Study advice from senior pupils

On our recent PSHE Day, we asked senior pupils for the benefit of their study experience:

what advice would you give 4th year pupils who have never sat an SQA exam?

Here are some of their responses.

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Let the Children Live

Miss McGinness, Acting Principal Teacher of RE, organised a vist from George McAleenan of the charity, Let the Children Live.

George spoke to pupils S1, S2 and S4 about the work he does with the street children of Colombia. Pupils were shown the horrendous conditions that children and families live in: the lack of shelter, lack of hygiene, lack of food, problems with gangs and drugs, and even the lack of simple human contact.

During Lent, we hope to raise money for this fantastic charity which aims to provide care and education for the forgotten children of Colombia.

Annual Education Mass

Report from Mrs Sinclair

The Annual Education Mass took place last night in Motherwell Cathedral. The Caritas choir ably assisted by other choir members from fifth year led the musical liturgy, which was marvellous.

Thanks to all of these young people and their teachers who gave of their time so freely to represent our school so well. Numerous people from the congregation asked me to pass on their thanks and congratulations to our choir and their teachers. Well done.

2015 Annual Italian Exchange Trip

Report by Rachel C

Our adventure started in an unfamiliar, foreign land. And no, I’m not talking about Pistoia- I’m talking about the grounds of Dalziel High School. On the 4th of February S6 pupils and one S5 pupil left behind the concrete jungle of Motherwell in search for more sprawling landscapes accompanied by Mrs Fitzpatrick. The trip was part of the annual exhange student trip which has been going on for 13 years. In the September of 2014 Scottish students at Our Lady’s High School welcomed visitors from Pistoia, and finally got to meet their Italian “twins”. Now it was our turn to see how the other half live.

After a 3 hour plane journey and a 4 hour bus journey, we arrived at our destination- not that we could see anything, it was pitch black outside. However the Hotel Ville Delle Rose where we would be staying for the next 7 days made up for the lack of visible scenery.

The next day we were (kind of) recharged and ready to reunite with our Italian twins. We visited their school like they visited ours and we finally had a chance to ogle at the landscape on the way there. Our Italian twins greeted us and brought us inside. We spent the morning dancing and singing and of course, eating. Later the Italians took us to a shopping centre for a few hours and then to one of the Italian’s houses to hang out.

After having the day to mingle with our Italians and settle in, it was time to do some sightseeing. Our first stop? Pisa! When we arrived we had the obviously had the chance to go up the infamous Leaning Tower of Pisa (if you have a phobia of long, windy stairs I don’t recommend) and visit the Cathedral Piazza dei Miracoli and roam around the surrounding area and see what it had to offer. (Yes, I’m talking about food again.) That night we all went to a party hosted by one of our very hospitable Italian’s.

On the fourth day of our trip we went to the beautiful city of Florence. Florence is now easily one of my favourite cities. Fair enough most of the shops were out of my budget but the architecture was simply stunning! We visited the famous Ponte Vecchio which is built across the River Arno, and is the first bridge built in Florence. We also visited Piazza della Signoria, which contained many sculptures and statues including a copy of Michaelangelo’s “David”. But for me perhaps the most captivating sight was “Il Duomo”, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore- it was easily one of the most beautiful buildings I had ever seen in my life. At night we went to a karaoke bar called “Mago Bago” with the Italians.(You can bet that was a laugh considering half of us had sore throats and could barely talk.)

On day numero five we made a journey to Viareggio to attend the Carnavale di Viareggio. This was easily one of my favourite days, I have never witnessed anything like it. The point of the Carnavale is to poke fun at politicians and people in power, it is a satirical event. They do this by parading floats throughout the town. There are not only floats, but performers, music, food and a LOT of confetti. (I’m still finding it in my pockets) Whilst in Viareggio most of us also took up the opportunity to buy one of the famous Carnavale masks, as it is tradition. That night we ate dinner in the hotel.

We had an early rise the following morning, as that day we were heading to Venice. After the long bus journey and a short boat trip we were free to stretch our legs and roam the peculiar city. We spent the day exploring all the little nooks and crannies and browsing in the rather eccentric shops. Perhaps the highlight of my day in Venice was dinner. Not only was my first carbonara amazing, but it was accompanied by the live music of an accordion player- now that is a true Italian experience!

