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Why Our Thoughts Are With Those in World Conflict

By Charlie Birch – Deputy Head Boy

The Russian invasion of Ukraine strongly opposes the ideals of peace and unity. No wonder so many of our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people.

Vladimir Putin’s wrongful ambition to unite former USSR nations under Russian rule replicates the unwarranted behaviour of previous political leaders, such as Adolf Hitler, who embarked upon war and persecuted the lives of so many innocent civilians. The recent events lead us to also think about those who have suffered conflict in the likes of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. Our thoughts are also with the people in all countries who may not be making the headlines right at this moment.

From these conflicts, we can develop understanding and learn from them. Here at Barr Beacon, we can develop the mentality of always treating others with respect. We can also understand that certain actions and behaviours can be unnecessary and that our behaviour can have an impact upon others. This also leads to the point that your actions will have consequences, which is currently shown by the majority of the globe sanctioning Russia. This overall, enforces a new meaning behind taking responsibility in advocating humility and kindness towards other people.

Donations exceeding £1 billion have been generated in Europe to support Ukrainians in need. Furthermore, volunteers are being deployed in camps on the borders of Ukraine and neighbouring countries, providing food, drink, shelter and medical assistance. The swift response to support those in need embodies what we at Barr Beacon School want to encourage in our pupils.

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Why we remember

On Holocaust Memorial Day, we remember all those who were murdered or affected under Nazi occupation, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Holocaust Memorial Day is celebrated on 27th January each year as this was the day Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated in 1945. This year the theme is ‘One Day’. One day in history, one day when life changed, one day at a time, one day in the future, one day is just a snapshot as we look at it now.

“You didn’t think about yesterday, and tomorrow may not happen, it was only today that you had to cope with and you got through it as best you could.” – Iby Knill, survivor of the Holocaust

What was the Holocaust? It illustrates the dangers of prejudice, discrimination, antisemitism and dehumanisation. Holocaust did not just happen in one day; it was carefully planned. Between 1933 to 1945, the Nazis persecuted all those who did not fit their idea of pure Aryan race: Jews, Roma, black people, homosexuals, mentally and physically disabled people, Jehovah’s Witnesses and many others. By the end of the war, it was estimated that 11 million people had been killed. 6 million of those were Jews.

Often, we think of the Holocaust as numbers, and events of the past, but each one of them had individual stories and experiences to tell. It is crucial for us to learn from the past and educate others as we are the last generation to witness the survivors’ testimonies.

Even in recent years, genocides are still taking place across the world, it is unimaginable what the victims are going through and why in this day and age us Humans have not learnt to respect each other’s race, beliefs and differences.

The most important thing we can do is to share our knowledge to those around us, as the more we know, the more we become aware.

Take ‘One Day’ at a time and live it to the best you can make it, because everyday is a new day and every 24 hours is a new chapter.

Useful Link.

https://www.het.org.uk/

https://www.hmd.org.uk/

B.Fang 

Deputy Head Girl

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Pushing ourselves to succeed

As LGBT History Month approaches, Deputy Head Boy Will Mellor reflects on his experience as a photographer for last year’s Pride event in Birmingham and urges us all to push ourselves out of our comfort zones so we can learn more about ourselves – and other people.

As we all know the Covid pandemic has affected each one of us in different ways. For me the lockdowns and restrictions has driven me to push myself out of my comfort zone and begin to explore other avenues within my passion of media. For me in September I had the privilege of being an event photographer for Birmingham Pride event. This festival is one of the biggest and most important within the UK, attracting over 75,000 people to the streets of Birmingham to celebrate LGBTQ+ achievements and to promote a safe space where our community can express themselves without fear or prejudice.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous on the train heading into Birmingham. I had personally never been to a Pride event. Neither had I had much experience with street photography. As an amateur photographer, I am always looking for ways to tell a story through the images I capture and, from the second I stepped off the train, there was an array of colours lining Grand Central and hundreds of people on the platforms heading to the celebration. There were many things that amazed me this day but the community feeling was what stood out to me the most: there was a overall feeling of joy and happiness that seemed to be infectious. You couldn’t help but smile at all the people around you. This immediately put me at ease and my real enjoyment of the day started here. From Grand Central I joined the many brightly-clothed people heading to the parade route.

