The Ghost Story, By Noor Jameel Yr 8

I woke up to a loud banging noise. Each time the noise became louder
my heart was pounding even faster . I tentatively krept towards the front
door where I could see a monsterous silhouette, which looked as though
it was looking right at me .

Before I could seize the phone to call the police, I heard the sound of
glass smashing; I looked to my right and saw a brick covered in a pile
of shattered glass. Without even looking at the fragmented window, I
bolted back into my room and hid under the bed .

Minutes, that felt like hours, had went by and I could hear nothing . Just
as I decided to get out from under the bed, I heard a piercing creek and I
saw the door open. I tried to hold my breath, trying not to scream, as I
could see his big, black boots right in front of me.

After a few minutes, I could hear the man leave the room and without
hesitating, I climbed out of the window. But it was a trap. Just as I
managed to jump out of the window, I realised that I was face to face
with another prodigious person who was wearing a daunting white mask.

I tried to escape, but it was too late. By now his hands were already
grasped onto my arms which were being taped together. I looked away
for a split second and, everything was the same except for the fact that
the man had disappeared I made my way back into the house but the
window was no longer broken and the brick had disappeared too; but
the tape on my arms was still there.

I looked outside the window and the sun was already beginning to rise .
This was not just a dream.

I’m Funny About Windows by Bella Trobe, Year 12

There are over 25 million houses in the UK. The EPA estimates that the average house has 22 windows. That means there are at least 550,000,000 windows in the UK. From houses alone. That’s a whole lot of windows, and windows weird me out.

To me there is an immediate problem that arises when I look out of my bedroom window. To what extent is a window used for looking out? A thought first introduced to me by Mr. Twit (of Dahl’s ‘The Twits’), who asked “Who wants every Tom, Dick and Harry peeping in to see what you’re doing”. It’s one thing to question how often I watch unsuspecting strangers from my bedroom window, but another to think about how often I almost unconsciously watch tv through people’s windows or mentally chastise them for buying that sofa with those blinds. Because that leads me into a downwards spiral of how many people look inside my window, especially when I’m there. How many people have watched me through my window, and just from those few seconds, as they drove past, have created a potentially permanent image of me?

You’re estimated to see between 90,000 and 42.5 million faces in your lifetime. All the people you walk past in the morning, the strangers you lock eyes with through your car windows, the person who handed you your afternoon coffee make up this figure. But how many of these people do you make a judgement on? How many do you remember? Have any of these strangers made a direct and significant impact on your life, without you realising it?

I make up stories for people, as I watch them go about their lives, creating somewhat of a little fact-file; occupation, family life and what’s on their mind right now. When out at dinner I’ll asses the parties around us- are they married with those kids or is she just a much older daughter? Maybe she’s the aunt? Actually, the kids are really giving off bad ‘vibes’ to her- she’s the new girlfriend. This ‘judgemental’ characteristic of mine perhaps allows me notice and see more, but what if I’m blinding myself or prohibiting all sorts of potential memories?

I think it’s odd that every time you walk down the street you see a singular moment in time of someone’s life, and nothing else, but also that even then I feel this weird kind of empathy. I don’t know anything about that crying girl, or why she’s even crying. That guy with the untucked suit, running, I secretly egg on in my head, but what if he’s running from something and not towards something? This snapshot, this tiny, insignificant moment, is all they are to you.  

There are some people I see every day, and although I’ve never said a word to them I feel this strange kinsmanship. To the boy that wears the same baggy blue jeans and navy t-shirt every day, who walks just a bit faster than me; both with our headphones plugged in, even though you walk on the other side of the car park to me, I then follow you down the road until we separate, do you notice me? Do you want to know my name as badly as I want to know yours? Or to the couple that walk down the road I drive to school on, at 8 every morning, my indicator of how late I’m running (the further down the road you are, the later I am) where are you walking from? Where are you walking towards? How can someone that is so imperative to my daily routine not even know I see them or talk about them to my friends? How can I know that the you’ve worked matching outfits twice this week, but you have no idea that I know? It almost hurts me.

