Throughout April, some of our Stoics observed the religious celebration of Ramadan. This involved them fasting during daylight hours. Other acts of worship such as prayer, reading the Quran and charity are also encouraged during the holy month.
On Tuesday 3 May, Muslims celebrated Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan. This celebration is often marked with the giving of gifts, as well as lavish feasts enjoyed with family and friends.
To mark this occasion, Stoics who celebrate this festival were invited to a special breakfast, allowing them to come together as a community. Ms Lamrabat Benkacem-Ziani had lovingly put together gift bags for the pupils, made up of a variety of traditional sweets and gifts.
The Stoics enjoyed a wonderful feast of pastries and cooked breakfast, as well as some traditional baklava. Conversation centered around typical celebrations at home, and also around how important it is to recognise different faiths, and the feeling of solidarity that such celebrations can entail.
It was wonderful to celebrate Eid in this fashion, and we hope that we can continue to host such celebrations in the future.
On Tuesday 26 April, the International Society held the Junior International Dinner.
All Stoics from the Third, Fourth and Fifth Form who have a non-British nationality were invited to attend a dinner to celebrate the diversity and range of cultures we have within the School. The Heads of Year, Ms Penryn-Lowe, Mr Teasdale and Mr Elwell also joined the celebration, alongside international staff members, Mr Chitre and Ms Houda Lamrabat.
The evening saw pupils from a range of Houses, year groups and countries mixing together, showing just how truly multicultural our pupil population is. The Food Services Department laid on a fantastic meal, including salmon gravadlax to start and South African bobotie for the main course. During these courses, an international quiz was held, asking pupils questions about the different nations from which our Stoics originate. An opportunity was also provided for attendees to nominate other Stoics for categories such as the ‘furthest flung’ Stoic (the one whom travels the furthest from home to attend school), and the ‘Language Lover’ (the one who speaks the most languages).
Whilst Stoics enjoyed a delicious dessert of chocolate fudge cake, the winners of the quiz were announced. A short speech was also given by Miss Shah, thanking all International Stoics for their contribution to the School, and for bringing the School year to life through sharing aspects of their culture with us.
Enormous thanks go to the Food Service Department for their outstanding efforts in ensuring all Stoics and staff had a wonderful time.
Stowe-Daly Virtual Exchange 2021-22
The fourth meeting of the Stowe-Daly virtual exchange took place on Monday 6 December, towards the very end of a busy term for both schools. Stoics and Dalians spent some time initially in breakout rooms, discussing the festive celebrations both have been undertaking. Stoics shared the highlights of the term with their partners, reflecting on the sporting achievements of the School, and events such as House Song.
This was followed by presentations of the festive celebrations undertaken within each country and school. Stoics presented upon the religious aspect of both Advent and Christmas, and what the Christian Faith teaches about these times of the year. They also shared how the School community celebrates these events, in the form of services in Chapel, House decorations and Christmas dinners.
The Dalians presented about the different tourist attractions within India, providing some great visuals of these locations. It made a number of us very envious and begin to get itchy feet to get traveling again!
Alongside these presentations, each school shared their entries for the Stowe-Daly Art Competition. The aim of this competition was to not only deepen the relationship between the schools, but also allow for a greater cultural understanding of each nation.
The competition involved each school submitting a dance performance, a musical performance and a piece of traditional artwork. All of these had to be based upon the theme of their own country. Each piece of work submitted was judged upon the skill utilized, the passion demonstrated, creativity used, and how well it portrayed the nation it was trying to represent.
A number of Stoics have thrown themselves into this competition. An outstanding dance performance was put together by Marina Goje (Third Form, Cheshire), Beatrice Gordon (Third Form, Nugent), Bee Harvey-Craig (Lower Sixth, Cheshire), Olivia Hillier (Third Form, Lyttelton), Amelia Hine (Lower Sixth, Cheshire), Annabel Hussey (Third Form, Nugent), Maya Lopes-Wilson (Upper Sixth, West), Polina Von (Upper Sixth, Queen’s), Kia Winnington-Ingram (Upper Sixth, West) and Hannah Wilkinson (Third Form, Lyttelton).
