After School on Wednesday we saw a gathering of the Stride-Darnley Society in the Headmistress’s Study, where three pupils, from Year 7 and 8, presented on subjects that they felt passionately about.

First up was Max, who chose to speak about Dubai and everything it has to offer tourists. He talked about the enjoyment to be had at the Wild Wadi Water Park and the opportunities to swim with stingrays, the luxury hotels, huge buildings and the man-made archipelago, Palm Jumeirah. Max also taught the audience about the source of Dubai’s wealth, in the form of its previously untapped oil supply, and the potential struggles with sustained growth should the oil reserves diminish in what was a very insightful and interesting presentation.

Following on was Theo, who presented about his pet snake “Sid”, a Royal Python. He discussed the responsibilities involved in owning a snake, how often they need to fed, the warm conditions they must be kept in to stay alive, and how Sid enjoys a swim in the family bath! He also shared a huge amount of facts about snakes in general, as well as his own pet, including why the Python is called “Royal” (because its skin was used in jewellery by rulers in Africa, including Cleopatra, legend has it). Theo explained the shedding process and showed the audience some of Sid’s discarded scales, although some people were definitely more keen to touch them than others! We also learnt that Royal Pythons can live to up to 30 years of age and Theo anticipates taking Sid to university with him.

The final presentation saw Henry speak about Antigua, a place he visited in October last year. He briefly explained the history of Antigua and how it was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 for Spain, but was later colonised by Britain. He presented some very interesting facts about the small Caribbean island, for example, telling us that the population is only 80,000 people and that there are 365 beaches, each one representing a day in the year.

The regular meetings of the Stride-Darnley Society provide an excellent opportunity for our students to research and present on a topic which interests them. The experience enables them to develop their self-confidence in public speaking and presenting their ideas to a group – skills which will prove invaluable to them throughout their lives.

All of the presentations this week were both interesting and entertaining, and the hard work that each speaker had put into their preparation was plain to see. Well done to all who took part and we look forward to learning about further interesting topics at the next meeting.