Rebecca's Gap Year

Rebecca's Gap Year

Rebecca Kennedy left Regent House in June 2015 and embarked on a gap year with Project Trust to the Dominican Republic– her first blog can be by clicking here

“I’ve now been here for over 12 weeks, and I apologise to all those who have been wanting to hear about my time here in Bombita, Dominican Republic, but to be honest, it doesn’t feel like all that time has just gone by. The days are so jam packed that it’s difficult to find down time. For example, a normal day consists of getting up at a quarter past 7, to shower in the dribble that is our shower, and be in time for fila at a quarter to 8. At Fila, the whole school stands in their classes and sings the school song and the national anthem as they raise the flag (if someone remembers to take it down the night before!). There is usually a talk and a prayer, and then we’re off to our first class at 8:15. Yes you heard me, school starts at 8:15 here. 

Kirsty (my partner in a figurative project trust marriage) and I both share a house and a classroom, so at least if one of us has a difficult class, the other can stay and help. The number of classes I have a day can vary from 1 to 6 but the craziness of the kids doesn’t really change from full on crazy! I say that, but they can be really cute, when you don’t spend half an hour trying to get them out of the classroom after class has ended! When you walk down the street or even in the school, you get kids running up to you and clinging to you and hugging you. They always seem so happy to see the ‘Americanas’.

Here in the Dominican Republic, there are four possible nationalities you can be: Dominican, Haitian, American or Chinese. This basically means that if you tell them you are from Northern Ireland, they think it’s a place in America! 

School finishes at 4, and after that, we go for a walk around the metro. The metro is a reservoir where the locals farm fish, swim, bathe, and do their laundry, all with an amazing view of the surrounding mountains and sugarcane fields. 

I can’t say I’ve improved my Spanish as I didn’t have any when I got here, but in the past eight weeks I’ve come from only being able to say ‘hola’, ‘buenos Dias’, and ‘me llamo Rebecca!’, to being able to teach classes, and have simple conversions! 

My first week here consisted of studying Spanish from 9 until 3, everyday in preparation for my first lessons on the following Monday. I was expecting a couple of classes, and had plans for all of them, and scripts for anything I might need to say in the class. I no longer need to script lessons as nearly all my Spanish is geared towards teaching. It’s a huge relief, as my first script took me over an hour to prepare! And even though I only taught one of my four scheduled classes, I was completely exhausted afterwards! The classroom’s fans don’t work so you have to teach in a full classroom of at least 30 kids plus the heat and humidity. Even now, when you haven’t really done anything strenuous all day, you still get incredibly tired by 10 o’clock, and as it gets dark early here, and there’s no TV and often no internet, you just go to bed. As we’ve gotten used to the lifestyle, it’s easier to occupy ourselves in the evenings, which mainly includes going out and socialising or cooking.

Socialising here, basically means either sitting in the street chatting in Spanish, or cooking together as cooking here takes a lot of effort and is a major part of the day. We are usually asked to bring some ingredients and contribute to the meal, or they come over and cook in our house. The food here is incredible!!!! And incredibly fried and sugary! Everything is fried or has about 10 spoonfuls of sugar added to it. The coffee here is like a shot of coffee syrup, so forget about having any nice cappuccinos after your meal! Also, the main staple foods are rice, and plantain (which are twice fried for extra flavour).

Although we are into October now, and term started 8 weeks ago, we are still having trouble with the timetable! I still haven’t taught a full week of classes yet due to unexpected days off, clashes in the timetable and lunch consistently running over by an hour! People here are so laid back, and so it’s taken so long to get an almost organised timetable! (I don’t really mind though, I mean who’s going to complain when they get a break from teaching!) 

On Fridays, we go to barahona for the week’s shop, which usually costs around 1000 pesos, or £15. Some things are incredibly cheap here, like eggs and sugar. But we’ve now learned to avoid the cereal aisle, as anything on those shelves will inevitably be out of our price range! We then usually go and stay in la Hoya with Chynah and Alisha, who are also project trust volunteers working for COPA but in another school that COPA runs. We often go to the beach on Saturday or Sunday (usually San Rafael) and plan lessons on the other day. 

