Voices of the Great War

Our Grünheide-York partnership has been established since 2009 and we have met every year in York or Berlin. This year’s theme has been ‘Voices of the Great War’. 35 students from Phillip-Melanchthon Gymnasium, The Mount and Millthorpe School have researched the stories and beliefs of European men and women who lived in the 1914-1918 period. They have then brought these people back to life through staged monologues and duologues, performed on location in the City of York on Sunday 23 November. After working all term in our schools, we finally got together for our project weekend. Saturday was a busy day of connecting as a group, discussing ideas, doing last bits of research, getting costumes sorted and rehearsing the productions. What should Kaiser Wilhelm wear? Why haven’t any York shops got spiky helmets?

The leaflet Voices of the Great War was handed out to the audience as the students performed.

Peaceful Voices

The Quakers at Friargate Meeting House were warm in their greeting as the peaceful voices began their work on their front doorstep. Bertha von Suttner explained to a child why war was wrong and a tired, but still faithful, York MP Arnold Rowntree restated his Quaker Peace Testimony in 1918. Siegfried Sassoon’s Declaration was read out in the context of his life and socialist Arthur Gardiner’s Huddersfield tribunal was recreated from the transcripts that survive.


Arnold Rowntree restates the peace testimony of the Quakers

Silenced Voices

At the Railway Memorial Arthur Boldison, a Bishopthorpe Road man who died on the Somme, was brought to life briefly in the place where his name is carved in stone. He was joined by Edith Cavell, Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxembourg and Mary Carter, a York Munitions worker. As they fell silent, narrators stood forward to explain how their voices were silenced by war. The badly disfigured Norman Eric Wallace also spoke for those who survived with terrible wounds.


Arthur Boldison, a York railway worker is one of the “Silenced Voices” at The Railway Men’s Memorial


The “Silenced Voices” of Edith Cavell and York munitions worker Mary Carter


The “Silenced Voices” of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg

Fighting Voices

With the dramatic backdrop of York Castle, Bismarck warned Kaiser Wilhelm II of the dangers of his foreign policy, while Rudyard Kipling sent his son off to war to the poem ‘If’. Flora Sandes and Princess Eugenie told their tales of fighting as women, with the Princess speaking in her native Russian through a translator.


Princess Eugenie: one of the “Fighting Voices”


Rudyard Kipling reads the Poem If to his son Jack as one of the “Fighting Voices”


Bismark and Kaiser Wilhelm II argue over what it means to have a “fighting Voice”

Reflective Voices

Finally, outside York Minster, Vera Brittain, Erich Maria Remarque, Klara Zeltin and Wilfred Owen reflected on how the war changed their lives and changed their world forever. It was a powerful end and many tourists stopped to take photographs.


Klara Zeltin reflects on how the war should change the role of women


The poet Wilfred Owen is a “Reflective Voice”


Erich Maria Remarque explains why he has written the novel “All Quiet on the Western Front”

Winter Concert – Thursday 11 December

The Winter Concert is taking place on Thursday 11 December at 7pm in the main hall. Tickets are £3.50 for adults, £2.50 for concessions and are available in the dining hall at break time from Monday 24 November.

Alzheimer Researcher


Scottish Highers
Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, German, English
Scottish Advanced Highers (equivalent to A level)
Maths, Physics, Chemistry
MPhys Physics

Mary investigates changes in the iron in our brains to see if they could be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease.

‘My PhD research project is multidisciplinary which means that I get to apply the skills and knowledge I gained during my physics degree while solving biological and medical problems. It also means that I get the opportunity to work with scientists from a wide range of backgrounds and meet a lot of really interesting people.’

Mary’s research is important because there is currently no conclusive test for Alzheimer’s disease until after death. ‘I compare the concentration and distribution of iron in the brain tissue donated to medical research from people who died with a normal brain with those who had Alzheimer’s disease. I also image these samples with MRI – a non-invasive medical imaging technique – to see how the changes in iron affect the images and whether this could be useful as a diagnostic test in living patients.’

