Shrewsbury School

A Week in the Life of Howard Stringer (PH LVI)

Sunday 3 July 2011

Phew, what a climactic penultimate week to end my first year at Shrewsbury School! But that’s not surprising – life at Shrewsbury School is fast and full – luckily it suits my personality!

Howard - about to set off for DofE ExpeditionSaturday saw me travel to the massive pool complex in Malvern, which almost rivaled our own Gemini pool as it had a Starbucks in the foyer, but it lacked atmosphere as the only seating for supporters was behind glass. I won the breaststroke for the county and moved closer to my aim to break 1 minute for 100m freestyle for myself - just a quarter of a second too slow!! It would be great to have some more Salopians on the coach to tri-counties next year and with the extra squad sessions planned next year we could do that - I find it's an excellent sport to go with my athletics and football.

Sunday 26th June
Following a busy week, I set about some preparation for a ‘Stop Salopians Smoking’ launch which we planned for Tuesday lunch. I took the rest of the day off so I would be ready for the eventful, but as usual, enjoyable week ahead.

Monday 27th June
Monday began as all Mondays do; a house full of drowsy boys recovering from their weekends’ activities. The post-AS level courses ensure that the lower sixth pupils are kept busy and not allowed out to roam around and cause trouble! That aside, we have learnt a considerable amount for the A2 courses even though we’ll probably have to recap next term.

Immediately after lunch all the lower sixth filled Quod to have a short talk on sport options for next year and the introduction of a minimum of two sports sessions per week for everyone in sixth form. Naturally, I put a mark next to all the football sessions and the squad swimming too.

I left Quod quickly with the aim of arriving at the Bee Keeping Society on time. Once there, Mr. Allott who had already put on one of the ‘spaceman-like’ suits welcomed me. I followed his lead, and we all headed off to the orchard where the colonies are kept to examine the bees.

Two more lessons in the afternoon were followed by athletics in which I suffered a slight strain – I hope this doesn’t hinder me in the exciting new races later in the week!

Tuesday 28th June
An early arrival at school gave me enough time to gather books and stationary together before all the Lower Sixth went to listen to an interesting talk by the Headmaster on ‘The interview’. He gave valuable advice about appearance, approach and avoiding rejection. The talk finished with a few minutes to spare to walk to main school building for the Tuesday morning double period of maths. 

After lunch, all the Praeposters gathered in Kingsland House around the big table to discuss any issues and talk with the Headmaster and Mr. Tonks. This meeting received plenty of interest as everyone was being measured up for the impressive Praeposter waistcoats. I had to be excused from the meeting early to rush up to the Moser library to attend the launch of ‘Stop Salopians Smoking’ group. This event was aimed at all years, to promote awareness of the project which will see regular meetings next term. Although everyone will be welcome, third formers in particular will be encouraged to attend this student-led group so that they can learn about the adverse effects of smoking, how they might stop, or how they might avoid starting.

Lessons, social tennis and swim squad training kept me busy until the tutor meal, which saw many of Mr. Allott’s home grown vegetables come together to form a wonderful dish, with added protein in the form of salmon and king prawns.

Wednesday 29th June
PSHE in the morning was useful as we learned about safety on the roads (important as many of us can now drive!), e-safety and an insight into OCD. We were reminded it is wise to Google our name from time to time to discover what the internet tells others about you! This relaxed day ensured I had plenty of energy for the inter-house triathlon event. Porthill dominated the Senior categories with wins in both the A and B strings. I enjoyed encouraging the junior teams and vocally supporting them in their various stages (as many will have heard)! I was the swimmer for the ‘Senior B’ event and was able to jump out of the pool to give our rower (Ben Jones, UVI) a healthy lead. I stood behind him cheering him on with a bottle of water as a reward once he had finished. I was impressed with the rowers: it looks like hard work! After the rowing I chased our runner (Seb Pope, V) a short distance urging him to go faster.

I was then able to head back to the pool and admire James Morris’ amicable annihilation of the competition in the swimming component of the ‘Senior A’ race. Clearly those early morning training sessions have paid off!

Thursday 30th June
I woke up early to head off to the school gym to see a personal fitness trainer with other 1st XI football members. This was so that we could be advised on a weights programme to follow over the summer holidays and next year’s football season: hopefully we will be able to reap the benefits. I can’t wait to be in my boots and on the high quality pitches the school is able to provide again.

I had a short time to change and reach chemistry. When I arrived the classroom was full of fellow students in lab coats and the 'stylish' (some may disagree!) glasses. Physics followed chemistry, which meant I had to make full use of break and lunch time to fluid load in preparation for the races in the afternoon.

Mr. Middleton created a challenging, yet for some irresistible, pair of summer races this year, undoubtedly inspired by Chariots of Fire.

I had to be focused for these events, as there was high expectation of my achievement on the basis of my county athletics activity. I also had to pace myself with heats and finals all in the same afternoon: a total of 1km racing: the equivalent of a long distance race for me!

The quarter mile race, otherwise known as 400 metres to track fanatics, was run around Alington Hall, the Pentagon and Central. Rob Cross completed a tenth of a second faster heat time than me so I had to up the pace and use tactics on corners in the final to secure my claim to the trophy which had last been won in 1869, by H. Hughes; it was recently found in an attic.

My main rival for the Sidney-Darwin dash was a talented 4th former (Chike Kandi). However I wouldn’t be racing against him afternoon as he was in the junior category but we both knew that who ever ran the fastest time could claim ‘fastest man on site’. Watching him jog his heat in a respectable time left me knowing I had a tough race ahead. I came through to break 13 seconds, not an impressive time for 100m but without spikes and starting blocks I was happy nonetheless and secured the victory.

Later that afternoon, after collecting my trophies and medals I went to see the Headmaster (whilst dressed in my signature athletics’orange shorts!) to receive a Headmaster's distinction for work completed on the biology field trip to Dale Fort where we studied ecology as part of the A2 course.

Friday 1st July
Friday began at 6 a.m. with a quick shower and a lift to town to catch a train to an open day. I was on a mission to find out if this university would be the one at which I would most like to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor.  It allowed me to explore in depth the aspects of the various medical courses available at different universities, which might be important to me.

Howard and his brotherAfter another train journey back to sunny Shropshire, I went home to collect my trunks and a towel before returning to school for my second swim of the week. Being the last session before breaking up for the summer, some would think it would be an easy, wind down swim. They would be mistaken. A hard swim working on sprint times was the reality, with the coach being pleased with our efforts.

After building up a large appetite, I went with my brothers to my grandparents’ house on the outskirts of Shrewsbury. The purpose was to give my brother Rowan a chance to say farewell as he was leaving the following morning having secured a job in Paris for a year as part of his French Degree. Fish and chips, followed by some cake: I can’t say I would mind if my brother got a new job every week!

Luckily that has fuelled me up for another grueling week ahead - my Duke of Edinburgh’s expedition starts on Sunday – 4 days walking over mountains!

Now, where is that low-volume sleeping bag...

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