Every month, the COPA mission flight comes in, and that means we get parcels and letters from home! Everyone gets really excited as it feels almost like Christmas comes every month. We all ask for certain things that you can’t get here, mainly chocolate and cereal as they are both either very expensive or not nice. 

Bombita is starting to feel very much like home, and I feel a lot more comfortable here than when I first arrived. We have friends in the village, we now know where Sophia lives so we can buy bombitian bread (the only edible bread we’ve found here) and have learned how to eat bits of chicken that We never knew existed without choking on bones! All in all I’m really enjoying my time here and I feel like I’ll really miss the Dominican Republic when it’s time to go home.”

Our very own Christmas Star!

Our very own Christmas Star!

By Erin Kendrick 10B

I filmed A Christmas Star during November and December 2014. After weeks of preparation, we kicked things off by shooting the closing scene of the film at the Belfast City Hall Christmas Lights switch-on. Filming that particular scene, in front of almost 12,000 people, was definitely one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. The atmosphere was electric and from the moment we walked on stage until the moment when Richard - the director, yelled “That’s a wrap”, we all knew that we were part of something very exciting.

 The next three weeks were both challenging and rewarding. There were many early starts and late finishes and sometimes the weather didn’t do us any favours. In fact, sometimes it was so cold that the wardrobe department had to give me hot water bottles for my coat and hand warmers for my pockets to keep me warm. However, you would have no idea that we were all freezing when you see the film on screen.

 I always started my day on set with breakfast, whether it was from the hotel in which I was staying or a bacon butty from the food-bus on set. Normally my call time was around 9 in the morning, so a car or a minibus would come around 8.15 to pick me up and bring me and other members of the cast to set. When I arrived, I would go to the makeup and wardrobe trailer, which was one of my favourite parts of the day. Once I was camera-ready, I would normally sit and run through my lines with the other actors until I was called to do my scene.

 I have been acting since I was seven and those experiences really helped me on the set of A Christmas Star. I was prepared for the repetition of scenes and the waiting around for camera set up. It also meant that I was able to understand what the crew were saying as they speak a language of abbreviations.

When I filmed my final scene, the cast and crew gave me a huge round of applause. I knew that I was going to miss everyone very much but I know that I will see them all soon at the premiere on the 4th November.

 When people ask me how to “get into” acting, my first piece of advice would be to get involved with Cinemagic. They are making films and training young people like me and you to work in the film industry. They offer master classes, workshops and film events and there is something for everyone. So if you are serious about wanting to be part of the film industry, I recommend Cinemagic as your first port of call.


Ruth gets a 'Headstart' in chemistry

Ruth gets a 'Headstart' in chemistry

Last summer I obtained a place on a Headstart Summer School on “Chemistry and Drug Design” at the University of Sussex. I was pretty apprehensive about the whole experience since there were 90 people at the summer school, 89 of whom were English and had no idea where Northern Ireland was!

We researched a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease known as the BACE1 inhibitor. As part of the course I made the molecule, analysed it, tested it to see if it worked and modeled it on a computer. During the week we had a quiz, formal dinner and a trip to GlaxoSmithKline in Brighton. On the penultimate day we summarised our work on a poster and presented it to Academic staff from the university. I won the outstanding achievement award for the Chemistry stream, which was just the perfect end to a perfect week.

I had an amazing time and genuinely loved every minute of the course and it really showed me how much I wanted to study Chemistry at university. I made some really good friends and enjoyed my “undergraduate” experience. I would really recommend Headstart to anyone who is considering doing a STEM degree at university.

By Ruth Crothers

Great gymnastic success for Rhys McClenaghan

Great gymnastic success for Rhys McClenaghan

Rhys McClenaghan was delighted to be part of the men's team which made history for Ireland lifting the Team Gold at the N European Gymnastics Championships in University of Limerick 19-20 September.