I was sitting in the back of my car in downtown Mumbai when I first saw a man hit a woman. It was hot outside, with a greyness in the air and loud. Really loud. Horns and yells and rabid dog barks. But the seats in the car where cool, my senses overwhelmed by that new leather smell. Everything stopped when I saw that couple though. I watched him lift up his hand in slow motion, and watching the girl scream, unable to drag my eyes away from the action, as she pulled away, ducking from his oncoming fist. She didn’t move away fast enough and simultaneously she and my heart were crushed by him. Barely any heads turned, no one did anything to help, and the majority of people didn’t even notice it had happened. Then the traffic lights turned to green and we drove away, leaving behind the couple and my childhood innocence. Those strangers changed my outlook on the world within a single minute, without acknowledging me or even knowing I was watching.

What if I am in that defining moment for someone? What if I was accidentally a part of someone’s happiest memory? Does anybody recognise me in the morning? This (maybe too large) large part of me desperately craves validation, and in many ways being remembered, even just by a randomer, makes feel as though I’m important. But windows are different. Because you have no idea who’s watching you through a window, who’s peering up from below. Windows create a frame from which you can look out of/in to, limiting what you can see. A window enables these moments, these still life portraits of a moment.

So, I’m funny about windows.

 

The Deep – by Lily-Anne Hyem, Year 7

There I stood with the bitter wind whooshing past my face, the drops of water splashing on my toes. I could see fish leaping out the water alongside the boat, the scorching summer sun hot on my face, the magnificent ocean stretched out as far as the eye could see, I stood there watching the dolphins leap elegantly out the water, as night began to fall I saw a bubbling coming up from the deep dark depths of the sea, an eye appeared; what was it? and then suddenly this huge shadow came up from beneath the ocean, a majestic, amazing whale I stared at the creature in awe and in that moment I captured the entirety of this massive mammal, the beauty of its expressive face and eyes as I looked closer at this beautiful creatures face I could see a sadness, like he was trying to tell me something, but then with an almighty splash making a tidal wave and the water turn white and frothy he was gone, leaping over the waves off to the distance, I raced towards the cabin where my dad was sitting on the bed reading a newspaper “Guess what I saw” I shout “ a whale, a real whale”

“Calm down Pearl” he insisted. “You need to go to sleep if you want to help tomorrow”

It was early morning I could hear the waves rushing at the boat hitting it with such force it shook. I whipped some clothes on and raced towards the front of the boat, within minutes we were motoring towards the shore, my eyes stared at the water, I could see it all along the shore the nets that tangle all the fish with no escape, the plastic bags that turtles eat and, all the general household rubbish like bottles, straws and tin cans that kill our beautiful sea life. I jumped out the boat and started to snatch and grab all the rubbish. I was out there all day with my dad picking it up, but didn’t make much difference as the tide would then bring in another load, it was like a full garbage truck being dumped every time.  I didn’t have to do research I had seen it myself, been there before trying to save this suffering sea life. I have been untangling turtles, dolphins and fish since I was young and still it had not got any better.

When we had finished collecting rubbish, the sun was slowly setting to its bed under the sea where under the waves a world awakes, as we were on the way back out to sea feeling better about ourselves I saw a dark figure it looked like a massive rock I shouted to dad to swerve, but as we got closer, I saw not a rock but the whale the amazing, majestic whale, plastic surrounded it, the tears rolled down my cheeks and splashed on my toes.

Interviewing Rebecca O’Reilly and Ruth Flegmann of Yr 13 about their Body Confidence Campaign that they started at the beginning of the year. – Louie Judd Yr 12

Firstly, can I thank you for taking the time with this interview on behalf of me and the Write On Team. Firstly, what inspired you to start the campaign of Body Confidence? And did you have any personal reasons to start the campaign?

(Rebecca) Originally, I had a plan to start a campaign revolved around body confidence, and promoting self love and self confidence in the school, as from past experience, I have known what it’s like to feel self conscious and unhappy in my own skin. Before the campaign idea came about, I was helping my sisters become confident and happy in their own skins, and then I thought that, not only do I not want them, but I don’t want any of the girls in the younger years, to go through what I had too in order to reach this point where I am finally accepting my body – I wanted to start the girls’ journey’s now, and know that they’re not alone. I knew this was going to take a lot of work, so I decided to ask Ruth – someone who I knew was extremely passionate about body confidence and loving yourself in your own skin. She was the first person I thought of instantly when I decided to take someone on board with me, as I knew together, we would SLAY this campaign.

