Mid-Term Review of Year 12 – 15 February 2013

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Read on to see exclusive behind-the-scenes video footage of Furze Platt’s Harlem Shake clip, plus photos from this year’s Guys & Dolls school musical production.

Inspired, perhaps, by the coalition government’s recent progress update, I’ve decided to do my very own little ‘mid-term review’ of my time in Year 12 at Furze Platt Senior School’s Sixth Form. Including inset days, weekends, and the two holiday breaks so far, it’s 164 days since I walked through the school gates in my then-new suit for the first time.

Today marked the end of the third term of six of the 2012/13 academic year.

It’s a term that, frankly, I’m glad to see the back of. Beginning with the stress of January exams, it concluded with the pressure of coursework deadlines and an ever-present struggle to ‘get everything done’.

For all my academic work, I have managed to keep to the time-limits given. But, regrettably, such has come at the cost of getting the third edition of the termly Stag newsmagazine out – I just haven’t had the time to edit it, submit it for approval with the school’s senior staff, and then send it to the press to be printed. It was always going to be a thin edition because, like me, my Sixth Form peers have also had the same constraints on their time, so a great deal fewer articles were submitted this time than last. Even still, I’m confident that I can have the next edition on the common room’s coffee tables by the end of the first week back – and of course it’ll be made available to read on the website, for free, soon after.

My English comparative essay on the subject of ‘Identity’ in The Woman in White and The Lady in the Lake has taken up a large proportion of my time in the last couple of weeks. That said, I’ve been immensely fortunate in being blessed with a teacher who’s been willing to go through every slightest query I’ve had, as and when they’ve arisen. The final edition of my work is due in for our first lesson back after the holidays and, much as I’ve loved writing it, it will certainly be nice to ‘sign it off’.

THE SETUP: A Precision Gold M135 multimeter measuring resistance of a thermistor. (DSC04448)

For my Physics coursework on ‘Quality of Measurement’, rightly or wrongly, other commitments left me with no choice but to work right up to the last-minute. Late last night (or, rather, early this morning), at a time far beyond the literal eleventh hour – oh, what the heck, it was at 4:15am… – I was putting the finishing touches to my project. I know one or two of my classmates did not manage to finish theirs in time but I’m very pleased I did, so I can sort of ‘put that aside now’.

Rarely one to express major self-gratification, I do admit to feeling slightly proud of the fact that I’ve managed to assemble a group to complete the DofE Gold Award this year. Short of being beset by problems relating to the weather like last year’s planned Silver expedition was, we’ll be canoeing up the Great Glen in August. A couple of weekends ago, my team and I completed a two-day First Aid course in Braywick Park, which provided some change-of-scene in a school term that has otherwise been quite monotonous.

Unlike previous exam seasons, during which I religiously posted Post-Exam Thoughts posts after each paper, there simply wasn’t the time to even consider doing that last month. To give a brief overview, though, my expectations for my results are not high. I feel the Physics examination went better than I’d been expecting, but as I hadn’t been expecting to be able to answer anything, that’s not really saying much. I ran out of time on the Politics paper because I spent too long answering the two 25-mark questions and not enough time on the four 5- and 10-mark answers. As for Maths… that’s the one I’m most disappointed about, because I had, actually, been doing relatively well towards the end of my revision for it. I’d done all of the past-papers since 2005 at least once, and had battled to eventually grasp difficult concepts. Yet, for whatever reason, I just struggled immensely on the actual day.

At this point, I must stress that I do still love and enjoy school, and it’s only because of the natural stresses of the time of year that I have fallen into a quasi-glum mood.

If, in March, when the results of the exams are released, it transpires that all three exam papers did go as badly as I fear, I can retake all of them. After all, next year’s Year 12s will have to sit all of their exams in the summer anyway, so I can afford to ‘write off’ this last batch and do them all again in May. It’ll make for more revision, but I feel that it’ll be worth it if my grades turn out to be as bad as I think they’ll be.

On a lighter note, I have very much enjoyed this last day of term.

An enjoyable last day of Term 3

Last night, whilst at Explorers, I was asked by Head Girl Lisa Hibbitt to spread the message about a planned recording of a Harlem Shake video. This viral internet phenomenon has been called “2013’s answer to Gangnam Style” and, in just a few short days, millions of people have watched thousands of different versions of the same basic concept: one helmeted figure dancing alone in an office, shop, or factory, then suddenly joined by everyone around them jigging about too.

OOH-ARRR: Finn Baxter in his pirate costume. (IMG_6639_ARB)OOH-ERR: A participant sports a mankini. (IMG_6623_ARB)

I was initially sceptical as to whether I really wanted to participate. I’d seen the permanent damage that Desborough students had done to their own Sixth Form common room when their version went on YouTube earlier in the week (it has since been removed). But, on the promise that she had Head of Sixth Form Mr Richards’s blessing, I forwarded Lisa’s message to my contacts and, at first break this morning, an army of colourfully-costumed characters gathered to make the video. Unfortunately, I don’t maintain a rich fancy-dress wardrobe, but I did manage to find one of the white Tyvek suits I’d worn at The Tree of Light project in the summer, so donned that for the second shot.

DIRECTOR'S ORDERS: Jay Brickell directing the 30-second video. (BDLlpVHCUAEC6pg_LukeDebicki Twitter)

My good friend, fellow Taplow chorister, and now DofE co-participant, Jay Brickell made himself responsible for getting the footage and editing it together, whilst I set up a dedicated YouTube channel just for this one-off video. Almost everyone came together to take part, and it was lovely to see my peers letting their hair down at the end of this difficult term.

FINISHED PRODUCT: Watch Jay Brickell’s Harlem Shake video, featuring 90 per cent of the Sixth Form.
THE B-ROLL: Behind the scenes clips, filmed for The Andrew Burdett Blog. [There is no commentary on this video.]

Happily, my initial reservations about the state that we would leave the room in proved to be unnecessary: during a free period after the recording, Lisa and some friends ensured that the common room was put back to a better state than that which we’d found it in.

HANDY-ANDY: I helped move lights this evening, after yesterday's 'last night' of 'Guys & Dolls'. (IMG_6665)On the theme of tidying up, for a couple of hours after school, I lent my hand in a small way to the now-finished Guys & Dolls production. Luckily, I’d had the foresight to realise that I wouldn’t have the time to partake in this year’s school musical, and hence didn’t audition back in September.

HOW MANY MEN DOES IT TAKE...: Removing technical equipment at the end of the school's musical production of 'Guys and Dolls'. (IMG_6666)

Having gone with my friends to see the show on Monday night, I was back at the Drama block this evening, helping de-rig all of the equipment after last night’s ‘final run’.


Guys & Dolls Photos

Classmate Jake Smith worked behind-the-scenes on this year’s Guys & Dolls school musical. He’s shared these photos of the production – taken in the last days of rehearsal – with readers of The Andrew Burdett Blog.


All in all, then, this half-term holiday comes as a welcome break. Sure, there’s lots as always to do, but for the opportunity to stop and ‘recharge’, I’ll be making the most of this week-long pause in the middle of Year 12.

Andrew Burdett

Andrew Burdett is a 21-year-old from Maidenhead in Berkshire. He is now two-thirds of the way through his Journalism Studies degree at the University of Sheffield. In his spare time, he enjoys swimming, going to the theatre, and writing about himself in the third-person.