Gold Awards all round for intrepid High School adventurers
The extraordinary expedition was led by Caroline Pascoe, the school’s headmistress. A firm advocate of learning through outdoor experience, it was her 53rd school trip overseas and her 45th to India. She was joined by her husband and son, teachers Michelle Sharp and Christine Lyle, with their respective partners Pete Sharp and Daniel Goodright, and Head of Science Mark Patchett.
The expedition began with a flight to Delhi and a long bus trip to the Upper Valley School in the village of Burua. The school was founded in 1997 by Caroline Pascoe and a core of villagers concerned with the lack of good education for their children. It started out with 16 pupils aged four or five being schooled in one room and has grown to 145 pupils, with an age range from 3 to 17, learning in a complex that now has 8 classrooms, support offices, a playground and flushing toilets.
The High School task was to paint the classrooms during their five day visit. This they did with gusto – Year 13 student Cathy Evans, who starts an art foundation course at University College Falmouth in September, even managed to paint a mural of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge and the arts, to much general acclaim.
After their stay in Burua, which included visits to local landmarks like Nuggah Castle and Manali, the party set off on their twelve day trek through the remote and very beautiful Spiti Valley on the Indo-Tibet border. Walking between four and eight hours each day and accompanied by porters and horses carrying the majority of luggage, their journey included a visit to the world famous Dankar Monastery, 12774 feet above sea level, and the snow-bound Bhaba Pass. On completion of the trek, the group returned to Delhi to enjoy a day visit to the legendary Taj Mahal in Agra before returning home.
“The expedition was a tremendous success with all the girls achieving their Duke of Edinburgh gold awards in a way they are unlikely ever to forget,” said Mrs Pascoe. “They have seen some wonderful sights and met a wide variety of fascinating people, providing them with a new insight into different cultures and lifestyles.
“They have had to work hard and their living conditions have often been far removed from those they are familiar with in this country. I can safely say, though, that it has been an extraordinary educational, once in a lifetime, experience.”