From the Headmaster
Our week began with an assembly inspired by recent media coverage of ‘the Plastic Ocean’. We watched some particularly striking video footage of discarded plastic bottles at the bottom of the sea, as well as hearing about the harmful microplastics that can be ingested by marine animals and birds. We also learned how all kinds of man-made plastic waste is likely to remain in the sea and on the sea-bed indefinitely, because it is not biodegradable. This film documentary certainly encouraged all our pupils and Staff to think more carefully about choices they can make to help reduce and recycle plastic waste.
Saturday saw the return of 40 C Block pupils to school after their trip to ‘La Grande Ferme’ in Normandy, accompanied by Mr Smyth, Mr Phillips, Ma Hughes, Ma McCulloch and Ma Malcolm. The staff at La Grande Ferme spoke to the children only in French throughout their stay, which really helped with the development of the pupils’ French comprehension skills. Trips to Mont St Michel, Dinan and St Malo allowed further opportunity to expand vocabulary and historical knowledge.
Meanwhile back at the Prep, over the past two weeks, my wife Lucy and I have really enjoyed dining with the A Block boarders and their Houseparents at the A Block formal suppers. Conversation flowed across a wide range of topics which varied from engineering and law, to hockey and lacrosse to family pets and exciting places to visit. Accompanying this, ‘thrice-cooked’ gourmet chips, fresh chocolate brownie desserts, not to mention the napkins folded into dragons, proved a resounding success.
In lessons this week, the Upper School studied forces and friction in Physics, probability in Mathematics and the skeleton in Biology. In B Block, the children have been learning all about Queen Elizabeth I and the Armada. Meanwhile some of our C Block children painted beautiful watercolours of the sea in Art. Judging by the number of ‘pluses’ for French that I have signed for E Block this week, our Lower School pupils are making excellent progress in this subject.
Next week sees our Spring Concert on Tuesday, and the Year 2 performance of ‘Step into a Story.’ As I write, I am also looking forward to the Middle School Concert this afternoon (Thursday) and the culmination of our ‘Dragon Declamations’ public speaking event on Friday evening.
I do hope to see as many of you as possible at our events in the final week of term. With Easter now approaching, we are surrounded by many encouraging signs of Spring. The early promise of blossom has appeared on the trees and a dawn chorus of birdsong on Bardwell Road now accompanies the cheerful chatter of children upon their arrival at school.
With all best wishes,
Access to Site
Safety of Dragons is something that is close to our hearts and, therefore, we must all embrace changes in culture as they come upon us. There are times when we expect large numbers of parents at the School: match days, concerts, plays, events and of course pick-up and drop-off. However, at all other times we ask that parents report to the lodge if they need to attend the School, whether to bring in forgotten kit, instruments or other items, or meet with a member of staff. Whatever the reason, please make yourself known at reception and staff will manage the distribution of property, or inform the relevant member of staff that you have arrived so they can come and collect you. As parents, we will not ask you to wear a lanyard when visiting, but we do have a duty of care to the children to ensure that we are doing all we can to manage our site.
We recognise this is a shift in culture, but it is a necessary one if we are to know who we have on site at all times, who they are with and, therefore, who should not be here. These arrangements extend to parents of all year groups and your support is greatly appreciated.
New York Exchange 2018
There are still some places available for children to join the Pyrenean Adventure in the first week of the Summer Holidays. We are heading back to the Pyrenees Mountains for a week of adventure; staying in the village of St Pé de Bigorre and exploring the forests and mountains surrounding the Gave de Pau. Staying at a lower level than previous trips, we will be enjoying the challenge of white-water rafting as well as climbing and caving in the local area and trekking to the summit of the Prat de Rey (1526m). The trip is suitable for robust children in D Block and above: we do spend full days out walking on the treks. Contact Neil Pickup or visit Smaug Abroad for more information.
Premier Tennis Camps 2018
Premier Tennis, Dragon’s long-appointed coaching provider, is running its ever-popular tennis camps again at Bardwell Road in the Easter and Summer holidays (with additional camps at nearby Rye St Antony and elsewhere). This is a great chance for Dragons and friends to sharpen up before the summer term. Players from 5-15 years are grouped according to age and ability for maximum learning and enjoyment, with technical drills, team games and personal challenges for everyone, and prizes for a lucky few! Come for a week or individual days, from 10am-4pm (with early drop-off/late pick-up if needed). Spaces are limited each week to ensure the coaching/safeguarding ratio is managed, and childcare vouchers are accepted. Have a look at their camps video, find out more and book online or call 01865 689754.
We would like to make parents aware about sport academy opportunities held locally at St Edwards and Headington School. If you would like to find out more about Cricket Academy please click here, or Netball and Dance Academies.
