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  • Writer's pictureMr Dixon

SPECIAL: Lockdown Lookback!

We have a wonderful portfolio of work to share with you for our final article of the academic year. It has been a challenging and unpredictable year of school, but we have all shown wonderful courage and resilience to make this year purposeful.

With the country moving towards opening up again, and with the summer holidays just around the corner, The Bark magazine editorial team and Bolingbroke Academy students reflect on how we managed through the two lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

Lockdown Gratitude

By Kathleen, Year 8 Student

When we first went into lockdown, l was so stressed and scared of what would happen when school first came online. What would happen to my class? What would happen to my friends?

l remember the Friday just before the teachers announced that the school was closing due to Covid-19. All of the school was crammed into the Sports Hall and the teachers announced that if school closed they were prepared for distance learning.

As we started distance learning, the teachers were so patient with the amount of emails students sent them. As well as learning how to achieve distance learning for the first time, the teachers also made classes, notebooks and online lessons. Even though we were miles apart, they found a way for us to connect online and be a part of the school community. I am very glad that these online classes could happen because it forced us to interact with people (in the breakout rooms or saying hello in Civitas in the morning). Thank you teachers for making all of that possible.

Another key element of distance learning was the laptops needed for online lessons. The school was excellent at providing these resources to all students. This pushed the school well ahead of other schools in lesson participation and meant that every student had the opportunity to get online when they might not have been able to before. One of the most important people in figuring out logistics and online learning was Mr Rye. Thank you for all your help during distance learning and congratulations on winning the Bronze Award for Digital Innovator of the year 2021 - that is incredible.

In 2020, most Bolingbroke students participated in their end of year exams while many other schools had to cancel theirs. This made such a difference as it meant that the teachers had a better understanding of what distance learning has taught people and what they still needed to teach.

Another important thing is that l produced more work and extra curricular work l might not have done if the school had not been so prepared for distance learning. I did all the class work as well as getting to participate in the Bolingbroke challenges every week. These challenges were really fun and entertaining. They made it so l was not stuck at home but instead walking, baking, painting and more. I really liked getting to see what other people were doing at home as well because it made being at home that much more fun.

When we first went into lockdown, l remember talking to my family and telling them how great my school has been and how seamless all the classes have been. Then, when we talked to my cousins in Canada they said they had not had work sent. My brother’s school didn’t come online for another three weeks!

Finally, l am so glad that l got to be a part of this community during such an unusual time. It really made it so much easier and faster to understand and adapt to distance learning. Thank you everyone: teachers, other students, parents, siblings and everyone else for being so prepared and ready to take on this uncertain time. I really think it made a difference for me and for the future of everyone’s education.

Through the Lockdown Window

By Zoe-Love, Year 7 Student

Zoe-Love said: I made this image as a way to symbolise all the things that occurred during the lockdown. It's a year I will never forget.

A Breath of Nature

By Imogen, Year 7 Student

Imogen said: I decided to write a poem called a Breath of Nature. Lockdown was a very difficult time for everyone but it wasn’t all bad. One of the best things about it was exploring nature. Before, we were too busy rushing around to notice it, but during lockdown we had the time to look and understand how wonderful and beautiful nature really is.

A Breath of Nature

I hadn’t been out of the house for a while

Maybe I should just walk a mile

I stepped outside

It felt like the whole world had died

Nobody was in sight

I could have been out at night

I headed towards the park

And surprised to see a lark

Perhaps I wasn’t alone

Nature was just sitting on its throne

I smiled with silent delight

It was such a beautiful sight

As I walked further in

A branch tickled my chin

A stream flowed by

Tiny wisps of clouds in the sky

I never knew how fun it was to be out

Even with a virus about

Out of a glimpse of my eyes

A fox took me by surprise

Its red, majestic fur

Made quite a stir

The trees dancing in the breeze

Made a squirrel turn and freeze

Nature really did rule

The humans seemed like a fool

Mother Nature was definitely there

The Sun, her stare, the grass her hair

Lockdown Memoir

'A story of fear, uncertainty, hope, love and friendship'

By Valentina, Year 8 Student

I don’t think any of us realised the impact the Coronavirus and the subsequent Lockdown would have on us, both mentally and physically, at the start of the Pandemic. At first, watching all the headlines on the news, it didn’t feel real. But this wasn’t a Hollywood movie; this was our new normal…

