Tag Archive: Grammar School at Leeds

An Oar-some achievement: ‘A star’ in the classroom and on the water

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TALENTED: Harin Wijayathunga is leading the way in school and on the river

TALENTED: Harin Wijayathunga is leading the way in school and on the river

An academic ace from Leeds, who recently celebrated achieving a ‘wave’ of 10 A*s in his GCSEs, is proving that his talents ‘flow’ further than just the classroom as he continues to excel in his passion for cox rowing.

Sixteen-year-old Harin Wijayathunga, from Meanwood, has been training with the Leeds Rowing Club ever since the London Olympics inspired him to pursue a career in the sport.

Balancing life on the river with his studies at the Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL), the ambitious all-rounder is not one to just sit back and relax in his spare time.

Explaining more about his busy schedule leading up the exams, Harin said: “I didn’t find it too hard to balance rowing with my studies.

“Admittedly, I was revising on the boat at times with my flashcards but it’s all about time management at the end of the day because we train a lot during the week after school.

“I generally manage my time well enough. This year, I had to really take a check on how much I was rowing because of my GCSEs.”

Despite only training as a cox for a relatively short period of time, Harin has already had trials for the British Under-18 rowing team and is the youngest cox at Leeds Rowing Club.

He was also one of the youngest coxswains to steer a team at the prestigious Henley Regatta two years ago when he was just 14-years-old.

LEADER: After taking up cox rowing at the age of 12, Harin has since achieved some remarkable success in the sport

LEADER: After taking up cox rowing at the age of 12, Harin has since achieved some remarkable success in the sport

This year he has not taken part in any of the big summer rowing events so that he could concentrate on his studies.

However, during the winter he participated in the four and eight head races on the River Thames where his Leeds club is the only one in Yorkshire to feature in the top 100.

“These competitions are dominated by the London clubs because they have the advantage of training on the Thames so they know the river like the back of their hands.  

“It’s a great achievement for Leeds Rowing Club to have done so well in the head races.”

With a university degree at Cambridge in his sights, Harin says he has to ensure he continues to work hard in his A Levels to ensure he can achieve the sporting ambition of his dreams.

“The first race I watched was the Oxford and Cambridge boat race - that is what I want to do,” he added.

“I want to win that race. To get to that level is really hard. The work that I’m doing now with Leeds is going to put me in a good position to be trialling for those positions if I do get into Cambridge.

“It’s hard work now, but I’m more than happy to do it because it will be a big moment when that happens.”

With three A*s predicted in his summer 2018 exams, a race on the Thames may be right around the riverbend for Harin.

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Mathematic Maestros

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A Year 11 student from Leeds has been named in the top 40 mathematicians in the country for his age, following his performance at a recent national competition.

Arvind Narayan, from the Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL), entered the Intermediate Mathematics Challenge which sees 200,000 students nationwide compete, with the top 500 in each school year progressing to the Intermediate Mathematical Olympiad.

CLEVER: Year 11 students from GSAL, who achieved merit or distinction in the Intermediate Mathematical Olympiad: Front - Arvind Narayan; back (l-r) Miheer Sonwalkar, Kaiser Lodhi and Aditya Munot

CLEVER: Year 11 students from GSAL, who achieved merit or distinction in the Intermediate Mathematical Olympiad: Front - Arvind Narayan; back (l-r) Miheer Sonwalkar, Kaiser Lodhi and Aditya Munot

At GSAL, seven students were selected to sit the paper for the Olympiad and Arvind produced the standout performance.

The teenager achieved a distinction, a gold medal, and an invitation to the National Mathematics Summer School, an honour reserved for the best 40 scorers in the whole country.

At the week-long summer school, the academic programme is designed to stimulate and inspire these promising young mathematicians, with whole group masterclasses, small group work and team competitions, as well as time set aside in the evenings for extra-curricular activities.

Maths teacher Alison Jackson coordinates the competition at GSAL and said she was proud to see the school’s pupils achieve so highly.