Wednesday Zhu (Upper Sixth, West) designed an excellent piece of artwork which truly demonstrated the complexities of life within the UK.
Many thanks must be extended to Ms Owen, Matron of Temple and Yoga/Fitness Instructor, for supporting the Stoics in choreographing the dance piece.
The Exchange Programme and the Art Competition were both a huge success, and have helped us foster further connections with our partners in India. We are hopeful that this partnership will continue long into the future!
Fran Shah, Head of International Pupils
October was Black History Month, and to celebrate, the International Society launched an arts competition. We had many pieces of work being submitted, some of which are on display outside the Dining Hall. The winners of the competition are;
Third Place goes to Imogen Taylor in Nugent, who will receive a Domino’s pizza.
Second Place goes to Vinci San Bonifacio in Chatham, who receives a £20 Amazon voucher
First Place goes to Deborah James in Nugent, who wins a £30 Amazon voucher
Congratulations to all those who participated, and many thanks to Precious Wakhungu who organised this event.
Fran Shah, Deputy Co-Curricular Co-ordinator
Over the course of the last year, Stowe has been continuing to work upon its development as AWARD a multicultural and international School. This has taken a huge amount of work to ensure the pastoral, academic and whole-school elements of the School, promote and encourage a celebration of diversity and identity amongst both the Staff and Stoic body. These efforts have seen Stowe be awarded the Intermediate Level of the British Council International School Award.
This Award recognises Stowe’s commitment to international teaching and learning, and the appreciation the School has for embedding and developing international activities within the community. In the academic world, the School has made great efforts to incorporate greater amounts of this in a range of subjects. Most notably, this has been demonstrated within the PSHE curriculum, designed by Ms Huxley Capurro, which ensures pupils reflect upon the formation of their own identity, and issues such as unconscious bias. These crucial elements of multiculturalism have been furthered across the entire School, with Ms Clark and members of the leadership team reflecting upon and amending School policies related to this. Ms Clark has also been sharing best practice in this area with local teacher training providers, ensuring that Stowe supports others with their journey towards internationalism.
The School has also made great strides forward in developing the activities and co-curricular provision to ensure that Stoics can engage with the entire global community. Links and connections have been fostered with Daly College in India, which saw a fruitful exchange programme take place online. The Service@ Stowe programme has also seen many opportunities for Stoics to develop their understanding and awareness of the global environment. Activities such as Amnesty International, run by Ms Holloway, and the Eco Schools project led by Ms Rowley, allow Stoics to recognise the impact that their own lives can have upon those around the world. The Community Project Team has also worked hard to ensure Stoics have been able to effectively support those living in more dangerous or vulnerable parts of the world, with initiatives such as the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Campaign being launched.
Alongside this, the School has continued to support international pupils pastorally, with the mentoring of pupils from abroad taking place more regularly. Despite the pandemic, the School has also ensured that international festivals are celebrated, such as Thanksgiving in November, to allow all Stoics to truly feel that Stowe is a home away from home. Our international pupils are also regularly provided with the opportunity to give feedback upon how they are finding life at Stowe and make suggestions for how their culture can be further represented. This use of pupil voice is something on which the School prides itself and many Stoics engage with well.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have worked so hard in ensuring that Stowe becomes more international in its nature - without the efforts of Ms Huxley-Capurro, Ms Clark, Ms Holloway and Ms Rowley, the reach of internationalism within the School would be very limited. However, thanks to their hard efforts, we have been able to see Stowe progress on its journey to develop pupil and Staff understanding of multiculturalism and globalism.
Monday 1 November 2021 saw Stoics participate in the second meeting of the Stowe-Daly virtual exchange. The Stoics involved have been staying in contact with their partner pupils from Daly College in India, and during this meeting, spent 15 minutes getting to know them and discuss their half term breaks.
After these initial discussions, Stoics then presented to the Dalians about the variety of Autumn and Winter festivals held in the UK, providing discussions upon Remembrance Day, Christmas and Burn’s Night. Within these presentations, Stoics gave depth about the history of the festivals, as well as traditional ways of celebrating.
