30th June 2017

Think back to when the sun was shining, probably as far back as last Sunday, if I am not mistaken.  The reason I remember this is because I proudly looked on as Mrs Bell’s athletics team competed with all they had in various events at the IAPS athletics championships in Edinburgh.  I was amongst a fabulous cohort of parents supporting our runners, jumpers and throwers.  An impressive tally of seven gold, nine silver and eight bronze medals only tells half the story as every pupil who represented St. Mary’s did so by giving their all.  Congratulations go to them, Mrs Bell, Mr Whitelaw, Mr Brown and a heartfelt thank you to our parents for offering such positive encouragement and support.
As the weather took a turn for the worst on Monday, we saw Forms 3 and 4 head off for their day camp at Spottiswoode.  Mr P and his team made this a thoroughly enjoyable and exciting excursion and credit is due to staff and pupils for making the day such a huge success.  Meanwhile, back here at “base camp” at St. Mary’s, it was an honour and a privilege being part of a St. Mary’s group who ran to support an autistic boy called Jo, who is raising funds in aid of the Toby Henderson Trust.  At that stage on Monday, Jo had run 42 miles in 42 days and staff, pupils and parents joined him to run his mile on Monday.  Jo’s father Simon, talked of how emotional he felt as so many people handed him contributions and offered their support.  Eight-year-old Jo and his family are from Northumberland but are close friends of the de Zoetens.  Naesima, Martje and their parents can be very proud of their part in this fund raising effort. 
Exhausted from their exertions, our girl boarders were provided with the opportunity to relax in the comfortable surroundings of their “five star accommodation” as they became the first boarders for 19 years to inhabit New Buccleuch House.  They were welcomed with open arms by Houseparent Mrs Rawson, who has worked tirelessly to add the finishing touches to our fabulous new facility.  On Tuesday morning the girls could not speak more highly of the comfort and luxury they are now being provided, and the warmth with which they were received by Mrs Rawson. 
Meanwhile, the weather took a significant down turn, which saw Kindergarten’s Teddy Bear Picnic and Form 5 camp being cancelled.  The ever-inventive Mrs Runciman decided to pitch tents in her form class in the Sanderson Building; whilst this left the place looking like a sales floor of Graham Tiso’s, pupils made the most of this unorthodox camping opportunity.  There are photographs of this indoor camp on the website.
Not one to be defeated by the weather, Mr P offered a day’s excursion to Spottiswoode for Form 5 on Wednesday.  Despite light showers, the pupils came back looking exhilarated, if a little exhausted.  Some fixtures were squeezed in to Wednesday afternoon but please forgive sports staff for not reporting on these matches as efficiently as usual.  It is a rather busy time of term.
Mrs Rhodes launched the first squad orienteering session on the course that she has been designing over the last few months.  This activity is specifically designed to call upon pupils’ team work and leadership skills.  It is a fabulous new initiative that the pupils seem to thoroughly enjoy.  Congratulations to Scott’s four teams whose average time to complete the course was faster than the average times of the other three squads. 
The school day started on Thursday morning at Galashiels Swimming Pool for the St. Mary’s Annual Swimming Gala.  As you might imagine, the logistical complications of running such an event are numerous.  However, no organisational challenge is too tough for the superbly prepared Mrs Bell and her team.  The event ran like clockwork with some outstanding swimming that saw two school records broken by Emma SW who has only joined St. Mary’s this term.  I congratulate all pupils for their efforts in the pool, but particularly our champions, Emma, Millie and Tiggy.
In the afternoon, after a gap of two years, Miss McRae put on a summer concert in the Morrison Hall, which opened with the now huge St. Mary’s orchestra playing “Rock Around the Clock” and “Canon”.  Soloists, ensembles, choirs of various ages and sizes then proceeded to offer two hours of entertainment with the standard increasing as the event progressed.  The event was concluded by a rousing finale; first from the senior choir who sang “Castle on a Hill” and “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” and then from the junior and senior choirs, a most uplifting rendition of “Highland Cathedral” with Mr Bell piping from the side of the stage.
This morning having watched our senior pupils perform to such a high standard the day before, we were provided with a wonderful assembly by Kindergarten who dressed up for the occasion and sang through the stages of their recent “bear hunt”.

kindy assembly

The large audience crammed in to the Morrison Hall applauded with gusto, as the youngest members of the St. Mary’s community took their bows.  Soon afterwards the middle school took part in squad orienteering whilst the Pre-Prep headed off on their trip to Bowhill. 
As I write, we are awaiting the start of the Friends of St. Mary’s Summer Fair which has been relocated to the Morrison Hall because summer has not yet started!
I thank in advance, the Friends of St. Mary’s, who have been a fabulous support to the school throughout the year, but in particular for their contribution to the Friends’ Common Room which is a most wonderful living space, from which all boarders, male or female will benefit. 

As the end of term reaches fever pitch, I would like to congratulate pupils for their endurance, endeavour, composure and co-operation.  I sense that these qualities are filtering down from our Form 8 leavers, who are going through that slightly confused and dazed phase, as reality dawns that they will be departing in less than a week.  Though it is an emotional time for all concerned, I have no doubt our fabulous top year are ready for the challenges of senior school life.
I hope you all have a restful weekend.

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