We welcomed school back on Monday morning with many of our pupils sporting those unmistakable facial suntans, with the tell-tale ski goggle whitening around the eyes. Thankfully, all were injury-free and raring to go for the second half of term. I reminded our Form 8 pupils that the number of “working” weeks until Common Entrance is approaching single figures, and therefore sharpening their focus on their studies must be given maximum priority. We welcomed Oliver, Bea and William, and we are delighted with how they have settled into their respective forms during the week.
I concluded assembly by announcing the latest scholarship successes: Jess - Academic and Music Scholarships, Harrogate Ladies College; Harris, Hamish and Lucy - Sports Scholarships, Loretto and Chloe-Marie - Art Exhibition Award, Loretto. Congratulations to all.
On Tuesday evening, teaching staff met to discuss the progress of all pupils in Forms 6, 7 and 8. This sharing of information is invaluable when gathering a picture of each pupil’s progress.
A busy fixture programme took place on Wednesday and as usual, match reports are available online. Three fixtures received special mention for different reasons at this morning’s assembly, but I shall come back to that later.
St. Mary’s AGM took place on Wednesday afternoon, and we are extremely grateful to Lt Colonel Colin Hogg and Mr John Tweedie for their attendance, input and continued support of the school. The Board of Governors then conducted their termly meeting soon afterwards, and a real sense of optimism was a key feature throughout this meeting.
This morning, Form 7 took to the stage to narrate the remarkable story of Sir Ernest Shackleton, whilst a number provided us with a visual supplement to the fascinating details of the great leader, including his loyalty to his men.  Mr Rawson concluded proceedings referring to St. Mary’s five Rs: Resourcefulness, Risk management, Responsibility, Resilience and Reflection, all of which featured in Shackleton saving the lives of his entire party in the Antarctic.
I then had the privilege of being able to congratulate Form 7 on the high standard of academic performance being drawn to my attention in the core subjects by their teachers. All pupils in the year are exceeding our expectations in many regards, and it seemed fitting to make mention of this at the end of such an informative assembly. I then made mention of the two senior girls’ netball teams, who conducted themselves with dignity and determination during two netball fixtures in which they suffered very heavy defeats. We acknowledged the high standard of the opposition and made reference to how unusual it is for such an imbalanced score line to be allowed to unfold, but we are very proud of how our girls stuck to the task and refused to feel sorry for themselves. The 1st XV Rugby team played Merchiston, having lost narrowly to the same team last term. Once again, this fixture proved to be fiercely contested, with a high standard of ruby on display from both teams. It seems appropriate that a St. Mary’s victory has left the season’s honours even between the two sides. Well done to the boys for an extremely determined performance.
Mrs Bell concluded assembly by talking through this afternoon’s squad cross country competition and as is always the case, she simply encouraged each competitor to do their best.
Ahead of next week, it is important to draw your attention to the visit of Oundle Registrar Mr Gary Phillips, who is coming to meet any parents who might be interested in sending their son or daughter to Oundle. Mr Phillips will be available to speak to parents on Tuesday from 4:30pm in the Hamilton Building
Finally, I made mention of the sad passing of Mr Colin Crozier, our much-loved bugler, who has played the Last Post at our Remembrance Service over the past several years. Colin loved coming to St. Mary’s and always spoke so highly of how we conducted our Remembrance Services. St. Mary’s will ever be grateful to a gentleman who was kindness personified, and who showed great courage in his final months of life. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his family.

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