“I was delighted with our students’ results in the maths challenge, with seven progressing to the Olympiad; this in itself is a huge success story,” she said. “Arvind’s distinction is a superb achievement and he has done exceptionally well to gain an invitation to the summer school.”

A number of other GSAL students also did themselves proud in the Intermediate Mathematical Olympiad with three Year 11 students - Kaiser Lodhi, Aditya Munot and Miheer Sonwalkar – achieving merit certificates, alongside two Year 9 pupils - Ciaran Duggan and Eric Rodriguez Boidi.

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The gift of education

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Pupils at a local Leeds school took time out of their academic studies earlier this month to help raise thousands of pounds for educational establishments around the world.

Student members of the Hindu and Sikh societies from the Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) handed over a cheque of £5,000 to a representative from the charity Saraswati Vidyalaya – a service project of The Three R’s Education Trust.

DONATION: Members of GSAL’s Hindu and Sikh societies handed over a cheque of £5,000 to the Saraswati Vidyalaya charity, (l-r) Student faith leader GSAL Hindu Society, Akash Ramnath; UK coordinator of Saraswati Vidyalaya, Mr Hashmukh Shah; and Student faith leader GSAL Sikh Society, Manraj Thethi

DONATION: Members of GSAL’s Hindu and Sikh societies handed over a cheque of £5,000 to the Saraswati Vidyalaya charity, (l-r) Student faith leader GSAL Hindu Society, Akash Ramnath; UK coordinator of Saraswati Vidyalaya, Mr Hashmukh Shah; and Student faith leader GSAL Sikh Society, Manraj Thethi

‘Saraswati Vidyalayas’ are one teacher schools in India and Nepal which are helping to transform the lives of children in the south Asian countries by giving them greater access to education.

Thanks to the generosity of students at GSAL, five of these new schools can now be built in remote villages of the two countries, with the total amount donated to the cause by the Leeds school now standing at £10,000.

The main fundraiser each year is the Diwali show, organised by the Hindu and Sikh student faith leaders, an event which brings the whole community together for an evening of Indian food, music and dance.

As well as the Diwali show, a tasty sum is raised each year through curry tastings and cooking demonstrations thanks to the generosity of Mr and Mrs Dabhi of Hansa’s Restaurant in Leeds.

Mr Hashmukh Shah is Saraswati Vidyalaya’s coordinator in the UK and was presented with the cheque by Student faith leaders from GSAL’s Hindu and Sikh societies earlier this month.

He said he was extremely grateful to see such generosity and explained how crucial such funds are for the charity.

He said: “Education is empowerment, and through your sponsorship of schools in India and Nepal you are helping disadvantaged students to overcome illiteracy and resist exploitation.

“Thanks to GSAL we have built nine schools over five years – today’s donation alone will fund five more.”
Akash Ramnath, Hindu student faith leader, added: “Education is a fundamental right for every child and we are proud to support this charity which provides education to children who don’t have the advantages that we take for granted.

“The Hindu and Sikh communities at GSAL are very inclusive and I would like to thank everyone who has supported us, in school and from the wider community.”

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Leeds pupils raise thousands for Syria

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Four pupils from the Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) have raised an amazing £17,000 for Islamic Relief’s Syria appeal through organising a school event.

The evening, attended by over 150 parents, pupils and guests, included a play written and performed by pupils, a nasheed performance from the younger members of the school and an inspiring eye witness account, from Zia Salik of Islamic Relief, who has recently returned from the war stricken country.

Noor Ahmed, one of the four organisers and a Muslim Faith Leader at the school said they were overwhelmed by the response: “We were aiming to raise about two thousand pounds so to raise such a large sum of money in one evening is incredible”

FUNDRAISERS: (l-r) Zara Shah, Akeel Bhamani, Anam Malik, Jasmine Iftakhar, Noor Ahmed, Faisal Motashar

FUNDRAISERS: (l-r) Zara Shah, Akeel Bhamani, Anam Malik, Jasmine Iftakhar, Noor Ahmed, Faisal Motashar

The pupils paid tribute to Mrs Zara Shah who is a teacher at the school and who supported the faith leaders in organising the evening.

