Author Archives: Jennifer Macfadyen

Titanic Project

This is OLHS’ successful submission for North Lanarkshire’s Excellence and Equity Awards 2017: Productive Partnerships – Purposeful Learning.

As a result of changes to SQA exams, staff at Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell, spotted an opportunity to provide an exciting programme of interdisciplinary experiences for some of our National 4 students. Our aim was to help pupils gain additional qualifications while expanding their life experiences and raising awareness of the options available to them on leaving school, all through focusing on the Titanic disaster.

We are now approaching the third year of this vibrant project which runs over three weeks of the SQA diet. The programme coordinators are PT Pupil Support, Lyn Zambonini, and Library Resource Centre Manager, Jennifer Macfadyen, but the project involves staff from across Our Lady’s High School, local businesses, voluntary groups and national organisations.

Following an initial introduction, the programme is split into four broad areas: ship building and design; life aboard the Titanic; the disaster itself; and the rediscovery of the wreck.

We were stunned to discover that the steel plates that built Titanic had actually come from the Colville Steelworks in Motherwell, making a wonderful connection with our local heritage. Pupils were lucky to experience Tata, now Liberty Steel, in the process of rolling the steel plates with a guided tour by staff at the plant, who also provided pupils with many stories of life at the steelworks and a thorough grounding in Health and Safety routines.

Although the Titanic was built in Belfast, we were able to take advantage of the Clyde’s vast experience in ship-building, visiting the Titan Crane at Clydebank, and the Denny Tank Museum at Dumbarton. Titan staff explained how riveting gangs worked, how the shipyards were a part of the community and how dangerous life was while the Denny Flotation Tank demonstrated the engineering expertise involved in designing and testing ships’ hulls. The group also discovered that Denny’s was even involved in testing some of Titanic’s lifeboats. This information became invaluable when learning about buoyancy with Science teachers back at OLHS, and designing their own hulls.

Pupils also learned more about some of the passengers and crew aboard and the different lives they led on a luxury liner depending on their class. English showed the films, A Night to Remember and Titanic, and compared the special effects and factual reliability of each. Our group were able to put their new-found knowledge into practice by working with Lifestyle Development staff to create a shipboard lunch for staff – although staff did not know until the last minute whether they would receive the 1st, 2nd or 3rd class treatment and dining experience.

To bring everything up to date we contacted Greenock Ocean Terminal who kindly arranged for us to have a tour of the Caribbean Princess. We used this experience as a focus on careers, bringing along our Careers Advisor, Miss Ruth Robertson from SDS to provide detailed advice. Seeing aboard a real cruise ship gave pupils a whole new way of looking at the world, and the numerous careers open to them. They were also keen to compare the Caribbean Princess to what they had already learned about ship design. They were definitely impressed by the safety regulations and the numbers of lifeboats.

Turning our attention to the disaster itself, Mr Walter Lee from the RNLI kindly came along to demonstrate what happened with the iceberg and graphically explain what would have happened to the Titanic’s passengers in the water, including the effects of hypothermia – he even brought along his own mini iceberg!

Other activities have included creating a map of the world demonstrating the Titanic’s route (Social Subjects); printing and poster making (Art and Design); trying out Morse code (Science); an afternoon swimming courtesy of NL Leisure (Lifestyle Development); building their own model Titanic (Social Subjects / Art); discussion of moral issues relating to women and children first and the treatment of 3rd class passengers (RE); further moral issues relating to the wreck arose following a screening of Ghosts of the Abyss: should the Titanic be raised? Should material be removed? Should the ship be left to rust to nothing? (English); and multi-lingual newspaper front pages (Modern Languages).