The unusual foods and dancing which occur during Burns Night were most fascinating for the Dalians to learn about. The Dalians also presented about the festivals celebrated in India throughout the entire year, giving some great detail about the Hindu calendar, alongside the celebrations of events such as Holi, Diwali and Eid. The photos and videos shared by the Dalians really brought the experience to life, and really highlighted how similar the two nations are in regards to decorations within festivities, but differ in regards to specific cuisines or music.
We do wish our partners in Daly College a Happy Diwali and hope that they can celebrate with their families to its fullest extent.
Prior to Christmas, the virtual exchange between Stowe and Daly College, Indore, had begun with some great success. Unfortunately, the nature of the pandemic and ever-changing lockdowns saw the third part of the exchange postponed time after time. Despite the increasing struggles facing India as a nation, Dalians showed great determination in ensuring the final exchange meeting continued to go ahead.
The third meeting took place on Thursday 28th April, seeing pupils present ‘A day in the life of a Stoic/Dalian’ to their partners. The Stoics presented well, with Poppy and Amalie highlighting the differences between a Lower School and a Sixth Form pupil. They recognised that although being in the Sixth Form comes with luxuries since as alcoholic drinks at Stowebucks, it comes at the price of much higher expectations both academically and in house. Grace then shared her thoughts on how the experience within Stowe differs for pupils belonging within the new Day Houses, suggesting that the days can be much longer due to the need to travel to and from School. However, the benefit of being able to return to your own bed at night makes it all worth it! Thanassi highlighted his experiences of Stowe through the eyes of an international pupil, making the Dalians aware about the challenges this can pose with staying in touch with friends and family. Finally, Mimi illuminated the Dalians with her role as Head Girl, explaining the key responsibilities of this, and the reasons she enjoys the position so much.
The Dalians then shared their experience of life at School, suggesting the opportunities within the two Schools are very similar. The co-curricular and Sports Programme shares similar activities, and is a key element of both institutions. Alongside this, pupils in both Schools sit iGCSE exams in a number of subjects. The pupils took the opportunity to share their knowledge within academic areas and support each other with their studies! Although the two Schools do have similarities in their aims and shape of the School day, there are key differences in regards to the timings of different activities throughout the day, and also the types of co-curricular programmes available. It certainly opened our eyes into how we could begin to incorporate some of the wonderful things Daly provide into Stowe in the future!
All parties involved thoroughly enjoyed the process, and have gained a lot from this experience. We do hope we are able to maintain our links with Daly, and are beginning to consider how we can begin to expand our virtual exchange programme to other nations around the world. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Daly community whilst their nation undergoes such a turbulent time, and we do hope we are able to maintain and foster our partnership further in the future.
In February 2020, Staff from Stowe School met with Staff from Daly College, India, to begin preparing for an exchange programme to take place during the academic year of 2020-2021. Initial plans were very exciting - with trips to local cultural sights, taking part in School activities and celebrations and also gaining a deeper insight into the political and cultural life of each country. Unfortunately, the pandemic saw these plans being shelved, as travel became impossible.
Staff didn’t let this prevent the exchange from taking place though, and resolved to hold a Virtual Exchange programme between the two schools. Stoics from the Sixth Form were invited to join this programme, and this was an opportunity which was taken up by Thanassi Ghertsos (Lower Sixth, Chandos), Poppy Goaman (Lower Sixth, Lyttelton), Amalie Mager (Lower Sixth, Lyttelton), Grace Hurrell (Lower Sixth, Cheshire) and Mimi Pearson-Gee (Upper Sixth, Nugent). The meeting saw Stoics and Dalians get to know each other during a game of Charades, in which Thanassi gave an interesting performance to represent the film, Pirates of the Caribbean! It didn’t take long for pupils from both schools to relax and enjoy one another’s company.
After this icebreaker, Dalians then presented to Stoics about Diwali, a national celebration which is taking place this week. The Stoics involved had very little prior knowledge about this festival, and were taken aback by how much the celebration impacts people’s lives in India. They also were very jealous of the fact that the celebration lasts a whole week, and many stated that they wish we had a similar festival in the UK! The initial exchange meeting was a rousing success, with Stoics and Dalians promising to keep in touch in the coming weeks.
