Berlin: Bunkers, Brezhnev and Bratwurst!

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Our History department took time out of half term to lead a large group of GCSE students to Berlin to discover more about the history and culture of this popular metropolis. Below is an account of the visit as well as a selection of photographs.

 

Our trip to Berlin got off to a very early start as we had to get to the airport at 4:20am. Security was an exercise in how many liquids we could take through in hand luggage and it resulted in the forced removal of Eleanor’s glittery unicorn nails and the breaking of Grace’s padlock with industrial bolt-cutters. Whilst in the airport, Ella decided to leave her boarding pass in KFC, and so, after a mad dash back to KFC, we went to the gate and boarded the plane. As there wasn’t any more room in the cabin, our bags went into the hold, Enya didn’t realise that we would need our passports when we landed and proceeded to put her passport in her suitcase. This meant another wild dash to pick up her bag and run back to passport control so she’d be allowed in the country.

The first place we visited was the site of Hitler’s Bunker. This was underground and as it was a dark part of history they didn’t want it to be remembered as a good thing, so it is used as a car park and you couldn’t access the bunker. From here we went to the Holocaust Memorial; this was designed to represent what they felt in the Holocaust.  If we were really brave we could walk it alone. Being surrounded by the giant concrete blocks, forced you to feel confused, lost and we started wondering aimlessly. We could hear the voices of our friends but when we turned around they were nowhere to be seen. Then we went underneath to the museum and learnt some of the stories that they went through which moved us deeply.  By this point it was raining really hard but we walked to the Berlin History Museum which was really interesting and a good way to remember parts of history that we had covered in class. After this we went to Bebelplatz where they did the burning of the books. They had a sculpture of empty bookshelves below the street, covered by a glass screen, of course we dared each other to jump on the glass to see if it would hold: you’d be happy to know it did. We also passed the cathedral on the way to the S-Bahn station. The S-Bahn was the equivalent of our trains but they also had the U-Bahn which was like the tube, either way there were always so many steps up or down to the platform. After dinner we went to the Reichstag and walked around the huge dome at the top and learnt some interesting facts about it like there were 360 mirrors in the middle to reflect light into the conference rooms but there was also a sunshade which prevented glare.

On the Saturday we went to Checkpoint Charlie which was one of the few places you could pass through the wall that divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Whilst there we took a group photo with some people dressed up as the American soldiers, one of which took a shine to Miss Conboy!  From here we went to the Topography of Terror, which was where the Gestapo headquarters had been; here we could see the original walls of the building but not much of it remained. Beside it was a museum about the Gestapo and we found out who lead them and where else they were based in the city.

We also travelled out of Berlin to visit the Sachsenhausen Concentration camp we had an audio guide around the camp and some of the original barracks were still standing containing some of the original washrooms and beds. It was really moving hearing all of the stories and seeing all of the various torture methods they had come up with, such as a shoe testing track which the prisoners were forced to run around for 40km on different surfaces to test shoe sole materials for army boots. The next thing we saw was the TV tower at Alexanderplatz which soars 368 metres over Berlin. We saw this at night which meant we could see all the lights up and down the streets and it was all breathtaking. We were so high up that all the people were tiny dots and we could see to the other side of Berlin. Even the lift showed how high the tower was by having a glass top you could see all the way up the elevator shaft.

On Sunday morning we went to the Story of Berlin, this museum was really good as it was interactive and we learnt more about Germany’s history other than Nazi Germany and the First World War, which we study in class. Within this museum there was an underground nuclear bunker, it could hold just under 3000 people for 14 days in case of a radiation attack. Twenty two of these were built around Berlin, however there were over 3 million people in the city therefore there still weren’t enough bunkers for everyone and 14 days wasn’t enough for all of the radiation to have gone.  After the bunker we went for lunch around the area, then we went to the East Side Gallery. This was a long part of the Berlin wall which has been painted with pictures with hidden meanings about the wall itself. One of these pictures had the date of each year the wall was up from 1961 to 1989, surrounding each date were roses, depending on how many people had been killed trying to get through the wall; there were 136 in total. There were also some more famous pieces of art like Brezhnev and Honnecker kissing. Once we had finished going around this we took the S-Bahn to Alexanderplatz where we went shopping before heading to the Hostel to pick up luggage. At the hostel there was a sausage vending machine, which Mr. Robinson would recommend, we then went to the Airport where our flight was delayed, but at least no one lost their boarding pass this time – Ella wasn’t allowed to look after hers. At the end of the flight we all proceeded to clap as the pilot landed, just because it embarrassed Miss Conboy.