My story begins on March 21st 2020 when I received a letter telling me that I had been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable and therefore placed on the shielding list by NHS England. I wasn’t allowed to leave my house. I remember so vividly reading the words in the letter: “you are at risk of severe illness or death if you catch coronavirus….the safest thing is for you to stay at home and avoid any face to face contact.” My heart literally sank and I had this feeling of complete fear. No-one really understood what was going to happen. All these thoughts raced through my mind, yet I couldn’t make sense of any of them. I was scared. My whole world literally changed overnight.

I have something called Graves’ disease, which is an auto immune illness that affects my thyroid, but I also suffer from something called Neutropenia, which basically means that I don’t have enough white blood cells in my body to fight infection very well and sometimes it can make me very poorly. My mum and dad took the difficult decision that my mum would shield with me and because my dad was still working, he decided to move out of home for a while so that there was no danger of him bringing the virus home. Saying goodbye to my dad made me feel so sad and guilty because he was doing this to keep me safe. At the same time, his restaurants had to close because of the Lockdown so he moved into the hotel. He must have felt so lonely. 60 empty bedrooms, 2 empty restaurants, and just himself for company.

I didn’t leave my house for 131 days and after he left home on March 23rd, the next time I saw my dad in person was August 2nd. That was a happy day and I will always be grateful for the sacrifices my mum and dad made during those early days of the pandemic. We Facetimed every day but I didn’t hug him for nearly 5 months. I felt sorry for my mum because she missed my dad terribly, but I also loved the special time I had with her. It felt like me and her against the world, just the two of us in our safe little bubble. We laughed a lot and cried and stayed up late into the night chatting and watching movies. In a world where everything seemed so dark and scary, I felt loved and safe.

I still carried on doing the things I loved. I just had to learn a new way of doing them. I danced every day online, drew my art, read in the garden and chatted with my friends. They would come and talk to me through the window. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on things and every Thursday, my mum and I would stand looking out of our window and clap for the NHS. We created new traditions and memories. My life before lockdown was always so busy, rushing here and there, from one dance class to another, so actually I really enjoyed the downtime. I felt lucky because I had a roof over my head and everything I needed within my safe, four walls.

In August 2020, Shielding was paused and I was allowed out again. At first, it was scary to even step out of my house, but I soon got used to it. My dad came back home and seeing and playing with my friends again felt amazing.

Starting school in September was brilliant and I felt like I had a little of my independence and freedom back. Seeing my old friends and making new friends was a wonderful feeling. Year 8 was strange at first because for the last 6 months, school had been online but I was so happy to be back.

Coronavirus numbers were quite low after the Summer but as Winter came, they started to rise again. This made me feel uncertain and anxious. My dad’s restaurants had to close again and in November, there was another short lockdown, but we were still allowed to come to school. However, just after Christmas, it was announced that there was going to be another National Lockdown and schools were to close again. Back to online learning. Again…

This lockdown felt very different to the first one. It was cold and miserable outside and sometimes it seemed like this virus would never go away. I was put in shielding again and it felt like we would never get back to normal. By this time, a vaccine had been found, but it would take months for everyone to get their jabs.

The thought of being in shielding again was so difficult. I wasn’t sure I could do it again after having a taste of freedom so my mum and my doctors had a meeting and decided that this time, I was allowed a weekly walk outside as long as I took precautions to keep safe.

Each week, I would meet my friend and we would just walk. No destination, no plan, we would just walk and talk. Sometimes, we would walk for hours, chatting, laughing and just having fun. The scary world that we were living in felt a million miles away. My feet would ache so much from walking but I didn’t care because for those few hours each week, I was out of the house.

I will forever be grateful to my friend, who gave me his time without question. I don’t think he realizes how important that was to me. It was a little slice of normal, in a big world of uncertainty. We shared some happy times during some extraordinary times. They are memories I will treasure for a lifetime.

Our walks gave me a reason each week to forget about what was happening in the world. He saved me from my thoughts, my over thinking mind and my irrational fears and allowed me to just be me and ‘not that kid in shielding’.

