Co-Curricular Activities Thriving
School life is a different experience for us all this term. It has been sad not to have the tennis matches, athletics tournaments, House picnics and outdoor concerts that characterise life at Wycombe Abbey during the Summer months, but many co-curricular activities are thriving despite the lockdown. A number of activities have been led by the Upper V, who are enjoying the freedom from public examinations to devote time to a range of pursuits outside the confines of academic syllabuses.
The Debating and Public Speaking Society is holding two meetings per week to accommodate all the girls wishing to develop their transferable skills during isolation. There are plans to hold the Junior Debating Competition over Zoom later this term. The Model United Nations (MUN) team is also meeting online, with a recent debate covering vaccination hesitancy.
Numbers attending Maths Club have more than quadrupled, with eager preparations underway for the Purple Comet Maths Meet. This prestigious international mathematics competition involves more than 3,000 teams competing from more than 50 countries.
Over 100 girls and their family members are competing in a weekly Friday Night Quiz, run live over MS Teams and Zoom. Siya (LVI) describes how it has connected her with friends, saying “It has been so fun to be able to connect with friends in the weekly quiz. We compete in our Tutor Group and it felt like a little bit of normality while lessons and everything else is so different. We look forward to it each week!” Next week, the Head Girl Team will be taking on the task of setting the questions.
An online chess tournament was held last weekend using fast paced Swiss rules. Mr Wildgoose and Mr Startup offered commentary and analysis as the action unfolded. Online cooking and baking challenges are being set each weekend for the Cookery Society.
While it is difficult to practise lacrosse, tennis, swimming or trampolining while under lockdown, the girls are maintaining fitness through a series of challenges set by the PE department. A weekly House Games competition is fiercely fought, with Shelburne currently in the lead. The girls are asked to upload a video of themselves completing a physical task , such as learning the Cha Cha Slide. Staff are also taking part in a challenge to virtually visit all the pupils’ homes by covering 50,797 km by various forms of lockdown exercise. So far, they have reached girls living in Dublin!
Chloe (UV), who leads the Debating and Public Speaking Society, describes her experience of co-curricular activities during lockdown: “I have really enjoyed the focus on extra-curricular activities that freedom from GCSE exams has given me. Tools like MS Team have allowed me to collaborate with teachers and pupils across the world to a degree that we have not done in the past. It has also made it far easier for girls to participate. For my society – Public Speaking and Debating – I think younger girls have found learning the skills much more accessible and less intimidating to do virtually. We have had a huge increase in members”.
Dr Goddard, Director of Co-curricular Activities, commented “Co-curricular activities play such an important part in developing girls’ friendships and social connections, which are keenly missed at this time. Playing in a band to an audience of friends, competing as part of a sports team, debating against opponents – all generate the pride that girls feel to be part of the Wycombe Abbey team and the strong connections that maintain sense of community.
“Our lockdown programme has aimed to support these friendships and connections, providing new means for the girls to enjoy each other’s company. It is wonderful that so many of these activities have been led by our Upper V who are thriving in their freedom from public exams”.