9th October 2020

Have you ever considered what it must be like to be deaf and blind?  I asked Form 1 last week to give some thought to how they might describe a butterfly to a deaf and blind friend.  Though only five and six years old, they came up with some clever and well thought through answers.  They did this after sitting with their fingers in their ears and their eyes closed for a few seconds, imagining what being deprived of those two senses would be like.

I shared their answers with the school in Monday morning’s virtual assembly and the idea of a butterfly shaped and folded cut out, with added shapes and textures allowed people to do three things;

1. Recognise how important all five senses are to those who have them.
2. Acknowledge how brilliant people are in coping with the loss of two senses we take for granted.
3. Stop feeling sorry for ourselves whilst we are temporarily inconvenienced by restrictions, and appreciate that there are people coping with life-long and much more serious challenges to overcome.
We have lots of reasons to be happy and cheerful, and just as I was expressing that sentiment, coincidently and most appropriately the jovial Mr Bell appeared at the classroom window.
I was about to mention he was beginning his final week as St. Mary’s’ Estates Manager, and by complete coincidence, he and his most able replacement Mr Brydon appeared.  Typically, Mr Bell was smiling and waving in the window at everyone, so we were able to open the window and give him a warm round of applause for his loyal and expert service to the school for the past eleven years.  From his position on the walkway behind the Hamilton Building, he could hear the applause ringing out right throughout the Hamilton, Sanderson, Ganochy and veranda, where all the Form classes are based.
He may be a hardy Gala lad who toughs out cold winters working outside, and battles the elements when out on his very long bike rides in somewhat unappealing tight lycra, but we definitely detected a wee tear in the corner of his eye as he thanked the pupils for the gesture.  I write this ahead of Mr Bell receiving yet another gift, this time from his colleagues, after lunch today.  At the same time, we are also thoroughly looking forward to Mrs Alison Brown completing a ‘drive by’ collection of her own gift and card for her excellent twelve years of service to the school. 
Turning again to earlier in the week, but continuing with staff news, we were delighted to hear Miss Gillian gave birth to Imogen Rose Townsend on Monday afternoon.  Congratulations go to Miss Gillian, Darren and Cohen.  To celebrate, Miss Louise and the team took Kindergarten pupils off for an autumn shuffle through the fallen leaves in Wooplaw Woods.
Mrs Bell and Mr Inwood had their attention drawn to a Shrewsbury School virtual run proposal, sent out to prep schools around the country.  The quirk of this exercise was to create a distance to cover with an unusual obstacle, photograph it, and send it in to the organisers of Shrewsbury’s interesting initiative.  Our own record of this event will feature later in this weekly newsletter, but I would like to highlight how special the afternoon felt to all of us who were involved. 
Both the Middle and Upper schools had a great participation level and the tone amongst the pupils was perfect.  For those who wanted to take the run seriously, they were allowed to do so; those less keen to perform at an ‘elite’ level, still completed the challenge with effort and focus.
Witnessing the pupils gathered afterwards was a memorable moment and hugely rewarding.  There was not a tear in sight, beaming smiles and glowing faces illustrated that six weeks in to term, they continue to be relieved and happy to be back.  It has even been said it is a shame half-term has come around so soon!
If we face increased attendance complications in the coming weeks, Miss McRae has readied your sons, daughters, their teachers and you their parents for that eventuality.  But, in the meantime let us all take stock of what has been a truly remarkable and successful first half of term.  The pupils have been so refreshingly enthusiastic, happy and most importantly of all, their delightful selves.
We may indeed face further challenges going forward, but remember to enjoy all that the senses have to offer.  Enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings our home environments provide, and that just may help keep us all going.
Have a great half term.  Stay well, safe and compliant!

Ali Bell - HM


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