Upon reaching the route I set about finding a vantage point to best capture the parade. This proved challenging as I wanted to capture multiple angles and views. As I was at one of my positions another photographer joined me. We chatted about our backgrounds and as I confessed that I was only an amateur he decided to take me under his wing. This was because he was one of the professional event photographers coving the parade for a newspaper. Throughout the day he showed me around the parade route and many ways of looking at the event through a camera lens. I was successfully able to capture thousands of photos, each portraying their own story. 

I came away from the parade with a much greater appreciation and understanding of photography. I also have a better understanding of how a community can pull together to celebrate and support each other. The skills and emotions I experienced on this day will live with me forever and contribute to my development both as an artist and as a member of society. I would fully encourage people to push themselves beyond their comfort zone and continue to be “stronger together” (2021’s Pride theme).

Below are some great links where you can read more about the Pride festival and more about the local LGBTQ+ community.

Birmingham Pride

Defining LGBTQ

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Learning how you revise best in each subject

By Maisie Amos, Deputy Head Girl

Recently, I have read many comments saying schools teach you what to learn but not necessarily how to learn. Barr Beacon does offer advice, especially during assemblies and PSHE lessons, to help guide revision but you do need to spend time working out what applies to you best and how your brain absorbs information. This may be different for different subjects.

I am currently studying Biology, Chemistry and Maths, so 3 science based subjects. Biology requires the memorising of a lot of facts in a short period of time and applying them to the world we live in. Maths requires practice and repetition of processes and formulas so you ‘get it right’ every time. Chemistry is by far my hardest subject.  I am the kind of person who likes to understand new concepts straight away and then memorise the facts afterwards.  However with chemistry you need to memorise the facts ‘for now’ and then you will have a better understanding of them as you cover more content and the more practice you do.

Steps to Success

  1. Mind map the different ways to revise. This can be through your own research, through this blog, YouTube videos or Instagram pages, from study accounts or even searching on google or google scholar and writing down a few tips.
  2. Try out all of the techniques on learning different bits of information. If you are doing your GCSEs, maybe try one technique for one lesson in each subject. If you are in Year 12, you can try this by recapping content from GCSE that you need to know. For Year 13, you will probably already know how to revise for your A-Levels by reflecting on the Year 12 mocks.  However, if you still would like to test them before delving into lots of work this year, maybe try with the content you struggled with in the mocks.
  3. Once you have tried the techniques, ensure that you test them out against your memory. Do a few exam questions and see which ones have ‘stuck’ in your brain the best. Try to think of the ways you would prefer to revise for each individual subject.
  4. Create a revision timetable and stick to it. I use Numbers, which is the Apple version of Excel, to create mine. Make sure it is realistic – it is probably not the best idea to be revising until 4am in the morning! You also need to make sure that you are leaving some buffer time.

Examples of Revision Techniques you could use

These are examples of what I do:-

  • After every lesson, I use a website called Notion to create myself questions and I transform every line of information written in my notes into a question.  I then attempt to answer the question without looking at my notes.  I then link this page into my calendar one day after the lesson, three days after the lesson, one week after, two weeks after, one month, two months and three months. On these days, I have to go back to the page of questions I made and I answer them and do a question from the textbook or Integral (Maths). Also on the day of the lesson, I do a Seneca lesson (for Biology and Chemistry) or the tests on integral (for Maths). On my Notion page, I make a cue card on the questions that I found most difficult and file this in my folder. In addition to this, I complete any homework I am set in the lesson.