The end was looming near on day 7, and we used our last full day in Pescia to hang out with our Italian friends. We spent our last day like our first – in the school. In the morning we  experienced what Italian drama classes are like with a drama workshop. The workshop included a lot of fun – if not rather strange activities, I definitely deserved an Oscar after that class. We spent the next few hours being serenaded by our own Konner, Callum, Jack and two other very talented Italian students. After that we visited the quaint little town of Montecatini before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the farewell disco, where we ate pizza (of course) and the Italians showed us up with their dancing skills. (turns out the macerena doesn’t count…)

Day eight marked the final leg of our journey. We all knew this day was going to come, but we were just having too much fun to think about it. We met our Italian twins in the lobby after breakfast and not soon after the tears were flowing – and I MEAN flowing (knew I should have brought my water wings). We exchanged gifts and had the chance to take a few photos before heading outside with our luggage. We said our final goodbyes to our Italian friends, but for most of us, we knew it only meant, “Goodbye, for now.”  Now it was time to start on our long journey back to reality, but we left Italy on good terms, knowing that we would return.

The Italian exchange truly was a life changing experience, a once and a lifetime opportunity that I am so glad I took part in. We got to visit so many beautiful and exciting places, and we made true friends with some amazing people. It was a truly eye opening experience, and I would recommend that any upcoming fifth and six year students sign up, as it is a journey you will never forget.

Giant Heptathlon 2015

Report by Miss Simpson

A group of S1/2 pupils from OLHS competed in the annual North Lanarkshire Schools Giant Heptathlon at Ravenscraig Sports Centre on Friday 20th of February.

This was a team event and pupils competed against eight other schools in North Lanarkshire in the following events:

  • 60m sprint
  • 60m hurdles
  • beanbag endurance run
  • standing long jump
  • standing triple jump
  • over head throw
  • one minute step-up endurance.

After these seven events the competition was finished with S1/2 boys and girls relay races in which OLHS achieved three first places and a second place in.

All the scores were added together and both the S1 and S2 teams were placed third and received medals and a trophy.

All pupils who participated were absolutely fantastic!  Not only did they demonstrate a high skill level but they showed a tremendous team spirit and did OLHS proud!  Well done!!

The following pupils particiapted in this event:

S1 Team:  Daniel Collins, Paul Devlin, Rachel Donnelly, Erin Doyle, Amy Dunne, Ugonna Eruigo, Maja Fereniec, James Low, Daniel MacLeod, Evan Murphy, Jon Joseph O’Hanlon, Robbie Payne, Ciara Scullion, Caitlin Thomson, Katie Torrance , Hannah Townsley, Niah Welsh

S2 Team: Tommy Brierton, Mateusz Cymerman, Morgan Deakin, Megan Grew, Eammon Higgins, Alicia Jackson, Eric Katati, Robyn Leach, Adam Lynch, Lauren McCann, Lucy McQuaid, Adrian Monka, Shannon Waldron, Ronan Winton

St Bernadette’s Parish Mission

Fr Stephen Reilly and the parishioners of St Bernadette’s would like to invite all staff and pupils of Our Lady’s and their families to their parish mission.

A mission is a series of creative and original services to help inspire people to greater commitment to Jesus Christ. Why not make this part of your celebration of Lent? It will also give an opportunity to see our brand new colour scheme in the church, which was completed only last week.

Music will be provided by OLHS pupils and former pupils James Bennett, Luke McMahon, Michael McKenna, Jill McMurray and Darcy Hendry among others. Services will take place this Monday 23rd, Tuesday 24th, and Wednesday 25th February at 7.30 p.m. in St Bernadette’s church. Please join us.

Mary the Tweeter

S2 IDL classes have been working on the life of Mary, Queen of Scots. Pupils watched a documentary about her whole life before splitting into different groups to research different time periods. With this information, they tried to get inside Mary’s head, and create Tweets as if Mary was expressing her own opinions to the world. Finally we distressed the Tweets to make them look more 16th century.

Pupils are rotating around Art, Modern Languages and Social Subjects, all with a connection to Mary Queen of Scots,

Valentine’s flowers

2015_0213_0088 S1 pupil, Ewan Jeffrey, spent the mid-term break creating dozens of beautiful yellow origami flowers, and some lovely hearts, which he sold in The Zone at lunchtime for Valentine’s Day.

