THE inspiration for Shelley High School's Culture Week came from a discussion we had about students' response to poetry last year.

They said poetry was dull, boring and had no connection with our everyday lives.

We began brainstorming a `what if' scenario; what if we could bring together a huge range of different cultural events?

What if we could connect today with yesterday and events in Shelley with the world outside?

We invited the Mighty Zulu Nation for a day, Connected 2 for the week, Taffy Thomas, from Cumbria, to tell us stories, and the Four Degrees from Newcastle to bring us traditional music.

We had music, dance, tradition, technology, food for the body and food for the brain.

In short, we were amazed at the talent we discovered here at home in Shelley as well as the marvellous performances our guests gave us through the week.

The most encouraging thing from the students has been their enthusiasm: strangely, they want more.


Taffy, top tale teller - Storytelling

OUR Culture Week guest Taffy Thomas originally trained as a literature and drama teacher.

He was a founder member of Magic Lantern, a folk theatre company which travelled Europe.

Taffy then moved into rural community arts with Charivari and the Fabulous Salami Brothers until he suffered a stroke at the age of 36.

Originally a form of self-imposed speech therapy, story-telling took off when he was invited to tell stories to audiences all over the world, including events in the US and Norway.

He has performed at the Albert Hall and collaborated with artists and musicians.

Taffy was awarded the MBE for services to storytelling and charity in the New Year's honours list this year.


We're dizzy about daffs

CHISELS rather than trowels were required for our community bulb planting day.

Volunteers from Shelley Conservation Group and Shelley Community Association met on the Mound of Shelley High to plant daffodil bulbs for the spring.

The weather was kind but the ground was rocky and very hard.

However, more than 1,000 mixed daffodils were planted, kindly donated by Armitage's Garden Centre in Shelley.


Learning Zulu style - Mighty Zulu Nation

THE performers who came to work with us last term are part of a larger group who tour worldwide, bringing aspects of Zulu culture to communities in an exciting and moving way.

They believe that knowing our fellow man is a powerful way to help us understand ourselves and the world in which we live.

Mighty Zulu Nation performed to the whole of Year 10, bringing us a traditional legend through song and dance, before encouraging us all to have a go at joining in with learning to meet and greet, as well as having a go at some high kicks of our own!

The workshops gave us a chance for singing, dancing and artwork which will give us food for thought for some time.


The four degrees - Traditional Folk

A FOURSOME in their third year of a Bachelor of Music degree course in Traditional and Folk Music at the University of Newcastle, Rachel, Niopha, Yuhki and David arrived with fiddles, whistles and guitar to work with students from all year groups, including a team from Kirkburton Middle School.

Within two hours, 30 students had listened to and learnt an arrangement of traditional tunes by ear.

After lunch the team put the parts together before playing to an audience of Year 9 and 12 students.


Dancing with Dennis - Dance

CONNECTED 2 are from Huddersfield and work with schools and community groups.

They introduce students to the potential of music technology, various styles of dance, including break dancing, robotics, hip hop, DJ workshops and art.

Early on in the week charismatic dance teacher Dennis made the connection between contemporary styles and roots traced back to Africa, and the martial arts discipline `Capahuera'.

There was no shortage of enthusiasm and determination for the workshops the team ran through the week.


Week of insights - Comments on Culture Week

* "A very enjoyable and eye opening week. I was able to see other cultures in action."

* "I'm impressed with the things I have been participating in. It gave me a chance to experience other cultures' traditions, in an enjoyable way."

* "Culture Week has blown me away - in a word AWESOME!"

* "The most fun you can have without chocolate!"

* "CULTASTIC! It's given us all an insight into other cultures around the world."

* "I really enjoyed watching the Mighty Zulu Nation, I enjoyed watching them dance the way they dance in South Africa and hear them talk in another culture and trying to teach us a bit of their language."

* "I very much enjoyed the workshop with the fast dancing and heavy drum beat. I also enjoyed singing with the Mighty Zulu Nation in my music lesson."

* "Connected 2 were great because they had really good singing voices and I enjoyed doing the break dancing with Dennis. They should come again'!