girls involved.”

The girls who have qualified are: Poppy Kelly, Georgia Harris, Georgia Derrick, India Rae Martin, Rhea Gill, Madison Hawley, Libby Naughton, Kira Patel, Holly Ryall-Jenkins and Amy Lamine-Simmons.

Posted on May 20, 2019 .

Teacher swaps Science lab for saddle to raise thousands for charity

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Highfields’ Anthony Dean swapped the Science lab for the saddle to complete a 100-mile cycle ride to raise money for a charity supporting families affected in terrorist-hit Sri Lanka.

Mr Dean, Highfields’ Head of Science and Maths Learning School, completed the gruelling Vélo Birmingham & Midlands ride, taking him through Birmingham, Solihull, Warwickshire, Dudley, Sandwell and Coventry.

He is raising money for the Oru Paanai charity, which works in Sri Lanka to support communities affected by the long-running conflict there.

Mr Dean completed the race in just under seven hours, and has raised more than £1,000 for the cause. Having also completed the race last year, his fundraising efforts have brought in a combined total of more than £3,000 for the charity.

Mr Dean, whose wife originates from Sri Lanka, said: “Although the civil war is over, many people are still struggling economically in the aftermath. Oru Paanai's projects have evolved over time according to need. 

“The charity spent many years supporting school children. They are now helping to dig wells to develop supplies of drinking water and provide food aid in rural areas which are in real need.

“They are also supporting the elderly who do not have family or support from the state.

“Sri Lanka has been affected recently by serious terrorist attacks, and the disruption after these will have a further negative impact on the Sri Lankan economy.”

Speaking about the race, he said: “The event was lovely and very well organised, with regular food and water for riders. We had good weather, with friendly riders and great support from residents.”

If you would like to support Mr Dean’s fundraising, please click here

-Photograph courtesy of Velo Birmingham & Midlands

Posted on May 13, 2019 .

Highfields to perform The Addams Family

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We are delighted to announce Highfields’ next production will be musical comedy, The Addams Family, followed by feel-good family favourite, Beauty and the Beast - with auditions now lined up for the school’s budding stage stars.

The Addams Family, which depicts a ghoulish American family with an affinity for all things macabre, will be staged from November 6th-8th and feature students from Years 10-13.

Auditions for the production will take place from 3.30pm on Thursday May 16th, in Room 105.

Beauty and the Beast will be staged from February 26th-28th 2020 with students from Years 7-9.

Auditions for that spectacular will be announced in due course.

Ms S Bishop, Highfields’ Head of Extra Curricular Performance, said: “We’ve already secured the licenses to perform the shows, which are both amazing productions.

“Putting together our shows takes a lot of work over a number of weeks, but the process is always such great fun and a wonderful experience for our students.

“Highfields’ productions are open to all students and we welcome everyone to take part, whether they have had previous experience of performing or none at all.

“Anyone who would like to audition for a principal part in The Addams Family should come along on May 16th, with rehearsals starting soon after that. We can’t wait to get up and running on our next show!”

Summer Schools will also be held for both casts, which will run during the first week of the holidays, from July 22nd-26th.

The Summer School, which will take place from 10am-3pm every day, promises to be a fun packed week during which students will rehearse for the upcoming shows whilst also making some props and costumes for both productions.

Posted on May 12, 2019 .

Creative GCSE students showcase their talents at Arts Alive!

Art and Performing Arts students presented the work they have been completing as part of their GCSE studies to a live audience.

Dozens of pieces of art went on display whilst students wowed with their dance, drama and music talents in the school’s Lyceum Theatre.

The evening featured ensemble performances, monologues, self-choreographed dances and musical pieces.

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Mrs J Brickwood, Highfields’ Head of Performing Arts, said: “We were extremely proud to present our GCSE Art and Performing Arts work. Arts education is all about self expression, exploring alternative options and embracing individuality. Learning Art, Music, Dance and Drama furnishes students with the tools to think creatively, innovate and appreciate diverse cultures and backgrounds, while developing their resilience, confidence and self esteem.

“For some of our students, Arts Alive! was the first time they had performed in front of an audience, and some created pieces that are extremely personal to them. One student likened it to the entire audience reading her diary!

“It takes courage and confidence to perform, or share your artwork with an audience, and courage is something our students have in abundance. We are enormously proud of them all.”

