Lit Fest 2019

Ark’s third annual Literary Festival kicked off on Monday 1st April, with a Book Quote Scavenger Hunt. Ongoing throughout the week, this challenge had student sleuths attempting to hunt down quotes scattered around the school, and identify which books they originated from. The fun then continued at lunchtime, with a giant Pairs card game in which participants used their memories and knowledge to match characters with book covers.  

Tuesday saw a visit from author Ruth Eastham, who ran creative diary writing workshops based on her novel, ‘The Messenger Bird’ – transporting lucky English classes to Bletchley Park and the secret world of wartime codebreaking. Ruth shared some of her top tips on emotive writing, resulting in some very imaginative secret diary entries! Years 7 and 8 loved journeying back in time, and ‘The Messenger Bird’ has since flown off the library shelves!

Ruth then helped to judge the afternoon’s House Spoken Word contest (along with special guest judge and Former Head Boy, Milola, and our own Miss Hanna and Miss Green). The competition was an incredible showcase of creative talent, featuring some of the most well-rehearsed and provocative performances Ark has seen. After a nail-biting period of deliberation, the deserving winners were announced as Kylah and Raine in year 9 (who spoke powerfully about feminism and gender expectations), and Stacey Mula Neto in year 10, who composed and performed an emotional piece on self-acceptance, individuality, and letting your potential shine. Other standout favourites included Lokmen Cherfi’s moving tribute to the victims of the Christchurch terror attack, and Ismail and Ilya’s well-crafted talk on the future of education.

Next was Wednesday’s eagerly-anticipated Spelling Bee, which pitted students against teachers in a battle of linguistic merit. Competing word wizards and lexical legends chose from a number of categories (including Roald Dahl, Harry Potter and Science Fiction). It was a closely-fought contest, but in the end students triumphed over teachers – after correct spelling of ‘Scrumdiddlyumptious’, ‘Horcrux’, and even ‘pharmaceutical’. In the final round spelling sensation Rebekah Tate narrowly beat ‘Miss Boyd’s Brainoids’, to claim the top prize of an exclusive Pottermore art poster! Huge thanks – and commiserations – to our valiant teacher contestants, Miss Boyd, Mr. Wanklyn, Mr. Cheetham, and Mr Chandler.

The literary rivalry continued on Thursday during PSHE, when literary experts were nominated from each form group to compete in our marathon Lit Quiz. The Quiz featured rounds on picture books, animals in literature, fantasy worlds, title trivia, and ‘Bookalikes’, as well as cryptic author descriptions and famous quotes delivered by an array of Ark teachers. With house points at stake, the competitive fervour was such that contestants remained unfazed even when the ‘Get Into Teaching’ camera crew entered the library to capture the action. Exceptional effort was made by all teams, but the overall winners were 7 Picasso and 7 Shonibare of Socrates house. Not far behind in second place was Year 7 Newton, followed by Year 8 Curie and Year 8 Newton in third and fourth places.

Thursday lunchtime then saw a return to the Spoken Word theme – as a makeshift stage and mic saw the library transformed into ‘Speaker’s Corner’! Nora Elbana and Hadeal Abdelatti captivated the crowd with some outstanding original poetry, while Prince and Alessandro in year 7 held court on topics including ‘Are videogames good for you?’ and ‘Is your diet healthy?’ Rebekah Tate then rounded off the event, with an impressive and impeccable performance of the alliterative rap ‘Alphabet Aerobics’ by Blackalicious.

On behalf of the Library and Team English, a HUGE thank you to everyone who supported, promoted and participated in the activities and overall ethos of Lit Fest this week.