Summary

  • Mind maps
  • Spaced repetition (the retrieval practice I do with Notion)
  • Past Paper Questions (make sure you mark them)
  • Recapping lessons
  • Whiteboard pens- write it out again and again until it sticks
  • Cue cards
  • Talking through processes out loud
  • Convert words to pictures
  • Memory Spots
  • Stacking
  • Use rhymes
  • Use mnemonics
  • Pictorial Storage

Revision Timetables – my advice

  1. Create a grid with columns Monday to Sunday at the top and the times you are going to revise along the bottom.
  2. Block out any times where you cannot revise (e.g. eating, exercise, travelling home, clubs).
  3. Think about how much time you want to spend revising content for each lesson (hint: 2 hours per subject per week is probably about right for GCSE but not enough for A levels).
  4. Choose which days you are taking a break from revision. You could label one of these days as a buffer day where you can catch up on other work that you have not managed to do.
  5. Choose how long each period of revision will be before you take a break (20 minutes revision followed by a 5-minute break or 1-hour revision followed by a 15-minute break).
  6. Slot in the times you are going to revise, stating the subject (for A levels this should be at least 5 hours per subject per week).
  7. Every Sunday, print off your timetable and annotate it, stating what you will be doing in each study session for the following week or (copy the document you made and edit it each week).
  8. Remember to be flexible with your time. If you cannot revise one night, move those study sessions to your buffer day.
  9. If you are having trouble finding a way of revising all the content until your final exam, use the app Adapt to structure the topics you will revise each day. This will also help you to structure a revision timetable.

Useful Links

https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/business/trends-and-insights/articles/7-tricks-to-help-you-remember-anything/

Other Websites that could help:

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Social Media: the best and worst thing to come out of the 21st century?

by Jack Tranter, Head Boy

Social media has become a massive part of our lives. Whether it’s reading a news article on Instagram, or watching a new craze on TikTok, social media is used for hours upon hours every single day. Like technology in general, social media has both an upside and a downside. And when it comes to the social media effects on teens, those pros and cons are particularly significant.

On the positive side, platforms like Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram can be lifesavers for teens that want to stay connected with their friends or to have some time to themselves and relax by watching some YouTube. Social media was especially helpful in the pandemic as it entertained the population all the way through lockdowns. We all know social media can be a great thing, but as the world is moving on, the world of social media is becoming a concerning place.

In recent years I feel social networks have stopped being happy places. It is no secret that some parts of some social media have turned into toxic battlegrounds, seemingly built for people to argue in. A cloud of negativity has been cast by people abusing these networks which has had a devastating effect on many, especially today’s teens. Many experts believe that the constant overstimulation of social networking shifts the nervous system into fight-or-flight mode. As a result, this makes disorders such as ADHD, teen depression and teen anxiety worse. Social media also provides a space in which teenagers can encourage each other to engage in unhealthy and dangerous behaviours. Hence, teenagers with eating disorders or those who self-harm can connect with others to talk about their self-destructive routines. In these ‘safe’ online spaces, obsessive calorie counting, fasting, constant competition in beauty and other unhealthy acts are accepted and encouraged.

As I said before, social media is a great tool that we are lucky enough to have in our pocket, but using it the right way is crucial. When using social media, you should always come away from it feeling yourself and feeling happy. If you are finding this isn’t happening, then you way need to limit the time you spend on it or have a break from it completely.

I want to suggest some great links below that can help a lot of people understand a little bit more about social media in today’s world.

https://www.thesocialdilemma.com – this will take you to the website of the 2020 film The Social Dilemma. The film and their website dives head first into the dark truth of social media. I highly recommend the film.

https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/ – If you feel as if you need support with your mental health or you need some information about social media, please use this link. Childline’s tips and techniques, ideas and inspiration, can help you feel more in control. And you can access them in your own time, at your own pace.

Remember: when on-line, be yourself. Don’t try and change to fit in. Be you because you are great!

Less scrolling, more living!

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What does climate action ask of me?

Written By A.Bromwich Head Girl

The global momentum for action on climate change has been difficult to ignore. The younger generations are fighting for their future and making their voices heard but, at times, it is difficult for us to know how to join in or what real difference our actions can make.

Later this year the UN’s Climate Change Conference is being held a 5 hour car journey away from you in Glasgow. Bringing together world leaders and communities with the 4 main aims: to stay within a 1.5°C temperature rise, to help protect communities and natural habitats, to mobilise climate finance and to finalise the Paris rulebook. From the words of COP26 President Alok Sharma “If we choose to act, there is another future possible.”

