Night of Notables, 2014

BHHS Night of Notables



Date: Wednesday 3 December




Dress Code: Costume


Book_w_ink_blotchPreparation: Hours of research, poster making, creative display design and interaction with your partner and classmates


stage_curtain_tall_pageGoal/s: You stand on the stage, deliver your quotation, walk proudly through the throng of admiring parents (without tripping on the stairs) and return to your presentation table, where you explain your choice, display your knowledge and speak with maturity, confidence and insight…


That’s not so difficult, is it?

Before all that, you will need to hand in your poster, the sole item that receives a grade. All the rest of your work is pure creative pleasure, but your poster, if you are dedicated, will also require meticulous research, careful design and imaginative layout. Below are a few suggestions to help you as you work.

  • Most importantly of all, do not copy and paste from the internet.
  • Read a variety of sources, even (drum roll) BOOKS!
  • In order to show your own personal response to the person and life that you have investigated, give your own personal evaluation as you write. Try to connect what you write about your notable person to your own life. You might for example write sentences such as these:


In his/her childhood, _ _ _ _ _ developed skills | formed interests  that were to influence his/her future career…

pencil_3Although he/she experienced difficulties with _ _ _ _ , he/she was able to overcome them by _ _ _.

pencil_3I respect _ _ _ _ _ _ for his/her contribution to _ _ _ _ _.

pencil_3This person’s life has shown me that _ _ _ _ _ .

pencil_3I believe he/she will be remembered for _ _ _ _ .

pencil_3Researching _ _ _ _ _ _’s life has taught me to _ _ _ _ _ _.

  • Try to present your poster with pictures, symbols and creative elements such as diagrams and sketches. You might find that looking at some of the “infographics” on the internet will give you some ideas for your design. Here are a few examples that might inspire you to search for more:

How to Live a Creative Life – infographic

A Steve Jobs infographic

Infographic – Successful and Unsuccessful People

Infographic – 50 Ways to Take a Break

describing people
Useful and specific words for describing notable people

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A night to remember

Lachie reflecting the brilliance of the whole Year 7 cohort
Aaron as Louis Pasteur
Oscar as Andy Warhol with an artistic can of soup
Oscar as Andy Warhol with an artistic can of soup
Ryan ate his apple and had it too...
Ryan ate his apple and had it too...
Not just an apple but a whole orchard
Not just an apple but a whole orchard in Ryan's display
Amos as King Alfred
Aksaran looking dapper as Sir Mark Oliphant
An edible part of Jesse's display for the Brothers Grimm
An edible part of Jesse's display for the Brothers Grimm
Dewansh wears a debonair moustache
Dewansh wears a debonair moustache

Nick and Jesse

Now, step back into the medieval world…

Piers_plowman_drolleries public domain wikipedia commonsThey were poor. They did all the menial work. They made up more than 90% of the population. They were often wretched and pitiable. Which people am I describing?

No, not you! You may believe your lives to be wretched and feel that a little sympathy is just what you need, but I’m referring to the peasants of medieval Europe.

Seedman copyright free from medieval clipartImage kindly provided by

Even in such a lowly group, there were variations in status. Some were free and some were serfs. A serf was like a slave but not quite a slave. My beloved Shorter Oxford (which I carry around in my pocket on my i-Pod) describes a serf in this way: “a person in a condition of servitude or modified slavery”. According to this tome (which in its book form would weigh down even the healthiest peasant), the powers of the master were “more or less limited by law or custom”. You can see that the writers of the Shorter Oxford, being learned types, don’t want to be too specific.

In any case, I doubt whether such precise meanings would have mattered much to the peasants. When you are nearly a slave, but not quite, the finer distinctions might not concern you. (The word “villein” is also used sometimes as a synonym for serf.) Servitude meant that the serfs were subject to the will of the lord of the manor; they could not leave the manor without his permission. They were subjugated, they were poor, they were often hungry; to get through each year would have required unimaginable struggle, grinding toil and, I assume, a fair bit of luck.

