14th December 2018

Thank you to those of you who came along to our carols around the tree last Friday. This was a fitting way to finish off the day, having benefited from a glucose loaded Christmas Winter Wonderland, put on by the Friends of St. Mary’s earlier in the afternoon.  Mrs Rawson, Pam, Mr Inwood, Mr Brown, Mrs Stuart, Mrs Harvey, Miss Amado and George accompanied our boarders to Born in the Borders for the GAP Surprise on Friday evening.  They were looked after superbly well with fantastic food, hot chocolates, marshmallows, games and a ‘sociable’ ice rink.  I thanked all the boarders, particularly the Form 8s for making the evening such a success and enjoyable for all who took part, including staff.
We touched on the theme of gratitude in assembly, with a focus on conduct during this week’s Carol Service as a method of acknowledging the fine work Miss McRae and her music staff have put in.  On Tuesday, Pre-Prep sang carols for proud parents, grandparents and staff in the Morrison Hall before they enjoyed a wonderful Christmas lunch provided by Cheffy and his team.  Whilst Pre-Prep celebrated with a Christmas party after their lunch, Miss McRae took members of her choir to St. John’s Residential Home to entertain a very warm and receptive audience.  The ladies and gentlemen of St. John’s were full of gratitude for the visit of Miss McRae and her choir.
On Wednesday, a near flawless nativity took place with some very accomplished acting, very little waving to parents and a happy cast performing their version of ‘A King is Born’.  In the build up to this blockbuster, Mrs Currie and Charlotte had conducted rehearsals in the “Tardis” by asking members of the cast to recite their lines from inside the toilets to ensure they were projecting their voices.  Simply genius!  Projection of voice was not a problem later that evening, as the boarders went on a carol singing tour around some familiar and welcoming houses in the local area, where they were warmly greeted and generously rewarded.

Who would not hand over chocolates and such like with Mr Inwood peering from the back over the heads of his expectant choir. 
Not content with providing one brilliant Christmas lunch in the week, Chef, Bruce, Sarah, Emma, Angie, Kerry and Helen set about catering for the Prep School and staff. They produced a Christmas lunch fit for kings and queens and we could not be more grateful for the quality of spread they put on for us all.  This was followed by two forms of questionable entertainment, the first being the Form 8s portrayal of a Christmas ‘Take Me Out’ followed soon after by a staff performance of Sleeping Beauty in the Morrison Hall. The star of the second show was unquestionably Oscar the dog, who had to be held back from licking the Sleeping Beauty back to life.  This privilege eventually fell to Prince George.
This morning, whilst Kindergarten enjoyed a Christmas party, (hugely deserved given that they have a busy week ahead of them), the rest of the school enjoyed a Carol Service of readings, hymns, choirs and orchestral performances at Melrose Parish Church. We are grateful to Reverend Rosemary Frew and Reverend Pip Blackledge for conducting the service and special mention goes to Miss McRae, Mrs Davis and the team of peripatetic staff who have prepared our pupils to sing at an extremely high standard and to have the courage to perform as the largest orchestra St. Mary’s has had in living memory.  Our accomplished musicians are inspirational to those just starting out and they all deserve huge respect for playing their part in a wonderful service.  I would also like to thank our readers and Mr Martin Neilson for accompanying some performances on the piano.  Miss McRae is quietly very proud of her charges who delivered committed and accomplished performances on the day.  
As term concludes, we say a hearty thank you to Rosie Letts who has worked part time in the school office for the last three years and has helped out driving mini buses and in SpLD.  Rosie is a much-loved figure in the St. Mary’s community and we wish her well with her work towards her accreditation as a tutor of Russian.  We also bid a fond farewell to George West, who has been with us as a GAP student for one term, but who has had the most wonderful impact on the pupils, particularly in Pre-Prep and around the boarding environment in the evenings.  George heads off to Australia for a few months to develop his already considerable cricket playing and coaching abilities.  We are not ruling out acquiring his services for a few weeks in the summer term but in the meantime thank him for all his hard work and good-natured contributions.  We are delighted Stefan Rooney will stay on until the end of the summer term and in January Stefan will be joined by two new GAP students, from All Saints Anglican School on the Gold Coast, Will Thomson and Lily Slater. 
As you receive your children and their belongings this afternoon, you will find amongst the piles, the new school magazine; a record of last year’s school year. This latest edition is a culmination of time, hard work and patience from Mrs Bell. I am sure you will join me in passing on my congratulations to St. Mary’s longest serving member of staff for yet another fine publication.
Finally, I would like to thank you our parents, grandparents and supporters of the school for attending today’s Carol Service and for your generous donations towards the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, totally over £700.
All that is left for me to do is to wish you all a very happy Christmas and I look forward to welcoming pupils back on Monday 7th January 2019 at registration time.  

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