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Posted on: 22/06/2020

What's keeping St Charles students busy & feeling positive in lockdown?

At the start of lockdown, I invited St Charles Sixth Form students to let us know what they’d being doing in lockdown to keep themselves busy and feeling positive.  Here are some of the initial responses submitted which I am sure you will agree reflects the enthusiasm, energy and sense of community displayed by our students.

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Elvie Orosco is in her final year at St Charles studying Level 3 Travel & Tourism & A Level Business.  Her teachers describe her as “totally motivated and committed to her studies and someone who is always willing to go the extra mile.” She has been a hardworking and diligent student throughout her time in sixth form and this work ethic remained consistent working remotely on her studies through Teams in lockdown.

Elvie is off to university next year to study a BA Honours in Airline & Airport Management, a very apt choice and we know she will do well.  Having moved from the Philippines to join her family, who she had been separated from for 10 years, Elvie has now lived in the UK for four and a half years.  Elvie tells me although she misses “the hot climate and her friends” from the Philippines, living in the UK has helped her grow in independence and maturity as she had to take on lots more responsibilities here.  She also values the diversity London offers her and as well as making many new Filipino friends at St. Charles, she has also forged strong friendships with students from all cultural backgrounds, which she cites as a “real gift” of the college and the urban community she is part of.

In her home country Elvie was an active volunteer in Sunday School at her catholic church and this volunteering streak did not stop when she came to St. Charles.  She has from day one given freely of her time during her time with us helping out with a myriad of activities from open events to singing (Elvie loves to sing and perform!) at college liturgies and her rendition of Hamilton at the college’s annual Christmas Cabaret was “a standout moment” according to Ms Nash, Head of Performing Arts.  An active member of the college’s Chaplaincy Committee and a regular participant in the annual retreat to Kintbury where she regularly took a leading role, she has led on many fundraising activities and awareness raising campaigns, benefitting the college population, so it is no surprise that in lockdown her sense of community spirit prevailed.  Firstly, Elvie has used her creative talents to create a great video tribute to the NHS and frontline workers and then she helped produce a St. Charles ‘Thank You’ poster dedicated to them, posted on the college website, featuring some St Charles alumni who now are front liners themselves.

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As a young Filipino woman, she has also been volunteering with Filipino associations linked to the Philippine Embassy in London who do outreach and charity work to help Filipinos living in the UK.  Elvie, within government guidelines, has been reaching out to Filipino immigrants struggling in the pandemic with donations of food and essential items as well as organising “prayer brigades” dedicated to Covid-19 patients and frontliners with her local community throughout the pandemic.  She also recorded a hymn which is being played at online Sunday masses streamed at her local church.

Elvie gives 100% energy to everything she does so it is no surprise she’s kept herself busy helping others less fortunate than herself in these challenging times.  Well done Elvie!


Paula Saez is also a Level 3 student studying Art and A Level Spanish at St. Charles.  Her teachers describe her as “an extremely polite and caring member of the college community who is popular with peers and staff”.  She is cited as utterly reliable and always ready to volunteer her time to help in her subject departments and college community.  During lockdown she has been keeping herself busy contributing to interesting and worthwhile projects.  She is part of a group of young activists called “Sin Fronteras”, a project run by LAWRS (Latin American Women’s Right Service), who support Latin American women like herself living in the UK.  Born in Peru Paula tells me that she really learnt to appreciate the arts growing up there, but she was also acutely aware of the extreme poverty and inequality in her country.

After some challenging early years to her life she moved to Spain and later to London with very “basic English”.  Her sense of fairness and justice has always been a part of her, she says, and she is always willing and wanting to work to eradicate social injustices on any level. That’s why she likes working with LAWRS, who offer a variety of services, such as legal and housing advice, counselling, psychotherapy and well-being workshops for those in need.  The Sin Fronteras project aims to empower young Latin American women through the creative arts; art, dance, music.  With its “No limits” slogan the project serves as a platform for young Latin American women entering and living in the UK. 

