by Paul-Leander Schmidt, year 9 : Käthe-Kollwitz School
On Sunday, 13th September 2015, was the mayoral election. The polling places opened at 8am and closed at 6pm. The following candidates could be voted for: the actual mayor, Reinhard Buchhorn, Christian Democratic Party, Uwe Richrath, Social Democratic Party, Erhard Schoofs, Bürgerliste, and Markus Beisicht, Pro-NRW (right wing party).
Only 36,5 % of the electorate took part. The election result was:
The new mayor of Leverkusen is Uwe Richrath (SPD) with a majority of 51,2 per cent of the votes. The other candidates had the following results: Reinhard Buchhorn (CDU) 29,8 percent, Erhard Schoofs (Bürgerliste) 12.6 percent and Markus Beisicht (pro NRW) 6.5 percent.
In a special interview with me, Uwe Richrath said that he was really happy because he thought that there would be a run-off ballot. After the result at 7.45pm, he went with his party friends to a restaurant and had a party there. When asked, „What did you dream the night before the mayoral election?“, he answered that he was so firmly in sleep that he didn´t think about that.
More about Uwe Richrath: Uwe Richrath was born on 1st January 1961 in Leverkusen. He went to Käthe-Kollwitz school in Leverkusen, (where I go to school). Since 1986 he has been a retail trade businessman with three textile shops. He has one son, Paul. Since 2000 he has been in the SPD.
As a chemistry and physical education teacher at a comprehensive school in Leverkusen – Schlebusch with over 20 years of professional experience, I cherished for some time the desire to get an insight into life in an English school. In early May, 2015, I received the hoped for positive news from Bracknell Forest Council. They informed me that the Science Department at Edgbarrow School would accommodate me as a visitor. Contact with Bracknell Forest Council had been made via a colleague of mine, who was in contact with somebody in the Opladener-History-Society. As the summer holidays in England begin much later, I could use the first two weeks of my summer holiday to visit England. Questions I had about my stay : accommodation, travel, cycle hire etc., were answered in advance over email via the friendly and supportive help of Lyn Gash, (Head Teacher’s Assistant). In addition, I purchased current versions of the chemistry books used at Edgbarrow, to make myself familiar with the specialist English vocabulary. Using the internet and with the help of the school’s homepage and its Ofsted report I was able to become well informed about the school in advance.
My stay in Crowthorne lasted from Monday, 29th June until Wednesday, 8th July.
Anna MacKenzie-Dodds (Head of Science) warmly greeted me at the school, provided me with initial information and created a timetable for me. I got the opportunity, in natural science and chemistry classes, to observe teaching and was able to take part in various
extra-curricular activities e.g. sports festival, introductory chemistry-lesson for the new year 7`s, science teachers’ staff meeting, morning registration and break-time supervision. In addition I used a variety of opportunities after lessons and during break-times to talk with teaching colleagues. So I got an interesting insight into school life and the learning and working environment within Edgbarrow School.
I found the way that everyone worked together in an appreciative and friendly way particularly positive. This included supportive and very eulogistic dealings with the pupils in the classroom and cooperation characterised by helpfulness and friendliness within and between the pedagogic and support staff. In addition I have not seen major support in German schools by non-teaching staff to this extent. In this context it should be mentioned the large number of personnel in the office area, with a wide variety of tasks, supporting pupils and teachers. Also three technical assistants, who are exclusively responsible for the preparation and follow-up of experiments and practical science teaching – in support of the students and teachers. In addition to the particularly good learning and working environment – highlighted in the school’s Ofsted Report – it was mainly the extremely dedicated and friendly science teachers who helped make my visit to Edgbarrow School, for me, an unforgettable experience.
My leisure time I used to explore the surrounding area on foot, by borrowed bicycle (lent by the very nice school caretaker) or by train. I visited Bracknell, Reading and Dinton Pastures Country Park in Wokingham – and all graced by outstandingly fine weather.
For the crowning final piece of my England journey I spent five days together with my husband and two sons in London. In the Arsenal Emirates Stadium we had to make do with the life-size figure of German football international star Lukas Poldolski. Unfortunately he had already left for Istanbul to join his new employer …
Today I‘ll tell you something about the „Aquilafest“ in Leverkusen.
Two weekends ago (5/6-6/6) there was the „Aquilafest“ in Leverkusen-Küppersteg.
The Aquilafest is a party where you can drink, eat or dance. My job was to collect empty glasses and to help with thebarbecue.
This party is organized by a Club named „Aquila“ (Aquila is a lake in Leverkusen). They care about tradition and neigbourhood. Members organise events for the young and they help in old people’s homes. You can meet new friends. The club has 250 members and they meet 2-3 timesa year.