Medieval face from http medievalHunger was a constant danger, starvation a real possibility. According to Lacey and Danziger, the writers of The Year 1000: What Life was Like at the Turn of the First Millenium, July in England was the toughest month for the poor to get through. The spring crops had not yet matured; the midsummer harvest produced hay for the animals and nothing for the humans. This time was referred to as “the hungry gap”.

Yet there were some healthy aspects of their lifestyle. They had a very healthy diet, if only they could get enough of it. They lived on a pottage (like a porridge) of grain and vegetables, into which they dipped the hard, coarse and often stale flat bread that they baked. No soft, fluffy bread for them: their bread was a little like a pita bread or nan, but tougher and coarser. The pottage served to soften the hard, stale bread and make it edible. The bread was also used as an edible plate, called a “trencher”.

DETAIL october tilling and sowing pd calendar page of  Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de BerryA detail from the beautiful 15th century Book of Hours (in the public domain from called Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. This shows October – tilling and sowing.

One of the healthiest aspects of their diet was that they had no sugar. Until the 17th century, when sugar was brought back from the Caribbean, no one in England had sugar. Honey was so precious that it was sometimes used as a currency. Imagine a life without sugar! But at least it meant they experienced almost no dental or jaw decay. The skeletal remains of the Anglo-Saxons in the year 1000 show that they were surprisingly tall, with excellent teeth.

Below are some extra details about their lives, with some websites for you to explore. Don’t work too hard. I don’t want you to feel like serfs.

Did you know…?

Medieval face from http medieval

Medieval peasants worked long hours, produced most of the food and paid most of the taxes. If you want justice, don’t expect to find it in the medieval world.

Medieval face from http medieval

Peasants’ cottages had dirt floors and walls made of mud and straw. There was no glass in their windows and their animals often lived with them.

Medieval face from http medieval

Fleas were common. People expected to have them.

Medieval face from http medieval

Many peasants died in the winter from hypothermia.

Medieval face from http medieval

Outer clothes were rarely washed but wood smoke acted as a kind of deodorant.

Medieval face from http medieval

It has been estimated that 20% of women died in childbirth (this would not have varied much from peasants to the wealthy, presumably). Infant mortality was also high.


General details of peasant life:

A village street of the Middle Ages

Click on the characters in the street to discover the range of people in medieval life:

Peasant life and housing with pictures of cruckhouses:

Some questions for you to answer in a comment:

1) Read up on the kinds of people who lived in medieval villages and think about the advantages and disadvantages of each person. Who would you most like to be and why? A trader? A peasant? A lord?

2) Which part of being a medieval peasant would you find the hardest? (Think about what you would miss most: Facebook? PSP? Sugar? The internet? Getting an education?)

3) Name one modern object/idea/thing you would give a family of medieval peasants (e.g: electricity or a television).

4) Now imagine you could only give the family one medieval object, idea or experience – what would you give them? (e.g. a cow, a new church, more clothing, better toilet facilities). Make sure you include WHY you think this is the most important thing a medieval family of peasants needs.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Arrangements for the Night of Notables

Commit these details to memory and keep working!

N of N clockDate: Tuesday 26 October

Morning: Students are to bring display materials to school with them (except heavy or expensive items).

After lunch: Students prepare their displays in the rooms surrounding the quadrangle.

2.55p.m: Dismissal as usual

6p.m: Students return to school wearing their costumes and bringing heavy or expensive items for display.

6.30p.m: Presentation in hall to family and friends

7p.m. – 8p.m: Students go to the display rooms where family and friends visit them, ask them questions and admire their displays.

8p.m: End of evening; students take home heavy or expensive items.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

An interview about the Night of Notables

When Tina was in Year 7 last year, she created an inspiring display for the Night of Notables. You can still see parts of her display on the walls of Room 107, because I was so impressed by her effort, depth of thought and research that I begged her to let me keep as much of her work as she could spare. Even though she produced such a wonderful presentation, she did not find the task straightforward or easy. She took quite a while to settle on her final choice of notable – Rosa Parks. Not content to find out about the woman alone, Tina was determined to explore that era of history as well, which is one reason that her display was so thoughtful and imaginative.

