Friday 27th April
It was Friday. The signature day for tiredness and KH fish and chips. The rain was unnaturally light as I stumbled along the distant road from The Grove to breakfast, where bacon, eggs, hash brown, toast, porridge with brown sugar, cereal , preferably coco pops, and three cups of hot chocolate awaited patiently. Breakfast and the morning lessons flew past, and in a extremely short time I found myself half asleep in Mr Lapage’s double chemistry lesson, learning about the wonderful world of hydro carbonate bonding and the modern methods for extracting these vital liquids.
That was Friday over. Two more lessons and the day was mine. If only. In true M&S fashion, that was no ordinary Friday. That was a Friday in which I and eight other fourth formers were to journey to Welbeck College to compete against thirty other schools. After two hours of listening to Jack Casey attempt to sing along to numerous radio tunes, we arrived cautiously at the front gates of the secure facility, equipped with their very own helicopter and tank.
The hindrance of the day was definitely the tent, in which the whole group (minus Mr Simper and his accomplice) would sleep under, attempting to shelter ourselves from true British weather. Rain. Picture this: all these schools clustered into a field, with their minute plain tents, and then Shrewsbury school rocking up, playing loud music and requiring the most room for our monstrous, multicoloured tent, complete with its very own porthole themed window. Classy I know.
Dinner was served hastily in the College lunch hall and after wolfing down dessert, we trudged back to the tent, through the marsh that was once the First Pitch. We setup our own little shared compartments and realised that we hadn’t showered for twenty four hours. I don’t need to say the stench of soggy clothing was severely unpleasant.
Saturday 28th April
I cannot remember the dream stopping, I thought I was still somewhere in Africa, being chased by rabid mongooses when I realised. I was in fact awake, at the unholy hour of quarter to six, with the morning dew (the natural kind, not the drink) seeping through the tent, and drowning my bundle of clothes for the day. My hopes of the alarm clock dying seemed pointless. I just had to face the day. I am still wondering if the early wake up was even necessary, as breakfast wasn’t even for another hour, however I decided that I should set the example of simply zipping back up the sleeping bag and covering my ears. After a failed attempt of pretending to be completely unconscious, I changed into my military gear, minus the weapons of course, and set off towards the temperate breakfast hall. The morning was a total blur, I still can’t remember to this second what exactly happened.
I can just about remember numerous command tasks, in which we fared rather well, as our group had inside help from two college chaperones, who were to aid us for the weekend. I also remember having to launch an egg through rugby posts, using bamboo and elastic bands. Luckily none of ours exploded in our team-mate’s face, though it would have been humorous and would have relieved part of the tension of this intricate task. The team performed very well in the later tasks and I was pleased with how well they coordinated the skills our team possessed, and that was reflected in the scores we achieved at each station. That wasn’t the day though, it wasn’t even close. We still had our most important task. The social. We changed into our nicest clothes and followed our mentors into a room, much resembling Quod. It was an extremely relaxed but cramped atmosphere, as we were shunted about by crowds, and there was even an arena in which our very own Arthur Cheng break-danced, to applause of the slightly tipsy College students. What a night it was.
Sunday 29th April
Supposedly Sunday is the day of rest, so waking up again at the ridiculous time of six; I felt that this contradiction was rather too extreme for my liking. Rebellion against the day was futile, even though it would mean peeling me out of my sleeping bag, in which I was cocooned. The final day of this leadership challenge would mean the harder tasks are now in sight. It wasn’t this that dampened the spirits of the pupils and staff. It was the torrential rain. I found out that it had been raining since midnight, which was apparent when we opened the tent and a mini tsunami flooded the compartments of the tent. The day’s schedule was as dismal as the weather. Physical training, medical, high ropes, swimming/kayaking and many more extreme tasks were between the team and the finish of this great event.
After much dread, the Physical training was the next activity we had to face. To our surprise, it didn’t entail the three-mile run we were dismayed by, instead, squash rallying, sit and press ups, basketball and medicine ball passing were the tasks we were given. It was slightly amusing to see our team score so brilliantly, especially as our fitness compared to the Marine section is shockingly poor. It was a good day for Shrewsbury. We scored very high marks in the high ropes, while our command tasks and swimming were very confident. The medical for me was the best task out of them all. It involved three casualties with multiple injuries, from cuts and bruises to loss of limbs and amputations. The effort they put into making the injuries as realistic as possible was very impressive, if not a bit gut-wrenching. My casualty had shrapnel wounds to the face and a chunk of metal lodged in his arm. We dealt brilliantly with all the problems and were highly commended on our success as a group.