At this weekend there was a special programme with a dance group, two belly dancers and a crooner. When I asked our chairman what he liked best today, he answered: „ It was very good because the weather was very hot andmany people came.“
My favourite was the DJ because he mixed new and old music.
On some Fridays, so-called Topic Days take place at our school. So maybe I should first explain what Topic Days are.
On these days, pupils have the same subject from 8.15 to 12.45, that is 5 lessons. This means when you have Sport in the first lesson on a Friday and it’s the first Topic Day, then you will have 5 successive Sport lessons. Some of you will surely think „Oh, my God. I hate Sport, it would be the worst thing ever to have 5 Sport lessons all morning.“ But let me tell you it can be really great. To have 5 Sport lessons does not mean to play basketball the whole time or something else. All Sports teachers of my grade 11 decided to go ice-skating. In Cologne, which is 20 kilometers from Leverkusen, we have a big ice-rink and it is really great there. So it was real fun and all of us enjoyed our day in Cologne.
On the second Topic Day all pupils have 5 lessons of the subject which they would normally have in the second lesson on Fridays. My class has Education. We worked in groups and later, we presented our group work in front of the class. Each group dealt with different educational methods and it was really interesting.
When you have a double lesson of Math, then you have two successive Topic Days of Math, that means 10 Math lessons on two Fridays that follow each other. I hoped these these two weeks would be over as soon as possible. To be honest, it was not so boring and terrible as I had thought. On the first Friday we got our Math tests back. The marks were better than we had expected so my day was saved. These 5 lessons were over quite fast. But it was different in the following week. Our teacher gave us worksheets and it was really boring. All in all, it was much too much Math for one Day.
Once the 5 Topic Days are over, you return to your normal Friday timetable until it all starts again in the second semester oft he school year.
I hope all of you know now what Topic Days at my school look like. They can be boring and exhausting but the teachers can also do something in these 5 lessons that he could not do in the normal lesson because of too little time.
On Tuesday the 11th of November, all the students at Garth Hill College in Bracknell were gathered for the event of the day: Remembrance Day.
Remembrance Day, also known as Poppy Day, is a national event in England designed to celebrate the armistice and aimed at making people remember the soldiers that fought for us during the First World War. As such, two minutes of silence are performed at the eleventh hour of the day, as a form of respect. Another symbol representative of Poppy Day is the red coloured poppy. It has become famous after the publication of the poem In Flanders Fields as well as the poppies that bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in WW1. They now are used to commemorate the soldiers who died in the 1914-1918 war.
Following the national tradition, Garth Hill College, a school in Bracknell in England, had a special assembly and celebration that day. The students sat down in the main hall of the school, a huge space next to the entrance of the college used only for the most important announcements and assemblies.
Some girls animated the event by singing some traditional Remembrance songs such as The Lord’s My Shepherd and Flowers of the Forest.
The event continued with a speech of the Principal who explained the symbolism behind the poppies and invited the whole school to perform 2 minutes of silence. This was followed by the lecture of multiple war-related poems by a Cadet soldier as well as some other students. The event ended with a last song, It’s a long way to Tipperary, sang by the entire audience.
“This is a good opportunity for us to learn and pay our respects” Whitney, year 12, said.
The overall feedback from the students was positive and showed that this event was beneficial for all of us, teaching the most important thing: to remember.
2014 – what a year it was, for my families in Germany, England and Sweden, for our countries and for Europe!
To start on a positive, optimistic, confident note: We were surprised by joy because a healthy, pretty, very sweet little baby boy was born to my son and his wife. His name is Florian Rafael, and he will be baptised after Christmas. How wonderful, how encouraging, particularly for the grandparents, who don’t bear the immediate responsibility for the babies and their upbringing – for Opa and Grandma or, to use the Swedish expressions,“farfar”( father’s father) and “farmur”(father’s mother) and, of course, for “murfar” and “murmur” as well.
2014 has also been the year of many anniversaries, particularly of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, as we say in Germany, or The Great War as it is called in England.
I have been reading extensively about the causes of this “Urkatastrophe”, of this catastrophy of catastrophies, always hoping to learn more about its causes, learning the lessons that this tragic chapter in the history of our two countries could and should teach us.
The Sleepwalkers. How Europe Went to War in 1914 ,written by the Australian, Christopher Clark, Professor of History at the University of Cambridge, was the most inspiring and helpful book that I have been reading and studying on this topic.