With so many stories being generated from the project, we wanted pupils to be able to record the aspects that were most important to them, from the ‘women and children first’ policy, to the lifeboats, to the role of the wireless operator, so we introduced the group to storyteller, Allison Galbraith, thanks to part-funding from the Scottish Book Trust. Allison demonstrated the art of storytelling, and guided the group through creating and recording their own stories, helping them to record their own voices for posterity. Allison started by introducing herself and just talking with the group, building pupils’ confidence in speaking before a stranger. As a result, although pupils were nervous about recording, they were keen to participate. Allison also demonstrated breathing exercises and vocal warm-ups before recording began, with further advice on presentation as we worked through the stories. Despite occasionally breaking into the giggles, every pupil managed to record their own work beautifully.

Discussion with pupils led to an additional trip which saw us taking the ferry to Rothesay and the stunning Mount Stuart House. This mansion was completed in 1912, the same year as the Titanic disaster and thus pupils were not only able to experience actually travelling across water – a new experience for all of them – but to see luxurious interiors similar to those of the ship they’d been learning all about.

The Titanic Project continues to develop with partnerships emerging as various individuals and groups express an interest in participating. In 2016, our pupils were even able to join with St Brendan’s Primary as part of their anniversary visit to Belfast to see the Titanic Museum for themselves.

The Titanic Project has been a huge success over the last two years. We have seen the pupils blossom, gaining in confidence, pulling together as a team, and their ideas of what’s available to them in the future have expanded rapidly. Each year pupils have created an exhibition of their experiences which have been visited by classes from across OLHS and visitors to the school, leading to further discussions and expressions of interest. Last year all of the pupils involved achieved the SQA qualifications. “Local investigations” at SCQF level 4.

Feedback from pupils themselves has been outstanding:

”I thought it would be boring, but it was brilliant!”;

“I liked how we went on adventures and explored all the museums”;

“I seemed to get a better relationship with people that I hadn’t spoken to since primary”;

”I actually wanted to come to school!”

The Project continues to explore new ground and build new partnerships. Staff coordinators continue to collect materials, ideas and contacts and we look forward to its continuing success long into the future.

Categories: Books, Communication, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, Developing the Young Workforce, Expressive Arts, Health and Well-Being, Interdisciplinary Learning, Investigations, Languages, Learning and Teaching, Literacy, Maps, Mathematics, Numeracy, Outdoor education, Posters, RE / Religious and Moral Education, Resources, Sciences, Social Studies, Storytelling | Tags: | Leave a comment

LRC Managers Business Meeting, 26th April 2017

School Library Resource Centre Managers Business Meeting

Greenfaulds High School 26/4/17

Present: Catrina Allan (Dalziel HS), Martin Boyle (OLHS, Cumbernauld), Lee-Anne Connor (Chryston HS), Anna Leslie (Taylor HS), Gemma Genks (Clyde Valley HS), Agnes Leckie (Coltness HS), Irene Lumsden (Calderhead HS), Lindsey Smith (Kilsyth Academy), Lesley Ann MacDonald (Caldervale HS), Jen Macfadyen (OLHS, Motherwell), Emma McManus (Greenfaulds HS, Host), Catriona Wright (St Ambrose HS)

Apologies: Anna Agnew (Airdrie Academy), Lorna Boyd (Belshill Academy), Mary Costello (Coatbridge HS), Mary Datali (St Andrews HS), Susan Kilbride (Cumbernauld Academy), Marie McGough (St Aidan’s HS), Sharon McMichael (St Maurice’s HS) Rhona Skea (Cardinal Newman HS)

  1. Emma welcomed the attendees to the Business Meeting hosted by Cumbernauld and Kilsyth Area Group. Gemma Genks was given a warm welcome to the group as the new LRCM at Clyde Valley.  Minutes of the previous meeting were approved.


  1. Author events/REImagination

There was discussion of the author events taking place at Cumbernauld library for schools during the REImagination run by the Edinburgh Book Festival.  Lindsey Smith agreed to be the point of contact for information dissemination relating to CultureNL and public libraries in the future as Alison was no longer there.  Emma reported that they were looking to change the time of the creative writing event so it fitted in with the school day.

There were discussions about the various author events that had taken place.  Keith Gray was at St Ambrose and Catriona reported back that he was an excellent speaker for S1.  Jen reported that Jill Arbuthnott was also a success at OLHS as was Bea Ferguson at Coltness for the S1 age group as reported by Agnes.

