Students welcome Australian visitors

Withernsea High School recently welcomed a group of 14 students and 3 chaperones from our Australian partner school for a six day stay in our area.

The visit was the third such trip to Withernsea for staff and students of Clare High – a school which is situated in the South Australian town of Clare, approximately 80 miles north of Adelaide.

The link between our two schools was forged by former Withernsea High School teacher Rachelle Maynard who began teaching at Clare High after emigrating in 2008. In 2013, she successfully managed to extend a long-established biennial school trip to Ireland to incorporate a visit to England as part of the itinerary. 

Mrs Maynard, along with Clare High’s Assistant Principle Matt Linn and his wife Erin, accompanied the students throughout their visit which began on Monday 17th April when the group flew to Ireland. Whilst in Ireland the delegation visited their twin school, St Joseph’s Secondary in County Clare, before taking in the sights of the Cliffs of Moher at the Southwestern edge of the county. 

On Tuesday 25th April, the group attended a dawn Anzac Day service in Dublin where they laid a wreath at an official memorial to commemorate Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in wars and conflicts. While in Dublin, the group also spent time on the tourist trail and enjoyed plenty of sightseeing.

There was no let-up in their busy schedule as they then flew to London to visit the Dungeons, the Natural History Museum, the Tower of London and the capital's most famous landmarks.

The group arrived in Withernsea just before lunchtime on Friday 28th April. Upon their arrival at the school, they were welcomed by our student hosts before sharing lunch together and getting to know each other in the canteen. Later, they were given a tour of the school by their new friends and attended regular lessons with their peers in the afternoon for a glimpse of British school life.

Their arrival on the eve of a Bank Holiday weekend meant the visiting Australians enjoyed an extended amount of free time with their host families. The hosts wasted no time in showing the visitors the local area and beyond, with many families enjoying the on-going events in Hull as part of the City of Culture celebrations.

Host families are essential for the success of such trips, providing a home-from-home environment and an opportunity for the visiting students to experience a taste of British family life. Once again, the parents of our school community readily opened their doors to accommodate our guests. Parent volunteer Martin Lindgren commented:  ‘We would thoroughly recommend any family to host a student from Australia. We all had a great time showing them around our area and we made new links and friends that will never be forgotten.’

On Tuesday 2nd May, the Australians and their British buddies enjoyed a scenic day trip to Whitby where they visited the Captain Cook museum and Whitby Abbey as part of a walking tour of the historic town.

Before their departure on the afternoon of Wednesday 3rd May, the Clare High group climbed the 144 steps of Withernsea Lighthouse to take in the view of the town from above. They also visited Withernsea Primary school where they spoke to the young pupils about their lives and lifestyle back home in Australia.

The group then made their way back to the High School to collect their luggage and say goodbye to their new-found friends. Upon their departure, Mrs Maynard presented the school with a piece of Australian artwork from a local gallery and in return was given a Withernsea High School blazer and a photo frame containing group shots of their three visits to Withernsea so far. 

After leaving school, the group made a quick pit stop at The Plough public house in Hollym, which is owned by Mrs Maynards parents, where they enjoyed a traditional British pub lunch. After lunch the group headed to Hull for a final tour around before catching the evening train to Manchester in preparation for their flight home the following morning.

Once again, organisation of the visit from the Withernsea end was led by Geography teacher Bryony Shelby who commented: ‘Our third visit from Clare High School has been another wonderful success. I was delighted that students who had hosted visitors on previous visits once again volunteered as they had enjoyed the experience so much last time. We also had a large number of students who decided to get involved for the first time this year, which was a big decision for the whole family.’

‘I am very proud of the way our students have conducted themselves. They have been welcoming, friendly, organised, mature and excellent ambassadors for Withernsea High School. I believe that many of the students will remain friends with their Australian partners.

‘Seeing the emotions on students’ faces when they said goodbyes showed how much they had got out of the whole experience and I would like to thank our students and their families for making our visitors feel so welcome.'

Leading the trip from the Australian side was Rachelle Maynard who said: ‘Thank you very much to Withernea High School and the Withernsea community for making us feel so welcome during our 2017 visit.  Our students gained a huge amount from their time at the school and with their host families. The opportunity to experience a different culture on the other side of the world is a life-changing event and we are very grateful as a school for this partnership to exist'.

WHS Year 10 student Alice Bullock, who was one of the new hosting volunteers, commented: ‘I loved the whole experience. I never knew I would get on so well with someone I’d never met or spoken to before. This experience has been one of the best things I have ever done and I will never forget it.’

What Withernsea students said about the experience...

Our students have chosen to comment anonymously.

'Our guests were a pleasure to have stay with us and I loved every moment of it. They settled in straight away and made themselves at home which was so nice to see. We packed our time together full of activities and had a great experience. We got on well with all the Australians and other hosts who we don’t usually speak to. I really hope we stay in touch and maybe see them again in the future.'

'This has been a great experience because I got to meet someone from another country and I got on really well with them. I would love to have the chance to go over to their country.'

'This has been such a great new experience that I will always remember and keep with me forever. I was really surprised how well I got on with everyone and I would love to meet them again.'

'This has been an amazing experience. Grady has made my family and I take an interest in Aussie Rules Football. Adelaide Crows yeah?! Top of the ladder!  I would love the experience to visit Australia and I would definitely host again.'

What the Australian students thought...

Again, the students have opted to comment anonymously.

'I really enjoyed my time with my host family. Everyone was so kind, friendly and welcoming. One thing that amazed me with the area was the ages of the buildings. Everything is so old compared to what we are used to in Australia. Thank you for letting us experience life in Withernsea.'

'One thing I noticed that was different is that Dinner is what we call Tea and lunch is what we call Dinner!'

'There are many more social opportunities for young people in Withernsea, even just hanging out down the arcades is something that we can't do here because we do not have these kind of places in our towns.'

'I ate some amazing foods whilst in Withernsea. Although it was similar to our Australian food, it was also pretty different.'

'The buses from town to town make it so easy for you to catch up with friends, we don't have bus networks like that back home.'

'I loved my time in Withernsea High School. They have such a huge variety of subjects and even have their own gym.'

'I like the fact that the Withernsea students have a smart uniform, it makes the school seem very formal.'


ABOVE: Clare High and Withernsea High staff and students pose on the steps of the school on their final day together.

Clare High's Rachelle Maynard (left) presents Bryony Shelby with a piece of Australian artwork as a 'thank you' for hosting them.

ABOVE: A close-up of the artwork presented to the school by the staff and students of Clare High.

Withernsea's gift to Clare High. A picture frame containing images of their three visits to the school. Also presented to them were a Withernsea High School blazer and school-branded stationery from the Humanities department.