In due course, in the wake of the Elections to the European Parliament in May 2014, my English wife Patricia and I visited the battlefields of the Somme in Rancourt, France, to remember my uncle Heinrich Horstmann, my mother’s eldest brother who was killed in action on July 1st, the first day of the battle of the Somme…We remembered him, as well as the more than 800.000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who lost their lives and all the others from so many nations who were happy before the war ate them up, cannon fodder…
Helmut Kohl, the great German Chancellor, always insisted, that Europe is a question of war and peace. For a long time, even to people of my generation, this seemed to be an exaggeration.
Looking at the result of the European election, looking at a wave of surging and resurging nationalism and populism in all our countries, looking at Mr. Putin who obviously wants to re-erect a Russian Empire –“Russia is where Russians live!” – my conclusion as a European who has family in three countries is clear:
Don’t believe in pied pipers!
Don’t be afraid!
Keep calm and carry on !
We will sort out our European problems, with patience, tolerance, good will and in a democratic way, and we will remember all those who laid down their lives for their countries, for freedom and peace in Europe.
Dr. Horst Tippkötter (77), former Head of the Werner-Heisenberg-Gymnasium in Leverkusen (1986 – 2001), deputy chairman of the Freundeskreis Bracknell Leverkusen e.V (2001 – 2006), member of the Europa-Union Leverkusen for many years, lives in Bergisch Gladbach and Bournemouth.
In September 2013 I travelled with my wife to Scotland on holiday. The reason for this journey was to experience Scottish railways. The trip was arranged by a firm in the town of Cupar. The railways were the normal scheduled services but sometimes using restored carriages and locomotives. The group members were all enthusiastic about the equipment and the lovely landscapes. All had maps, binoculars and cameras. Scotland has mountains, moorland, lakes, woods and islands.
We travelled by air to Edinburgh. If one wishes, a car can be hired there which would be good if a route is self-planned. Edinburgh, the capital, has much to offer the visitor. It has a castle with a lovely chapel, “Queen Margaret’s Chapel”. Also the city has attractive buildings, wide streets, elegant houses and a royal palace, “Holyrood Palace”. A bus waited for our group. We stayed during the visit in the town of Strathpeffer. This is a small elegant town which was famous in the 19th century as a spa. We had accommodation in a hotel and were met each morning by a bus which took us to a railway station. The first of these, Aviemore, is a winter sport centre. When the weather is warm and dry one can take walks. There are many opportunities for renting rooms or houses. Not far away are the Cairngorm Mountains, these can sometimes be dangerous in winter because of extreme weather.
We travelled east by train to Boat of Garten, Thurso and Wick. Wick has a small harbour which I specially like. It is possible to explore the harbour on foot and fishing and other boats can be seen. On the western side of the land we visited Kyle of Lochalsh, Fort William and Mallaig. From Fort William you can see Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland. From Kyle of Lochalsh the isle of Skye is visible. Here I remembered the poem by Robert Louis Stevenson which describes the journey of Charles Edward Stuart (“Bonnie Prince Charlie”) when, after his defeat at the battle of Culloden in 1745, he fled to Skye. Today there is a new bridge connecting the island to the mainland. From Fort William the train travels over the Glenfinnan Viaduct which everyone wishes to photograph. The viaduct is a Victorian wonder with brick-built columns.
Before the end of the holiday the train or bus had passed along the side of Loch Lomond and Loch Ness. Both of these lakes are more than 20 kilometres in length. Scotland is beautiful but beware! The weather is changeable. Protection against rain is important. But the sun does shine also. The population is friendly and I recommend a visit to Scotland. It is best, I think, to arrange a journey through a travel organiser, but it is possible also to plan alone. For the original Scottish breakfast do not forget the porridge (made with oatmeal).
After a successful two day performing arts workshop in partnership with Young Stage Leverkusen and performing at Sandhurst school, 23 young people and five Youth Workers from the Spot Youth Centre went to Disneyland Paris for three days to take part in a performing arts workshop.
We left the Spot in Sandhurst at 10am on Monday 27th October in a coach for the drive to Folkestone where we got the Eurotunnel train over to Calais, we then travelled by coach through France to arrive at our hotel – the My Explorers hotel, we sorted out our rooms and then had dinner in the restaurant.
After dinner we performed a number of songs and dance routines to guests in the hotel that we had been learning over the last half term, we performed to about 50 people who were watching us for some of us this was the first time we had performed to people other than our friends and family.
On Tuesday we got the shuttle bus to the Disney parks, we went into the Disney studio park first to trey out some of the rides, to watch the shows and to learn a bit about how cartoons and films are made, we watched the stunt show ‘moteurs action’ which was amazing and then we went over to the Walt Disney park where we spent the rest of the day going on the rides. meeting the characters and watching the shows ending with the firework show in the evening, we then headed back to the hotel for what was left of the evening, it was a long day but the fireworks and show at the end of the day was well worth it.
