For the second time in a space of a month, I would like to thank Mrs Bell for conducting assembly on Monday morning as I escorted a number of Form 8 pupils to Loretto, to sit a variety of scholarships and assessments. In my absence, Mrs Bell reiterated some very important school rules, presented stars of the week certificates to the Pre-Prep, and congratulated Nicole and Finlay Bu on their successes in the Scottish Borders Book Mark competition. She presented both with their book token certificates. Whilst the normal routine runs for the majority of the school, middle school rehearsals are taking place for the fast-approaching ‘Wind in the Willows’. I am pleased to say excitement is growing as Miss McRae and her extensive support team build towards the opening night.
Wednesday morning saw the school carry out a fire drill, and whilst this would not normally be mentioned in my newsletter, it is pleasing to report that the evacuation procedure was conducted in an exemplary manner. A full briefing of a similar process was given to all 90 boarders, should the alarm sound overnight. A busy fixture afternoon unfolded, and individual match reports can be viewed on the website. Special mention should go to Lieutenant Routledge, Mrs Rhodes, Mrs Bell, Mrs Wright and the U10 and U9 netball teams, as one of our two minibuses suffered a puncture whilst returning from Mowden Hall. The staff involved were quick to praise the responsive, co-operative and calm conduct of all the girls. I would like to thank Mrs Jeffrey and Ms Oswell for adjusting their routes to bring home some of the girls, and particular thanks go to the three good Samaritans, local forestry workers, who helped change the tyre and maintain the safety of all involved.
Whilst Wednesday was the famous Bard Robert Burns’ birthday, we postponed our celebration until Thursday, so that haggis could be on the menu for the whole school. On Thursday morning, Mr Bell piped in the haggis, carried by Mr Rawson, and superbly addressed by the eloquent Eloise. 

We spoke of Burns’ poetry, made particular mention of “Tam o' Shanter” and “A Man's a Man for A' That”, and concluded our celebration with a rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne’. Following on in my father’s footsteps, I made it abundantly clear to the gathered congregation that no hands should be joined until the final verse, when the actual words instruct the congregation to do so. The lunch that followed later in the day was superb. Many thanks to the kitchen staff for doing this.
Thursday was also Australia Day, but Max and Jessie politely stepped aside to join in the Burns celebrations. When in Rome ……. and all that. However, tribute was made to this day in the Australian calendar by a fabulous event run by Mr and Mrs Rawson for the boarders in the evening. “I’m an Australian, get me out of here”. Check the latest news and the boarders’ blog for gruesome details.
This morning, we were treated to a most informative and appealing assembly from Mrs Johanna Urquhart of Lomond School, and the Head of Lomond Junior School, Mrs Ailsa Lawn. The two proudly showed slides, talked of the school’s guiding principles, and answered the many questions asked. We are very grateful to Mrs Urquhart and Mrs Lawn for visiting St. Mary’s for the second time in a space of a few months. Lomond School appears to be in great heart.
You may have spotted Dr Hawson and his enthusiastic volunteers’ hyper-light canoe, built at Bang Goes The Borders, then sailed across the River Tweed with two fully grown adults aboard. Dr Hawson’s fabulous initiative to support the migrant offshore aid station is represented by the tying of ribbons to the frame within the craft. This is now on full display inside the Hamilton Building entrance.  Do take time to read Dr Hawson’s description of how the boat was produced, and how that process has evolved into such a moving fundraising effort.
Finally, excitement is growing as the Kindergarten nears completion. Plans are afoot to assist with relocating Kindergarten resources, and I will be in touch with you all when we are sure the schedule completion date will be made. 
Have an enjoyable weekend.

Jules Birdsall, 27/01/2017

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