Author Archives: Vanesa Pizzuto

Our Students Become Teachers In India

It was a cold but thankfully dry February morning. The time was six am on Sunday 16 February, when a team of Stanborough School students, staff and two parents, eight in number, met at the school to begin a life changing trip to warm tropical India. The mission was to teach for two weeks, at the BESSO Nursery and Primary school, which has 62 orphan pupils and was started by a young couple Mr and Mrs Ganesh.

Christopher and Eva

The five Year 10 pupils together with their teachers had been planning and preparing for this trip since the previous September. The preparation included raising funds by participating in a 24 hour sponsored badminton, carol singing in the local supermarket, surviving vaccinations, shopping for the orphans, lesson preparation and the packing. With all the preparations completed the team were ferried to London Heathrow airport to board a flight to Bangalore. With all the check in formalities completed they proceeded to the Gate for boarding. When the call for boarding went out one of the team members discovered that she did not have her passport or boarding pass.  There was a frenzy of frantic searching but without success.  So we gathered together for there was only One who would be able to sort this little dilemma out at such short notice. We prayed that He would intervene and let us find the documents to enable us to board the flight.

We retraced the steps that she remembered she had taken and one of them led to a dust bin. She had already looked there twice without any success but nevertheless we went through the motion of emptying the dustbin with passengers moving all around us. Having got to the bottom there was no passport or boarding pass. Next to it was a second dustbin for recycled plastic but she was sure that she had not put it in there. We started emptying the second one and within seconds there was the passport waiting to be rescued at the bottom. We picked up the passport and next to it was the boarding pass. They were both thrown away inadvertently. To say that there was elation and relief would be an understatement. There were hugs and tears of joy and gratitude to the One who delivered as He had promised so many times before. As soon as we were seated on the plane we huddled together and thanked Him for confirming at the start of our adventure that we had nothing to fear about the trip because He was going to be with us and bless us with His presence. And that is how it proceeded day after day.

Our first day at BESSO Nursery and Primary School

The Stanborough pupils each chose the year group they wished to teach, Nathan Year 1, Eve Year 2, Paul Year 3, Christopher Year 4 and Aswin Year 5. They had taken resources from England, prepared the lessons in the evenings and like seasoned teachers delivered a whole day’s lessons to the orphans. Each day began at 9 am with worship with the children. The timetable for the day was nine periods of 40 minutes each with breaks for lunch and play. This went on for two weeks. Each day the visiting teachers became  more innovative and creative than the day before. What was so encouraging to watch was the bond they formed with the orphan children. On the first day they made name tags which speeded up the bonding and within two days they were scooping up the children in their arms and playing with them during any break in teaching. As the days past the visiting teachers became more and more involved in the teaching and in the welfare of the orphans.  Even when on a sightseeing trip they seemed to be consumed with buying specific gifts for each child in their class. These Year 10 pupils turned out to become devoted teachers to their cohorts even if it was just for a short time.
On one day towards the end, we planned a picnic to the zoo. Needless to say, because this is an infrequent occurrence, the children were very excited – all dressed up in their socks and shoes and well pressed uniforms. One of the volunteers from England generously financed the whole event. Everyone had a wonderful day out. On the final day the school organised the Annual Sports Day in which the visitors from Stanborough School served as judges, time keepers and track officials which was a new but fun experience for them. After the prizes were awarded, we had a party for all the children and staff.  We had pre-ordered the food from a local restaurant. It was one of their favourite menus –masala dosai, idli sambar, coconut chutney, payasum and ladoo for dessert. The Stanborough team served the food. What impressed the visitors was when the children received their food on stainless steel plates, they went to their place on the floor, sat down and waited for everyone to be served before singing grace and only then did they tuck in. And to their hearts content too.

