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Smithdon High School

Alumni

Smithdon High School Alumni

Smithdon High School opened in 1954. We want to hear from former students and would love to know what you have done since leaving Smithdon High School.

We are planning to build up a webpage giving details of the achievements of our former students. Please contact us through our alumni email: alumni@smithdonhigh.org.uk.

It would be fantastic if you are also able to forward this request to other people in your family who attended Smithdon or other people who you were at school with to share their experiences.

Please send us:

  • A Picture
  • Year of leaving
  • Brief details of your memories of school
  • What jobs you have done since leaving school
  • A message for current students

We will regularly feature former students on this page: look out for your friends and family!

We look forward to hearing from you,

Mr Chapman and Ms Bazeley-Smith


Featured Student

Tobias Lawrence 

(Year of leaving: 2016)

Smithdon Memories:

I started Smithdon in 2008 which both seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago.  At school I took solace in studying and had the support of some fantastic teachers across different departments, which helped me develop personal resilience and set the seeds for my current passions. While I did not always feel the most confident and, at the time, struggled to process both my identity and aspects of home life, I had access to an incredible support system. At Smithdon I felt like I had a team of people rallying behind me, from the pastoral support of my personal tutors and head of year, passionate teachers, and some treasured friends, these people helped me through my years at high school.

My greatest memories of being a student at Smithdon was the learning and I enjoyed most lessons (unfortunately this enjoyment did not always extend to physical aspects of PE), I was particularly excited by Science, Geography, Art, French, and even Religion and Ethics. This broad love of knowledge continues today, and I am still curious in finding how different subject areas interact and intersect. As a student at Smithdon, I participated in School Council, volunteered at numerous open days (helping the Science department was my favourite, Metal + Acid à Salt + Hydrogen, and Hydrogen pops are still an exciting thrill), and I even remember briefly taking part in debating, and to this day I continue to be both opinionated and constructive in formulating an argument. During sixth form I was also a classroom assistant in Science (primarily Biology and Chemistry lessons) and was part of a scheme, with the local rotary club, to direct funds to global development projects focused on supporting small business ventures in developing countries.

Going to school on a coastline designated an AONB (area of outstanding natural beauty) was an honour, and the community at Smithdon High School is something that I will always treasure.

Since Leaving: University Career, Placement, and Volunteering

After receiving my A-Level results, in 2016, I relocated to the North East to study at Newcastle University. While initially going to study Chemistry, I quickly transferred to Environmental Science and this was one of the best decisions I made. A 3-year course has turned into 5-years (as always, I take the scenic route) after I secured a placement year. I am now about to start my last year doing an integrated masters specialising in Ecosystem Management. I have continued to work incredibly hard, having recently been recognised for finishing highest in my course from my bachelors year and dissertation project, which I am incredibly proud of. Attending University has been a life changing experience, given me a chance for personal discovery and growth alongside furthering knowledge, understanding, and critical thinking.

I worked at Northumbrian Water Ltd, during placement (3rd year of University), as a Technical Advisor for Wastewater Compliance. During this year I applied my scientific knowledge, environmental awareness, and project delivery skills to optimise the performance of sewage treatment works to improve discharge quality to protect regional rivers and catchments. One of my proudest moments was being nominated for my ‘Contribution to the Workplace’ at the Newcastle University Celebrating Success Awards 2019. Primarily for my work on optimising UV disinfection systems on a wastewater plant, which delivered savings of approx. £25,000 per annum for Northumbrian Water. I have also contributed to projects to reduced chemical usages and enhance phosphorus removal, undertaken Great Crested Newt surveying, invasive species identification and removal, and offered tailored recommendations for improving technical process control at wastewater treatment sites across the North East. These experiences alongside studying, have contributed to my academic interests in water pollution management, catchment and habitat management and the interactions with environmental policy. Prior to this year, I had gained experience vegetation monitoring within Northumberland National Park, identifying peatland plant communities to determine habitat quality, as part of a summer internship with a Newcastle University Masters students in association with Natural England and Forestry Commission.

Volunteering has been a key aspect of my life since leaving school, both to help within STEM but also social liberation. I have taken voluntary roles within societies and in students union to further representation of marginalised communities, specifically for the LGBTQ+ community. Over the last year I held a part time position at Newcastle University Students Union as the elected LGBT+ Officer, to ensure our collective voices were heard. During this role, I designed, developed, and hosted two major campus-wide campaigns during transgender awareness week and LGBTQ+ history month, to educate and inform. This year I was honoured to receive the runner up award for ‘Contribution to Diversity and Cultural Awareness’ at Pride of Newcastle Awards, 2020. University and life post high school has provided a chance for continued self-development and discovery, and to give back to the communities I feel so passionately about.

I will be, finally, graduating next summer, with an integrated master’s in environmental science (Ecosystem Management) and aim to enter the water industry or environmental sector to apply scientific knowledge alongside my love for communicating with people, management, and leadership.

Message to Current Students:

I would tell current students at Smithdon High School to continue to value education, but to remember learning is not only concentrated within the years you spend at school. Take your time, enjoy the journey, and continue to reflect no matter how long or which direction it takes you. This might sound ‘cliché’ but take opportunities that present themselves and seek out new experiences. Do not be afraid to be yourself and refrain from comparing yourself to others. Community is important and finding this is invaluable, it is also not restricted to your geographical location, go out and explore beyond your immediate circles. Finally, this is core to being a scientist and studying at a higher level, question everything, remain curious, listen, and value collaboration. One of my favourite metaphors talks about understanding and appreciating the importance of basic principles and building on these to make real and continued progress, with Isaac Newton stating ‘If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants’. Finally, make a difference with teamwork, as changes on a larger scale are achieved.