Globally, we all have dreams and aspirations for our futures but, for this, we need a future that supports people and the planet. Climate change hasn’t yet caused catastrophic harm in the UK or hampered people’s access to basic human rights, including clean water.  Yet.

The most valuable thing you can do is let your voices be heard and act because, contrary to what people like to say, young people are at the front of almost every major change.

I want to suggest some small things that we could be doing especially during the countdown to the COP26 summit.

  1. https://together-for-our-planet.ukcop26.org/ Read about the COP26 summit and other organisations that are making changes in mitigating the climate crisis. It’s always good to know the information behind something you’re supporting.
  1. Follow accounts on social media that are sharing information and work they are doing with the climate crisis such as https://www.instagram.com/earthrise.studio/?hl=en
  1. Help the environment on a small scale such as litter picking when walking in your local area.
  1. Ask the question “Do I really need this?” when buying your ‘summer’ wardrobe to reduce your consumption of fast fashion.
  1. If you think something could be changed to be more climate friendly or sustainable don’t be afraid to speak up about it.

Just remember that actions do not need to be perfect or elaborate to make a difference. Like the story of the starfish on the beach, the young girl could not save all the starfish but she was able to make a difference to just one.

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Senior Team 2021

We are pleased to introduce our Senior Six Team for 2021-2022.

We are looking forward to working with them over the next academic year.


Six years ago, I had the privilege of joining this amazing school and I still believe now what I knew then: that this is the school for me.

Barr Beacon has given me countless opportunities throughout my time here, from participating in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme to flying aeroplanes in the school’s Cadet Force. This school truly has it all. These experiences have shaped me into the person I am today, which is something that I will always remember and be grateful for, for the rest of my life. 

Barr Beacon School has given me the confidence and knowledge to try new things, to step outside my comfort zone and to be the best version of myself. Now in 2021, I have achieved a major goal of mine that I set myself Year 7 – becoming Head Boy. I knew this role would be hard to achieve and I knew I had to put in the work to achieve this, but that’s the nature of seeking success. Success isn’t “lucky”; it’s sheer hard work and dedication.  

I am honoured be Head Boy at such an amazing school. I am here to listen, support and encourage all ideas from all pupils. Every idea, however small, is important me. So, let us achieve greatness together. 

Jack Tranter – Head Boy


From my first day in Year 7 to joining Sixth Form, Barr Beacon has always supported and provided me with ways to flourish both personally and academically. From Duke of Edinburgh and musicals to university residentials and trips, there has been a constant flow of support, allowing me to engage with more opportunities than I ever thought possible. I have always held the title of a Barr Beacon pupil with pride and now feel privileged to be Head Girl. I am truly grateful for my time at Barr Beacon School: a school that shapes pupils into esteemed individuals with passions and character that will carry them into their future. 

Abbie Bromwich – Head Girl


Since joining in 2015, this school has been nothing short of fantastic. Barr Beacon School ensured my years of adolescence were ones of progression with additional support and determination to succeed. Barr Beacon has provided me a platform of not just academic learning but one of developing character attributes too. Highlights such as my phenomenal trip to New Hampshire (USA), being a Prefect, work experience and being given the chance of representing the West Midlands County Football across the country ensured I gained independence, openmindedness, courage and integrity. This school has enabled me to throw myself into opportunities that I never would have imagined when walking in on my very first day. My cherished experiences coinciding with the learning pathway I have chosen have set me up to be proud to succeed.

Charlie Birch – Deputy Head Boy


Barr Beacon School values the individuality and achievements of all its pupils. Since starting a new journey at this school in 2015, I was offered uncountable opportunities to push myself further and develop the essential skills required, not just for school, but for my life after Sixth Form. Becoming a Prefect allowed me to strive to reach my maximum potential, gaining confidence and teamwork skills. Completing the Duke of Edinburgh Awards has also taught me the importance of trust and determination.