Aswin and Paul playing with the children

It was interesting and at the same time moving to learn how this trip had affected the Stanborough students and staff. Paul commented that he “gained a better appreciation of basic things like clean water, food, a roof over my head” and a “general appreciation of how much God has blessed me.” Eva said that “this trip to the beautiful country of India has been the most life changing experience I have ever had. I gained a pure joy which only God can give through the cheerful eyes of the young orphans. I also learnt to appreciate small blessings and unseen ones, for life and breathe and everything and everyone I take for granted”.
Christopher said “I have gained an appreciation for teachers, a new view point on life and I have made some great new friends. I have gained a better appetite and I am now less picky with what I eat.” Aswin said “I have recognised how lucky I am. As friends we’ve all grown closer and learned a little more about each other. I learnt a lot about myself. I gained an appreciation for teachers.” Nathan learned how to deal with spicy food, how to be organised and how to be a teacher. He also said he gained weight.
The adults too shared their experiences. Vanesa said, “I fell in love with their bright eyes and their smiles and with how open their hearts are. This trip taught me a lot. But mostly how simple the Gospel really is. How powerful love is”. “Zeny” I thank Jesus for all the blessings I have in life. I truly learned to be happy and content with what I have”. Mira said, “she gained a lot of things but probably the most was realising how blessed I am. I am really thankful that I have Jesus is my life and this trip really opened my eyes, that if I want to be a follower of Jesus I should change some things.”

By God’s grace we all arrived safely back. Some of the students did not want to return home but having joined their families back in cold wet England, they had already learnt to cherish and value their own more than ever.

We’ll miss you!

[Kish Poddar]

Watford Observer:
Garston pupils parents and staff return from India orphanage school trip

BUC News:
Stanborough School pupils turn teacher in indian orphanage

International Friends Visit Stanborough

Our Language & Cultural Tours programme gives secondary students from all over the world an opportunity to experience British culture first-hand and to make international friends while developing their English Language skills.

Recently, we welcomed students from China, Brazil and Italy. These are some memories of their visit.

Chinese students, Po Leung Kuk Choi Kai Yau School (4-16 Nov 13)

Brazilian students, Life Intercambios (15-27 Jan 14)

Chinese students, Tai Po Sam Yuk Secondary School (26 Jan – 08 Feb 14)

Italian students, San Guiseppe Calasanzio (3-9 Feb 14)

A BIG THANK YOU! ADRA Shoebox Appeal 2013

Thank you for supporting the ADRA Shoe-Box Appeal 2013. Together we raised £200 towards the shipping costs and packed 95 boxes. ADRA will deliver them to underprivileged children in Sierra Leone in February 2014.


Well done to Year 7 and Year 8 for jointly winning, ‘The Most Successful Form’ award by each packing 20 boxes.


Congratulations to Year 10X for winning, “The Most Committed Form” award. Every student in this form packed at least one box. Together, including their Form Tutor, they packed 14 boxes. We are proud of you!


Tabason deserves a special mention for packing 10 boxes all on her own. Gabrielle followed closely by packing 7 boxes and also must receive a special mention. Their commitment and dedication is inspirational!


Again, thank you all for supporting this project; every box will make a difference to a child in Sierra Leone.

Nathaniel Peat Inspires Audiences

The memorable Speech Night on Thursday 17th October 2013 celebrated students’ achievements throughout the academic year 2012-2013. Nathaniel Peat, CEO and Co-founder of Gennex, was the guest of honour and delivered a dynamic and inspirational keynote speech.

Nathaniel Peat, CEO and Co-founder of Gennex

“It is not about affluence,” said Nathaniel, “it is about influence.” Faithful to his motto, at the age of 25 Nathaniel founded The Safety Box – a non-profit organization that seeks to help young, vulnerable people and foster academic achievement. Nathaniel is also co-founder of Gennex, a company that provides renewable energy products to middle and low-income communities.

Nathaniel shared with the students his own struggles with not achieving sufficient passing GCSE examination grades as a young man. He confided how discipline and faith in God helped him overturn the initial setbacks and to obtain a Degree in Mechanical Engineering. This work ethic eventually led him to become the first double award winner of the Enterprising Young Brits Awards, and to be listed on the Courvoisier Observers Future 500 Next Generation List, among other national and international recognitions. Nathaniel encouraged the students to aim high in their life journey and not to allow challenges to stop them.

Sports Awards

In her annual report, the Head Teacher, Mrs Dixon, pointed out Stanborough’s strong academic results at KS3+ and GCSE, with 100% of students achieving A*- C grades in Art, Physics, French, Spanish, and Music, 85% in Maths, and 83% in Biology and Chemistry. Mrs Dixon also commended the spiritual development of Stanborough students through their involvement in activities such as “Community Service Day” and the annual Humanitarian trip to India.

