12th January 2018

After an informative assembly about Robert Burns’ words to ‘Auld Lang Syne’, and a last minute unorthodox reminder of the same point before we broke up, I would sincerely hope hands were not crossed and offered to friends until the final verse of the bard’s famous celebratory song as the bells signalled the start of 2018. Happy New Year, by the way! 
Staff gathered this time last week to ensure that i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed for the term ahead, and that the “good ship St. Mary’s” was ready to set sail first thing on Monday morning.
Gathering and sharing holiday news proved to be a more emotive process than usual, but we had plenty to celebrate on our return. Dicken and Alexander received news that they had been selected for the National Youth Choir of Scotland. We welcomed new pupil Martha to Form 2, and 4 new pupils – Eva, Annabel, Iris and Lara – to Kindergarten, and we also welcomed Maddy Hall, who has joined us from All Saints to be this year’s GAP Student, alongside Stefan who has taken up his role as our full-time male GAP for the next two terms.
Term got underway, with a rehearsal for the middle school production of ‘Olivia’ taking place on Tuesday afternoon/evening. A busy fixture programme ensued on Wednesday with match reports accessible on the website, and this morning we were treated to a super assembly by Mrs Bell on the Queensferry Crossing, and some history behind how the Firth of Forth has been crossed over the centuries.  This included a fun animation explaining why the new bridge has been christened the Queensferry Crossing. Mrs Bell asked pupils to identify something that had cost £1.35 billion to construct and that had used 150,000 tonnes of concrete. Amusingly, a pupil in Form 2 suggested it was Mr Bell’s new path from the all-weather to the road used along to his shed. Mr Bell and his son Chris assisted Mr Shand with this construction, and it has made a significant difference to how tidy that section of the campus looks, but that was not the correct answer! We are very grateful to Mrs Bell for her presentation on the Queensferry Crossing. 
I then had the pleasure of awarding three book tokens to our latest Accelerated Reader Scheme “millionaires”. Emma SW and Mhairi achieved the necessary standard, having read one million words as last term concluded, and over the holidays the same feat has been achieved by Alexander NN and Libby B. Libby has reached the standard since this morning’s assembly, but congratulations to all four pupils.
This week, parents were notified about the new restrictions on accessing the school wifi, which have been imposed upon us all by the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations). As technology advances, it was inevitable that a reboot of security was going to apply to every organisation, and this may well be the first of several changes we are legally obliged to make.
Finally, I would like to congratulate all pupils on such a positive start to term, during which a couple of pupils, knocked by life-changing circumstances in the holidays, have demonstrated great courage and have received heart-warming support from peers, staff and parents. The values evident at such times underpin what makes St. Mary’s such a special community, of which it is a privilege to be a part.
Have a restful weekend.

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