15th September 2017

We started the week by thinking about the power of a genuine smile and its status as a universally recognised welcome. Expanding on that point, I talked about BBC cameraman Gordon Buchanan visiting the Owarigi tribe in the Solomon Islands, where two tribesman attempted to teach him to dive unaided to catch fish in shark-infested waters. Buchanan returned daily having had no success with his spear-fishing exploits, and it was clear that tensions were growing, as he was partly responsible for feeding the tribe. However, at time of his departure his fiercest critic amongst the tribesman, “Moses”, gave him a warm and genuine smile, which immediately cemented an unexpected friendship.
Monday evening saw syllabus evenings take place for Forms 6, 7 and 8, and Form Tutors were very grateful to parents for attending and asking so many useful questions. At the staff meeting on Tuesday, the general message was that pupils are now very much into their stride, and particular mention of our 20 new starters left us feeling very pleased about how the school year has started.
Syllabus evening for Forms 1 and 2 took place on Tuesday evening, and again thank you to parents for attending and contributing to the information event.
Wednesday saw a raft of fixtures taking place here, at Tweedbank, at Merchiston, and Clifton Hall. Whilst there were more wins than losses, particular worthy mention should be made of the super rugby fixture between St. Mary’s and Earlston High School, where an obvious mutual respect and sense of camaraderie emanated from both squads.
Throughout the week, the growing enthusiasm for the new reading programme has seen a constant coming and going from the school library, as pupils embrace Miss Simpson’s new initiative.
Thursday saw the second week of the varied and exciting activity programme, with 14 activities from which pupils have chosen, including fell running with Mrs Bell and Mr Gibson, bike-ability with Mr Jackson and Mrs Redmond, fly fishing with Mr Purvis and Mr Rawson, the great outdoors with Mrs Runciman, cooking with Chef, mindfulness with Mrs Scott Aiton and willow weaving with Mrs Hardie and Mrs Harvey, to name but a few.
This morning we had the great pleasure of welcoming Mrs E. McKendrick, Headmistress of Downe House in Berkshire. Mrs McKendrick made a special effort to come and see us ahead of two members of her science department coming up for Bang Goes The Borders in a week’s time. The brief she had received from her PA was to keep her assembly under 10 minutes and to be inspiring. I am pleased to report she did the latter most successfully, and we were all grateful she overran by a few minutes! Mrs McKendrick invited pupils to consider who they would invite if they were hosting a dinner party including people from the past – whether dead or alive – from the present, or indeed the future. As you can imagine, St. Mary’s pupils did not disappoint when volunteering their suggestions. This neatly linked in to people who have inspired Mrs McKendrick with some obvious choices: J K Rowling, Mother Teresa, David Beckham, Ben and Jerry and Bill Gates. But she did focus specifically on four others: former Downe House pupil Miranda Hart; an inspirational 9 year old girl who had shown kindness and consideration to a disabled child at a Christening Mrs McKendrick had attended; and then the uplifting and moving story of Colonel Mark Cook and his wife Caroline, who have worked to improve the lives of orphans affected by war in Bosnia. The Cook story was met with a striking silence as pupils and staff listened intently as to why Mrs McKendrick found them inspirational. Do ask your son or daughter to expand on their moving role.
We are all extremely grateful to Mrs McKendrick for visiting us here at St. Mary’s, and look forward to welcoming staff and pupils from Downe House next Saturday. Whilst the Bang Goes The Borders committee have gone to great lengths to spread the word about our 7th science festival, please encourage friends, neighbours, and anyone with children between the age of 5 – 14 to come along. 
Prior to next week’s science festival, the irrepressible Woody Morris takes to the racecourse on Wednesday at Kelso Races, to ride in the charity horse race that is the central feature of her attempt to raise £100,000 for Cash for Kids. Please follow the link below if you wish to hear more of Woody’s amazing fund-raising venture. It includes a quite remarkable story of resilience from which we can all take inspiration. 

Have a good weekend.

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