Last week, we welcomed 170 prep school choristers from North Yorkshire (St Martin’s Ampleforth, Terrington Hall, Aysgarth and Cundall Manor), St Anselm’s from Derbyshire and Farleigh, who visited from Hampshire. The children worked all day under the watchful eye of our Director of Music, Ian Little, and brought the day to a beautiful conclusion as they sang together at a service of evening prayer led by Fr Ambrose in the Abbey Church, with many of their families present in the congregation.
Ampleforth's River Project team has also hosted activities, for 24 pupils from Helmsley Primary School. Our students ran four activities for the pupils who learnt many interesting facts: from identifying what lives in our local rivers to how we can use insects to judge the cleanliness of water. For the next phase of the River Project, students will start to collect data for the Environment Agency as part of a national monitoring programme; they will also be using our newly acquired camera traps to see if we have otters living along the valley.
The Upper Sixth Biologists spent a busy three days at Malham Tarn Field Studies Centre in the Yorkshire Dales, working on the Ecological aspects of the A level Biology Specification. The students have thoroughly engaged with the work and sampled the unique biodiversity which surrounds the tarn. They set small mammal traps overnight and used the traps to estimate how many rodents were living around the tarn; the students managed to catch seven wood mice and one vole! Late in the evening, those students who were not getting a much deserved rest headed out into the woods with torches and bat detectors, to see and hear the bats feeding on the many moths which surround the site.
Meanwhile, some of our German students are just back from a week-long trip to Egbert Gymnasium Muensterschwarzach, a Benedictine grammar school in northern Bavaria. As well as cultural visits to Wurzburg and Bamberg, the students enjoyed a wide variety of school lessons alongside their exchange partners, a tour of the monastery site from Fr Jesaja, and meetings with the Abbot, Fr Michael Reepen, OSB and the Headmaster. Over the weekend, their host families took them to many sites of historical and cultural interest, from tours of Nuremberg to attending a concert given by the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra in Muensterschwarzach Abbey. However, perhaps most interesting has simply been integrating into the families and experiencing life as a German student. Not only have their language skills benefited enormously, but also this has helped to develop our students' all-round character, confidence and global perspective. Now, we are happy to host the students from Egbert Gymnasium Muensterschwarzach for the next few days and look forward to hosting an annual language exchange programme with them.
Last Friday evening, the Ampleforth Highlanders played at the Houghton Feast in a massed pipe band tattoo display. The festival has its origins in the 12th Century as a dedication festival to the parish church, and now lasts ten days, in commemoration of Rector Bernard Gilpin's feeding of the poor. It was the first outing of the season for our pipe band, who also entertained Open Day visitors.
Our Upper Sixth Catechists were commissioned last Sunday during Mass and are now preparing themselves for the commencement of their important work once candidates for Confirmation are enrolled after the half term break. Many of the parents of catechists attended a celebratory drinks reception after Mass to mark this important occasion.
Racing is a popular North Yorkshire pursuit, and members of our equestrian team from the College and St Martin’s Ampleforth, along with the Upper Sixth Business Studies students, were privileged to experience a ‘behind the scenes’ visit to York Racecourse recently. They gained an insight into the history of the racecourse and its day to day life, and toured the different facilities including the Weighing Rooms and the Stewards’ room where enquiries take place. By the end of the visit, our students had gained a real insight into the many different aspects of a 21st Century racecourse and the careers open to those interested in equestrian careers.
Congratulations to the U14 girls’ hockey team, who have qualified for the National Schools North of England Semi-Finals. They did this with real style and topped their group before going on to defeat St Peter’s School in the semi-final of the County Championships. It was an exciting day for the girls who came together as a team and represented Ampleforth with passion and sportsmanship. They look forward to the challenge of trying to qualify for the North of England Finals and play for a place at the National School Finals in London.
Congratulations too to the U15A rugby team, who progress to the second round of the NatWest National Schools Competition after a 36-7 victory over Hugh Tunstall College. Some of our junior boys also competed in the first round of the English Schools Cross Country competition, and although they did not progress they have been fired with enthusiasm to improve their performance and compete in other fixtures.
Last week the Drama Department took a group of eager students on a visit to Helmsley Arts Centre to see ‘Hamlet’ – a live screening of the National Theatre’s 2015 production with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role. This was a fantastic opportunity for our Year 12 Drama students to experience the live theatre of the Barbican from the comfort of our local cinema venue and was particularly inspiring for the cast of Ampleforth’s upcoming production of Shakespeare’s great tragedy. Of course, you will want to book your tickets now for our production from Thursday 7th to Saturday 9th December here.
Hamlet rehearsals are gathering tragic pace in the Downstairs Theatre, amidst the not-so-distant strains of song and dance from upstairs, because rehearsals for our much-anticipated musical, 'Into The Woods,' are well underway and pupils are working hard to polish their performances. Tickets will be available soon for this January production.