‘Proud to succeed’ is our motto and I am very proud to be your Deputy Head Girl, representing our outstanding students and working together with the excellent teachers. I am extremely grateful to those who have encouraged and supported me to become the young adult I am today, as without you I would be a very different person, telling a very different story.

Boran Fang – Deputy Head Girl


When I first started at Barr Beacon School in 2015 it was such a daunting experience being the only pupil from my primary school. Since the very beginning Barr beacon supported, encouraged and moulded me into the confident young man I am today. 

Barr Beacon challenged me to be better whilst still retaining my individuality. This culture guided me to lead the school’s Cadet Force as their sergeant and I proudly represented Barr Beacon in shooting competitions.

I have made amazing friendships and memories at the school which will allow me to share and encourage future generations. We strive to do better and Barr Beacon supports me not only academically but also to grow as an individual. I am proud to succeed.

William Mellor  – Deputy Head Boy 


Since an early age when a close family friend attended, Barr Beacon School has been a choice I made – I especially liked the idea of there being a swimming pool. Then, my first memory of Barr Beacon School, almost a decade later, presented itself as seeing the headteacher and listening to her deliver a speech about the expectations, pointing out her Prefects around the school hall to demonstrate them. This is when I knew I wanted to represent this prestigious school like the Prefects were doing at that moment. Throughout my years at Barr Beacon School, the staff and older students demonstrated that this is more than a school – it is a tightly-knit community, constantly helping one another and taking pride in the achievements of others, not only themselves. With this, Barr Beacon School helped me to achieve my dream through the abundance of opportunities on offer. By being able to take part in the Bronze, Silver and currently Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, I have developed my teamwork, confidence and leadership skills, preparing me for the world of work.

Being Deputy Head Prefect in Year 11, I was able to showcase all of those skills and embark on new ones such as organisation and seeing what it is like behind the scenes of school life. I have always been someone who has a love of learning and Barr Beacon School has only encouraged me further. Since joining Barr Beacon Sixth Form, I have enjoyed completing an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) and attending many university lectures and work experience opportunities that have been provided for us by the Sixth Form Team. All of these experiences will support my application to universities. As Deputy Head Girl, I aspire to fuel everyone with determination to succeed and ensure every Barr Beacon pupil is as prepared for their future as Barr Beacon School has made me.

Maisie Amos – Deputy Head Girl

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Equity or Equality?

By H. Kumar-Mehay, Head Girl

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with Ms. Newsome, Consultant for the Matrix Academy, regarding one of our previous posts on the Black Lives Matter movement. In our meeting, we discussed the crucial yet somewhat difficult feat of educating students about racism within the classroom and what ways we could reveal the truths of this to students so we can all comprehend the issues that many members of our society face each day.

One of the questions I was asked was if I could explain the difference between equality and equity. I sat in the chair of this glass-panelled office eyeing the room for some answers but truthfully, I couldn’t answer this. In all honesty, I felt quite guilty for not knowing the difference. Surely after doing so much research and having many conversations on the topic, I should have understood the difference between these words which seemed as if they were identical, yet worlds apart in the same instance.

After sitting there for some time, Ms. Newsome told me that with the idea that, whilst equality is treating everyone the same but on the same level, equity was about treating everyone equally through treating people based on their needs and differences.

Now understanding the difference between the two, I’m constantly reflecting on that experience to connect it to my own life experiences.

It is important to have special months for oppressed groups, like Black History Month (October) and LGBT History Month (February), where we rightfully appreciate these groups of people, whose achievements might not have been appropriately rewarded in the past: the people who have been oppressed, who constantly strive for the equality that they rightfully deserve. 

Without equity, there is no equality. 

In order reach true equality, we must appreciate the principle of equity, through meeting different needs of minorities in our society.

It is simply not enough to not be racist; we must be actively anti-racist. We must actively fight against discrimination of all kinds. 

I want to thank Ms. Newsome for enlightening me further on this topic and constantly encouraging my curiosity. Every day, I reflect on our

conversation which inspires me to fight for equality. Whether it’s based on race, gender or sexual orientation, thank you for helping make me realise that fighting for equality is not a ‘One size fits all’ approach, but is unique and individual each time as we seek to ensure every single individual feels valued in our school, on our streets and in our society.