Hamish Cooper Science Competition
Year 3 were delighted to welcome Cassie Watson to host the annual Hamish Cooper Science Competition. This eagerly anticipated event is held in memory of her brother Hamish, who attended the Dragon School and had a great interest in the natural and scientific world throughout his short life. Each Year 3 class had two contestants put forward for the exciting final, including a quick-fire buzzer round. Questions the competitors were unable to answer were put to the floor, so all the children could contribute to the final score. The challenging questions, selected by Ma Dendy, covered a wealth of scientific topics designed to test the children’s depth of knowledge, from natural history to magnetic forces. The brave finalists were Eddie and Joshua from 3R, Jago and Sam from 3S, Andrea and Tommy from 3TC and the worthy winners were Jimmy and Sebastian from 3P. Well done to everyone and many thanks to Ma Dendy for a brilliant afternoon.
Habitat Boxes in Reception
This half-term, Reception have been immersing themselves in their Topic, 'Habitats'. They have spent time exploring and investigating the different habitats around them and the plants and animals that live there. Furthermore, they have been discussing the impact that Humans are making upon many habitats around the globe. Over the last few weeks, each student has been making their own Habitat Box. This project has involved the pupils designing their box and creating it using a variety of materials and tools. We think they look great!
Maths Challenge and School Quiz
This week has seen the regional rounds of both the Team Maths Challenge and the Schools Challenge Quiz. On Monday, a team of four (Leiden, Seongho, Juochukwu & Freddie) headed down to Oxford University’s Maths Department for the regional round of the Maths Challenge and ran out comfortable winners, booking their place at the National Finals in London in June.
The Quiz, hosted here on Tuesday afternoon, was rather more closely fought, as a five-team round robin tournament, between MCS, Kingham Hill, Oratory Prep and Dragon’s “A” and “B” teams came down to the final head-to-head, between old rivals Dragon & MCS, where our “A” team (Arthur, Caspar, Patrick and Caspar) emerged winners by a score of 250-160. They go on to play Papplewick & HABS in the Home Counties final.
IAPS Boys’ Judo Championships in High Wycombe
On Saturday, five Dragons represented the School at the annual IAPS National Judo Championships at High Wycombe Judo Centre. In the Under-55kg weight category, it was Sam’s first outing at this event. Sam fought his heart out and won through the early rounds to earn himself a place in the final, where he came up against the defending champion from last year’s event. Sam kept going until he was narrowly defeated, but nonetheless was delighted with Silver Medal. Following Sam’s success, Ivan had an excellent day and despite losing in his first round contest, fought on through the rounds to become the Bronze medallist in the Under-60kg category. A final mention that Merlin, Bertie and Jonathan were fine ambassadors for Dragon Judo. Well done to all of our Judoka.
Last Thursday Ma Baugh and Ma Dawes took a group of girls to play lacrosse at St Hugh’s. Some girls had never played before but after some practice drills they looked very comfortable throwing and catching and the match started. The girls showed skill and enthusiasm, they tackled well and passed the ball confidently around the pitch. Lara and India won many of the “draws” which starts the game and all the girls showed drive and commitment. The final score of 4-4 was a good reflection of a hard fought game and we look forward to more matches in the future.
Last Wednesday Mr Stuart-Clark and Ma Montague –Johnson took 14 A Block children to Wembley Arena for WE day, a celebration of youth and what young people can achieve. These children had been chosen for demonstrating exceptional kindness or philanthropic spirit and they joined 12,000 others for this special day. Among the inspiring guest speakers were Holly Branson, Lily Collins and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. Singing was provided by among others Alexandra Burke (X Factor winner), Tokio Myers (winner of last year’s Britain’s Got Talent) and The Tenors who sang with the Kenyan boys’ choir. It was a very special day and an absolute pleasure to go on the trip with this group of Dragons.
1st VII Caldicott Success
Last Wednesday was a wonderful afternoon for the Dragon 1st VII Rugby Squad who continued their form from Christmas term into the shorter format of the game by winning the prestigious Caldicott tournament. Despite doing very little practice ‘out of season’, our boys applied themselves very well and, even with illness and injuries taking their toll, the boys stood up to some very stern tests and managed to go the whole tournament undefeated, winning the competition for the first time in almost twenty years and only the second time in the sixty one years of its existence.
After sweeping aside Summer Fields, Dulwich and Northcote Lodge in the group stages, the Dragon progressed as winners and got to play the other table topping sides as a result. This meant match-ups with the Prep School powerhouses St. Paul’s, Caldicott and Millfield. After conceding early to St. Pauls, the blue and yellow tide took over and the Dragon won out comfortable winners, 30-5. The hosts were next up and with one minute to go, the score was all square with the Dragon reeling having lost two players to injury. However a moment of individual brilliance from Basil was enough to see out a 15-10 victory. With only seven boys left standing, the final against Millfield was always going to be tough. However the determination and skill that served the team so well in the 13-a-side game shone through and the Dragon ran out winners 20-5, with every boy playing their part in a huge defensive effort.
This really was a sweet victory against schools whose main sport this term is 7s. The victory was made all the more impressive by the fact that in such a lung busting sport, the final two games were played out by the same seven boys at the end of a long and demanding day. Focus now turns to Rosslyn Park, the world’s biggest schools competition, where the Dragons can look to impress on the biggest stage possible.