The next meeting between the two schools is scheduled to take place at the end of November, and will see pupils present to each other about the life, culture and traditions of their home nation. This will provide a great opportunity for Stoics to not only practice their public speaking skills, but also begin to question their own preconceptions about life in India. Alongside this, comparisons will be able to be made between the lifestyle of the two nations, and the reasons for the similarities and differences. The virtual exchange between the two schools will continue to take place until the end of 2020, and we do hope it can be furthered into 2021. Fingers crossed, once the world returns to some sort of normality, we will be able to couple this with an in-person exchange programme!
During October Half Term, unable to travel home, some Stoics remained at School for an October Staycation. The two-week period saw a rowing and cycling challenge take place, with Stoics competing to travel the furthest distance. Many of the boys enthusiastically got stuck in, eager to win the free take away offered to the winner. Yin Lin (Fourth Form, Bruce) impressed all with his daily cycles and rows, clocking in over 10k each day! Alongside this, Stoics were able to utilise the sports facilities. Basketball matches became a daily occurrence, as did some heated badminton matches between Ruo Han Zhang (Upper Sixth, West) and Ashlyn Jiang (Upper Sixth, West). Stoics were entertained in House as well, with evenings being filled with a variety of activities, ranging from cookie decorating to quiz nights. The mocktail making competition showed the creative side of Stoics, with them being judged not only on taste, but also appearance and theme. Some concoctions certainly tested the stomach of Dr West, with the winning one being devised by Aaryan Aswani (Lower Sixth, Temple), Arseny Savrasov (Lower Sixth, Chatham) and Daniel Garcia Bornholt (Lower Sixth, Cobham).
A Dragons’ Den style competition saw some strong ideas being presented, including Stowe branded ICT equipment such as chargers and phone cases. Evenings were filled with movie marathons, quiz nights and ice cream sundae bars, ensuring there was a range of ways for Stoics to keep themselves busy throughout their stay.
Many of the pupils made a great impression upon Staff, which resulted in the Head’s Special Prize being awarded to Yi Lin, Gilbert Xu (Third Form, Chandos), Wednesday Zhu (Lower Sixth, West) and Arseny Savraso. I would like to take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge and thank the hard work done by all staycation Staff; Giles Cuddy, Andrea Westmoreland, Gordon West, Louise Davitt-King, Steven Matthews, Rhea Stafford-Smith, Thalia Felton, Ben Coddington, Rob Ingham Clark, Sarah Bagshaw, Alice Kenny, Ben George and Matt Turner. Alongside this, the cleaning, security and catering teams all did a fantastic job and a big thanks must go to Jo Cross and Nikki Fhalora, who co-ordinated and organised all of the pupils and Staff brilliantly. The Staycation could not have been a success without them going above and beyond to ensure all Stoics are safe and happy at all times.
The first few weeks of Term have seen the International Society beginning to develop the multicultural nature of the School. Having had a number of oversees Stoics choose to base themselves at school for their quarantine period upon arrival to the UK, many of our international pupils have already built some strong connections with each other and developed good relationships across different year groups and Houses. This Term, the International Society is beginning to plan and organise its first whole school event of the year – an International Stoic Fair! This will be a chance for any oversees Stoics to share their culture from home – introducing pupils and Staff to new types of music, dance, food and more! Any Stoic who is interested in being involved, needs to contact Miss Shah to gain more information, and begin putting together resources for the fair.
Chinese New Year was celebrated across the globe on Saturday 25 January. The celebration, based around the lunar month marks the beginning of the year of the Rat. It is said that people born in this year like saving and that if they ever give you a gift, they clearly think a lot of you, as rarely spend money on others! Stowe partook in the festivities in a multitude of ways. The entire school wrote messages of positivity to each other, and placed them in Red Envelopes with a chocolate coin, to emulate the tradition of yasui qian. Houses were decorated in bright colours, with various Chinese dragons and symbols. The photos here show the incredible efforts of Mr and Mrs Cuddy in Walpole house to bring the festival to life! Stoics also visited the local primary schools to share their culture with younger pupils. Clarissa On, Mary Ding, Ruo Zhang and Sirui Jiang were joined by the matron of West, Mrs Harding, on their visit to Chackmore primary school. Whilst there, the girls taught the primary school pupils how to speak basic Chinese, Chinese calligraphy, and also how to make Chinese paper lanterns! Glue, coloured paper and felt pens galore, the pupils from both schools thoroughly enjoyed themselves!