On Wednesday we had to be up really early, we had to have our bags packed as we had to be at the park at 8am for our performing arts workshop, we worked with coaches and actors from the park where we learnt a song dance routine and some acting based on the Disney film ‘Tangled’, we then had a Q&A session with one of the Disney choreographers.
We then had a couple of hours in the park before we had to start making our way back to Sandhurst arriving home about 8pm
‘The atmosphere was truly magical’ – Daisy, Louise and Molly
‘An experience unlike any other, the performers were full of extreme energetic excitement’ – Ryan
‘Having the opportunity to perform in a different country was great and the workshop gave us a new outlook on how to perform’ – Jake
‘All of the Disney staff were very kind and supportive and I would love to do it again – Darcy
In June 2014 the youth theatre group from South Hill Park, Bracknell were invited to perform in a theatre exchange at Landrat-Lucas Gymnasium in Leverkusen, Germany. My Name is Sophie and I was 19 years old when we set off. As someone who hasn’t travelled all that much I was extremely excited to have this opportunity. I was the 2nd Oldest of the group, with a cast of 7 Girls ranging from 15-22. Although from the first rehearsal there was no notice of age difference between any of us and we have become great friends.
After we got off the plane we were greeted by some of the young people who we would be staying with and their teachers. I had a phrase book at the ready and butchered the easiest phrase- to which all the students who had greeted us replied in perfect English. I was amazed how good everyone’s English was wherever we went.
I Stayed with Lisa and her Parents. They were probably one of the nicest, most welcoming families I have ever met. Nothing was too much to ask for and they would always ask if I was okay, if I needed anything and they really enjoyed learning about my life in England. I also really enjoyed having dinner with them as they had many family stories about World War 2 and the East/West divide. Lisa is now what I hope a life long friend, we have much in common. We both said how great it was that we got paired up as we had a mutual love of the same type of music. We have kept in touch since and I hope she can come to visit me.
We were taken on some really interesting trips around museums and exhibitions. Going up the Cologne tower and the German National Museum were two personal favourites. Landrat-Lucas Gymnasium was a very welcoming place, all the teachers and students were very keen to know about what we were doing and where we had come from. I was surprised at how many pupils spoke English and would ask me questions. As someone who has completed both school and college It was interesting to sit in on a lesson- the pupils ranged from 14-19 but to me it felt more like a college environment as they wore there own clothes with no uniform.
The night before the performance we were all invited to a barbecue hosted by the family Suzie was staying with and watched a Germany world cup match. This was a lovely evening and it was great to spend time with a mix of people from both Germany and England.
We were all extremely nervous about the performance, particularly as the way the script is written making it very hard to learn lines as all of the lines overlap and characters shout over each other etc. I found the workshops that Joey and Max led on character really useful not only for Top Girls but for other roles I would play. We all thought it great to play characters who were so different from each other and who bounced off each other. I really liked doing an all girl piece with such strong female characters as plays usually have a male dominance.
I spent most of the trip laughing my head off and I was really pleased at how the performance went. I’m really grateful for all the hard work that went into organising it and especially Joey and Max for being such great directors. I made some great friends and got really close to everyone who went. It was definitely a trip I won’t forget.
A group of Bracknell Forest Youth Council Members visited our twin town, Leverkusen in Germany for 6 days at the end of June 2014. We also met with a group from Finland who are twinned with Leverkusen too.
Our accommodation in Leverkusen was at the youth centre, “Lindenhof “, although we had a very busy schedule so got to see so much more;
We visited the Mayor of Leverkusen in the newly developed town hall, we were given the chance to ask questions and find out more about how young people in Leverkusen get their voices heard. This was followed by a tour of the town, a chair lift ride and some very tasty waffles, a visit to a girls club celebrating 25 years and a newly built youth centre.
We also got to experience a day trip to Bonn, the former capital city using public transport and take a boat trip back to Cologne, Visits to Cologne, swimming pools and town centres gave us all a good taste of what Germany has to offer, as well as a BBQ, including some nice German sausage.
“The most interesting part of the trip for me was being invited to meet the Mayor and see their council chamber, the opportunity to understand what is on offer for the young people of Leverkusen and how they get their voices heard” Said Max Ranger MYP Bracknell Forest.
“The biggest highlight for me on the trip was visiting and exploring the cathedral in Cologne “ said Jack Ranger DMYP Bracknell Forest.
Bracknell Town Council and Bracknell Forest Council helped fund the cost of this trip. This kind support allowed 11 of us to have some amazing new experiences, to learn more about each other and have fun.
The exchange gave us a great opportunity to meet new friends, learn new language skills and share cultural differences.