Paula states she has met some amazing and inspiring women from the Latin American community and beyond throughout the project, whose activities all moved on line during lockdown.  Having attended a Human Rights Conference, which she described “as an unforgettable experience”, last year in Dublin run by LAWRS in collaboration with MRCI (Migrants Rights Centre Ireland) she was keen to continue the good work through online conferences and workshops and personal development sessions.  She says all these activities are helping keep her mind busy and happy in lockdown.  She is also currently working on a blog with Sin Fronteras where members can express their thoughts and experiences through the arts.  Keep up the good work Paula!

Marimar Antypa an A level student at St. Charles studying Economics, History and Sociology is another hardworking A level student.  She is described as an excellent student by her teachers, and someone who puts in “a phenomenal level of effort” in her studies, which has not changed in lockdown, her teachers report. Marimar has regularly helped out in her subject departments with displays and open events throughout the year.  A fantastic tutor group representative she has also been generous with her time and energy “getting splashed with water and making delicious cupcakes to raise money for charity”, in the college’s charities week amongst other activities. She is a member of the college’s Chaplaincy committee and has attended the college’s annual retreat to Kintbury, where she was a valuable asset to team work.  She also competently took on the role of stage manager in the college’s annual Christmas 2019 cabaret production. 

Marimar has been keeping herself fit in lockdown and has compiled videos of her training which she shares with peers; she is a keen basketball player and a member of St Charles’ girls team.  Marimar is part of a large extended family so she has to help out a lot at home in lockdown with home schooling etc  but she’s managing to read lots of books and is writing poetry and songs to keep herself occupied and her creativity flowing.  Here is one of the poems she has written recently titled “Be Yourself”, as part of her anthology on self-awareness themes, which I am sure you will agree is thought provoking.


To be able to live, you need to be able to survive as living can have hardships. If you try to live wearing a mask which closes all your true feelings away, then what is the point in living? If you try to live your real life in secret, because you are afraid that you are not meeting your loved ones’ expectations, then do they really love you for who you truly are?


You live your life in fear,

Afraid to shed a tear,

Which gives you away.


They say be yourself,

Don’t think of nobody else,

Don’t wear make-up,

You'll ruin your face,

But that’s the only way you hide your true self


The insecurities that you have inside always haunt you,

Like wolves hunt their prey,

And the ground cracks that are the stretch marks you have on your stomach

Whom you try to cover with the piece of fabric that you have.

You feel like your life is miserable,

You don’t think it’s liveable,

There is no other way you say,


But is that really the case?

Is that what you truly want?

To hide yourself, and lose your true self in the darkness of the further?


They say bikini bodies are the best,

But why do I feel like they don’t say the rest,

That you should never neglect your own body,


Taking diet pills,

Going through surgery,

While not caring for the corollary,

Doing the same thing over and over again,

It’s a never ending cycle that gets passed on to the next generation.

When will we start to show our bodies, and ourselves the appreciation?

Because loving oneself is the best intention,

It’s a medication for every possible creation.

Elicia-Star L’Ovie who studies A Level Criminology, Media and Sociology at St. Charles has been busy expanding her knowledge of the sciences during lockdown she tells us.  “Given the current pandemic I felt a great urge to learn about the biological aspects of the Virus.” She has been particularly interested in the Antony Nolan programme and is now involved in raising awareness amongst 16-18 year olds about the importance of donating stem cells blood. She is keen to work with the college on her return to organise an event to promote this extremely worthwhile programme.  She has also been interested in the Jack Petchey Vlogster Challenge in lockdown, which involves learning to shoot, edit and produce your own vlogs on YouTube and she has started to capture memories of life in lockdown for the vlogs. We look forward to seeing them Elicia!

Delia Rainone who studies Art as one of her A Levels has been taking photos in lockdown to express herself and things that matter to her.  Here is one of her photos that she forwarded recently which she felt was timely with the Grenfell anniversary. We look forward to the rest of your collection Delia.

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Keep a lookout for more impressive lockdown stories to follow.