The Stanborough Secondary School Choir, conducted by Miss Ji Eun Ahn, beautifully performed “You Raise Me Up” (by Secret Garden), while the music ensemble delighted the audience with “Memory” (by Andrew Lloyd Webber & Trevor Nunn). The voice of the students was represented by the Head Boy, Caleb Thompson, who closed the evening with a wholehearted vote of thanks to all teachers and staff members.

Yasmin receives one of her awards

Rohan receives one of his awards

Daniela receives her ESOL awards

Daniela receives her ESOL awards



Community Service Day

The day was perfect, a pleasant temperature to work in, a gentle breeze and the sun graciously looking down on the students of Stanborough School for their Community Service Day. This is the day fixed on the school calendar for all classroom learning to be suspended and all the students and teachers to don overalls and working clothes and go into the community to serve.

Year 7 pupils brushed up their skills by painting the fence around the back of the school. Year 8 pupil teamed up with teachers and walked to the local ASDA superstore to help customers pack their shopping into bags. Year 9 pupils were divided into three groups: one group walked down to a Garston resident to tidy the back garden; another travelled with the Maths teacher to paint two sheds of another Garston resident; and the third group, led by the Headteacher of the school, carried buckets and sponges, washing cars in and around the school.
Year 10 pupils were driven in the minibus to Harebreak’s Adventure Playground where some painted the wooden structures, while others created huge murals of the four seasons on the walls; others planted bedding plants donated by Burston Garden Centre in boxes and beds, cleared leaves and weeds from the grow boxes to prepare them for spring vegetables. The Year 11 pupils were bussed to Harwood’s Adventure Playground where they had the task of painting the huge jungle gym.

The residents could not thank the pupils and teachers enough for the free service offered. Paul Banks, Play Services Manager of Watford said, “Just wanted to send my sincere appreciation and thanks for all the hard work you and your teachers and, of course, the efforts the children and young people put in at both the APGs. There is an instant benefit you provide to the sites and a long lasting change. The structures now look colourful and fun and the planting neat and attractive.”

The last word from the Headteacher sums up the day when she said, “I had so much fun.” Serving others can be great fun and that is the principle behind the Community Service Day at Stanborough School, a principle handed down by Christ himself.

Kish Poddar

Silver Medal Win At Nationals

On Monday 17 June 2013, a group of athletes from Stanborough School participated in the I.S.A. National Athletics finals. The event took place in the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham. Angel, Esther, India, Marvin and Shalom represented Stanborough as regional champions, and we are very proud of all of them. Special congratulations go to Angel who won a silver medal (at national level!) for her performance in the Year 8/9 girls 100m race.

Go Angel!

There were 7 Regions represented at the finals: The North, East Anglia, The Midlands, London South, London East, London West and London North. Along with the regional champions from other schools, Stanborough students represented the London North region.

Exercise is an integral part of Stanborough’s approach to the holistic development of its students. Special thanks to Mr Jason Poddar (PE), Ms Virginie Gautran (PE), Mr Kish Poddar and Mrs Eileen Hussey for their support and commitment in facilitating this event.

The young athletes with Mr Poddar Jr. (PE)

Golden Luca

Luca “in action” (© Mike Ellis Photography / TRYB)

Congratulations to Luca on winning a gold medal at Hertfordshire County Junior Foil Championships (U14) 2013! The competition has held at the University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, on the 9th February 2013. Tree Rivers Young Blades’ press officer commented: “Luca was in strong competition and fenced well throughout to win”.

We are VERY proud of YOU!

Well done Luca! (© Mike Ellis Photography / TRYB)

Students Teach In India

Daniela and the little ones

Five Stanborough students spent two weeks teaching in an orphanage in India during the February half-term break. The trip was organised by Mr Kish Poddar, Assistant Headteacher, as part of the community service ethos of the school. The students raised their own airfares and costs to travel to the city of Hosur in Tamil Nadu, India and teach at the BESSO Children’s Home.

The students and teachers gathered together at 4.00 am at the school on a cold February morning to begin their adventure. Yet a warm and colourful welcome awaited them at the gates of the BESSO Children’s Home! The BESSO Children’s home – built by STOP International in 2002 – is home to one hundred orphan children. The BESSO Children’s home also has a Primary and Nursery school that the orphans attend.

The orphans warmed up to the team of new ‘young teachers’ from England immediately. Our students were challenged by the basic facilities at the orphanage, such as using chalk and blackboard, no computers or internet, and the 30 degree temperature; but they soldiered on teaching in English Maths, Geography, English, Citizenship, History, Science, Spelling and Grammar.