Lee-Anne reported that Chryston were planning to have a literacy festival next year and that Lari Don was visiting the next day (27/4)

There was a short discussion of Coatbridge High bringing in an author in residence and this led on to discussion of the new opportunities available with Scottish Book Trust to apply for something similar.


  1. Live Lit funding was discussed only briefly as the next closing date wasn’t until September.


  1. Attainment Fund Update

Catriona provided an update on the work she was doing on her Enhanced Transition project at St Ambrose.  Discussions with Terry Cowan, Literacy Development Officer with NL, revealed a desire to introduce Reading for Pleasure to the curriculum.  Catriona was looking for volunteers for a group to work on this and ensure school librarians have a real input as well as for ideas to put to Terry on how it could be achieved.  Lee-anne, Jen, Lesley Ann, Catriona and Irene were happy to put themselves forward for this.  It was suggested that Lorna Boyd (Bellshill) and Cathy Macintyre (Taylor HS) might also like to take part.

Email discussion would be ongoing before a meeting on Monday 8th May.  As Terry Cowan was looking to implement something for 2017/18 Catriona stressed it was important to move quickly on this matter.

This moved on to the Read Write Ink initiative as well as the usefulness  of terminology such as “reluctant readers”

Lee-Anne then provided an overview of the Attainment Fund project at Chryston and was pleased to relate how well it was going.


  1. P7 transitions

Lee-Anne was keen to hear from other LRCMs what kind of work they did on Primary transitions.  A short discussion followed on the various activities and ideas were shared with the group.


  1. Sharing good practise

A discussion took place on different ways to help some students read on the computer screens.  Irene mentioned CALL Scotland as a resource for help with disabilities that provide barriers to learning such as dyslexia.  Other tools discussed included Rocket Reader and Ginger.  Fonts were also discussed with Jen reporting that Barrington Stoke default fonts were available to use on computers.

Emma showed the group the work she had done for Harry Potter book night and how she had turned it into a week of activities working in collaboration with Science and Art.  The group agreed it sounded like a fantastic experience for the pupils and were impressed with Emma’s efforts.  Emma also discussed her lunchtime book club and how it has evolved while she has been at the school.


  1. AOCB

There was a short discussion of alternative arrangements for exams and whether libraries were involved in this.

There was a short discussion on current trends in teen books, Agnes was keen to hear what pupils were asking for.  It was also discussed how some of the books that pupils in S1/S2 were asking for were not actually appropriate for the age group.

There was a short discussion on overdues.

There was a short discussion on what do with videos – suggestions were to upload to Vimeo.  Audacity software was recommended for audio.

Lee-Anne and Irene reported on a plan to set up a SLG/SLA networking event in Glasgow on the 2nd June.  Response was positive.


  1. Date of next meeting

TBC by Motherwell/Wishaw group.  Likely dates around the end of September.

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LRC Manager Business Meeting, 1st February 2017

School Library Resource Centre Managers Business Meeting

St. Ambrose High School 1/2/17

Present: Anna Agnew (Airdrie Academy), Catrina Allan (Dalziel HS), Lorna Boyd (Bellshill Academy), Martin Boyle (OLHS, Cumbernauld), Lee-Anne Connor (Chryston HS), Mary Costello (Coatbridge HS), Mary Datilli (St Andrews HS), Agnes Leckie (Coltness HS), Irene Lumsden (Calderhead HS), Lindsey Smith (Kilsyth Academy), Lesley Ann MacDonald (Caldervale HS), Jen Macfadyen (OLHS, Motherwell), Sharon McMichael (St Maurice’s HS), Catriona Wright (host)

Apologies: Marie McGough (St Aidan’s HS), Emma McManus (Greenfaulds HS), Cathy McIntyre (Taylor HS)

  1. Catriona welcomed the attendees to the inaugural informal Business Meeting hosted by Airdrie and Coatbridge Area Group. A discussion followed regarding the format of future meetings.  The first item for discussion being the name of the meeting, it was agreed that the group would continue to call the meeting by its original title, Business Meeting.  As a follow up to the Business Meeting the Librarians will continue to have Area Group meetings within a few weeks, to discuss items in more detail.