Rhys 16, was the youngest of the men's team but certainly made his presence felt with a fantastic performance on the first day of competition. He helped his team mates to the historic N. European Title and also qualified himself to Pommel Horse and Rings Finals on day two.

On finals day he did not disappoint placing in bronze medal position on Pommel Horse amongst a field of senior veterans of World Championships and Commonwealth Games. He also put in an impressive performance on rings placing 4th.

Rhys reflects,
"I was very happy with my performance. We met our target of lifting the team title. That was the most important thing. The crowd in Limerick were fantastic and really got behind the Irish Team. It was a great atmosphere. Making finals was a big bonus for me as a junior and I was delighted to lift the bronze medal on Pommels."

First class honours

Jordan Millar, who left Regent in 2011, graduated in June 2015 from Trinity College, Cambridge with a First Class Honours degree with Distinction in Mathematics. Jordan is now working in the City.

Congratulations Jordan, we are very proud of you.

A busy summer in the pool


A busy summer in the pool

Regent House pupils Emma (Y13) and Rebecca (Y10) Reid have had a busy summer in the pool and they are not finished yet.

In June, having just completed her GCSE's which she attained 2 A* and 9 A grades, Emma went to Baku, Azerbaijan to compete for Ireland in swimming at the first European Games.  She made semi finals in her three events, 50, 100 and 200m Butterfly, breaking two Irish Junior records and finished 10th in Europe in the 100m Fly.

Her time qualified her for the World Junior Championships in Singapore and was selected to compete for Ireland. 

At the same time the Commonwealth Youth team was announced and Emma was one of five swimmers selected to compete for Northern Ireland.

Emma left on 21st August to Singapore, where she competes until 30th August. She then travels from Singapore to Auckland to train before she meets the rest of the NI team in Samoa on the 3rd September.

Rebecca in July competed for Ireland at European Youth Olympic Festival in Tbilisi, Georgia where she swam personal best times in all five events, making a semi final in 100m freestyle.

She has been selected to compete for Ireland at the UK School Games, to be held in Manchester in September.


Past pupil wins SCOR Global life award

Past pupil wins SCOR Global life award

Kareen McDonagh one of our past pupils who recently won the SCOR Global Life award at Queen’s Management School’s Prize Giving Event on 7th July.  The award is for the Best student in Actuarial Methods in General Insurance (Niall Brown is also pictured and the award was presented by Gearoid Morgan and Patrick Kelly from SCOR).

Year 8 trip to Paris

Year 8 trip to Paris

Article by Milan Kapoor 8G

In the early hours of 27th of June, 35 pupils and five teachers Mrs Gardiner, Mrs Hutton, Mrs Lloyd, Mr Matchett and Mr Mahood all embarked on a journey to Paris.

We were all very excited and when we arrived in Paris we were greeted by our very nice bus driver called Klaas. Firstly, we went on a very exciting river cruise on the Seine, after lunch we went to see the Eiffel Tower and after that we went on a shopping trip to Champs-Élysées. Some people shopped and some people sat in the cafés. After the shopping trip we had dinner in a buffet style restaurant and then finally we went to our hotel.

The next day there was no sleeping in as we were going to Disneyland. We went on some rides and then we all watched the parade and we then had dinner in Planet Hollywood and finally we watched a spectacular firework display. By the time we were out of Disneyland it was midnight and we were all exhausted.

Day 3, we had a quick visit to the Val d’ Europe shopping centre. Then we went to the Louvre and afterwards to Montparnasse Tower where we had an unbelievable view of Paris. We then had Pizza Hut and when we were done we went to the highest natural point in Paris - Montmartre.  After that we went to the hotel for the last time.

The last day, we went to the science museum and then we went to La Défense and then finally the airport. Here we reflected on the trip and now we have lots and lots of wonderful memories of Paris 2015.