The award ceremony was the final part of our journey, as the rain and rain had halted the outdoor activities. All the schools were stuffed into the sports hall and individual awards and speeches created an anticipation that causes horrific shivers to run through the crowds. Although we didn’t win, I felt that the fact we had never before attended, yet still beat the majority was a great effort, and the members of staff were very proud of our position. This meant one thing. A celebration meal.
Monday 30th April
Monday morning is the one time in the week that getting up is such a great effort, that it is best to ask your friends to help you out of the warm bed, and along to the cold hall that is KH. After showering, changing and fetching the relevant books from my study, I began the trek to my first lesson. Religious studies. Mrs Wilson explained the Christian views on euthanasia and suicide, while the rain hammered the window, creating faint shadows which throw indistinct blurs on the pages of my file. After that, PSE with Reverend Dobbie. This is by far the most relaxing lesson of the week, as we talk, not about dull textbook conversations, but modern issues that our generation will face. His theories on life and creation are mixed with slightly odd comments from my class mates. After lunch, I rush back to house to get my books for next lesson. After ceramics and physics, the day is finally mine, if I didn’t have A-leagues. Unfortunately The Grove lost to Ridgemount, so the team has been revised to achieve better results. Next game should be interesting.
Tuesday 1st May
Tuesday begins with the absence of the heavy rain, a fact that gave everyone an improved morning mood which is needed to complete the morning until break. Double art then biology stood between me and a Grot Shop hot chocolate, a much needed beverage best taken with cream and marshmallows. My next challenge was Curriculum Games, emphasis on challenge, as this week consists of Gym and running in circles on the Astro. It is worse than it sounds, especially if you cannot run and instead limp.
After a filling lunch of gammon, it is onwards and upwards, as the day cruises on through Religious studies and the final lesson of the day, maths. My sport option for the day was tennis, in which the group marvel at my perfect Andy Murray serve, and my expert returns. Mr Clarke sets up a game of ‘around the world’, where the aspects of the School Hunt and Wimbledon are merged into a continuous marathon.
Wednesday 2nd May
Waking up and walking to breakfast, I realise that my weeks at this school are hectic but extremely short. Already I’m sitting in chapel, pondering on the same thoughts. Chapel is the most interesting forty minutes of my Wednesday, due to Reverend Dobbie’s ability to create laughter in the most dismal situations. Chapel is almost immediately followed by double English with Doctor Law. His lessons give a great insight into the life of a staff member at Shrewsbury. The lessons are quite enjoyable on Wednesdays, and I find myself already walking back from Main School Building, and back to The Grove, where my books and seven pieces of chocolaty toast are waiting.
Biology and then physics are the last hurdles, in which the set is studying diffusion and plant structure, and the differences of mass and weight in physics. After lessons, the afternoon is mine, so I got my topschools out the way, including an essay given out from Doc. Law. That’s my Wednesday out the way. Thursday here I come.
Thursday 3rd May
Thursday means I can finally have a lie-in, so breakfast is toast, grabbed just before lessons. After the walk to lessons, my housemaster, Mr Nicholas teaches us about Nazi-ideology and eugenics. After that, double physics and lunch. CCF would have been next on the agenda, if it hadn’t been for the Inter-House Athletics Championships. The whole school buzzed as we waited patiently to be shuttled off to the stadium, a short two minutes down the road.
The whole assembly of staff and pupils were cheering on the hurdlers when the majority of The Grove boys arrived in the penultimate coach. The sight of all these track and fields, and the tug of war, showed just how diverse the range of skills this school houses.
Grove fared well in the seniors and juniors, and even came top in the intermediate category, showing just how important the under dogs can be. After consuming numerous mars bars, a cup of coffee and half shortbread, I leaned against the railing and wondered if all this would change in 2014. Perhaps it will only solidify the links of the pupils and the staff. As I was injured, I supported The Grove’s many attempts in achieving any form of victory in the tug of war. That was not to be as we were up against sixth formers and top squad rowers. The final position for The Grove was fourth, which reflected the house spirit and all the brilliant achievements that we gained.
Friday 4th May
The day before Coach Weekend is always a long but exciting day, due to the teachers and pupils both keen on relaxing but not under-working. My lessons on Friday flew past, in the usual blur that is common to Fridays. My topschools was considerably light, as the teachers felt that we deserve a break from coursework. Even Doc. Law didn’t set the usual thousand word essay, instead, he wished us a happy weekend and the bell outside the classroom deafened us all. Sports next, and it was back to tennis where I rallied on the Astro until it rained, and everyone fled back to their houses to escape the torrents of water. Luckily The Grove isn’t far away. The coach weekend is always a good way to reflect on the previous weeks at this school. It had been a busy but exciting couple of weeks.