Listen to her interview and gain some great tips for your Night of Notables display.

I’m afraid Tina insisted on my photo being part of this project. She gave me no choice. As you can no doubt tell by her interview, she is very persuasive.

Incidentally, the header of the blog shows the beautiful tablecloth she made to represent the achievements and ideas of Rosa Parks, her chosen notable.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Besieging a Bastion of Learning

dewey-dThis is Dewey Decimal. He’s shy, bookish and exceptionally knowledgeable. What he doesn’t know about books and libraries isn’t worth knowing.

Excursion to the State Library, Wednesday 23 June

We were lucky to get in before the end of second term, because I was a bit sluggish in  sending off the booking request. Despite this, the friendly people at the State Library of Victoria have written back to say they can accommodate us. The details are below:

  • All-day excursion
  • Arrive in the quadrangle at 9, ready to leave school by 9.15.
  • Bring ONLY a small bag (handbag for girls, manbag for boys), with a snack, small water bottle and EITHER money for lunch or a cut lunch.
  • 11am – Orientation Tour of the Library with one of the Library teachers
  • 11.45am – Experimedia Room: fun and frivolity in a massive games room – a library resource for the 21st century
  • You won’t be back at school till 3.30 or 3.40 but if you wish you can keep going along the train line OR be dismissed from the State Library with a parent’s permission.
  • 7Z is going with us, along with their teacher, Mrs Starbuck, and your new coordinator next term, Ms Ind.

Video: Castles at War

Here’s a little set of virtual flashcards based on the video we began to watch yesterday. Read them through and give yourself a quiz, a scatter challenge or some other revision chore. Then get stuck into your assignment!

Assignment due date: Wednesday 2 June

For those who have a tendency to lose handouts, click here to download the assignment:

Medieval History – Short Assignment – Semester 1, 2010

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Planning your display for the Night of Notables

Night of Notables Display Table Example

One of the useful things you can do as you prepare for the Night of Notables is try to picture your display area and how you plan to fill it. You will need a range of display materials. Here are some suggestions:

A tablecloth is a simple but vital part of your display. For some reason a display with a tablecloth looks far better than one with a bare old laminex table.

Notice that in the picture above, the laptop takes up very little space; students who spend all their time on a Powerpoint, however clever it is, have a very bare table! If you aim for variety you will create a much more appealing display.

Interactive activities are certain to attract people to your display. One of my favourite interactive activities ever was the brainchild of two boys now in Year 10 (I think their names are Aaron and Chris). They had chosen Michelangelo as their notable person and they brought along a hunk of marble and a chisel so that people could try their hand at sculpting. (This is the activity I have shown on the table above.) Another inspirational idea was thought up by Anne (now in Year 9), who had chosen Fred Hollows. She had a special eye-testing activity, which fitted neatly with her notable’s purpose in life of restoring sight to those with preventable blindness.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Excursion Details and Notable Poster Download


Don’t forget that the excursion is on Tuesday 18 August. In class on Monday I’m going to show you a film called “Vesuvius: Deadly Fury”. This should get you in the mood for the Pompeii exhibition. This film details the latest archaeological finds and shows scientists speculating on how long it would have taken, during the full heat of the pyroclastic surge, for a person to dessicate into a skeleton. The answer is, not long. It was a horrible human disaster and to soften it in my mind I like to focus on the people who escaped.

What you need for the excursion:

  • A small bag (not your school bag)
  • A water bottle
  • A snack for morning tea (VERY important – lunch will be late)
  • Lunch or money to buy lunch
  • A note if you wish to be dismissed anywhere other than at school or our closest railway station

Here’s a version of the little handout that I gave you on Thursday to show you what should be on your poster for the Night of Notables. Click on the picture below to download the file. Depending on the speed of your modem and computer, this could take a very long time or be a swift and easy process. If you’re at school on one of our ponderous computers in Room 205, you might have to wait till midway through Year 12 before the file successfully downloads. Sigh.

