2nd November 2018

The St. Mary’s staff team as it stands has 15 members under the age of 34 including support staff.  I took time on Monday morning to read out this list of names and to ask the pupils what they all have in common.  This led on to us considering that these familiar faces could all have been one of the 34 St. Mary’s FPs who lost their lives in the First World War.  Not one of them could have been over 34 years of age.  This was bringing into focus a particularly important month of remembrance as this November marks the 100th anniversary of the end of a costly war that saw 14 million lives lost. 
Pupils and staff are all wearing Ms Wood’s fantastic felt poppies and the fact that so many people associated with the school, have contributed, highlights the St. Mary’s wider community’s recognition of the fallen.  Ms Wood’s fund raising effort aims to reach the £1,918 mark and she is well over half way to achieving that level of donation to the Poppy Scotland fund. 
During assembly, we congratulated Mrs Kirkness on achieving her Level 1 coaching badge in Netball and we welcomed Severine Stutz-Berger from Switzerland who has been assisting around school and the boarding environment for the week, as part of her professional development.  We are very grateful to Severine for the contribution she has made.  She has spoken of how different St. Mary’s is to the school where she teachers in Switzerland, but more of that later.
On Tuesday St. Mary’s was represented at Former Pupil George Crawford’s funeral, by myself, Mrs Bell, Mr Purvis and Ms Birdsall.  Melrose Parish Church was packed and tributes to a much loved character, who tragically lost his life in an accident three weeks ago, poured out.  For those like myself who did not know George particularly well, the celebration of his life left us with a picture of a young man full of energy and spirit, who made the absolute most of any outdoor opportunities that came his way.  He is described here at St. Mary’s as the boy who ran around the school field with muddy knees, shirt hanging out, tie all over the place but who would be the first to care for others if they were upset.  Cameron, Mary and Lucinda pulled together a most wonderful service in George’s memory and our thoughts continue to be with the Crawfords, the Manners and their wider families.
Whilst the service was uplifting, we then had the privilege of welcoming Mr Iain Simpson to judge our Lecture Final in the afternoon.  A clear example of how best to make the most of one’s opportunities unfolded, as our lecture finalists took to the stage in front of a full Morrison Hall.  Mr Simpson thoughtfully, skilfully and with his ever present dry sense of humour, paid tribute to the performances of each of our finalists. Though his task in choosing winners was unenviable, his selection of Eliza and Freya as the winners of the senior and junior lecture competitions could not be disputed. One parent wrote in their appreciative letter to me following the final; “what a fabulous daddy Miss Simpson has, warm, fun, funny and fantastic with the children” and, “how it has become clear how Miss Simpson is so fantastic and a total legend”.
An excellent fixture programme on a rather chilly Wednesday took place whilst I had the privilege of meeting a number of current Kindergarten parents to discuss plans going forward.  It is always hugely gratifying to hear how adored Mrs Berni and her team are, for their continued brilliance whilst providing early learning and child care services of a standard second to none in the opinion of the parents.
Dr Morgan’s Chess Club proved ever popular on Thursday and provided some respite from the rigours of the academic programme, as are the auditions for a number of pupils engaged with the National Youth Boys’ and Girls’ Choirs.   We have 7 talented individuals involved in this process. 
Returning to the theme of Remembrance, Forms 3 and 4 gave a very polished, informative assembly on the poppy and why it is a symbol of remembrance.  We were grateful to them for their expertise in delivering such a well organised production and for their uplifting singing of “It’s a long way to Tipperary” to conclude one of the best assemblies so far this year.

The week for many does not conclude at the end of school today, but I welcomed the opportunity to say goodbye and thank you to Severine Stutz-Berger who is a full time teacher in Switzerland.  Severine highlighted the wonderful rapport between staff and pupils here at St. Mary’s whilst identifying the sound work ethic and spirit of the community she believes to be exceptional. 
Ahead of Saturday’s U11 rugby tournament and Sunday’s U13 rugby tournament, we wish Mr Brown and his team and Mr Rawson and Mr Inwood and their team all the very best of luck and I wish you all a restful weekend. 
I learned this week that George Crawford would often sign off by sticking his thumb up in the air accompanied by a “toodle-oo”.  That is how he will be remembered by the St. Mary’s community who all thought the world of him.


Jules Birdsall, 02/11/2018

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