At £1 a time, Ewan has so far raised £90 and is hoping to continue his fund-raising. All proceeds are being donated to Macmillan Cancer Support.

Mentors in Violence Prevention

Senior pupils have been working with Mrs Connor and Mr Martin on the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) programme and sharing their knowledge with other pupils in the school. On the most recent in-service day, five brave souls – Michael Clark, Ryan Duddy, Katie Ann Hunter, Luke Dickson and Hannah Coakley – spoke to the entire school staff about the project, what they’ve been learning and how it is put into practice.

The MVP programme is designed to empower young people, giving them the confidence to step into circumstances that feel wrong, and provide a series of possible options for how to diffuse the situation without leading to violence. It is specifically designed to be led by senior pupils as leaders in their own communities.


Scottish Youth Parliament Hustings

Report from Miss Halket

On Monday 16th February, Our Lady’s High was host to the Scottish Youth Parliament hustings that are currently taking place across Motherwell and Wishaw. Pupils from Our Lady’s had the opportunity to hear from candidates across the constituency.

All of the candiates, including our very own Collette Whitson and Magen McNulty, spoke with confidence and conviction.

All of our young people will have opportunity to vote in the Scottish Youth Parliament elections this year, between Monday 2nd and Friday 13th March.

AH Chemistry at Glasgow University

Report from Miss McGinty

The Advanced Higher Chemistry pupils from Our Lady’s High School and St. Aidan’s attended the Joseph Black Building of the Chemistry department at Glasgow University on Thursday the 5th of February. This was to enable pupils understanding of the practical implications of the chemistry and techniques they are learning in the classroom. It also allowed them to analyse products they had made for their investigation, which is externally assessed by the SQA and worth 20% of their overall grade.

The pupils were also given a tour of the building by Dr. Beth Paschke and some information on attending the university. A great day was had by all!!

Ash Wednesday

Lent began this Wednesday, 18th February 2015. There were services during the course of the day to ensure that pupils and staff received their ashes. Many thanks to Fr King and Fr Reilly and to all of our Eucharistic Ministers: Katie Ann, David, Ryan, Michael, Liam, Jack, Rachael, Lisa, Darcey, Aaron, Jakub and Connie.

Mass will take place on Monday and Wednesday mornings in the War Memorial Chapel with Fr King, and Eucharistic Services on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Catholic Education Week

Report from Mrs Sinclair

Thank you to all pupils and staff who visited our associated parishes at masses across the weekend. Some spoke to the congregation about the work undertaken in Our Lady’s High School, while others handed out booklets, or were involved in the liturgy.

Staff and pupils also represented Our Lady’s at the Polish Mass in St Patrick’s where their talk was translated into Polish and was very well received.

Many parishioners spoke to staff to congratulate us on our school and the pupils who represented us over the weekend. Well done and thank you.

  • St Bernadette’s: Mrs Sinclair, Mrs Moore, Darcy Hendry, Connie Sneddon, Monica Kane, Kathleen Reynolds, Connor Thomson, Emily McGurk, Hayley Stevenson
  • St Luke’s: Mrs Donnachie, Miss McGinness, Nicholas Delaney, Morgan Campbell
  • Cathedral: Mrs Mulholland, Aaron Hawthorne, Rebecca Hopkins, Liam Kay, Michael Clarke,  Ryan Duddy and Megan O’Kane
  • St Patrick’s: Mrs Sinclair, Natalia Dombrowska, Angelika Frydrych, Magda Michniewicz, Wiktoria Ptak, Jakub Mitas (translator)

You can download a copy of the booklet by clicking on the link below.

Catholic Education Week 2015 booklet

This is in PDF format which uses Adobe Acrobat Reader – available free here – to open.

PTA news

Report from Miss Halket

Our Lady’s High School Parent Teacher Association would like to thank everyone who attended our Family Ceilidh. Thank you to everyone who donated raffle prizes and to all of the wonderful staff at St. Bride’s Hall. We successfully managed to raise £450.

Congratulations to our 50/50 Club winners! If you are interested in becoming a member of our club then please hand £10 into the school office with a note of your name and contact details.