“The evening really would not have been possible without the input from Mrs Shah so we just want to express our sincere gratitude for all her hard work in enabling us to put the event together,” they said.

Zia Salik who is the Regional Manager for Islamic Relief relayed the harrowing account of what he witnessed on his trip to the country but also expressed his delight at the ongoing support being provided by the community.

He said: “The money raised tonight will help to literally save lives by providing much needed medical supplies and to see four 18 year olds from the school put an event on like tonight encourages us to continue with our campaign to help the people of Syria – they are a credit to both the school and to the community”.

The evening concluded with a meal very generously donated by My Lahore and an auction which saw a hand painting by Islamic Relief volunteer, Fahad Khan, sell for almost £1,000.

For further information on Islamic Reliefs work in Syria please visit www.islamic-relief.org.uk/ure.

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Super Sixteen

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To receive an offer from the prestigious Oxbridge universities is something many students can only dream of yet for a group of local teens, that dream has become a reality.

16 students from the Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL), from across multiple specialist subjects, have all been approached by the ‘big two’ as conditional offers were sent out by Oxford and Cambridge University last week.

OFFER: GSAL Upper Sixth student, Trina Seal, has been offered a place at the University of Cambridge to study Natural Sciences

OFFER: GSAL Upper Sixth student, Trina Seal, has been offered a place at the University of Cambridge to study Natural Sciences

The ‘super 16’ make up an astonishing eight per cent of the Upper Sixth’s population, and will all now have extra motivation to succeed in their A2 Levels, which begin later this year.

Out of all the students offered places at the two institutions, half were from Oxford whilst the other eight came from their near neighbours, Cambridge.

One student, offered a conditional place at the latter, was Trina Seal who is hoping to study Natural Sciences (Biology) following her time at GSAL.

After visiting the institution last year for a tour of the facilities, the aspiring teenager says she instantly ‘loved’ the place and is now targeting her place amongst the elite.

“On receiving the offer, I was thrilled and slightly in shock as competition for places was very high,” she said.

“The offer has motivated me to continue working hard in all my subjects and attain the necessary grades to meet the conditions of my offer.”

CLEVER: 16 Students from the GSAL will be hoping to achieve top grades in this summer’s A2 results after receiving conditional offers from the prestigious Cambridge and Oxford University

CLEVER: 16 Students from the GSAL will be hoping to achieve top grades in this summer’s A2 results after receiving conditional offers from the prestigious Cambridge and Oxford University

If successful Trina will begin her University education in September and it is the appeal of the natural sciences course which really interests the keen learner.

“The challenge of the natural sciences course really appealed to me, as well as the opportunity of learning from professors at the forefront of their field,” she said.

“In addition, the course allows the study of many different areas of science in depth which results in a wide base of knowledge that will be useful later in life.

She added: “The school (GSAL) has been a massive help in the application process, from reading several drafts of my personal statement to running sessions at lunchtime to help extend knowledge beyond the subject syllabuses.”

This year Oxbridge attracted a record level of applications, with five students chasing each place and for GSAL’s head of student development, Christine Jagger, to see her school so well represented in the offers was amazing.

She said: “In the face of such stiff competition our students should be extremely proud that they have come through this tough selection process.

“While we work closely with senior students to guide them through those all-important decisions about the courses and institutions that will be right for them, it is their own hard work and determination that ultimately impresses the admissions tutors.”

The seven other students conditionally accepted by Cambridge University include Elinor Clapson, Jacob Gibbs, Christopher Schofield, Vandan Parmar, Jennifer Shaw, Yasmin Khan and Yash Singh.

Heading to Oxford, subject to this summer’s exam results, will be Harry Martin, Isobel Rose, Elliot Pawley, Joe Ball, Georgina Mordue, Sam Harman, and head boys Jack Harrison and Matthew Li.

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