For the last time, until he returns from his four-year post in Bermuda, we welcomed Reverend Alistair Bennett to assembly.  Reverend Bennett is a familiar and much-loved and respected member of the Melrose and wider community, and his moving Remembrance Services will always be recalled by pupils, staff and parents, not least because of his splendid poppy-red robes, but also because of his thought-provoking and enlightening sermons. We wish Reverend Bennett, and his wife Judy, all the very best in their new venture, and hope that the sun shines more than it has done in his 31 years in Melrose. 
Reverend Bennett kindly awarded the Pre-Prep with their ‘Star of the Week’ certificates, and was able to hang a bronze medal around Hamish G’s neck in recognition of Hamish’s performance at the Highland Budokan Grand Prix Judo in Inverness the previous weekend.  We gave a mention to Lachlan, who had played well in a tennis competition in Wrexham.  To conclude Monday, Consultant Chartered Counselling Psychologist Flora Maclay came to talk to Form 8s about how best to manage any exam nerves.  The session proved very useful not only to our sixteen Common Entrance candidates, but also to the staff who attended.  It was very interesting to hear feedback from pupils on what made them most anxious, and when these feelings were at their most extreme.  A huge thank you to Mrs Maclay for giving up her time to offer such valuable input.
It was fabulous to see the Middle School Chess Club up and running.  This is being run by Mrs Wright, Rowan and Matt, and proved very popular in the first of weekly sessions. 
On Tuesday, Form 2 embarked upon a longer-than-anticipated journey to Edinburgh Zoo, but despite a hold-up on the bypass, a great day was had; all animals remained in their designated spots.  The afternoon also saw our Poetry Final take place, with Ms Samantha Tassiker, English Department, Loretto School being accompanied by Loretto’s Director of Communications and former St. Mary’s poetry finalist (1980), Jonathan Hewitt. 
Mr Hewitt impressed when opening the competition by reciting the first verse of “The Dachshund” the very poem which he recited as a 12-year-old so many years ago.  Ms Tassiker then had the unenviable task of selecting winners from the junior, intermediate and senior categories in a competition that was of the highest standard, by some margin, in my time here as Headmaster.  Huge congratulations go to all participants, and in particular to our three winners, Geordie, Eliza and Adam A. 
For the first time in some time, the sun shone and fixtures got underway on Wednesday.  All fixtures, both home and away, proved enjoyable and exciting.  Please see match reports on the website.
Mr Richard Ward has been providing tennis coaching in the evenings, and his sessions are proving popular and beneficial. 
It was a pleasure welcoming Mrs Sarah Kerr-Dineen, Headmistress of Oundle School, to speak in assembly and to meet with pupils, staff and parents afterwards.  Mrs Kerr-Dineen spoke about the choices we make, highlighting the people we are in a thought-provoking and interesting assembly.  She took her vantage point at the front of the assembly hall to make an astute assessment of what makes a St. Mary’s pupil, and I am proud to say she was complimentary in her judgement.  We are very grateful to Mrs Kerr-Dineen, not only for her assembly but for spending time with parents, staff and pupils for a proportion of the morning.   We were also thrilled to hear that Oscar and Georgina have become familiar to her because of their range of talents, and that they are doing very well.
Finally, well done to Mrs Cully and her support team, headed up by Mr and Mrs Jackson, in finalising arrangements for this weekend’s Tour de Lauder.  St Mary’s are proud sponsors of the medals for the event, and I hope to see the St. Mary’s community turn out in force to support this marvellous event in memory of Hannah and Josh’s father, Steve.  All proceeds will go to Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland.  Good luck to Ali Bell and a number of parents who are competing in the cycling events.

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