Our next meeting will take place at 7pm on Monday 16th February in Our Lady’s High School. It would be fantastic to see you there. We appreciate your continuing support and look forward to seeing you at future events.

Scottish Parliament visit

Report from Mr McLaughlin

A group of S4 pupils travelled to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 22nd January 2015. This visit was part of the National 5 Modern Studies Democracy in Scotland unit. The Parliament’s Education team who took us through the history of the Parliament and Scottish Devolution greeted pupils.

The highlight of the day was First Minister’s Question Time. For most pupils, this was their first time in the Parliament and their first time watching First Minister’s Questions from within the Parliament chamber. First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, was asked a number of questions from opposition leaders and backbench MSPs.

After First Minister’s Questions, Clare Adamson MSP participated in a question and answer season with our pupils. Pupils asked a number of questions from the role and skills required of an MSP, independence, the new Scottish Cabinet and the increasing numbers of individuals joining political parties.

Our pupils were a credit to the school and conducted themselves in a very mature manner throughout the whole day. The staff at the Scottish Parliament were very quick to point out how impressed they were with our pupils.

The only disappointing thing that day was that Mrs Moore did not get to meet Prime Minister, David Cameron, who was also in the building. Perhaps next time!

Stirling Castle Part 2: workshop

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“Hannah Jacob, 7/2/43″

January 27th Is Holocaust Memorial Day.

This report from Gemma Greer
was written following a journey to Auschwitz-Birkenau with the Holocaust Educational Trust

Her name is an inescapable sibilation, twisting and roping itself around my neck, choking me since I returned home from the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Oświęcim. It was written on a suitcase, one of over 3000, piled high behind glass. There were plenty of other names written, looped and curved and marked by the unique hand of its owner- but hers stood out to me, and I fixated on it. When I asked about her, I didn’t expect the answer I received: Hannah was barely a year old when she arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944, and that is all that is known about her. There is no paperwork, no evidence of that innocent baby existing besides one single suitcase. It is not hard to guess her fate upon arrival in the camp – all children her age would have suffered the same one.

I don’t really know what I was expecting, to be perfectly honest. Maybe, I had been too idealised by textbooks and memoirs I had read, where victims of the Holocaust were recognised and given the proper respect, with detailed histories and old photographs. Their lives before the camp were documented. However, there was Hannah, nothing more than a name on a suitcase – nothing more than a victim of the camp, and not the bubbling, bouncing baby she must have been beforehand. And I didn’t want to reduce her to that. It made me angry, it really did, that everything had been taken from her: her history, her individuality and most importantly, her future. Reading about the Holocaust makes it seem a million miles away and often it becomes easier to consolidate 11 million deaths – 1.1 million of those in Auschwitz – as simply a number; we fail to remember that those killed were people, just like us.

That realisation is hard to come to unless you’ve stood there and you are faced with the reality.

Auschwitz-Birkenau is definitely not how I imagined it to be. Before going and even as I stood before “Arbeit Macht Frei”, I had all these expectations of a harsh, unforgiving landscape, eerily silent besides the striking whipping of the wind, but it was far from it: it was a sunny Autumn day, with the sun splitting through the trees like a fine-toothed comb. The sky was a soft bubblegum, and met harmoniously with vibrant green grass on the flat land. It was very pretty, which bugged me the entire day. How could the sun shine where so many people had lost their lives and their families? It was beyond reason. However, if you stood very still and silent for a few moments, the air would grow heavy very quickly, despite the bright sunshine all around. And then, maybe, you would be able to smell the deaths that still haunted the grounds.

The sheer scale of the Birkenau camp is also something which hits you hard: the railway line which runs through the middle, running off into the horizon. On the day, we were allowed to ascend the stairs to the watch tower, where the Commandant would stand in order to assess the camp and the prisoners. When you look out the windows, it is easy to understand the discrepancy of power between the SS guards and the prisoners. In that position, everyone below looks insignificant, like a tiny speck of dust.

What most people fail to realise is that Auschwitz-Birkenau is split up into three sections: Auschwitz 1, Auschwitz 2 Birkenau, and Auschwitz 3. While Auschwitz 3 is closed off to the public, we were allowed to visit Auschwitz 1 and Birkenau. Auschwitz is largely a museum with exhibits and displays detailing the camps part in the Holocaust – it is here where I saw Hannah’s suitcase. Birkenau is the more widely recognised image of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the landscape of movies based in the concentration camps – The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, for example.

