Four OG students get their gold diploma DofE

You probably realize that Open Gate holds a special position in this scheme nationwide: when we introduced this Award to our students back in 2007 we had high expectations of them and they did not fail us. Since those early beginnings OG participants have garnered 144 certificates of which; 77 Bronze, 47 Silver and 22 Gold awarded. As a result of Open Gate’s wholehearted participation in this programme it was natural that, in 2012, when the new revitalized administration and leadership of the National Award was implemented, Open Gate should be approached to help and advise in the training programmes being set up for schools and leaders nation- wide. I believe that it is in no small part due to the efforts of our team that the Award scheme has seen such success, growth and expansion over the last three years. An example to illustrate the point; Mr Ludek Michalik, OG team leader, has already been invited to the United Arab Emirates several times to train future leaders of this scheme, and other members of his team here at OG are active in implementing the start-up of the Award in Slovakia as of next Spring. Further, in the National Committee of the Duke of Edinburgh Award our school has its representatives and is thus able to influence the future direction of this most worthwhile programme throughout the Czech Republic. From little acorns great oaks do grow . . . as some clever chap once said.

Currently our team consists of seven fully-accredited leaders and trainers, all of whom have successfully passed through their training under the auspices of the Further Professional Development programme of the Ministry of Education. There are also tens of other professionals on the teaching staff who give voluntarily of their time to oversee the specific individual categories and criteria of the Award – skills/expedition/sport/community service/ making for a scheme that is truly holistic in its nature and enjoyed by the majority of Open Gate students.

To elaborate – over the past two years 75% of our students from Kvinta to Oktava have participated in at least one level of the Award, each level comprising of at least one expedition: Gold Award students hiked in Rumania, Banat and also in Slovakia (Slovenske Rudohorie). The Bronze and Silver expeditions took place in selected demanding corners of the Czech Republic; Česká Kanada, Český Ráj, Sázava, Jeseníky, Krušné hory, Jizerské hory, Slapská přehrada to name but a few. In keeping with the criteria of the Award the students always have to plan their own route, provide their own provisions, camp out in the wild overnight on their own – but naturally with supervision and control points along the way.

The best of the best were this Wednesday invited to the Award ceremony to collect their certificates and medals; this time at the Černinsky Palace with Her Royal Highness Sophie, The Duchess of Wessex presenting. Prior to this the students were presented to the Minister of Education, followed by a reception at the British Embassy in the company of the United Kingdom Ambassador to the Czech Republic. Naturally our own Open Gate Ambassadors were there too.

Peter Nitsche