24th May 2019

On Sunday evening I am sure, like many viewers, my attention was grabbed by BBC Sports Journalist Dan Walker’s introduction to the documentary “A Royal Team Talk: Tackling Mental Health.  Throughout the accounts given by footballing celebrities such as Gareth Southgate, Peter Crouch, Jermaine Jenas and Danny Rose, and the thought provoking contribution of the Duke of Cambridge, I found myself thinking of how their experiences would and could relate, in particular to our senior boys. 
In Monday morning’s assembly, I recounted a couple of the stories told during the programme and emphasised the main message coming from all involved in the documentary - ‘Don’t bottle things up, talk about your fears and anxieties with non-judgemental people you trust.’
Jermaine Jenas referred to the negative, critical and abusive twitter comments he invariably receives after his Match of the Day analysis on a Saturday evening.  He highlighted how some weeks he feels strong enough to let this vitriol go over his head, and he has even replied from time to time.  However, like all of us, there are days when he despairingly asks himself ‘what is wrong with these people?’
This led in to me being able to congratulate two St. Mary’s boys, whose names were not known by the parent who notified me of a recent incident in a Borders play park.  Two girls from another school had been witnessed “confronting” the boys and the parent was shocked by the school related insults being levelled at them.  The St. Mary’s boys had offered “an extremely measured and mature response” including “that they were proud of their education and wanted to be “smart”.  The boys returned no insults, were not critical of the girls, but had the strength of character to stand up for their school and the education they receive.  I am sure Jermaine Jenas and the rest of the participants in the documentary would be very proud of the boys.  Nearly as proud as the boys’ Headmaster.
Then into the week we all flew.  Form 4 visited the Countryside Day at Springwood Park with Mrs Runciman, Mrs Redmond and Stefan.  The exhibitors made the day fun, interesting and informative for all concerned.  Our pupils with farming connections impressed with their own extensive knowledge and came across as just as enthusiastically as those unfamiliar to this type of environment.  Thanks to Mrs R, Mrs R and Stefan for taking the groups .
Mrs Stuart ran her science clinic for many of the senior boarders whilst several of the younger boarders and some others took part in this week’s biking activity being run by students from Borders College.
Fixtures on Wednesday included some narrow wins, decisive victories, defeats and heavy defeats, but each of the St. Mary’s sides made progress.  Match reports available on the website provide much more detail.
Miss McRae has proudly highlighted the 37 ABRSM music exams being sat by 31 pupils as I write.  This is a reflection of how popular playing at least on musical instrument is, here at St. Mary’s. 
During a visit to Oundle School earlier in the week, as Headmaster’s gathered to recognise Registrar Gary Phillips’ nineteen year tenure, and to wish him well in retirement, entertainment was put on by the Oundle Jazz group.  One particularly talented pupil who has won a place at Bristol Conservatoire, played a splendid piece on the trumpet.  The audience was aghast to hear this instrument was in fact his second or third choice, as he is also an extremely accomplished violinist and guitarist.  I would have paid a lot of money to listen to him and the Jazz Band play.  However, one of the benefits of being a feeder prep school head meant I had the privilege of being an invited guest!  On behalf of St. Mary’s I wished Gary Phillips a splendid and restful retirement, and we look forward to working closely with his replacement, Mr Antony Bounds
This morning, Form 7 delivered a very informative and entertaining assembly on Captain James Cook.  We learned that his father was born in Ednam, near Kelso, before marrying a Yorkshire woman and moving to that part of the United Kingdom.  Captain Cook’s story is fascinating, and we all left the assembly hall far better informed thanks to the amusing and informative presentation.
I congratulated our UK Maths Challenge award winners, with particular mention of Mhairi and Eliza who achieved this year’s Gold standard.  Mhairi moves through to the next stage, known as the ‘Kangaroo’.  I also distributed John Muir Awards to Form 5, who have been working through various tasks, challenges and projects to gain them this most worthwhile recognition.  As we departed from the assembly hall, Form 2 headed off to Gunsgreen House in Eyemouth, as part of their studies on smugglers and pirates.  We look forward to hearing of their discoveries on their return.
The very full schedule throughout the week and for our boarders and boarding staff into each evening, leads to rest and recuperation opportunities being increasingly valuable at this time of year.  Whilst Form 8 may be indulging in light revision over the weekend, as Common Entrance appears on the horizon, I hope you all have a relaxing and enjoyable weekend.  

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