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Mental health – keep the conversation going

By H. Kumar-Mehay, Head Girl

Mental health – keep the conversation goingBy H. Kumar-Mehay, Head Girl
Last week was Children’s Mental Health Week, and it was all about raising awareness and what can be done to help those who are suffering from poor mental health. The week may now be over but the conversation mustn’t stop.

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. However, it can be harder to maintain mental health and to break the taboo associated with it. Mental health is something everyone has. But for some, it can often be hard to put your feelings into words and to talk to others, and more often than not the easier option is to stay silent, keeping your feelings to yourself. The current lack of physical contact from anyone outside your support bubble can make things even harder. But there are ways to make things better.

Reach out to others

Barr Beacon School has an extensive support system, and your teachers are here to help. If you ever have a really bad day, if something is worrying you, or if you want to share some good news, your teachers will be there to listen! It is as easy as dropping them and email or a message via TEAMS and they’ll respond, offering advice and support. So why not give it a shot? If you’re up to it, email at least one of your teachers after reading this and ask them how they are. I promise you they’ll appreciate it! If you don’t want to reach out to your teachers, phone a friend or a family member to talk to, or you can set up a group facetime to have a catchup. It will be a great way to ease stress and relieve loneliness.

Keep a healthy routine 

During lockdown it is easy to slip out of a routine: playing on consoles, scrolling through TikTok… the hours fly by. The next thing you know it’s 1 am and you’re still awake. Sleeping less than 8 hours a night deprives the brain of valuable time to repair itself and rest for the day ahead. It is vital to try to sleep a minimum of 8 hours to wake up feeling fresh and happy, ensure you wake up at least 40 minutes before the beginning of form to get freshened up and eat breakfast. You also need to get that beauty sleep in! Sleeping and waking at regular times, eating a balanced diet and taking regular exercise will leave your body and mind feeling stronger and better. Take time out of your day for some self-care, in whatever way you would like: you can read a book, have a spa day at home, buy yourself some new clothes (online at the moment!) or go for a run. Just take a step back and enjoy the little things in life.

Dealing with Online School

  • It can be very appealing to set an alarm 5 minutes before the beginning of form time and log into form whilst still in bed. However, this will not allow you enough time to get fresh and eat breakfast before the start of the school day, which will make you feel groggy and unfocused during your lessons. Waking up earlier gives you time to set up your desk and get ready for the day. 
  • Make sure you are still using your planner to stay organised and ensure you are completing your homework/TEAMS assignments in plenty of time. Avoid rushing to do it last minute as it will make you feel stressed.
  • Your working environment can have a huge effect on your mood. Whilst working from your bed is a very comfy and warm option, it is best to sit at your desk/table with your books and equipment to best emulate the school environment. This will make you feel more focused. 
  • Sitting in front of a screen for hours can be quite draining, and so it’s ok to stand up and take a stretch during your lessons. Similarly, use your breaks wisely, go outside and get some fresh air as a substitute for using TikTok.

Find ways to replace the activities you miss.

Whilst it’s not possible to go to the cinema or to the gym, why not try something new? Maybe it’s time to fix that bike that’s rusting in your garden or learn a new language, write a blog or kickstart your YouTube channel… the possibilities are endless. Embarking on something new will give you focus and something to aim for, as well as relieving stress.

If the way you feel is affecting your ability to function day-to-day, or becomes overwhelming, please reach out to someone and talk. Things will always get better. And, even at times when you feel alone, there are always people there for you, rooting for you.

The NHS have a website for tips on improving and dealing with Mental Health – https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/

Samaritans offer free and confidential support; you can contact them by phone 24/7 at 116 123 

For a list of more support options, please click the following link – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/

Hopefully, we can all be back in school sooner rather than later. But, for now, please look after yourselves and follow the current government guidelines.