Poster on notable person

Night of Notables

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Absences, Excursions and Work for Today

Pompeii plaster figureHi, 7E! I’m sorry I’ve deserted you yet again. On Monday I was sick, yesterday you were doing that special seminar, and today I’m going to a conference. Tomorrow I promise to meet you face to face once again.

Ros cartoon 2008 with colour and bubbleBy the way, I had a good report from your teacher on Monday, Mr Quinn. He said you worked with a will. It warmed my heart to hear it.

Now be honest. Have you handed in your excursion form? Get moving if you haven’t! The excursion to Pompeii is less than a week away. We really need your forms by this Friday. If you have lost your form, don’t worry, just go to the office and throw yourself on the mercy of the office staff. They’re always kind to me; they’ll happily print you a new one. Then take it home, get it signed and bring it back. Simple!

Did I mention that we’re having lunch at Melbourne Central after the museum visit? You don’t want to miss that. So get your forms in, pronto!

Emit small front shot copyToday you have two choices:

  • Work on your Emit Repoons assignment, or
  • Do some preliminary research on a possible notable person to study for the Night of Notables.

To aid you in this second task, if you choose it, here are some websites to peruse:



See you tomorrow, everyone!

class mummyBy the way, I’m planning the mummification for late next week. Next week is going to be full of hands-on history activities – some more gruesome than others.

Kind regards from

Ms Green.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Notable Possibilities

The first Night of Notables was held at our school in 2003. This means that every student in the school can recall the fun they had in Year 7, dressing up as a famous person and showing their parents and the rest of school how creative and thoughtful they could be. And here’s an amazing thing: older students love to come and see what the new kids on the block are doing for the Night of Notables. Those new kids on the block are YOU! Which notable person will you choose? How will you make the night special and memorable?

Here’s a tip: choose someone that no one else has ever chosen. Choose someone YOU don’t know very much about. That way there will be a mystery for you to solve and many people will be curious to know about the person you have chosen.

So here are some notable people who, despite their great achievements and determination to improve human life, have (at least to my knowledge) never been chosen by students before. I’ve taught Year 7 every year since the Night of Notables was introduced, so I do have a pretty good idea. For each person below, I’ve tried to give a little description or at least include a link to a reputable site that will tell you about the person. I am hankering for someone to choose one of these people, instead of the obvious people who are chosen every year. Be original! Go for it!

PS: You won’t be able to watch any of the You-Tube videos at school, I’m afraid. Our computers crack up when you ask too much of them. But don’t despair: these videos should work at home.

Notable People who have never been N O T A B L E at our School:

IMG_0040_DevilsMarblesKath Walker (Oodgeroo Noonuccal) She was an Aboriginal writer and activist who gave back her MBE in protest against the treatment of her people. Influential in winning the vote for Aborigines, she was a writer of great purpose and conviction. For instance, she wrote: “We need help, not exploitation.” One of her saddest poems was about an old man who was the last of his tribe. There was noone left who could speak to him in the language of his people. The poem shows her sense of loss and the desperate isolation of the old man. Oodgeroo Noonuccal wrote many moving poems. She was also partially responsible for gaining the vote for Aboriginal people. Click on this link to read a brief introduction to her life:

  • Harriet Tubman was nicknamed the “Moses of her People” for her role in saving slaves through the so-called Underground Railroad in America.
  • Jane Austen was one of the great authors of the English language. In her novels she described the narrow social world of the English country towns where she lived; she explored the limited social experiences of her characters. That doesn’t sound all that impressive, does it? And yet, and yet…Somehow these stories, set in the early 1800s, have had an abiding impact on her readers. They have inspired many films, discussions and debates. For Austen’s insights into human nature are astounding. This brilliant woman, who never married and who died in her forties, had an acute understanding of human love and cruelty, a sharp wit, a measured cynicism and a power with the English language that few, if any, have been able to match. (***Whoops! Claire tells me her older sister Lizzie chose Jane Austen just last year. So she has been chosen before…Still, she deserves another run and she certainly hasn’t been chosen very often. Sorry, Lizzie!)

