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March 2016: MAS Year 8 students have taken part in a new initiative in conjunction with First Give; a charity that works in partnership with secondary schools to help young people to give their time, tenacity and talents to improve their local communities. The duration of this project consisted of 8 hours within school time, in addition to independent research and rehearsal in students own time.

First Give’s vision is to build a new generation of motivated and switched-on young people who want to use their skills to support local charities and make the lives of others in and around their communities better.  MAS’s vision and values are truly aligned with this charity’s vision and our students and staff relished the opportunity to take part.

Our students were involved in a wide range of projects as part of the initiative; learning research skills, working as part of a team in line with a ‘project manager’, connecting with their chosen charity, developing their presentation skills through media/IT and delivering impassioned speeches.  They also developed key skills which they will use throughout their academic life and as global citizens of the future including confidence building, taking the initiative, harnessing ambition and learning how to be empathetic towards each other.

In the final, all groups were posed the challenge of communicating why they wanted their chosen charity to receive £1,000.  Working with MAS Year 9 students, the Year 8s pulled together all the techniques they had learnt, including drama and creativity, to deliver powerful presentations.  Year 9 Students supported the project to launch the challenge of devising a presentation both in Year 8 assemblies, and through tailored support during ‘Teaching Take Over Day’. Representatives from the First Give organisation and a panel of judges awarded the following Year 8 teams their prizes: MIND – £1,000; Help for Heroes – £250; and Women’s AID – £250.

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Ms Higdon, Head of Drama and Student Leadership, commented:  “Our students have benefited from developing an understanding of their community whilst developing an intrinsic understanding of how to work towards a common goal.  As a result of their own initiative and creativity, they have been able to participate in meaningful youth social action.  Well done to everyone involved. We are truly proud of what our students have achieved. Thank you to all charity organisers, parents, staff and carers who attended to support our students – the reaction of the announced winners was both emotional and a profound achievement for our community. The sense of pride in the room was overwhelming.”