My first term in Year 7
Induction Day and Getting Used to Senior School
I found my first day absolutely amazing. I made loads of new friends, I met my wonderful form tutors and did loads of fun activities, including a Welcoming Assembly where we each lit a candle and were given a prayer card. I was given my own paper timetable showing all my lessons, and rooms and teachers. I had my photograph taken so that I could be given a lanyard which proves I am a St Mary’s student and allows me to get lunch.
My second day was straight into proper lessons and finding my way round the buildings. In Year 7 we have most of our lessons with our forms so we can all help each other go from one lesson to another. On one occasion we were trying to find a science lab and I didn’t know where I was going but must have looked confident because everybody started following me. When I went wrong everybody had to turn round and go back together! It didn’t take long to learn my way round the school and it probably only took me a few weeks to learn where everything was.
Year 7 Bonding Trip
After we had spent a couple of weeks getting used to being at Senior School, the whole of Year 7 were taken to a Water Sports Centre for a bonding trip. We were all mixed up into different groups so we could meet people from different forms. We did kayaking, raft-building and a problem-solving orienting activity where we had to do several challenges including “crossing a swamp”. The day was brilliant and lots of us got absolutely drenched!!
Forms & Half Forms
Our year is divided into forms and each one has its own room and 2 tutors. Each tutor is responsible for half of the form. We have registration twice a day in our form room and each tutor takes the register for their half of the form. After lunchtime registration we either have assembly (Year Group, Lower School or Whole School) or we have Form Time. In Form Time we either have Form Prayers where one person or a small group does a presentation about a topic of their choice, or we have Mentoring. Older girls from Years 11-13 come and chat with small groups of Year 7 girls (from a mix of forms). We see the same mentor every time and it’s a really good opportunity to ask questions – sometimes they give us sweets!
We do Art, DT and Food Tech in our half forms. This means there is plenty of equipment available and the teachers can concentrate on helping us use the equipment safely and appropriately. We also have Tutor Time in our half forms. This is when we take turns to talk to our tutor alone so s/he can check we are happy and ask whether we have any problems or worries. While you are waiting your turn to speak there are lots of fun activities to do to help you reflect on the week.
For 2 lessons a fortnight we have an Extra-Curricular activity. In year 7 this is when we work towards an Arts Award. This term I have been creating a “Pollution under the Sea” embroidery.
Clubs, Clubs & more Clubs
There are 100s of clubs at Senior School to pick from. Most of them are at lunchtime but some are after school. If you do a lunchtime club that clashes with your lunch slot you are allowed to have a Grab&Go instead. This is a packed lunch that you collect at morning break and carry with you until you have time to eat it!
In my first term I have played in Training Orchestra and Wind Band, sung in Year 7 Choir, coded microbits in Coding Club, made an elephant in Felting Club, planted (and brought home) strawberry and mint plants in Gardening Club, built 3 bug hotels in Woodwork Club and made bubble art and bioplastic Christmas decorations in Year 7 Chemistry Club. I love clubs because it means I get to meet lots of different people in different year groups as well as teachers who don’t teach me this year but might teach me in the future.
In November the Senior School has 2 music competitions – The Young Pianist of the Year and The Young Musician of the Year. As I am a Music Scholar, and I play piano, violin and oboe, I chose to enter both competitions. It was a bit scary because I didn’t know what to expect and Covid had cancelled the Music Festival at Junior School for the last 2 years so I had forgotten what it was like to play in front of an audience. Mrs Gears, the Head of Music, was really kind and supportive, and helped me feel brave enough to compete. The actual competitions were actually much better than I had thought because the audience was in the dark so you couldn’t really see them which meant I could concentrate on my playing. I was the only Year 7 in both competitions and I am very proud of myself!
In December the Senior School had a Christmas Concert at West Road Concert Hall. Lots of different music clubs were able to perform, as well as the winners of both music competitions. It was much calmer than a Junior School Concert because only people who are in the clubs have to be there. Because of Covid we sadly weren’t able to be in the hall to listen when we weren’t playing but it was quite fun waiting back stage for our turn to perform. I was really lucky because I was asked to present flowers to one of the soloists when she had finished playing, although it was a bit scary walking out onto the stage in front of everybody!
I really enjoyed Christmas Week at Senior School because they somehow manage to fit in all the lovely activities around all our usual lessons which meant it didn’t feel as busy as at Junior School. We had a Christingle Service, Christmas jumper day with Christmas dinner and we watched the Sixth Form Review. This was a film that the Sixth Form had made with teachers doing lots of unusual but very funny things. We are very lucky to have teachers who are brave enough to take part!
I have really enjoyed my first term at Senior School. I love having different teachers for different subjects, and I absolutely love being able to do so many different extra-curricular clubs. I can’t wait to go back after Christmas!