(Ruth) Yeah, I joined the campaign because Rebecca asked me to but I was already so passionate about this issue that I was so honoured when she asked me. I’ve always struggled with body image from primary school- I’ve always been bigger than most of my friends and it makes me so sad to think back on how much time I wasted hating my appearance. Hopefully this campaign will help some girls to not have to deal with those rubbish feelings as well.

What’s the kind of responses you’re getting back from students in the school?

(Ruth) The response has been way bigger than I’d imagined- I honestly thought we wouldn’t have much reactions from the assembly. Loads of people have passed me in the corridors and said how good it was and the survey we sent out got a huge response. I guess it just shows that everyone who deals with these issues wants to feel like they are heard.


(Rebecca) Yeah, as Ruth said, we did not plan for such a huge response – girls were emailing us, we were receiving messages to do another assembly, and we couldn’t walk down the corridors without hearing ‘Body Confidence assembly’. It was great! Still now, we are still receiving such a positive response, which is far more than Ruth and I expected or could have asked for. We are so proud of the girls who have reached out to us and shared their thoughts and ideas with us about the campaign, and we are also so proud of the response we received, as we hope this shows that no one is alone in this journey – it takes time, but with the help of friends around you to support you, it makes it far easier to get through 

Is there a particular year group that have responded particularly well to the campaign?

(Ruth) Not really- obviously I’ve talked mostly to people in my year about it. All our friends are very supportive obviously but to be honest, I talk about it so much they’re probably sick of it by now lol

Is there a year group that didn’t react so well?

(Ruth) You know, people haven’t been negative, at least not to our faces. Obviously, you’re always gonna have some haters but that’s life.


(Rebecca) Yeah, it’s expected that we’re going to have some negative responses from the campaign, as not everyone may agree with what Ruth and I are promoting, but I think that, if anything, we have created positivity around the topic of body confidence – at first, it was definitely nerve wracking because we were standing up and promoting our bodies to the girls, and the entire school, who may not have accepted them before now, but the response was so incredible and supportive that if there are people who disagree or don’t support the campaign, it’s not going to impact Ruth and me greatly.

Are you planning on doing anything else in the next few months with the Body Confidence campaign?

(Ruth) Yeah, we will finally be putting up our paper chains. We also have a Body Confidence Club planned that we are really excited about; the main aim is to create a positive, safe and fun atmosphere for girls who feel less confident, or girls who are body confident and want to share tips on how they reached the stage of body confidence. We are also planning to introduce a ‘clinic’, which will be more personal, where girls can voice their personal issues and we can help them.

Are you planning on making a committee or club for the Body Confidence Campaign? And would you consider passing this on to another person in the school?

(Ruth) Yeah, as we said, we are planning on creating a club which can hopefully carry on after we leave. If we could, I would love to create a body confidence committee to carry on some of these things after we’ve left- perhaps people in L6. The thing is this issue is very important to Rebecca and I- it would be important that whoever takes over is as committed as we are but if there’s any girls willing to carry on, we would love that!


(Rebecca) Yes, we want the positive association that comes with Body Confidence to carry on and to do this, we need girls who are passionate and ready to commit to something like the campaign, as it requires a lot of work, but also a lot of dedication and passion!!

Did you think the reaction would be what it is? Did you expect a better reaction? Or worse?

(Ruth) Honestly we got a much bigger and better reaction than we thought. Considering we’ve only done one week of activities so far, the response has been amazing. But for me, the response that I personally get is not important- the important part is how seriously people take this message for themselves. I hope that every girl in BGS will respond to our assembly by looking in the mirror and loving what they see, seeing the truth behind the distorted portrayal of beauty in the media and telling themselves they are way more valuable than what they look like.

(Rebecca) Yeah, the response was absolutely incredible and completely unexpected, but as Ruth said, the response we received was not the aim – our aim was to reach out to the girls, even if it was only one, and help change their view of themselves into something far more positive and accepting.

How did you come up with the idea of the Spotify playlist? And how has the reaction been to it?

(Ruth) Well, Rebecca and I obviously love to dance. If you’ve been in the common room at break time, you might have even had to suffer seeing Rebecca lip-sync to the songs in there. So, when we were thinking of small ways we could help people increase their confidence, a playlist was obvious.


