5th July 2019

Week 11 of the Summer Term always tends to be busy.  Perhaps that is the understatement of the year!

Many of you will have come across the lovely gentleman, Mr Bill Lees, who for many years now, has been coming to St. Mary’s to don the honours boards with his calligraphic mastery.  Mr Lees, a former Head of Galashiels Academy, where he taught Mrs Currie, Mrs Brown, Mr Bell, Mr Millar and Mrs Tait, has been having difficulties with his eyesight and has decided to step back from what essentially is a voluntary contribution to St. Mary’s, because he barely charges for his expertise!

We invited Mr Lees in to assembly to present him with a small gift to show the school’s appreciation for all he has done, and I reiterate our thanks in this update.

Form 6 headed for Harestanes soon after assembly, but returned in time to watch the senior rounders and cricket teams, demolish the mothers and fathers teams, that were supplemented by one or two talented and talentless staff!  The subsequent barbeque and liquid refreshment provided the adults with a platform to relax and start the stiffening up process!

Mrs Stuart took Form 7 to Torness Power Station on Tuesday and this was described as a really informative and worthwhile venture.  Classroom based learning is always a challenge in the final week, but educational excursions of this nature certainly keep the brain cells firing.

Later that evening Mrs Rawson, Mr Inwood, Miss Amado, Stefan, Will, and Lily all headed up the Eildons with a full boarding contingent.  Their walk was energetic and therapeutic.  A very wise way of shaking out the emotional fatigue that builds at the end of a very hectic run in to the end of term.

Our wonderful pre-prep ‘sub-community’ gathered in the Morrison Hall on Wednesday and Mrs Harvey and I took great pleasure in presenting certificates of achievement to our wonderful Reception, Form 1 and Form 2 pupils.  We also took time to congratulate Mrs Currie, Miss Renwick and Mrs Fresle for their superb teaching, and to the many other classroom assistants who have contributed to the busy year these three classes have had. 

Soon afterwards, pre-prep provided us with the most colourful performance of ‘The Bee Musical’ and whilst the entertainment was cheerful and upbeat, the very serious message that we need to look after our bee population came through loud and clear.  This was one of Miss McRae’s and the pre-prep staff’s finest pre-prep performances, for all sorts of good reasons.

Yesterday we were treated to this year’s Form 8 ‘Leavers’ Assembly’.  It took the form of a story (narrated by Eliza) detailing a staff holiday, and incorporated all the quirks and personalities this tremendous year group have been taught and supported by for the many years they have.  As ever, the ‘production’ was highly entertaining, and very them. 

I then had the absolute privilege of unveiling this year’s Form 8 gift to the school.  Parental contributions have provide the school with a most poignant and touching memorial to the 34 St. Mary’s FPs that lost their lives in the First World War.  This took the form of a beautifully crafted deep picture frame made by craftsman Robin Runciman, containing Miss Wood’s poppy designs, painstakingly sewn and embroidered by pupils and parents, with each poppy carrying the name of a soldier.  This wonderful gift will be displayed in the Hamilton Building if you have a desire to view it.  I recommend you pop in to have a look.

Last night we welcomed guest speaker Mr Sandy Telfer to address the St. Mary’s community, and he did so superbly.  Mr Telfer intertwined clever and very relevant words of advice with tales of his own career ups and downs.  His start out as a professional footballer, which through an unfortunate twist of fate saw him badly injured in a climbing accident, led him to drifting along the Dordoigne in Canadian canoes.   He returned to embark upon a fascinating and successful career in the Police Force and CID in Glasgow, at the time of the ‘Ice Cream Wars’ and minors’ strikes.  Mr Telfer then headed back to university to study Law and is now a renowned and highly respected Planning Lawyer in the firm of DLA Piper.

My summary of his address does not do his contribution justice.  He had the audience, young and old, captivated with his tales that were awash with life lessons that we could all benefit from, whether of school age, pension age, or somewhere in between!  We are all extremely grateful to Mr Telfer for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit us here at St. Mary’s.

During the evening, we said good luck to Miss Abbie who heads off on maternity leave.  We also wished Jo Scott Aiton the very best of luck as she has decided not to return to St. Mary’s to teach, after the birth of her son Henry.  Jo will be working on the family business but we have agreed she will keep us posted on her future aspirations.  We then presented Madame Syme with a gift from the school to thank her for an outstanding 23 years of teaching French here at St. Mary’s.  Her methodical and charismatic teaching is renowned and the important extra contributions such as the trips to Dinard on the Normandy coast and the French Café at Kith’n Kin Day have secured her status as a legend of the school.

I write as Sports Day and Leavers’ Lunch have been concluded, with superb organisation of the former making the day yet another rip-roaring success, and Chef’s consummate expertise making the latter a fabulous way to sign off at the end of a busy term, year and for some, their St. Mary’s journey.  A report on Sports Day will follow but congratulations to Champion Girl Emma SW and Champion Boy Caelan for their success on the day.

We wish Form 8 all the very best and as I said in my address at Prize Giving, they should be excited not daunted by the next step, as they all have a huge amount to offer.

Have a restful and enjoyable summer break.

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