  • Emily Bronte was a great author and poet. Her poem “Remembrance” is deeply moving and her novel, “Wuthering Heights”, is one of the great works of English literature. Yet she was writing at a time when women usually had to take the name of a man to have any chance of being published.
  • Vera Brittain was an author and peace activist between the World Wars in Britain. Although she was accused of being disloyal for trying to seek peace, her name was ultimately found on a list of people the Nazis would like to assassinate, which improved her reputation with the English people! Her famous book, “Testament of Youth”, told the tragic story of the young men she loved who died in WWI, including her brother and fiancee.
  • Judy Horacek is an Australian cartoonist who takes a strong feminist stand and is politically astute and cynical, yet with that whimsical edge to her work that many great Australian cartoonists seem to have. A champion of the rights of minority groups and a social commentator, she would be a fine choice for the Night of Notables. Her cartoons can be viewed at the National Library of Australia website. Here is the link:

  • W.E.B. DuBois was an African American activist and writer in the 1920s who spread the story of the murders and lynchings in the south. He tried to promote the right of African Americans in the south to live without persecution, prejudice and arbitrary attacks. In his publications he exposed the cruelty of those who wanted to ensure that, even though the slaves had been freed, they should still be forced to live like slaves. He gave a voice to people who had no voice.
  • Sir Mark Oliphant was a brilliant Australian scientist whose work in nuclear physics was partially responsible for the creation of the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He was forever regretful at the calamity they had caused, however, and later spoke out against the use of science for immoral ends.

  • William Wilberforce was a campaigner against slavery in Britain in the 19th century. He died just a few days after the bill abolishing slavery succeeded.
  • William Barak was an artist, an activist and a leader of his people, the Wurundjeri clan, who lived in Melbourne before the coming of the Europeans, and whose descendants still live here today. The government continually took land and rights from the Aboriginal people and Barak, despite his growing sense of futility and despair, continued to plead, protest and fight for decency, fairness and equality.

    Sofonisba Anguissola was a great woman painter of the Renaissance. Until the internet came into being I didn’t even know she existed. Woman artists rarely make it into art books. Yet some of her paintings are just lovely. They warm my heart because they show people enjoying life and doing quite ordinary things – even smiling! One of her most famous paintings shows a few young girls playing chess and smiling. This was quite rare in those days. There’s also a self-portrait of the artist at her easel.

    • Golda Meir – Israeli Prime Minister
    Print Friendly, PDF & Email

    A Notable Night

    Get dressed up! Show off your knowledge! Impress your friends and fill your parents with pride and joy! Make your teacher glow with happiness (that’s me)!

    ◊    ◊    ◊    ◊    ◊    ◊

    On the Night of Notables you get to do all this. There are two great points about this project: you choose your own person to study (with conditions) and you choose your working partner (if you want one). This means you have the perfect excuse to have researching weekends with your best friend; and your teacher can’t tell you what to do (but she can influence you, veto your choice and be critical – after all, what are teachers for?).

    ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥

    I’m pretty easy-going really!

    ♦ All I ask is that your notable person is admirable and memorable. He or she should have inspired other people and contributed something of value to human life or human beings. That’s not much to ask, is it? 

    ♦ I want no mass murderers, no violent criminals, no brutal dictators and no vicious tyrants: just great people who have given us hope, remedies, knowledge, understanding, music, ideas, new ways of thinking, inventions, plays, books and so on. 

    ♦Your notable person might have saved us too – from poverty, tyranny, injustice, slavery or suffering.

    ♦You could choose a musician, a poet, an inspirational gardener, an environmental campaigner, a great cook or a brave leader who stood up to oppression.

    ♦Don’t forget Australians. Don’t forget women!


    There are some sites below to give you ideas…

    CLICK HERE to go to a site about notable Australians…


    CLICK HERE to go to a site about inspirational people, including great humanitarians:


    CLICK HERE for some inspirational quotations:

    CLICK HERE for more brainy and interesting quotations:


    Print Friendly, PDF & Email