Posted on May 12, 2019 .

London Marathon success for lunchtime supervisor Donna

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A Highfields lunchtime supervisor completed this year’s London Marathon in memory of her beloved late mum - and loved the experience so much, she’s already put her name into the ballot for the 2020 event.

Donna Lowery spent months training for the world-famous 26.2-mile run to support research into Pancreatic Cancer, which claimed the life of her mum, Linda Munday, at the age of 60 in 2014.

The 42-year-old, who lives with her family in Penn, was one of just 70 competitors running the London Marathon on behalf of Pancreatic Cancer UK, and has to raise at least £2,500 for the cause.

So far, she has received donations and pledges of around £2,000, and is urging more people to donate to help her meet the fundraising target for the charity so close to her heart.

The marathon was Donna’s second fundraising challenge for the charity, and comes after she raised £1,000 by completing the London to Brighton Cycle ride after her mum was diagnosed with the illness.

As well as already putting her name in the ballot for next year’s London Marathon, she will also be competing in a Triathlon with the Black Country Triathletes in Wombourne in September, running in October’s Birmingham Half Marathon, and competing in an Iron Man competition in Staffordshire 2020.

The 42-year-old, who also runs her own cleaning business, said: “It all feels like a dream. I keep thinking, ‘Have I really just completed the London Marathon?’.

“I feel totally normal physically, and have no aching or pain, so that’s really good.”

Donna - whose two children, Eden and Lily, are students at Highfields - finished the race in 6hrs 40mins.

She said: “I wasn’t really happy with my time but I ran all of the way, only stopping for seconds to see my family. My goal was not to walk at all so I’m very proud of that.

“When I went over Tower Bridge, I felt my knee go and knew I had to slow down if I was going to finish it.”

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Donna’s whole family, including her children, husband Wayne and dad Garth, cheered her on at various points along the famous route.

She said: “It was upsetting when I saw my dad. He’d given me a bracelet of mum’s to wear on the day and he was quite emotional because of the reason I was running it. I don’t normally really believe in things like that, but I felt like she was with me. She’d been in a lot of pain and so when my knee went I just thought, ‘come on, just get through it’.

“The support you receive from the crowds is just phenomenal. There’s people giving out food, sweets and energy gels, and shouting out your name as you go past. They were really supportive of those who were struggling and telling them they could do it.

“It was just a fantastic day, and I loved being part of it so much. I would do another one tomorrow.

“Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me.”

To support Donna’s fundraising efforts, click here

Posted on May 4, 2019 .

Battlefields trip to remember WW1 sacrifices

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Students are being given the chance to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom in World War One by visiting Belgian battlefields.

The trip to Ypres will take place from May 7th-9th 2020 and is open to students in Year 9, who studied World War One earlier this year.

Miss J Tappenden, Highfields’ Head of History who is organising the trip, said: “We anticipate that this will be an extremely popular trip having recently commemorated the 100-year anniversary of the end of WWI in school. Therefore we offer this trip to students who have shown a strong commitment to their History studies and will make the most of this opportunity.”

The trip is the latest of many visits the school has organised to Ypres over the past 15 years. Students will visit a number of important landmarks including Commonwealth war grave sites, the In Flanders Fields Museum, as well as preserved trenches and battlefield sites. 

Miss Tappenden added: “This war is central to our History studies, having enormous impact on life and society in Britain and Germany in the Twentieth Century. The area is also the location familiar to many of the poets, writers and artists who recorded the horrors and anguish of the war and whose work is world famous. The visits are highly relevant to all students of History. This is also an unforgettable experience at a human level and relevant to many aspects of education, especially, but not exclusively, History and English.”

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, and students and staff hosted a packed programme of Remembrance activities to mark the occasion.

As part of the week-long programme of Remembrance, special assemblies were held to teach students more about the Great War, whilst there was also a poetry competition and poppy sales, which raised around £160 for the Royal British Legion. A further £42 was raised for the Poppy Appeal in a raffle for a commemorative ‘Tommy’ figurine.

Lectures were held during lunchtimes highlighting lesser-known facts about the war, including how Britain treated the men who refused to fight, how women kept the war effort going, how the country was aided by Canada, India and Australia, as well as the conflict from a German perspective.

More than 120 people attended two screenings of Peter Jackson’s extraordinary film, They Shall Not Grow Old, which brings the frontline to life using remastered footage and the voices of the soldiers who were there.