I would really recommend this trip as it was a lot of fun –and of course we learnt a lot of history. I would like to say a huge thank you to Mrs Amery for organising the trip, Miss Conboy for being Trip Leader and for Mr Robinson and Mrs Thelwell for coming with us and making it an enjoyable trip.

 

E Goodwin 11S

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Ayesha

Ayesha joined WKGS from Leamington Community Primary School in Liverpool in September 2015. She is now in Year 8 and her favourite subjects are Biology, Mathematics and Religious Studies. Her proudest moment so far in life was winning an art competition and meeting the then Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Tony Concepcion. Outside of school she enjoys swimming and cycling. Ayesha hopes to become a doctor because she wants to help people to the best of her ability.

"I was really nervous coming to WKGS, especially because I was the only student from my primary school and leaving my friends behind was difficult. The induction day was really helpful and everyone was very welcoming. I found it easy to make new friends. I believe that life is not a race and the only things you should be chasing are your dreams. If you are willing to let West Kirby help you to achieve them, this is the place for you."

Kristen

Kristen is in Year 12 and joined WKGS from St Bridget's Primary School, West Kirby when she was in Year 7. She is studying four subjects in Year 12; Fine Art, Textiles, Psychology and Biology. She enjoys Art a lot, but Textiles is her passion and she hopes to work within the Fashion Industry. Her greatest achievement was securing an A* grade in both GCSE Art and Textiles.

I am very happy to be part of the Sixth Form at WKGS and in particular because of the breadth of A-level options available, including Fine Art, Art Textiles and Textiles Technology.

Sheila

Sheila McClennon is our Chair of Governors.

"I have such happy memories of my time at West Kirby and am still friends with the girls I met here. We were quite a lively group, did a lot of drama and I just remember lots of laughter; those uncontrollable giggles that come out of nowhere usually in assembly. But we all did well. I worked in Paris before studying English, Drama and American Studies at Manchester University. Since then I have worked in radio and television as a reporter and presenter mainly on BBC Radio 4 although I did have a lovely year with Terry Wogan taking famous people out to lunch before his chat show. I moved back to the Wirral when my daughter Rachel was born and was thrilled when she, too, started at West Kirby. And now after many years as a Parent Governor I have taken over as Chair. It’s a great honour - I owe the school a lot and it’s nice to be able to give something back."

Nicole

Nicole is in Year 9 and joined WKGS from Avalon School in September 2014. Year 9 girls have already begun their GCSE courses and Nicole enjoys GCSE PE, English and Maths lessons. Her other options are German, History, Business, Religious Studies and Triple Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics). Nicole is a hugely talented Table Tennis player and has represented England at the European Mini Cadets & Ireland at the Slovakian Open. She aspires to play at the Commonwealth Games in Tokyo.

She writes: I like WKGS because the school gives me the best opportunities to be the best I can be.

Hannah

Hannah joined WKGS in September 2012 from Prenton Preparatory School. She is now in Year 11 and is studying Mathematics and Further Maths, English, English Literature, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geography, History, Latin and Physical Education at GCSE. Hannah enjoys swimming and running competitively and competes in many triathlons. She also plays Netball and takes part in athletics and cross country fixtures for the School.

Hannah is a very able mathematician and hopes to study a maths or science-related degree at university. She writes:

WKGS is very welcoming. There are a variety of different activities, which are suitable for everyone. The staff are friendly and helpfu and provide the best opportunities to help me achieve my goals.

Sienna

Sienna is in Year 7 and joined WKGS in September 2016. She was previously a pupil at Cornist Park Primary School in North Wales. Sienna has settled in well and loves Maths, French and Spanish lessons. She enjoys netball, ballet and tap, musical theatre and drama activities and raises money for the RNLI each summer. Sienna's proudest achievement to date was winning the Under 12s Welsh netball championship in Cardiff; she was part of the first team under the age of 16 to win this accolade. Sienna will remain at WKGS until Year 13 when she hopes to go on to become a brain or heart surgeon.