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Reflecting back on 2020 – and looking forward

By M. Hill, Deputy Head Boy

2020 was unlike any other in our lifetimes. The collective struggle of our society in fighting a constant battle has been a new experience for the all of us. With protests in Hong Kong, devastating wildfires in Australia, wars, volcanic eruptions, oil leaks in Ambarnaya, a catalogue of racial injustices including the murder of George Floyd, a massive explosion in Lebanon, the deaths of many, many innocent people, multiple floods and earthquakes, the rise of COVID-19 and much more. No wonder we felt so tired and overwhelmed. 

2020 was truly a year to remember. 

In spite of this overwhelming madness, there have been a rather large amount of positives things that have happened throughout the year. 

Although it isn’t really apparent, our society has taken a huge step forwards in its approach to equality, acceptance and respect. With some ‘haters’ still standing tall, trying their best to force their outdated opinions on others, many of us have risen together to fight back and ensure we all feel proud to be who we truly are. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Hey! It’s 2020 bro, you can’t be saying that any more” (or similar) many times. Although a simple comment, it reflects on how much our society has begun to accept those who don’t conform to the old normalisations and expectations. That, is a huge step forward and is something to be proud of. Alongside this, I’d like to draw your attention to just a few of the many positive things that have happened over the course of 2020, and share with you a valuable reflection on them as a whole. 

Polio was officially eradicated on the African continent

On 25th August, with the help of the WHO, Rotary International, CDC, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gave, the Vaccine Alliance, Africa was deemed Polio-free after the last confirmed case was recorded in 2016 in Nigeria. This virus has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands, and to see its eradication in Africa is wonderful.

Dogs trained to protect wildlife have saved 45 rhinos from poachers in South Africa

In March, the Southern African Wildlife College and Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance had used various beagles and bloodhounds to track down poachers in South Africa. Over the last decade, 9442 African rhinos have been lost to poaching, and with this extraordinary work by these two organisations, they were able to prevent an extra 45 rhinos being poached. Poaching is a serious issue in South Africa, and it gives us hope that organisations such as these are making extraordinary attempts, and succeeding, in reducing the number of rhinos lost. 

People around the world rose up to protest against racial injustice

After the devastating death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis, USA protests had arisen in nearly all major cities. Hundreds of thousands of people had flooded the streets, desperate to make a change to the overwhelming racial injustice that infects our society. This stand against racism had extended to more than 60 different countries in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and against the racial injustice and police brutality. In response to such a movement, the officer responsible for the death, Derek Chauvin, was charged with second-degree murder, alongside his accomplices for abetting the murder, reforms were made in the way police were to handle members of the public, vows to put more funding towards youth and social services, new databases for collecting video footage of all police action, the removal of several Confederate and slavery-linked statues around the world, action in the media to address institutional racism, and changes to many commercial products to more accurately represent black lives. This change has been a dramatic one, and as an advocator for equality and acceptance for those around me, it is incredible to see a world standing up for those who society treat with disrespect and animosity. 

Crayola had released new inclusive skin-tone crayons

It may seem trivial to some, but moves like this are important. In May, Crayola had released its most inclusive skint-tone crayons to date. The ‘Colours of the World’ pack includes over 40 different skin colours, allowing children to “accurately colour themselves into the world”. Such an idea has propelled the inclusivity of all children of different skin tones into the world, allowing them to feel accepted and ‘normal’, whilst allowing them to understand that there are many different skin tones in the world, with all being equally as important as the next. It is typically thought that we are taught to treat those of other skin-tones differently, leading to preset ideas of others when they are older. Having such an inclusive product for children to use is a definite advancement in enabling our society to function collectively, rather than as isolated groups. 

In addition to the horrible events of 2020, there were many incredible ones too. A valuable reflection on 2020 that I believe is necessary to take away, is that through all of the darkness and trauma you may experience, either individually or with others, you are never truly alone. You will always be wanted in this world, and you should never feel insignificant. No one can be better at being you than yourself, so you should feel free to be the best you that you can be. Amidst all of the valuable lessons 2020 has taught us, the most important now is to love and cherish those around you, and do whatever makes you happy. 

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