I look back at Lockdown and smile. It was a time in my life that gave me time to appreciate the simplicity of life without the constraints of other commitments.

As lockdown slowly started to lift, our walks inevitably got less frequent. I miss those early days of lockdown when our walks gave me the freedom to feel normal again, to smell the fresh air and feel the rain on my skin. Sometimes the streets were so quiet that London felt like a ghost town. I liked that. It was special, During the lockdown, my dog died. She was 11 years old and had been by my side nearly all my life but the kindness in words my friends showed me made me realise that I wasn’t alone and that it was ok to be sad. For this, I will be eternally thankful.

So, my lockdown look-back story is one of fear during the early days, of uncertainty about what was going to happen, of hope for a brighter future, of unconditional love from my family and of a friendship that grew out of a necessity for some normality but that will hopefully last a life time…

It is said that, ‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, but about learning to dance in the rain’. No one can ever bring back the millions of people that lost their lives to this cruel virus, but the lesson we can learn is to love those that matter to us because in the blink of an eye, they can be taken away.

I will never forget 2020/2021 as the year I felt lucky to still be here…

Lockdown Leadership

By Caitlin, Year 12 Student

Key Stage 3 sub-editor

Lockdown was a weird and unique experience for all of us – for the majority, it was spent indoors, working from home, with little connection with the outside world. However, there were many across the country who could not work from home and instead were out in the world. Mr Rye was one of those people. Mr Rye was responsible for distributing laptops to members of our academy who required them for distance learning. His efforts even earned him recognition with a national teaching award which can be read on the school's homepage here:

Below is an account of his experience in lockdown.

1. How was your lockdown experience different to that of most other people?

I was in work for most of it, which was good as it gave me a clear routine rather than staying at home.

2. How did you manage to stay motivated during lockdown?

I guess with the idea that it would get back to normal in the end. I had a marathon in October so focused training on that.

3. What was the highlight of your time in lockdown?

Lots! Some really great work was giving out laptops and doing loads of online lessons. I also really enjoyed cycling into central and seeing how empty it was. It was eerie and had '27 Days Later' vibes - a great zombie film if you haven't seen it!

4. What challenges within your job did you face?

A lot; navigating quite a lot of tricky IT, policies and software was hard. Trying to get all pupils online was a challenge. As no one had tried doing this kind of online learning before, I wasn’t sure if it would work. There were a lot of challenges with delivering lessons online, which was a bit of a novelty at first, but pretty quickly I missed the buzz of the classroom.

5. What is the main thing you have learnt from your lockdown experience?

Lots! Really anything can be done if you have a great team who are motivated to achieve great things. It also made me learn a lot more about how amazing the Bolingbroke community is.

Lockdown Baking

By Jennifer, Year 12 Student

Key Stage 3 sub-editor

When I was young I used to help my mum bake cakes and cupcakes. It was an enjoyable experience as it was a fun process and the result was even better: eating cake! The part I loved the most was licking the batter out of the bowl once the cake was in the oven. Her pandan (also known as screw pine) cupcakes are my favourite; fluffy, moist and delicious aromas that makes your mouth water. Here are a few cakes we made together:

The top photo above is a vanilla cream cake with a butter cream decoration. Below is a picture of a chocolate Christmas log with a chocolate frosting. This particular one was fun to make because the snowmen are made out of marshmallows and their scarves out of Fruittella. We finished it off with a dusting of icing sugar.

My mum’s baking inspired me to do the same thing during lockdown. Millions of people were forced to take up the shelter of home to wait out the long storm of COVID. Many would say this is a disastrous recipe for one to go stir crazy, but I decided to start baking because I had quite a bit of spare time and wanted to use it in a more rewarding way. I thought of it as a excellent activity to bring my family together by sharing what I had produced.

In the beginning, I was reluctant to start baking as we have no proper oven in our home. We have a halogen oven which works differently to a conventional oven. (A halogen oven consists of a glass bowl with a lid containing the halogen light bulb and a fan. It generates heat with the light bulb and cooks the food from the top and by circulating hot air around. All you need to do is put the food on top of a rack and switch it on.)

As I’ve never handled a halogen before, I wanted to start with something simple, so I began with cookies. I started with rather plain cookies to get used to this new method of baking. Here are some pictures of cookies I started with:

Once I felt confident with these simple recipes, I ventured further and made chocolate chip cookies. They took multiple attempts to perfect. Now I’ve baked them so many times I can make these cookies without a recipe.