I feel proud and excited to be part of such a wonderful school. WKGS is worth more than getting up at 6 o'clock each morning! It is where I've always wanted to be. I love it!! 

Mr N Attwood

Neil Attwood is our IT Manager and since the early 1980’s, whilst a pupil at Calday Grammar School, he has been involved in computing. He is a Time Served Electrician and has a Degree in Software Engineering. He joined WKGS in 2007 as an IT Technician and has developed as the School’s IT Provision since. Over the past three years the school has installed an entirely new network and new virtualised servers and now has a solid foundation in for current and future technologies. From here on the possibilities of utilising new teaching and learning techniques are un-paralleled. Neil has recently become a member of the Health and Safety Committee and has embarked on as Master Course in Advanced Education Practice.

“I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to work at WKGS. The school's ethos is both traditional and modern with staff and leadership embracing the ever increasing uses of technology. We are now at the beginning of a whole new era of Mobile Technologies and I am looking forward to developing these for the benefit of both staff and students. Over the next few years I want to enhance the teaching and learning experience by introducing new methods of interactivity and collaboration which will allow our students to excel both during their schooling and in their onward journey into higher education and beyond”.

Mrs A Goodall

Mrs Audra Goodall joined WKGS as Head of Physical Education way back in 1994, having previously taught at Derby Moor Community School where she was Head of Year 9. She attended Worcester Girls’ Grammar School before progressing on to Bedford College of Physical Education where she graduated with a BEd(Hons) in Human Movement Studies. Audra has always had a passion for sport and as a teenager represented Worcestershire in netball, athletics and cross country. She then went on to represent Wales in the U21 and senior national netball squad for seven years.  She still enjoys keeping fit by playing netball for Vale Royal Netball Club in the Chester netball league as well as running whenever she can find the time!

‘I feel privileged to lead a team of highly motivated and committed colleagues in the PE department at WKGS who give so much of their time to provide additional opportunities for our students. It’s fantastic how sport for girls has progressed and there are now so many activities for them to get involved in, with so many positive role models to aspire to. The students at WKGS have a vast range of extra-curricular activities to choose from, covering all areas of the curriculum. I love our traditional school House system which allows them to take part in the 1500m on Sports Day, sing in the House Choir or try out their culinary skills in the House Bake-Off!’

Elizabeth

Elizabeth (Lizzie) is in Year 10. She joined us in September 2013 from Avalon School, West Kirby. She is enjoying the challenge of 10 GCSE subjects and in particular enjoys Music, Geography, French and Spanish. A keen clarinetist, Lizzie has completed her Grade 5 exam as well as Grade 6 in piano. She is a chorister at Liverpool Cathedral and plays in Wirral Schools' Concert Band.

Lizzie's greatest achievement to date is singing with the Liverpool Cathedral Choir in a concert which was televised on BBC1. She looks forward to reaching Grade 8 in both instruments and wishes to pursue a successful career in science.

West Kirby Grammar School has offered me many new opportunities that I would never have thought of doing alone. It has helped discover new talents and make memories that I will never forget.

 

Ryan

Ryan is in Year 12 and joined us from Birkenhead School for our Sixth Form. He is studying English Literature, PE, Physics and Economics. He particularly enjoys studying English Literature and Economics, which is housed in our newly refurbished Sixth Form Centre, Easedale. Outside of school, Ryan is a keen sportsman and plays tennis and football; a sport in which he has won over sixty trophies. Ryan's ambition is to set up a successful financial advertising company, which makes his A-level Economics a top priority!

I was extremely excited and happy to join WKGS as I knew it to be a very good school, which gets extremely strong results and could help me fulfil my potential in every aspect of life. "Everything was impossible, until someone actually did it...."

Kaya

Kaya joined WKGS in September 2016 in Year 12. She was formerly a student of Birkenhead High School Academy. She is studying A-levels in History, Spanish and Economics and a fourth AS subject, English Literature.

Kaya is a very keen rower and competes at Warrington Rowing Club. Her greatest acheivement to date is coming second in the British Junior Rowing Championships in July 2016 with her double partner. She also relishes being part of the Young Enterprise project in her enrichment periods.