Students, staff and Parents/Carers also got creative to make their own plastic poppies using old drinks bottles, which have been used to form a stunning display outside the school’s front entrance.

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Posted on May 4, 2019 .

Celebration evening for Duke Of Edinburgh's Award students

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Intrepid students were honoured for their success on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme with a celebration evening.

Former Highfields teacher, Sir Michael Griffiths, who was awarded a knighthood for his services to education, presented certificates along with DofE Area Manager, Lisa Atkinson.

A total of 76 DofE Bronze, Silver and Gold certificates were handed out on the night.

All Bronze students have had to complete at least three months of volunteering, learning a new skill with a physical element, as well as a two-day practice and assessed expedition at Llandrinio. The Silver Award includes at least six months of volunteering, with a three-day assessed expedition to Llandrinio and the Long Mynd. The Gold Award students completed all of these sections, over 12 months, as well as a gruelling four-day practice and assessed expedition in Snowdonia and the Lake District. They also completed a four-day residential shared experience with other young people.

The seven Gold Award recipients were Miss L McKenna-Fraser, who has been working as an apprentice this year for Highfields School, Highfields Sixth Form student Shifani Passap, and former students Alice Barrie, Rachel Clarke, Jemma Payne, Owen and Kent Stavenuiter.

Special in-house awards were also presented on the night to students who have worked to achieve beyond the expectations of the award they completed. The Bronze Award went to Jack Edwards, with the Silver Award going to Vishal Patel and the Gold Endeavour Award being split between Miss L McKenna-Fraser and Jemma Payne.

All of the Gold Award winners will be officially presented with their awards during a glittering celebration in London on a date to be confirmed.

Mr C Moody, Highfields’ DofE Co-ordinator, said: “This year has been really positive for the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award pro- gramme.

“They have all been on an incredible journey and they have had many memorable experiences that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

Posted on May 1, 2019 .

Budding medical students in university visit

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Students with aspirations of a medical career visited the prestigious University of Birmingham to attend an Insight into Medicine and Dentistry day.

Accompanied by Mr A Dean, Highfields’ Head of Maths & Science Learning School, and Dr Sohal, ten Year 10 students got involved in a wide range of activities at the university’s medical school, which is located next to the modern Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Students heard from a practising doctor and dentist about their working life, as well as from current medical students, whilst there was a careers talk about the wide range of jobs available in the NHS, beyond being a doctor or a dentist.

Students also got the chance to get involved in a wide variety of practical activities, including learning how to perform CPR and shock someone’s heart into beating, how to take blood pressure and how to measure peak flow, the speed that someone can breathe out, which is useful in monitoring lung function in people who have conditions such as asthma.

The university is undergoing a multi-million pound redevelopment, and Highfields students had the chance to walk through the beautiful campus and see some of the new buildings and landscapes which have been created.

Mr Dean said: “This was a great opportunity for Highfields students to under- stand better what is involved in studying for a medicine related degree, and also to see that students from comprehensive schools like Highfields are welcome and can make the grade.

“Our students were a credit to the school, getting involved and asking some good questions of the speakers on the day.”

Posted on May 1, 2019 .

Football fan Jude in running for national blogging award - Vote here!

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Football-mad student Jude Aston is celebrating after being nominated for a prestigious award for his sporting blogs.

Year 9 student Jude has made it through to the final shortlist of the Football Blogging Awards, which will be held at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium on May 9th.

The Aston Villa supporter has been running his blog, Jude’s Journey, for the past 18 months. It has seen him interview many current and former footballers such as Paul Gascoigne, Jack Grealish and World Cup winner Ossie Ardiles, as well boxing stars such as Tony Bellew.

Jude is in the running to be named Best Young Content Creator at the Football Blogging Awards.

He said: “I feel very privileged to be nominated for an award of this magnitude. To be nominated out of 144,000 people is an achievement in itself! I also feel this could be a platform to get my message across to people that you shouldn’t let anything stop you in life and you can achieve anything you like!”

Budding sports reporter Jude’s blog is available on YouTube, whilst he also uploads his video blogs to his Instagram page.

Please support Jude’s nomination by clicking here and selecting ‘Jude’s Journey’ in the ‘Best Young Content Creator’ category.

Posted on April 12, 2019 .