It was when I walked through the stone building used as a gas chamber in the Auschwitz part of the camp, my thoughts returned to Hannah, after several hours. I stood in the room where the prisoners were gassed, the stone walls appearing to push in on me, and tried to imagine what the scene must have been like for a little baby: men screaming, people clambering over one another, children crying, mothers attempting to comfort their babies, once they realised that they were not going for a shower. Even though I’ve stood in the path of all the death that occurred in Auschwitz-Birkenau, it’s still very hard for me to comprehend. Did she know what was going on? Can a baby understand that she’s going to die? I can’t even attempt to answer those questions. The gas chambers were most likely the hardest aspect of the visit for me, and it’s hard to truly explain why. There were also two larger ones in the Birkenau camp, used much more often for mass murder, as Auschwitz 1 was primarily for political prisoners and such. However, all that remains of them are ruins. One, destroyed in an uprising by prisoners, the anniversary of which coincided with our visit. On October 7, 1944, having learned that the SS was going to liquidate much of the camp, the members of the Sonderkommando – Jewish prisoners forced to work in the crematoriums to burn the bodies of those killed in the gas chambers, at Crematorium IV rose in revolt. Although quashed by the Nazis, the uprising was incredibly important in increasing morale for the remaining prisoners in the camp, that something could be done. Although it seems as if I’ve gone on for a long time about the tragedies of the camp, the stories of hope and perseverance are the thing which have stuck in my mind the most. It’s a lot easier to think of the strength of those in the camp than the degradation and humiliation they faced.

The other was destroyed by Nazis, attempting to liquidate the camp before the Allies reached it. The rubble takes on a significance when it’s front of you, and you can see the bricks, the rough edges. broken and chipped, of the victims, and for me personally, it felt like a gravestone. There are no graves, no markers for the victims on the camp, so as our guide read a journal entry beside the ruins – emotive and demanding that we do everything we can to remember what went on the camp, to never forget – I took a silent moment of mourning for them, as if it were.

Towards the end of the day, we arrived in front of a wall of photographs, in the “Sauna”- a room used for processing new arrivals- some of smiling couples, friends, families, and again, I found myself in front of the photos of the babies, and when my eyes fell upon each unidentified infant, I wondered to myself “Is that Hannah?” It was crazy, but I was clinging at straws. In the middle of the wall there was a plaque, and as I read the writing, I could feel my soul crushed:

 The first to perish were the children, abandoned orphans,

The world’s best, the bleak earth’s brightest,

These children from the orphanages might have been our comfort.

From these sad, mute, bleak faces our new dawn might have risen.

In these words, I found Hannah.

Rabbi Marcus spoke to us at the end of the day, and to say the least, he is not a man who minces his words. He shouted and yelled at us, a group of 200 students, about the importance of everything we had seen that day and its relevance to how we live our lives, how we can’t ignore it. His passion was catching, and a wave of enthusiasm slid over us. For the first time in the day, it didn’t feel as if I was experiencing Auschwitz alone. Flowers were placed and we lit candles which we lined up along the railway line. For the second time that day, I noted how strangely beautiful the place looked, with the light from the candles flickering under a full moon and a deep royal blue night sky. This time, however, it felt sombre and appropriate, and I smiled.

Walking back along the railway line that night, the one synonymous with the horrors of the camp, I felt guilty: I hadn’t cried all. I am usually an extremely sentimental person, I cry at almost everything, so why wasn’t I able to cry while hearing of the cruelty, the despair and the desperation? It made me feel inhumane, as if I had no heart. It plagued me the entire journey home too, until I got home, and collapsed into floods of tears when I tried to explain to my parents how my day had been. I had seen so much at the camp that none of it had really registered to me while I was there, I was too shocked to take it in, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed while you are there – the hard part is talking about it. Weeks later, I still find it hard to articulate the experience without a lump forming in my throat. But I push on, because people need to know about what went on there, they need to understand the stories of the victims, not just as victims but as people; they need to understand Hannah, so that there will not be another Hannah.