22nd September 2017

As we are required to do, in assembly on Monday morning, I briefed the school on fire evacuation procedures should the fire alarm sound at any point during the school day or night.  It was perhaps not such a coincidence when the fire alarm sounded two hours later and the school conducted the termly fire drill efficiently and effectively.  Boarders then headed off to the girls’ and boys’ boarding houses for an extended brief on evacuation procedures beyond 6pm.  Pupils and staff are to be congratulated for carrying out this process smoothly. 
Three weeks into term, trips to various educational establishments are starting to feature as Form 3 had a fabulous outing to Abbotsford, the first in a series of visits that will underpin a block of work Form 3 are doing on Sir Walter Scott.  Meanwhile following on from our fire evacuation update, Form 7 took part in the Crucial Crew personal safety workshop which also includes general information about fire prevention and safety. 
Wednesday fixtures took place here at St. Mary’s and at Loretto with some pleasing wins but more importantly strong performances from our rugby and hockey teams. 
Thursday, saw Form 1 take a trip to Mertoun Estate to collect fresh vegetables as part of their geography topic they are involved in and in the afternoon the last stage of block one in the activities programme took place.  Despite inclement weather our hardy runners, cyclists and fishermen braved the elements to conclude the block in these activities.
This morning in assembly, I had the privilege of conducting our first accelerated reading scheme 100% ers raffle.  29 children had their names in the hat, some had their names in more than once having gained 100% in more than one book quiz.   The most active and accurate class of quizzers so far is Form 4 and the class that has read the most is Form 8.  The total number of words read and quizzed on our first three weeks of term is 1,966,034 words.  Ewan G and Bee S both had 4 tickets in the raffle as they had gained 100% in 4 quizzes.  However, Lucy W was the lucky recipient as her number was drawn from the hat, which seemed particularly apt, as Lucy was chosen as the school’s library prefect just this week.  Form 8 have all received their prefect roles for the year ahead and I am pleased to report they are delighted with their positions of responsibility.
In line with a very positive tone being set by our top year group, 14 are boarding tonight so that they can be available to assist with tomorrows 7th Bang Goes The Borders Science Festival taking place at St. Mary’s.  The popularity of this event has grown over the last 6 years and once again we anticipate over 1,000 visitors to the school to take part in over 30 science workshops and all free of charge.
For those who are able to come along, look out for Courage the Cat, Radio Borders’ Cash for Kids mascot.  This charity benefited hugely from Woody Morris’ charity horse race on Wednesday at Kelso Races.  I understand that over £50,000 has been raised for children living in poverty in the Scottish Borders, possibly making the serious injuries Woody sustained when training to take part in this race, a little bit more bearable.  Congratulations to Woody on her fund raising achievement so far.
Next week, we look forward to welcoming Mr and Mrs Hunter from Merchiston and St. Mary’s former pupils.  They will be making a presentation in assembly and I strongly encourage parents of boys to come along to sample a taste of what Merchiston Castle is about.  The close link between our schools will be best illustrated by the fine young men making up the Merchiston party.
News filtered back to me through the week that amongst our grandparents we have a world championship triathlete in Granny Barr.  Her proud grandchildren tell me she competed in the world triathlon competition in Holland for over 65 year olds.   St. Mary’s would like to congratulate Mrs Tricia Bell who is an inspiration to us all.
Have a nice weekend.

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