Emma McManus, has agreed to host the next Business Meeting, in April or May, for the Cumbernauld and Kilsyth Area Group.  Catriona will compile an electronic folder of minutes, agenda templates, etc. to help with planning next meeting.  This folder should be forwarded on to host of each Business Meeting.  The size of the folder may become an issue in future regarding available space on First Class.

The Business Meetings will follow the same date pattern as in the past and will be limited to 3 morning sessions per year.  Autumn – Sep/Oct, Winter – Jan/Feb, Spring – Apr/May.  Each Area should select a suitable date and then disseminate to the rest of the groups.

Information will be shared on the Three Ring Circus ( and will be password protected.  Jen Macfadyen will action this.

The future format of the meeting should include items of business, sharing good practice and expert workshops.  Speakers who are willing to address the meeting voluntarily should be identified.


  1. Information dissemination – now that there is no natural overall Library link for School Librarians within the council, it was decided that the group would share information dissemination in a number of areas:
  • CILIPS and SLG – Lee-Anne
  • AccessIt – Lorna
  • Scottish Booktrust and online book suppliers – Lesley Ann
  • CultureNL – Alison Walsh
  • SLA – Irene
  • Scotia – Agnes
  • Waterstones – Catrina A
  • SLIC – Jen


  1. Reader Development and Live Literature Funding – A discussion ensued regarding applying for LLF and how to fill in the application form.  Successful applications could be stored somewhere electronically as examples.  Lorna suggested that it might be an idea to mention the level of deprivation within the school catchment and that, possibly, pupils may not have any other opportunity to engage in these types of events.  Several Librarians discussed author events they had hosted recently with mixed reports from different schools and audiences.  Gill Arbuthnot is coming to OLHS, Motherwell and Keith Gray to St Ambrose in the near future.  Jen reported that Martin Stewart had been to OLHS and had been very good with S2/S3.  Mary reported that the Coatbridge HS Literary Festival had been a great success.

Agnes mentioned that if colleagues are looking to book authors independently rather than through the Book trust, they should ask their AFA to check the Corporate supplier list for payment details; these can then be lifted on to their own school list.


  1. MySelf payslips – there was a short discussion about payslips now only being available electronically. Lindsey agreed to forward an email contact to enable colleagues to request a duplicate email with their link to the site and individual password.


  1. Scottish Attainment Fund – Chryston and St Ambrose have both been awarded funding through this government scheme. Chryston’s project is based around the P7 transition programme, with S5 pupils being matched with 19 P7 pupils from feeder primary schools in a paired reading project making use of iPads purchased with the funding and ebooks resourced from RM.  Catriona has been involved in spending the budget allocated for resources as part of the Enhanced Transition project that St Ambrose is involved in.  A substantial proportion of this funding was earmarked for Reading for Pleasure.


  1. Professional news – Lee-Anne reported that the SLG committee are still focussed on redeveloping the blog and will now concentrate their efforts on an online presence. There is also a meeting planned with YLG and SLA to firm up remits.  Lee-Anne has also attended a CILIPS council meeting and reported that there had been a meeting with Deputy First Minister, MP John Swinney on the 26th  At the moment work is ongoing on improving “How good is your school?” for school libraries.

Autumn Gathering – will be in the same venue as last year in Glasgow and will be a week or so later @ 26th October 2017.  It will continue to follow the same format as previous years.

Jen reported that SLIC are in the process of re-designing the November indicators to reflect more qualitative than quantitative data.

  1. AOCB – AccessIt – Roadshow is planned for May but no date set yet. Cost will be £90 for full day training. It was suggested that at the time of the roadshow, Lorna (in her capacity as AccessIt liaison) should contact Graeme (NLC) and Ken (AccessIt) to arrange collaboration in getting the software upgraded to Version 9.

