Students’ grand designs for city’s future

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Budding young Ripon Grammar School entrepreneurs have impressed judges with their inspirational ideas, designed to put their city on the map while helping to create a brighter future.

More than 120 Year 9 students rose to the challenge of creating something new and exciting to make Ripon stand out and attract more visitors.

Ideas included a light rail transit station, bowling alleys, sports stadiums, an arts and culture centre, adventure theme parks and an international fireworks competition, with schemes to help phase out the use of plastics and petrol and diesel cars in the city.

The ‘Put Your Town on the Map’ enterprise development workshop was launched with the North Yorkshire Business and Education Partnership (NYBEP) as a way of helping students build skills for the future.

In addition to RGS staff, judges included David Ault, NYBEP enterprise workshop leader, and past pupil George Vivian, youth engagement volunteer with the Ripon Renewal project, which is working on a 15-year master plan for the city, setting out a road map for future developments, opportunities and projects.

Mr Vivian said:

It was such a pleasure to return to RGS to talk to students about what they think of their city. They all came up with such creative ideas and I was also blown away by the innovative thinking regarding environmental impact and sustainability, which they all felt should be at the heart of their developments. I can’t wait to propose some of the creations to the Ripon Renewal project team.

Divided into teams, students took on the roles of group leaders, creative co-ordinators and marketing managers and assistants and set out to pitch their projects to a packed hall of more than 150 people, including a panel of judges – all within three hours.

the winning team with (l-r) George Vivian, David Ault and teacher Mrs Lyons and students at work
The winning team with (l-r) George Vivian, David Ault and teacher Mrs Lyons and students at work

Their accomplished presentations made use of storyboards, models and promotional materials, along with business plans highlighting costs and potential revenue streams.

Owen Robinson, project manager of the winning team, which designed the Ripon Arts and Culture Centre, said students gained a huge amount from the experience: “We are determined to nourish a society where the arts and cultural traditions are encouraged, taught, shared and valued.”

Their aim, he said, is to help create a welcoming community in Ripon for everyone to share artistic talents and embrace different cultural traditions: “We hope it could attract people not just from Ripon but from around the country, and maybe even abroad.”

Mr Ault praised all the students in the year for working so well together:

The council will be looking to them to create the next chapter in Ripon’s development.

Teams thought about the phasing out of petrol and diesel cars by laying battery-charging roads, and addressed how they would make the city much less reliant on plastics. We also saw a look towards diversity and inclusivity with a new arts and culture centre, as well as more possibilities for public transport and outdoor activities.

RGS enterprise and work experience coordinator Bob Walker added that the winning team’s presentation was one of the best he had witnessed at RGS over many years.

Bob Walker said:

Their creative ideas and the wonderful way they presented their ideas brought tears of joy to my eyes. It was brilliant.


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