11th January 2019

Happy New Year.
This time last week, staff met to prepare for the term ahead and to benefit from ongoing work being conducted by Mrs Runciman and Mrs Fresle, promoting emotional health and wellbeing in young people, with a specific focus on brain development. We are hugely appreciative to Mrs Runciman and Mrs Fresle for delivering this latest part of “Confident Staff, Confident Children” initiative. During last Friday, news filtered in that of the seven pupils who auditioned for the NYCOS (National Youth Choir of Scotland), a number had been selected. This was confirmed as our proud pupils bounced through the door on Monday morning for the first day of term. Congratulations to Lucy M, Willa, Imo B, Ollie dG, Anna M, and Thomas E. To have six St. Mary’s pupils selected is something of which Miss McRae, Mrs Davis, and Mrs Leary are rightly very proud.
It was a pleasure congratulating the six in Monday morning’s assembly, as it was a pleasure to welcome Will Thomson and Lily Slater, our new GAP students from All Saints Anglican School on the Gold Coast. Will and Lily have settled in very well, and have already had a very positive impact around school and in the boarding environment. They have even adapted from a Queensland summer to Scottish January… so far!
A number of pupils reported that they had received various devices for Christmas, and I highlighted a remarkable skill young people seem to have these days. This entails being able to watch a film, read a magazine, drink, eat snacks, and look at their mobile phones all at the same time. I had witnessed such a spectacle whilst watching one of my favourite films - The Railway Children.  I carried out an experiment that involved a twelve-question quiz on the film after it had finished. The results were startling. Having focused on four different tasks at once, my 18-year-old daughter correctly answered eleven out of twelve questions put to her about the film (which she had not seen before). It is just a shame that such impressive multi-tasking skills are not transferable to the area of housekeeping!
According to my request for a show of hands, none of the St. Mary’s school role of 162 pupils have seen The Railway Children: either that or they were too dozy to put their hands up to confirm that they had seen it. If they have not, they have been deprived of an essential part of a proper childhood!
Throughout the week, rehearsals for the middle school and senior school productions have got underway. There is a positive buzz already, as pupils benefit from Miss McRae’s tireless direction and enthusiasm. As if the late afternoon rehearsals were not enough, this morning’s assembly consisted of Miss McRae presenting Cadence playing ‘Hushabye Mountain’ on the flute, Hector playing ‘The Skye Boat Song’ on the cello, and Hannah F ‘The German Tune’ on the cello, and unlike the orchestra that features in The Railway Children, each of these pieces was played one at a time and extremely efficiently. 
I had the pleasure of handing out Accelerated Reader tokens to Geordie, Oliver L, and Mhairi. I then congratulated Ted, who has already quizzed on two million words this academic year, and Christian, who has quizzed on four million words this academic year. We have seven Accelerated Reader millionaires, the same total as was the case at this stage last year, which is most encouraging. 
Finally, a big welcome to our new pupil starters this term: Coco, Rose, and Leila, and to our three new starters in Kindergarten.


In case you are interested, the Railway Children quiz is below with the answers on the back page of the .mail. See how you get on

  1. The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit (Television Adaptation)
  2. What is the full name of the person narrating sections of the story?
  3. The family lived an upper-middle class lifestyle in Edwardian London before moving to which county?
  4. What was the name of the village station called out by the Station Master when trains arrived?
  5. The name of the cottage the family moved to, related to its appearance.  What was the name of the cottage?
  6. What was the Station Master’s name?
  7. Peter attempted to help his mother and sisters make ends meet, but his sisters scolded him for his actions.  What were his actions?
  8. How was Mrs Waterbury making a small amount of money, whilst her husband was away?
  9. The Station Master initially took badly to the generosity of the village and the children on his birthday.  When lectured by his kind wife, he quickly mellowed.  How old was he on his birthday?
  10. The three children, and in turn, their mother, helped a man who collapsed on the station.  What was this man’s name, nationality and purpose in being there?
  11. What hint that something ‘extraordinary’ was going to happen, confused the three children as they waved to the steam train from the hillside? 
  12. As the steam from the train cleared, slowly revealing her father standing facing her on the platform, what did Bobbie cry out?
  13. What year was the film released? 
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