Developing the Young Workforce – a number of schools are now involved in this scheme and Jen provided the group with a link to more information.

Kid’s Lit Quiz 2017 – will be held on 31st October at OLHS, Cumbernauld


  1. Date of next meeting – tbc by Cumbernauld and Kilsyth Area.
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Cathy Cassidy and Cathy MacPhail

Cathy Cassidy has written a piece for SLA on the importance of school libraries. You can read the whole thing here:

Meanwhile, there’s an article from Cathy MacPhail in Books from Scotland: ‘Every child deserves to see themselves, the people they are, reflected in a story

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Open letter from Children’s Laureates

Current Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell, along with the previous Laureates, has written an open letter to the Secretary of State for Education regarding school libraries in England and Wales.


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LRC Business Meeting 7th September 2016

We met at St Aidan’s High School for our first Business Meeting this year with a busy wee agenda catching up with the latest news and reviewing recent activities and events.  We were all agreed on the benefits of remaining current with the First Minister’s Reading Challenge for primary children, with several colleagues already signed up as interested parties. None of us were aware yet of any associated primaries who were involved.

We were all very impressed with the outline for Coatbridge High’s forthcoming Literacy Festival in October (which we’ll hopefully hear more about later) and discussed June’s Reading Boot Camp, SALS, Encounters, future CPD, recommended suppliers and our latest Library stories.

Future events included the Kids Lit Quiz 2016 (27th October) with Elizabeth Wein and Alex McCall as confirmed authors so far. New members are welcome to join the Calendar Group to help us plan out activities across the year.

And of course we all enjoyed exploring Marie’s beautiful Library.

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Australia: School Libraries: the heart of 21st century learning

Advocacy document for Australian teacher-librarians, the majority of which also applies to school librarians in Scotland.

School libraries: the heart of 21st century learning

Teacher librarians combine a command of 21st century pedagogies and curricula with expertise in information science: the analysis, collection, classification, manipulation, storage, retrieval, movement, dissemination, and protection of information.

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NLS comes to Glasgow

In autumn 2016 the National Library of Scotland will open its doors for the first time in Glasgow within a transformed Kelvin Hall.

More information here from NLS.

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Barry Hutchison

A pupil from Oban High School wrote to Barry Hutchison about her school library.

This is the letter and Barry’s reply.

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Woodland Trust

Covenanter's Oak in Dalzell Estate - the oldest living thing in North Lanarkshire? Photo by byronv2 [Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0]

Covenanter’s Oak in Dalzell Estate – the oldest living thing in North Lanarkshire? Photo by byronv2 [Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0]

The Woodland Trust has a series of Education Resources, each one relevant to a particular woodland, but all full of ideas for learning outdoors applicable to any location. A bit annoying not to have all of the ideas together in one place, but undeniably useful to have information relevant to each place.

They also  run the Tree of the Year Competition, give away young packs of trees for planting, and do lots of good work to support and promote woods across the UK.  As you’d expect, they also provide detailed guides to trees – split into native and introduced (turns out Horse Chestnut trees are native to the Balkans!) – all sorts of woodland habitats and manage the Ancient Tree Inventory.

Over 50 woodlands are listed for North Lanarkshire, belonging to a variety of public and private owners, with directions for each and photos for most.

Worth considering as an addition to your catalogue.

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How do School Librarians promote employability?

Please share onwards.

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How do School Librarians close the attainment gap in their schools?

Please share onwards.

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Manifesto for Libraries

cilips_democraticknowledgeCILIPS have produced a Manifesto for Libraries, highlighting “the incredible return on investment and impact on key policy areas that libraries offer”, covering public libraries, school libraries, digital skills and a national reading strategy.

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Libraries are important

Guest Blog by Larry Flanagan, General Secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) as part of the ‘Scotland’s Libraries: Inspiration for the Nation’ Campaign.


