1st February 2018
Writing: Jewook Ryou (Year 11), Jess Slater (Year 13) and Matt Dagnall (Year 13)
Photography: Flo Copp (Year 13) and Matt Dagnall (Year 13)
Editing: George Corby (Year 12)
National ‘Time to Talk Day’ was a great opportunity to raise awareness of mental health within the school community. There were many activities going on throughout the school day, such as quizzes and talks led by Year 12s, a Performance Under Pressure seminar for Year 13 and a drop-in zone in the library at lunchtime.
However, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most excitement was generated by the introduction of our new welfare dog, Ember. Studies have shown that therapy dogs can help alleviate stress, promote wellbeing and even improve the learning of students in a school environment. We thought we’d put this to the test! Ember started out in the boardroom for Sixth Form students to meet at break time, then we took her up to the library at lunch to introduce her to members of the lower school. Being a former fire investigation dog, she is very good-natured and enjoyed all the attention! If you didn't get a chance to meet her on Thursday, she will be back for more trial sessions over the course of the next few weeks: look out for her in the library, Learning Level or counselling rooms.
Also happening was ‘Grill a Christian’, an odd annual tradition in which a panel of four Christians assemble to be asked probing questions. This year there were two invited guests from local churches and two panelists from the Sixth Form; Josh Jones and Chris Grassick, the Christian Union leaders. Students asked a series of questions getting into the key doctrines of Christianity, from the significance of the Resurrection to what it takes to get to Hell. It was fascinating, to say the least!
All the panelists were ready to tackle tough questions from the excellent turnout. They each first explained how they had become Christian to clarify their situation, before the audience got into the questions. Many questions were directed at Sam McKee as he had studied evolutionary biology. Unsurprisingly, many audience members were curious as to how the study of science could link to Christianity.
Students also questioned the perceived Christian stance of homosexuality. The panelists were able to clear up common misconceptions in their answers. It was clarified that the primary goal of Christians is to love and welcome other people, not condemn and push them away. Whilst this may not be the attitude of your stereotypical US Bible Belt ‘Christian’, the panelists made it clear that this type of Christian is in the minority and is ignoring that the Bible clearly states one of the two most important commandments is to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’. Whilst the Bible does say that gay sex is a sin, it was agreed that shouldn’t affect how a person is treated. At the end of the session, the Christians had been severely grilled and the audience was more knowledgeable on Christian attitudes to various things - a resounding success.