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Neil Eckersley, Former Pupil and Theatre Producer

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Boys Shine in Classics Competition

Monday, 03 February 2014

Three boys have been commended for their work in the annual Jowett Sendelar Classics Essay Competition. The boys pitted their wits, knowledge and writing skills against pupils from strong Classics schools throughout the UK, including St. Albans School, The Perse School Cambridge, The Stephen Perse Foundation and The Mall School Twickenham.

Even the judges commented that the standard of work was impressively high on this occasion, so this is a great achievement for the boys concerned. Classics teacher Mr Jackson was particularly proud of the boys’ performance. He said, “As there were 113 entries in total and 11 schools taking part, these are extremely pleasing results.”

George Blackwell from Year 10 was the overall winner of the competition. His essay on Philosophy described an argument between the pre-Socratic Zeno and Epicurus, founder of Epicurean philosophy. This unusual combination provided the judges with a debate which they described as “a vicious, detailed, and closely-fought battle of wits.” The characterisation of the two philosophers provided the judges with light entertainment in contrast to the philosophical arguments, which they seemed to greatly enjoy. Their final comment on George’s essay was high praise indeed: “the scholarship required to produce such a detailed, convincing, and witty response was wholly outstanding: a worthy winner.”

Although a year younger than the majority of candidates, Year 9 Luke Cavanaugh was ranked 9th overall for his essay on City Life. The set question asked pupils to consider the advantages and disadvantages to life in Pompeii from the point of view of a mouse, and to stage a public debate regarding this. Luke attracted positive comments from the judges, who said that his confident knowledge of life in Pompeii was supplemented by an engaging dramatisation of the debate. He also added a moral in the style of Aesop’s Fables at the conclusion of the debate, which was praised as “both apt and inventive”.

Andrew Lee, who is also in Year 10, chose to write on the subject of Warfare. His essay discussed whether Thucyides’s claim that the Peloponnesian War was ‘the greatest disturbance in the history of the whole of mankind’ is still a valid assessment when compared with modern conflicts. His essay was commended by the judges.

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From left to right: George Blackwell, Andrew Lee and Luke Cavanaugh

From left to right: George Blackwell, Andrew Lee and Luke Cavanaugh