Our students used their evenings to prepare their lessons. Their dedication and commitment to teaching the orphans inspired the children to complete their homework assignments and study for class tests. The young teachers were so impressed that they were moved to reward the little children with gifts and sweets for their effort in class.

Daniela, one of our ‘young teachers’, commented: “I had the time of my life. I will keep memories of this trip in my heart forever. To teach such adorable and sweet children was a touching experience. They are orphans yet there seems to be a special joy and happiness about them. I now want to have an Indian sister.”

Elizabeth also commented: “The children out there use a pencil right down until it is finished, whereas in England if we lose it we are able to buy another. I am personally going to stop complaining about things I do not have and start being thankful about things I do have.”

The Principal of the school, Mrs Josephine Ganesh, assessed and rated the teaching of the students from Stanborough School and presented awards. Tanya, Elizabeth and Phoebe received Good Teacher awards, Buya, the Best Teacher award and Daniela received the Excellent Teacher award.

Before the team left for India, Miss Gautran, an accompanying teacher, organised a collection of new underwear from the Stanborough School students and parents. Several dozen sets of underwear were received, packed and taken to India. When these were distributed to the children of the BESSO and the Way To Life orphanages, the delight on their faces was incredible.

Of course it was not all work because the team took two days off for sightseeing, travelling by train to Mysore to see the world famous Mysore Maharajah’s palace, the beautiful bird sanctuary at Ranganathithu and a tour of the city of Mysore shopping for gifts and souvenirs.

Tanya summed up what a trip like this is all about. In her words: “I will never forget the laughs, the fun, the exploring of nature and what God  has created, to bring us to an understanding as to why we were placed on Earth, to help others and that’s exactly why I will never forget India.”

Our ‘young teachers’

Teaching time!

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

The WBD Quiz winner team

On 7 March 2013 Stanborough School students took up the spirit of the World Book Day with enthusiasm and excitement! Both our local students and the group of visiting students from Spain participated in a specially adapted version of “Who wants to be a millionaire?” quiz. Categories included: Bible, Literature, History, Geography, Science, Stanborough Library and General Knowledge.

Boys outshone the girls on this occasion taking the first 3 prizes but the girls are quite determined to claim the first place next year!  While the three winning teams received their prizes, all students received a book token. St Albans Waterstones set up a table in the Assembly Hall to ensure that all students had an opportunity to exchange their tokens for a ‘World Book Day’ free book.

After lunch Stanborough students opened their books and enjoyed an uninterrupted hour of reading. And why not? A book is like a wallet. You don’t know what’s inside until you open it

Exchanging tokens

With Love From Hong Kong

Tai Po Sam Yuk School, Tai Po, HK

On February 13-26 a group of Students from Stanborough Secondary School visited Hong Kong in the framework of a long-standing annual cultural exchange.

Since 2006, Stanborough Secondary School and Tai Po Sam Yuk Secondary School (TPSY) have a reciprocal exchange that allows students from both schools to explore another culture and experience a different education system. On February 3rd Stanborough welcomed a party of students from TPSY for 12 days. And on February 13th it was the turn of Stanborough students to fly to Hong Kong and enjoy a fun-packed programme.

Students had the opportunity to visit some of Hong Kong’s most famous and culturally important sites, such as Victoria Harbour, The Peak, The Big Buddha, Tai Po Lin Monastery, Tai O Fishermen Village, Macau Island and Clearwater Bay Beach among many others. Students also attended lessons at TPSY where they particularly enjoyed Mathematics and English. Additionally, they experienced China’s rich culinary culture and appreciated the opportunity to make new friends.

About her experience Sarah – a Year 7 student – shares: “What l liked the most about Hong Kong was Ocean Park and the Big Buddha. Ocean Park is a theme park with lots of fun rides and extremely fast Merry-Go-Rounds… The Big Buddha [a 26m stature on a hilltop in Ngong Pi] was really big. It is very important to Buddhist people… and we saw them praying when we got to the top.”

“Our students are privileged to have such an opportunity to develop as global citizens”, said one of the accompanying teachers. “Trips like this provide them with first-hand experience about other cultures and educational systems. Additionally, it teaches them tolerance and responsibility towards each other and the wider world.”

At Ocean Park

Macau Island

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