On Saturday 2 November, members of the Stowe badminton team played a set of friendly matches against students from Buckingham University. Both establishments have a great number of international students who are interested in the sport, and as such this proved an ideal opportunity to support Stoics from all nations. Many of the university students have only been in the UK for a few months, and found this a great way to practice their English as well as develop new skills. For Stoics, it allowed for time to converse within their native language, and also discuss the challenges that come with beginning education in a foreign country. The badminton matches were played well, with the Stoics being praised frequently by the university students for their outstanding skills in the sport, as well as their humility and welcoming nature. Some excellent connections have been formed between students from both locations, with the university students being keen to participate not only in further sports tournaments, but also to support the school through delivering academic talks and lectures.
Stowe School houses a great variety of cultures, faiths and ethnicities. We are home to students and staff from over 40 different countries, ranging from Ghana to Australia and beyond. With such a diverse population within our school body, the school is developing the support and care offered for students who have joined us from abroad. Some students from other nations may initially find they experience culture shock or homesickness when arriving in Britain, and as such, may need additional guidance in their first few weeks at Stowe. The first International Student Dinner was held on Tuesday 10 September, and provided an opportunity for our international students to mix with others who have a similar culture to themselves, and also to meet those from other countries too. The time was also used for the students to voice any concerns or difficulties they have about being in the UK, and to provide ideas of how we could grow the multicultural nature of the school. Many students have since opted to join an International Student Council, which will be meeting at least once a half term to build upon the initiatives proposed on this evening.
On Thursday 28 November, Stowe celebrated Thanksgiving in style! As we are home to over 20 American and Canadian pupils and Staff, we wanted to ensure they were able to celebrate as they usually would at home. Thanksgiving is a federal holiday in the United States, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. It was originated as a harvest festival. Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, and now Thanksgiving is one of the United States’ most important holidays. As such, Constance and Helen Sharp (Third Form, Lyttelton) offered to teach Stoics how to play American football. They explained the rules of the game well, and although tackling was not allowed, pupils thoroughly enjoyed getting involved in learning a new sport!
The Music Department hosted a concert in the Ugland. A short talk was provided by Alice Scheffey (Fourth Form, Queen’s) about the importance of Thanksgiving, followed by performances from Theo Hayes (Upper Sixth, Chatham), Poppy Baker (Lower Sixth, Cheshire) and Purva Shegunshi (Lower Sixth, Cheshire). All pupils involved delivered outstanding pieces, and it was an excellent celebration of just some of what the USA has provided to the musical world. The Catering Staff supported this celebration by providing a delicious Thanksgiving meal in the evening, made up of not only the traditional roast dinner, but also pumpkin pie for dessert! Decorations were put up around the State Dining Room, and American pupils competed to name as many US states and American Presidents as possible. With full stomachs, Stoics were then encouraged to reflect in House about what they are thankful for, showing a great air of gratitude and thankfulness throughout the entire School body.
The optional Exeat in December comes as a welcome break for our pupils, with the opportunity to see friends and family before the final hurdle into Christmas. However, many of our international pupils can find it difficult being away from loved ones so close to the festive period. As such, a trip to London was arranged for the International Pupil Council. Pupils undertook a tour of the London Dungeons, hearing all about the wicked and dangerous past of the city. The Stowe pupils got involved in the fun, with Alicia Wilson (Third Form, Lyttelton) acting as a runner for Guy Fawkes, and Michael Chen (Lower Sixth, Chandos) being found guilty and hung, simply for being from Hong Kong! Dr Dennis didn’t escape easily either, having to undergo various torture methods, including having his manhood removed! After the fun and games, Stoics then spent some time Christmas shopping in the capital, with many enjoying lunch in Chinatown before returning to school. A fantastic first outing of the International Pupil Council, with many more on the horizon.
Francesca Shah, Head of International Pupils