Congratulations, students! Yesterday brought graduation day, and many moments for students, staff and parents to pause and ponder the achievements of our Session 2 cohort over these past two weeks.
Teachers marked the last day of classes with something a little special. Solomon, our Engineering teacher, assembled a field of (harmless) pistols and devices for students to test out the theories they had learned this last fortnight.
Your faithful blogger was lucky enough to serve as a judge alongside ORA Director Will Humphreys on Dragon’s Den: Yarnton Edition, where we truly learned what these bright young minds could muster. For their final projects, students on our Business and Enterprise Programme and those taking the Business Challenge were tasked with pitching a full business plan to us, the Yarnton Dragons, complete with PESTLE and SWOT analyses and financial projections in full. Projects ranged from a pop-up Chinese restaurant (Container®) to a device-cleaning product called Slime-Giene®. The judges’ favourite was MOOD®, a fashion app that advises the user on what to wear on a given morning, according to personal style, mood, and weather. Special mention also goes to ANLUMS®, a pair of glasses that allows the wearer to translate speech and text from foreign languages on the spot. Also very strong was Eureka, which connects local audiences with local music talent through high-quality open-mic nights.
The graduation ceremony itself moving and amusing in equal measure, as Student Ambassadors Max and Samara recounted the sweetest moments of the two weeks: Latin American music and dancing, punting and staying dry, Mamma Mia!. Students were praised for their generosity of spirit towards one another. In the words of House Dean Rebecca, “They’re all extremely wonderful people who also demonstrated themselves to be dedicated and bright students.” Effort and attainment awards were presented, along with ORA diplomas.
In the evening, students went in for some medieval revelry, as they jousted, feasted, and laughed at the House Deans who were literally dressed as fools. Tables were rather turned as six House Deans got locked in the animal cage, but Campus Administrator Jon restored the festive feeling with a ceilidh in the Manor grounds. Before bedtime, the House Deans took the chance to remind students to keep in touch and organise reunions. This group hardly needs the encouragement — Artemis vows that she’ll be back next year as a student, and Jian Amber says she’d like to work for ORA next summer!