Working in a multidisciplinary area of research has its challenges ‘Good communication skills are vital for working with such a broad range of people. I have to explain my research from my point of view and at the same time listen to, and understand, the position of researchers with other backgrounds.’ But it also has its rewards such as taking the lead in an experiment at the Diamond Light Source.

Mary has no doubt that taking physics at A-level and university is a good option. ‘It has given me many useful and transferable skills and allowed me to work in many areas of science that I wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to,’ she says.

You can find more information about careers in physics by visiting www.physics.org

Year 9 French Film Trip

We have recently been lucky enough to take advantage of the Into Film Festival which is taking place 4-21 November 2014. This is an annual celebration of film and education for schools and young people across the UK and offers a range of events nationwide.


58 of our Year 9 students have been able to enjoy a French language film La Reine Soleil (The Sun Queen) thanks to the project, as there was a local screening at City Screen in York. Students spent the morning immersed in real French language and enjoyed the experience immensely.

You can find out more about the Into Film Festival by visiting www.intofilm.org

Millthorpe Students Brighten up Care Home with Garden Mural

Year 9 students from Millthorpe have brought some colour into the lives of residents at a York home for older people. Residents, students and staff joined together for the unveiling of a large mural that the children had created to brighten up a communal area at Amarna House in Boroughbridge Road, York. The care home, which offers a range of care for older people, including nursing, residential and dementia, has recently been refurbished and the painting, which followed a garden-based theme, was commissioned to bring a final touch of colour.


The mural was assembled on a panel at Millthorpe School before being assembled at the care home and took students four days to complete. But the students rose to the challenge:

“I enjoyed drawing the picture. At the painting stage I enjoyed the challenge of painting the bricks and plants to make them look realistic and 3D” commented Georgia Tyssen.

Fellow student Marnie Taylor-Abbott was enthusiastic about the theme, which was chosen to be bright and cheerful for the residents:

“I enjoyed the idea of bringing the ‘outside, inside’ for the residents.”

Year 8 students at Millthorpe were also invited after their form raised over £100 for Amarna House at a sponsored run in July, which was used to buy a bench for residents to sit on in their ‘indoor garden’.

Millthorpe Remembers

As part of Millthorpe School’s remembrance programme, students attended remembrance assemblies in the week leading up to Remembrance Sunday. Mr Baybutt discussed the history of the poppy, the purpose of remembrance and outlined the work of the Royal British Legion so that students would know where their money went if they did choose to buy a poppy.


The History Department has also allocated each House a person from York to follow through the four years of conflict; Saxon House will track 15 year old Thomas Jones, Roman House will follow William Barclay and Viking House will study Ada Fletcher. This is to try to give students an appreciation of the longevity of the conflict across the 4 years, one hundred years on.

The students were an exemplary audience and many did choose to buy and proudly wear their poppies following the assembly. They also impeccably observed a minutes’ silence at 11am on 11 November demonstrating their mature understanding of the whole concept of remembrance.

Students Build Their Skills with Housing Experts

Year 10 students became property tycoons for the day earlier this term, and learnt about careers in construction from industry experts. The session, delivered by graduates from Barratt Homes, used an innovative game format to allow students to create their own property developments. Pupils had to work in teams to buy land, price the development, build a property and finally sell the house.

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And while the students had fun, they also learnt some valuable lessons. Year 10 pupil Abigail Thackway said “It was a fantastic session. It was great to see some positive female role models and I was surprised to hear about all the different jobs within the construction industry”.

Design Technology teacher Mr Bull was enthusiastic about the project: “It’s really important that students learn skills that are going to be relevant when they leave school. It was fantastic that they were able to get an insight into such an important topic from people who actually make these decisions on a day to day basis”.

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Barratt Homes hope that by raising awareness of career opportunities within the construction industry, they will be able to plug the anticipated skills gaps in Yorkshire over the next 10 years.