Never Alone – Poem Wins First Prize
28th January 2015

A poem by Oundle School pupil, Alanna Gilmartin (15) has won first prize in the English Secondary School section of a poetry competition run by The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Fifty pupils studying German at Oundle took part in the Dinggedicht Poetry Competition, run by the DAAD to coincide with an exhibition at The British Museum, ‘Germany – Memories of a Nation’.

The exhibition focuses on iconic objects reflecting German history. Each of these objects tells a story, and pupils were asked to bring the story of the object to life in a poetic form known as Dinggedicht, a ‘thing poem’ - a poem based on an object.

From the Renaissance to reunification and beyond, the show uses objects to investigate the complexities of addressing German history, navigating Germany’s many political changes from the Holy Roman Empire to the 20th century.

The competitors were required to write a poem about one of the objects in the exhibition, and could approach the task from any angle.

Alanna wrote a poem entitled ‘Never Alone’ based on Caspar David Friedrich’s painting, Der Mittag (1921-22).

In December, Alanna was invited to read her poem at the prize giving ceremony at The British Museum, followed by talks by Emeritus Professor Martin Swales (University College London) and Berlin novelist Annett Gröschner.

Alanna commented, “I chose the painting, 'Der Mittag' because it was beautifully painted and very interesting.  Although there is no obvious focus, I felt that the trees stood taller than everything around and looked powerful and dominating.

When I went to the British Museum for the awards ceremony I was given a very warm welcome and had the chance to meet the members of the jury. My poem was read out and then each of the prize winners went up one by one to collect our prizes. I was truly honoured to take part in the event, and overjoyed that it was held at such an amazing place. It was an unforgettable occasion.”

Head of German at Oundle School, Emily Wagstaffe added, "Having learnt about the competition at the launch of the Cambridge German Network - - I was keen to encourage all pupils studying German here at Oundle to participate. I was overwhelmed with the enthusiasm our pupils showed. They all set about writing their poems in various ways, in German and in English, and were inspired by lots of the different items from the exhibition. Alanna clearly spent time researching Friedrich's painting and produced a wonderful reflection of his work in her Dinggedicht. As Head of German I am thrilled with her success and congratulate her and all entrants for their hard work and efforts. Well done to all involved, with particular thanks to the Daad for creating the competition and the British Museum for their wonderful exhibition"


Never Alone by Alanna Gilmartin


As the mist fell over the hills,

Spooking the rabbits,

They stood tall,

Watching over the fields.


When you listen hard you can hear,

Hear their whistle,

Hear their beautiful song,

Hear their hearts thump.


Warmed by their breath,

Filling your lungs,

Opening your eyes,

Lifting your heart up to the clouds.


Listen closely and you will know,

They watch over your crop,

They hear your cries,

They clear your heavy soul.


Take a walk outside,

Tread over the stones,

Stay awake long enough to see,

They are there, watching you.


Your life may be sad,

Your life may cause tears,

Walk outside,

They help.


You’re not alone in this world,

You are loved,

You are important,

To them.


Don’t give up,

Take a walk,

Let the trees,

Show the way.


Background information on Oundle’s Adamson Languages Centre

The opening of Oundle School’s Adamson Centre in 2013 marked a new and exciting phase for the Modern Languages Department and is the latest completed project in Oundle’s comprehensive and ongoing development plan. A stunning blend of traditional architecture and contemporary glass features, the Adamson Centre, formerly the Sir Peter Scott Building, has been redesigned specifically with the teaching of foreign languages in mind. In addition to welcoming over 900 pupils a week, the Centre will also provide a hub of excellence within the wider community of teaching, with staff hosting conferences and lectures to promote the development of languages.

The Modern Foreign Languages Department is one of the largest in the School, with seven languages being timetabled: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish. More pupils than ever are learning two or more languages, with many more taking advantage of the breadth of clubs, societies and lectures on offer outside the curriculum. A Level and Pre-U results continue to rise; last summer saw pupils gain 45 A* and A grades at A2, with 20 Oundelians going on to read one or more languages at university.

The building is named after major benefactor and former pupil David Frederic Dobell Adamson who left the School in 1937. He requested that “this bequest be used to improve facilities for and give opportunities to students to learn to speak and communicate in foreign languages.”

The Adamson Centre facilities include:

·         14 Teaching Rooms: Each classroom focuses on a single language and culture and is equipped with high quality audio speakers, an interactive whiteboard and projector.

·         2 Sony Language Laboratories: Two dedicated PC suites combine all the features of a traditional laboratory with the latest multimedia technology, including Sony Virtuoso language software.

·         6 Language Assistant Pods: Fully equipped with touch screen computers, these modern glass fronted rooms are designated specifically for conversation classes and oral examinations.

·         The Raymond Lee International Suite: The centre-piece and ‘hub’ of the Department, this Suite provides a perfect venue for language conferences, films, lectures from visiting speakers and competitions. It is equipped with the latest Skype technology, blu-ray cinema system, projector and blackout blinds.


Background Information on Oundle School

Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.

The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports Masterplan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion due to open April 2015. 

There are currently 1110 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 850 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day School for children aged 4 to 11. 

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