<h1> <span>12th October 2018 </span></h1> <p> This final week of the half term started on an extremely sombre note with sad and shocking news. Over the weekend, we learned of the death of former pupil and governor of the school Mr Ian Wilson. We also learned of the sudden and shocking death of former pupil George Crawford. On behalf of the St. Mary’s community, we send our sincerest condolences to Mr Wilson’s wife Jeannie and to Cameron, Mary and Lucinda Crawford, and the wider families.<br />  <br /> Assembly had a more upbeat theme, in celebrating the continued success of our U11 hockey team who had succeeded in qualifying for the National IAPS Hockey Finals, which will take place at Rugby School, Warwickshire, in November.  This achievement has been brought about by a number of factors: the superb coaching of Mrs Bell and Mrs Wright; the fact that the girls are yet to concede a goal in any tournaments this year; and most importantly, the healthy competition for places in the side that exists in Mrs Bell’s capable squad of 12. I pointed out that those not selected are just as valuable to the overall success of the team, and Mrs Bell wholeheartedly agreed.   <br />  <br /> Turning to an academic theme, all those teaching Forms 5 – 8 met to discuss the progress of pupils this half term, and it is most uplifting to report that whilst some pupils face significant challenges, a very sound work ethic seems to be commonplace right across the senior forms. Extensive classroom assistance is paying huge dividends, and we are noticing pupils exceeding expectations on a daily basis.<br />  <br /> A balmy breeze visited the school for fixtures that took place in the middle of the week, and saw strong team performances that have been reported on our website.<br />  <br /> Mr Brown and Mr Inwood headed off with Form 5 to the Merchiston Science Day on Thursday, during which pupils sampled lots of different and interesting activities and as always, Merchiston’s hospitality was first class. Our thanks go to all at Merchiston.<br />  <br /> Meanwhile back here at school, the final session of our activities programme took place, with particular mention going to our fell runners who all received a badge from Mr Gibson for their impressive endeavours over the first half of term. Rightly, there was even a badge for the back markers, Mrs Bell and her dog Millie!<br />  <br /> Through the last couple of weeks, the ever cheery Ms Birdsall has been running the squad singing “box office” and, as is the case every year, she has been hounded for extra tickets. Her endless patience and empathy are an example to us all. However, it is no surprise that these tickets are the hottest in town as the squad singing competition lived up to expectations yet again. We heard wonderful solos from Hannah L (Douglas):  It’s a long way to Tipperaray;  Esmee (Percy): You’ve got a friend in me; Celia (Home):  Skye boat song; Zara (Scott):  Smile; Willa (Douglas):  Reflections; Thomas E (Home): Where is love; Lucy (Percy):  I Dreamed a Dream;  and Imogen (Scott):  Shenandoah, with Zara winning the junior competition and Lucy winning the senior competition. Then came the fancy dress parade, including many staff demonstrating how whole-hearted and committed they are to their squads’ cause. Mr Key’s portrayal of Benny or Bjorn from Abba is hard to erase from the memory, and Caelan dressed as a lipstick-clad bride also left the audience rather stunned. Congratulations to Scott who were selected by our superb judge Mrs Isobel Cheer, whose day job is to be Head of Pastoral Care at Longridge Towers. Even the vastly experienced Mrs Cheer raised an eyebrow at the entertaining appearance of so many staff amongst the pupils. As ever, the pupils embraced the evening and demonstrated imagination and expression alongside their adult charges. To those who missed out on a ticket, we are doing our very best to develop a larger venue, not least to protect Ms Birdsall from having to disappoint so many of you.<br />  <br /> This morning we were treated to a most informative assembly by the Form 4 girls, who gave us a detailed account of how sailors kept fit aboard ships, with a verbal display of the Horn Pipe and then a most exciting and uplifting physical demonstration. Thank you to the girls and to Lieutenant Routledge for providing us with the final assembly of the half term. <br />  <br /> I then had the privilege of awarding this year’s first Accelerated Reader Millionaire with a book token. Congratulations to Imogen for being the first pupil to reach this significant milestone. Imogen has achieved this more quickly than last year’s first millionaire, and she has several avid readers in hot pursuit. This scheme continues to amaze, as pupil after pupil head to the library at break times and when other opportunities arise during each school day. It is wonderful to see. <br />  <br /> We wished our Dandylion trialists the very best of luck as assembly concluded, and I signed off by wishing everyone a most restful half term holiday, and highlighted that with the exception of a couple of spaces in certain classes, the school will be at capacity as four new pupils join us for the second half of term. <br />  <br /> I am extremely grateful to the dedicated learning support team who assist in classes and allow us to keep our adult to pupil ratio to 1:7.  As an educationalist, I understand fully the need of such valuable contributions from our superb support team. <br />  <br /> Have a restful half-term break.<br />  <br /> HM<br />  </p>
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