Chandlings Cross Country
A few weeks ago, U11, U10 and U9 Boys and Girls took on the cross country challenge at Chandlings. This is normally a very competitive meet, with plenty of ‘big running schools’ in attendance.
The U9 Girls ran first and in true ‘de Jonge’ fashion, Ava led from the front from beginning to end! Mim however never ‘gave up the chase’, pushing Ava all the way, finishing in a mightily impressive 1st and 2nd respectively. Daisy ran superbly for 5th, with Romy close behind. Not surprisingly, these girls also won the team competition. The U9 boys also ran well, with Kaspar in 5th spot, and Kit and Alfie also finishing high up.
The U10 girls continued with their rich ‘vein of form’ and tried hard to bunch closely towards the front. Iris, in her first ever race, was first home for the Dragon in 5th, followed very closely by Margot and Izzy a couple of places behind. Lexie, Flo and Imogen ran superbly with all girls home in the top 15 out of 70 competitors! They too emerged victorious with the team trophy. The U10 boys also produced an outstanding team performance, winning the team trophy with Monty yet again leading the way and emerging victorious. Nathaniel picked up a bronze with Charlie and Zachary finishing in the top 10 which meant they too won as a team.
Lastly, the U11s ran and jumped on the ‘high achieving bandwagon’! Julian collected a bronze medal for his efforts, with James and Bruno ‘hot on his heels’. Tilly, Isobel and Kitty gave very strong performances to finish in the top 10.
The children have given their all this year and it has been a huge disappointment that the Nationals at Malvern have been cancelled. Ma Hatcher would like to thank all the runners for their commitment and dedication over the years; they deserve huge praise…keep on running!
On Sunday, 25 February three Dragon teams met their Summerfields rivals for a friendly tournament at beautiful Holbrook Farm. Spirits were high and the atmosphere was one of great camaraderie across the schools as the sun was shining on a frosty day.
Team Sky (Jemima, Tilly and Chloe) put on a determined show against a strong Summerfields team with Jemima showing great tenacity and a promising backhand. Chloe and Tilly backed her up superbly and there was great communication throughout – definitely a Dragon strongpoint. At the end of 3 chukkas the girls narrowly lost and can be proud of a great performance.
Team White (Tino, Henry and Edward) really had some hard work on their hands against a more experienced Summerfields team. Undeterred they worked hard to defend against relentless goal attempts and held their own. Their team spirit was admirable throughout, despite a narrow Summerfields victory at the end of chukka three.
Team Navy (Hector, Imogen and Felix) were a joy to watch. At every turn they were in the right place, backing each other up, communicating well and playing as a unit. Felix was cool under pressure in his role as penalty taker, shooting in 3 effortlessly. The final penalty sailed over the arena wall and whistled (definitely too close for comfort) past the parents’ heads to land in the spectacular team tea spread served by KatyCatering. Never a dull moment! Dragon Navy stormed to a much deserved victory.
BOARDING HOUSE NEWS
Charlbury Appreciation Wall
Over the past two weeks in Charlbury we have got everyone to think about and reflect upon what they are thankful for and appreciate. The boys are encouraged to write a note to someone else in house on the littlest or biggest things that they appreciate the other person doing for them.
Boarding Assistants – Blast off!
The School House Boarding Assistants have welcomed the recent rise in the number of helping hands around the boarding house. This rise can be attributed to the successful installation of the ‘Boarding Assistant’s Blast-Off Chart’, a fun and interactive system that encourages boarders to be more involved in the running of the house. This outer-space themed chart maps a journey from the Earth to the moon that each boy must follow if they want to receive a special reward from the Boarding Assistants. In line with the space theme, each boarder has their very own rocket ship to carry them along their journey across the chart.
In order to complete this journey, every boy must perform a series of chores. This system has proven to be a massive success in School House, with the chart becoming so popular with the boys that often the Boarding Assistants run out of chores to assign, due to an overwhelming number of volunteers. A few ambitious boys are hoping to complete the journey more than once! This extra help has become invaluable to the Boarding Assistants, and has led to positive changes within the boys. With the chart’s influence, many of the boarders have become increasingly helpful, considerate and self-aware individuals with the affinity to appreciate the importance of hard work and responsibility.
Last week the Cherwell girls continued their epic cycle and after a stop in Germany managed to get all the way to Belgium, immersing themselves in the culture and cuisine of these countries. The celebration started off with a mass game of German spotlight, an elaborate hide and seek in the dark. Later followed by various treats well known in these countries: fries, pretzels, ginger beer and waffles. To finish off the night the girls competed in a German version of the Chocolate Game, dressing up in German costume and cutting a block of chocolate with a knife and fork until the next girl roles a 6. Unleashing the competitive side of all girls, the common room was raging with cheers and laughter amidst the rush to eat as much chocolate as possible. Now the girls are cycling off to Norway to continue their around the world challenge and learn about different cultures!
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