I was really excited to join WKGS for the Sixth Form. It provided me with a fresh start and a chance to make new friends. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time so far as everyone has been so welcoming. I find all my A-level subjects really interesting.

Bethan

Bethan joined WKGS in Year 7 from St Peter's Church of England Primary School, Heswall. She is now in Year 12 and is studying Biology, Chemistry, English Literature and Spanish. She is working towards her Grade 5 piano examination and enjoys dance lessons in Modern and Musical Theatre. Bethan is looking forward to going to Uganda in the summer of 2017 with her Youth Group. Her proudest achievement to date has been getting the role of Maria in the school production of The Sound of Music in November 2016. She hopes to go to university, possibly to study medicine. However, she intends also to continue studying Spanish and it's something she really enjoys.

I honestly couldn't be happier at WKGS. Being here has given me so many amazing opportunities and I have formed great friendships, which I am sure will last for life.

Miss S Cliffe

Miss Sophie Cliffe joined WKGS as a newly qualified Psychology teacher in September 2016. Having completed her BSc Psychology and Criminology degree at Liverpool John Moores in 2014, she has since gone on to complete her PGCE at Glyndwr University in Wales. Sophie describes herself as a teacher who is passionate about her subject and someone who is devoted to becoming a subject specialist pedagogue. For this reason, she has recently enrolled to complete a Masters in Education run by WKGS alongside Liverpool John Moores University. 

 

I am privileged to be part of a fantastic department that runs extra curricular trips and excursions to enable students to apply psychology to real life situations. In December, we are taking students to London overnight so they have the opportunity to participate in a phobia workshop! We are also attending a Criminology conference in the latter part of the year. This will provide students with a unique insight into why people commit crime, which will assist them in their discussions when we cover forensic psychology as a module later on in the year. 

Tonia

Tonia joined WKGS in 2002 from Avalon School and left in 2009, with AAB A levels. This enabled her to go on to study at the University of Birmingham, where she achieved a First Class honours degree in Sport and Exercise Science. After university, she undertook the role of Sports Intern at Millfield in Somerset. She has since been working in as Outdoor Activities Co-ordinator and Assistant Houseparent in a girl’s boarding house. In the future, she plans to complete a PGCE and enter the teaching profession.

During her time at WKGS, Tonia was elected as Paton House Captain. This leadership role led to her most memorable moment from school; captaining Paton House to victory in the highly anticipated, annual House Music competition, with a medley of songs from ‘The Lion King’.

"WKGS opened my eyes to the importance of volunteering and giving back to the community. I was given the opportunity to travel to Inner Mongolia, rural China, as part of the ‘Making a Difference’ project in 2007, which is an extremely worthwhile cause. Additionally, I gained an appreciation of the value of team work and camaraderie, through group work, representing the School in sport and the Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. I believe my strong educational background, teamed with making the most of every opportunity, provided me with many transferable skills and prepared me for life after leaving school with many happy memories and lifelong friends."

 

Mr J Young

Jon Young is in charge of Product Design. He grew up on the Wirral and attended South Wirral High School, where he was always involved in shows, productions, choirs, trips and house events. He was inspired by John Griffiths, an iconic, brown lab-coated CDT teacher who had a kind heart and an immense love for machinery and materials. Jon became Head Boy at South Wirral before embarking on a degree in Product Design with QTS at JMU. He then joined WKGS in 2002 in a time of transition from CDT and Electronics to industrial application, modern materials and manufacturing. Jon is a very active member of the Parents Association and also a School Governor on the Curriculum and Health & Safety Committee.

"I am very fortunate to work in a forward-thinking school with colleagues who all want the best for their students and strive to provide them with the best resources and enrichment opportunities to stretch beyond the school day. I also enjoy supporting the PA and organise the Junior School Disco. Recently, I have also been appointed as Enterprise Coordinator, a new and exciting challenge, which will involve me forging links with local businesses and running Enterprise Days. It is an exciting time in Technology at WKGS with a new computer suite, state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, a new laser cutter and 3D printer, all of which enable our students to produce work of an industrial and commercial standard."

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Ayesha
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Nicole
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Hannah
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Sienna
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Mr N Attwood
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Mrs A Goodall
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Elizabeth
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Ryan
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