(Rebecca) Ruth, excuse me, you sing just as much as me… But yeah, music is something that connects so many people – it’s probably one of the only aspects in life everyone can relate too. Music, to me, makes me feel happy and safe and comfortable, and so the idea of the playlist came to me when Ruth and I were thinking of ways to make girls feel happy and good about themselves. And Lizzo is definitely someone that makes me feel good, and I wanted to share her, and the rest of my feel good songs, with everyone else!! I would also just like to announce that we have 245 FOLLOWERS!!! Thank you to everyone who supports the playlist and enjoys it, just as much as Ruth and me did when making it!!

Mad About Harry- By Ellie Simester, Year 12

Harry Banks is smiley and cheeky 10 years old who is well know and loved by lots of girls at BGS. Just before Christmas Harry was told he’d had a neuroblastoma relapse, which is incredibly rare. He has fought this type of cancer twice now, and has bravely endued chemotherapy, radiotherapy and even brain surgery.

However, even though the NHS has been amazing, there are no further treatment options available for him in the UK. He urgently needs funding for a groundbreaking clinical treatment abroad. To give Harry this chance we have to raise half a million pounds in the next seven weeks. The English Rugby team have already gotten involved, as well as Alister Cook (ex-english cricket captain) and the high street brand Misguided. Harry is an amazing boy, and deserves any change you can spare to fund his treatment in America. Every little helps, so please please donate and help us to share his story.

 

Sue Ryder Fundraiser by Caitlyn Ward Yr 12

For the past two years I have organised a fundraiser at school for Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice, where students have showcased a variety of musical performances to an audience in order to raise money. Sue Ryder is a charity that supports not just patients with terminal illness in their welcoming hospices, but also their families, including offering bereavement support. It means a lot to me to be able to raise money and awareness for such an important charity, as St John’s looked after my grandad before he died and really helped our family. It’s also a great opportunity to communicate with the people at the hospice during the organisation of the fundraiser, and to have a representative attend and speak at our evening. We have lots of plans to grow our fundraiser and make it more than just a one-evening event, too: there’s always so many options when raising money for charity. So far, we have raised a total of £673.53 from two evenings, with the hopes to raise even more this October, so help us by showing your support and coming along!

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Interview with Ms Rogers by Charlotte Parnham, Year 8

What is your favourite book?
My all-time favourite read would have to be Alice in Wonderland.
It appeals to children and as a young girl I loved both the book and the Disney film, but as an adult you can enjoy the complexities of the characters and the clever use of language. For
example did you know that the idea of a “Mad Hatter” was based on a real condition
suffered by hatters? Mercury was used to process the felt hats used in England around
Lewis’ time. Erratic, flamboyant behaviour was one of the most evident alterations caused by mercury. (Others included excessive drooling, mood swings, various debilities.)

What genres and styles do you like particularly?
I have a passion and love for Comics and Graphic Novels. When A Monster Calls was
recently made into a movie I loved the way they paid tribute to the artists work by
incorporating his illustrations throughout the film.

Why do you want to be our librarian?
It’s probably easier to say why I became a Librarian. I studied Art and to support my
education worked at my local Public Library. Here I caught the bug for books and
information research. I love finding an answer. Satisfying a request. It’s a little like being a detective. You never know what you will be asked or where you will find the answer, but when you do there is a real sense of achievement.
Working at BGS involves supporting the girls. Finding their ideal read, supporting them in their studies, sourcing books and periodicals. It also involves supporting teachers in much the same way. Underpinning the processes is the same desire to satisfy a request and find a solution to a problem.

Have you ever read any really boring books?
I don’t think a book can be described as boring. It is true to say that not all books are of
interest to everyone, that’s why it’s so important to try as many authors and styles as
possible. Maybe you prefer non-fiction to fantasy, newspapers to comics or horror to
romance. I don’t believe it when people say “I don’t like reading”, I just think they haven’t found the right book.

As an example of finding fun in a dry book, I recently introduced my daughter to the
Dictionary Story game. Take a standard dictionary and with your eyes closed, completely at random, select four words. Once you have your four words make the funniest, scariest or most imaginative story you can, incorporating those key words.

What type of books do you feel girls at BGS like to read?
Books are as unique as their reader, and the girls at BGS are independent, confident and
intelligent young ladies. As a result they read a broad spectrum of titles and authors. It has pleased me to see how many books the girls borrow and how much they enjoy reading.