Playing Flute on BBC Music Day

Sir James Galway with Jannah Bell   Photo:

The celebrated flautist Sir James Galway was back in Belfast yesterday for BBC Music Day, working with some young flautists. They included Jannah Bell (Year 12) who had the rare opportunity to work with Sir James and his wife, leading female flute soloist Lady Jeanne Galway.

The group were recorded at Titanic Belfast for BBC Radio 3's In Tune programme with Sean Rafferty, which airs at 18:15 tonight. If you miss it, you can hear this segment of the programme below, or listen to the full programme on BBC iPlayer until the end of June.


Green club

The Green Club is run by Mrs McCullough. Our senior leader is Stephanie McHenry from year 14, helped by Craig Stewart, Amber Harrison-Smith and sometimes Freya Palmer-Baker.

We agree a schedule of what we need to achieve each month and then we try to work through it. Activities include gardening, learning about plants and sorting out problem areas around the school. We planted out pots to improve the quad area and we weeded and planted bulbs and plants in the beds as well.

We have good fun and are now not afraid of worms at all. If it is a very wet day we will stay inside to work but if it’s dry we prefer to be outside. We always finish our day with juice and chocolate biscuits!

We take it in turns to clean out and look after our terrapins, Zeus and Daphne. They are great fun and can move really fast when they get out for a walk. Sometimes we have to search for them behind the art folders in A1 and we have to be really careful not to stand on them. 

Three years ago we planted trees mostly around the perimeter of the school but the men who cut the grass mow them down as well as the protectors so we are just trying to replace the ones in the strip down in front of the teachers cars and get them established. Mr Clark kindly gave us stronger supports that the men with the lawnmowers have trouble running over. Some of them are getting quite big now. 

Mrs McCullough brought 10 eggs from her farm and an incubator for them to hatch in. We placed the eggs in the incubator and set it at the correct temperature. After three weeks, four of the eggs had hatched, and so we had some cute fluffy chicks! Every-one in green club named them. They grew really fast and when they started to fly out of the box Mrs. McCullough took them home with her and they are still all alive and well!



True Colours exhibition

Lauren Garret and Lauren Haire – Year 11

On Tuesday 11 February, the Year 11 art and design students and the moving image art (MIA) students visited the True Colours exhibition at the Ulster Museum.

We left school about 09:30 and travelled by coach to the museum. This exhibition shows off the best work from last year’s GCSE and A Level exams. The GCSE work was really eye-catching. We were struck by the high standard of the work and worried that we would never get to this standard but Mrs McCullough said we were only starting out and were already working at this level. We took photographs of the variety of approaches and media used to inspire us to produce sculptures, textiles and paintings to this level.

Looking at the A level work we were drawn to a really colourful dress which had been inspired by the work of Willy Wonka as it was done to look like sweets. There was even a painting of Sophie Davidson’s dad, who is an artist. We were really impressed by the quality of all of the work and thought it was of an extremely high standard.

After visiting the True Colours Exhibition we walked around the rest of the Museum to see the other displays. We went out into Botanic Gardens Palm House where we were able to take photographs of the flowers to use for our photograph pages and for drawing from.

We went into the shop, where we bought a notebook and some sweets before heading back to the coach. We would have liked to stay longer but it was a really good day which gave us lots of inspiration!


Equestrian event winners

Equestrian event winners

The ILDRA (Irish Long Distance Riding Association) held the inaugural St Patick’s Coast Endurance Event this month. Over 100 riders from juniors to pensioners competed in a wide selection of International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) competitions to pleasure rides. 

The longest ride was over 75 miles, the shortest 10 miles, with the route travelling along forest tracks, three different beaches, lush green fields, gravel tracks and a little roadwork. The event had the support of over 45 farmers and land owners who not only allowed the course to go over their land, but opened gates and moved stock to ensure the event ran smoothly.

William Girvan, Anna Brown and Amy McKeown setting off Photo credit: Gilly Wheeler

The schools event was won by Regent House School, represented by William Girvan, Anna Brown and Amy McKeown (pictured above).