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World Book Day at St Aidan’s

Report from Marie McGough

The children’s author, Gillian Philip, visited St Aidan’s High recently as part of the school’s World Book Day celebrations. Gillian Philip’s book, Mysteries of Ravenstorm Island: The Lost Children, was one of the shortlisted titles at the recent Scottish Children’s Book Awards. An eager audience of 60 S1 pupils gathered, in the school library, to listen to Gillian talk of her enthusiasm for books, stories and writing. The main body of the presentation focused on myths, legends, and fairytales, and how we use them to tell modern stories from Dr Who to The Hunger Games. The presentation sparked a lively question and answer session much to Gillian’s delight.

Gillian Philip 022_40

A number of the author’s books were available to purchase and Gillian signed these while chatting with pupils. The S1 pupils thoroughly enjoyed Gillian Philip’s visit and a good time was had by all!

This author visit was partly funded by The Scottish Book Trust and organized by the school librarian, Miss McGough.

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Sharing from sln.

The March Infotopia newsletter is available online at

(also available as a PDF).

Infotopia is a monthly newsletter by retired teacher / librarian team of Carole and Michael Bell and worth a look.

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Safer Internet Day 2016

A collection of tweets and links for Safer Internet Day 2016.

As School Librarians, we spend a large proportion of our working lives showing young people how to discover, access and safely make use of information in all formats, so online safety is an integral part of our role. NLC schools might be on holiday, but ideally, our advice and influence continues to keep pupils safe online whether they’re in school or at home.

SQA supports Safer Internet Day 2016 – Courses available for young people in schools

UK Safer Internet Centre coordinate Safer Internet Day in the UK

UK Safer Internet Center – Education Packs contain plenty material including a collection of useful videos, including those below (which are ironically restricted via YouTube but available through Vimeo).

Play your part

Tamanna’s Story

Jessica’s Wish

Online quiz from the Open University: Are you a safe sharer?
Not sure I agree with all of their analyses. Watch before sharing onwards as this is aimed at adults.

Advice on passwords from Get Safe Online

Categories: Developing the Young Workforce, Health and Well-Being, Information Literacy, Learning and Teaching, Resources, Social Media, Technology, Twitter | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

What do Public Librarians and Library staff do?

An excellent list from 2011 of some of the tasks Librarians and Library staff get involved with.

Good starting point for us too.

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Competition: Young Creatives 2016


What’s your favourite place in the UK?

Inspiring children across the UK to get creative and show us their talents. Tell us what you love about the UK to be in with a chance of being crowned our Young Creative of 2016. Whether you love to write, take photos, draw or make short films, we want to see your work! Submit your entry by 3pm on Friday 15 April 2016.

Primary and secondary levels.


1st place:

  • A set of Jeremy Strong books
  • A book bundle of various titles from WHSmith
  • A £100 Photobox voucher
  • A printed canvas or framed image of your choice from Photobox
  • A £250 voucher
  • And £150 worth of best-selling Puffin Books for your school library

2nd place:

  • A set of Jeremy Strong books
  • A £50 Photobox voucher
  • A printed canvas or framed image of your choice from Photobox
  • A £200 voucher

3rd place:

  • A set of Jeremy Strong books
  • A £30 Photobox voucher
  • A printed canvas or framed image of your choice from Photobox
  • A £50 voucher
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The Best Worst Christmas Jokes Ever

2015_1221_bestworstjokesOLHS pupils were invited to enter a competition to tell their best worst Christmas jokes, the ones that make you groan when you read them out of crackers. Extra credit was given for decorating their jokes.

Having asked four pupils to help colour in the banner – the letters were lightly pencilled in already – I was gobsmacked when they created a glorious Chrismassy artwork. So good in fact, that we’ll have to do the competition again next year so it can go back on display!

Anyone walking into the Library was asked for their opinion, so eventually there had to be two winning jokes.




What is green, covered in tinsel and goes “ribbet ribbet?

A Mistle Toad? 






How does a penguin build its house?

Igloos it together!



Here are the other entries. This was an extremely popular competition with new entries arriving every day and even some classes participating!

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