I have also tried different cheesecakes and pies. I made an Oreo cheesecake containing two whole packets of Oreos. The pie pictured below was initially an apple pie but we incorporated pears to make up for the lack of apples, which in turn made for a flavourful pie with different textures.

Whenever I bake, I give some to family and friends to share my tasty creations. I have learnt to just go with the flow. If something doesn’t turn out the way you envisioned it, don’t give up. Just roll with it. The things we often don’t think we can do, are the things we can master and learn from the most. Every time we fall, we pick something up. I encourage you to do what you like to do even if you think you can’t do it. I have risen up to the challenge of creating a more positive atmosphere during lockdown and I hope to apply this to everyday situations. If you haven’t done so already, I hope you will too.

Lockdown Productivity

By Marwan, Year 12 Student

Key Stage 4 sub-editor

The sudden lockdown at the beginning of 2021 was arguably not the best start to the year, but at least it offered us all opportunities to practise the hobbies we enjoy at home. For me, it was story-writing.

My A-level subjects are all writing-based so I had to adjust to the idea, especially if I was going to be writing myriad essays for my teachers. Story-writing was a break from the essays of objective facts that I would always write in Psychology and History. In a way, story-writing really helped me think creatively, which served as a major benefit for my subject of English.

The thought of my own personal creative writing had always been an idea in my head during GCSEs, but I never really went through with it. Looking back to earlier in 2020, when I was in Year 11, the concept of using laptops in school was fairly unknown. However, laptops in sixth form are essentially commonplace and it would be far easier to begin creative writing on a laptop than on paper because it was far easier in terms of safely storing the document away. I didn’t want to come out of another lockdown without a true sense of personal achievement, so, since all my stars had aligned, I believed it was better for that day to be 'Day One' rather than 'One Day'.

The plot of my story has been stuck in my head for as long as I can remember, and I figured it would be in my best interests to get it all down so that I could have more room in my mind for the upcoming challenging A-level content that I would be learning. Truth be told, I didn’t necessarily think I would have a lot to write as the ideas in my head were just that – ideas, nothing more, nothing less, so I didn’t think I would have a lot to write about. However, the moment I created that word document in the early days of January, I found myself writing for hours. Those hours turned into days, and those days stacked up to become months. Alongside my online learning, my EPQ and my coursework, I’d find myself writing in my free time, and before we returned on March 8th, I had written 80,000 words, the length of an entire novel.

To this day, I still try to make time to write, because I truly think it is important to maintain your hobbies no matter what work you have, I’m grateful that this lockdown has aided me in realising the perfect balance between work and free time. I hope you may all do the same in your own lives, too.

Lockdown Memories

By Stephen, Year 12 Student

Chief Editor Key Stage 4

Looking back at lockdown feels like a nightmare. A nightmare that felt like it would never end. A nightmare that shocked people to the core. Reading the news made everyone not only scared for themselves but also for their family members who needed help even going to the shops.

Before being trapped inside, I remember going into a Sainsburys and seeing all the shelves empty; it was like people had scooped everything into their trollies. The queues went from the till to the back of the store. Cashiers shook their heads as they saw the amount of toilet paper they had. All that was shown on the news were the desolate streets. I remember reading an article how of Time Square in New York was now completely empty. I remember the live updates from Downing Street every week, the number of cases and deaths doubling, then tripling.

By March of 2020, we heard the fateful news: all schools to close, GCSE's and A-Levels cancelled. Some thought it the best news of the year; if only we knew the chaos and stress it would bring to teachers, students, and parents.

Teachers having to make life saving decisions for the grades of hundreds of students. Students having sleepless nights wishing that they had worked harder, panicking over what grades they will get. Parents spending eight hours a day, five days a week, trying to teach and motivate their children so they didn't get depressed.

The sun beat down on the Earth almost as if it were mocking humanity with 30-degree + heat. Spending an hour outside, unable to see friends for months at a time, was one of the worst moments for every year 11. Plans to meet with friends ruined, instead we were forced to.... speak to our family.

The thought of this shook everyone,

but families got closer.

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