30th November 2018

Some bleary-eyed souls rolled into school on Monday morning so I prepared an assembly on the importance of a good night’s sleep.  For some, that is easier said than done, and so my focus was on tips for a better night’s sleep. To summarise they are as follows:  Don’t drink liquids two hours before going to bed.  Optimise your bedroom environment taking into consideration temperature, noise, external lights and furniture arrangements.  Avoid snacking on certain foodstuffs late in the evening. Take a relaxing bath or shower. Ensure you have a comfortable bed, mattress and pillow. Exercise regularly but not just before bedtime!  Reduce use of “blue light” exposure (smart phones, computers, iPads, TV).  Avoid drinking caffeine six hours before bedtime.  Sleep and wake at consistent times during the week and at the weekends (yeah, right!).  Finally, use relaxation techniques to clear your mind; read a book, listen to relaxing music, deep breathing, visualisation or even meditation.  Good luck.
This week we have trialled a new format for parent/teacher consultation meetings.  We are very grateful for your feedback and this new format is by no means perfect but we agree with the vast majority of those of you who have fed back to us, that this is a much better style.  Thank you for attending and for the constructive discussions about the progress of your children.
Despite foul weather, we ran a full fixture programme on Wednesday and huge credit must go to staff and pupils not just of St. Mary’s, but of Mowden Hall and Craigclowan, for seeing these fixtures through and for looking after each other so considerately.  Our intrepid teams did the school proud and reports can be found on the school website.
Mrs Rawson and her ever-cheerful and hardworking boarding team put on a ceilidh and a chocolate fountain as Wednesday’s evening activity.  It was lovely to welcome all 36 boarders to Abbey Park (Headmaster’s House) for the last part of their evening.
We welcomed Melrose Primary School to a joint choir practice ahead of next week’s Clic Sargent Nativity.  It is most uplifting to hear of funds targeting a new respite care centre and in time, we hope our choir will travel to Edinburgh to perform for the young residents and superb carers who look after them.
Staying with the musical theme, Miss McRae had Abi K singing “Lavender’s Blue”, Mhairi playing “The Reef” on the piano and then a full orchestra performance of “We Will Rock You” in Assembly this morning.  Well done, to our performers, for starting us all off on a Friday morning in such a stirring fashion.  I then went on to congratulate our Form 3s and Form 5s for their high ranking in the Scottish Borders Sumdog competition, and made particular mention of Jemima T, Form 3, Christian, Form 5, Nic, Form 5,  Tallulah, Form 5, George G, Form 3, Ewen, Form 5, for their top ten finish amongst the 383 students involved from all across the Scottish Borders.  They proudly received their certificates and well done to Mrs Kirkness, Mrs Routledge and Dr Morgan for encouraging their involvement.
I took with me to assembly a most wonderful silver dish presented to Douglas Brown in 1902 for being the best all-round athlete at St. Mary’s that year and, incidentally, the previous year as well.  This dish had been presented to Douglas Brown by the FPs of which there can only have been seven years’ worth in 1902. We acquired this stunning tray from Mr Brown’s daughter-in-law.  The family have added a central wooden disc to allow items to be placed on the salver.  We are going to use this piece of St. Mary’s history as a trophy to be awarded to the winning squad in the Abbey Park Squad Relay.  This is a new event proposed, planned, organised and coordinated by Mr Inwood.  Pupils have fully embraced this new competition and we are looking forward to its inaugural completion this afternoon.
Meanwhile we have two weeks of term remaining and I have encouraged all our pupils to set their minds to give their all at the tail end of a very busy and productive term.  I am sure you will continue to support me in this regard.
Before signing off, can I draw your attention to the Advent Calendar 2018 charity initiative below.  It would be a fabulous achievement to collect 2,500 items to donate to the Gala Foodbank.   In the meantime, sleep well and I look forward to a well-rested school congregation on at Monday morning’s assembly!

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