It was a pleasure welcoming Mrs Kerr-Dineen last Friday.  I am very grateful to those of you who took time to chat over coffee with her.
Saturday saw the running of the fifth Tour de Lauder, a superb cycling event set up by Rosie Cully in memory of her late husband, and father to Hannah and Josh, Steve Cully.  It is a measure of how much the family means to so many that around 700 riders, and a huge army of volunteers, contributed to the success of the event.  Mr Bell and his four trusted cycling companions completed the 89-mile course, and many St. Mary’s parents participated in the 50-mile route.  Close friend of Rosie, and overall event organiser, Kate Jackson was delighted with how the day unfolded, and Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland will be receiving a substantial cheque in due course.  It has become tradition that I present Hannah and Josh with their participation medals at assembly, and it is further emphasis of how highly thought of the family is by the St. Mary’s community.  In the same assembly, I had the pleasure of congratulating Matt, who had been ‘Player of the Tour’ when travelling to Ayr with Kelso Minis, and Hamish G for winning gold in the Bonsai Kyoso Open Judo competition in Livingston.  I also awarded Finlay and George with their winners medals from an U10 rugby tournament they played on Sunday.
Continuing on the sporting theme, the Johnston and Eildon Cups took place on Tuesday, and huge congratulations go to the P7 boys for winning the Johnston Cup for touch rugby; the match report, along with all of Wednesday’s fixture reports, are accessible on the school website.

We also had the pleasure of a visit from Mrs Miles, Headmistress of Queen Margaret’s School, York.  Mrs Miles called in to familiarise herself with St. Mary’s, and having been shown around the school by Millie and Naesi, was very complimentary about the warm welcome she had received.  We look forward to welcoming Mrs Miles back in the Michaelmas Term to conduct an assembly.
We were also extremely pleased to welcome another distinguished guest, former headmaster of Belhaven Hill School and Classics and Latin Master of St. Mary’s School, Dumbledore himself, Michael Osborne.  When such a worldly-wise and experienced figures pays a visit to your school, one should never pass up the opportunity to put him to work, so Mr Osborne conducted a quick mock interview with an aspirational member of Form 6 before mixing with his friends and former colleagues in the staff common room.  As always, it was a pleasure to see him.  Had he stayed on for another day, we could have entered him for the UK Maths Challenge in which Forms 7 and 8 pupils took part.   Dr Morgan is producing very high standards, and this will be reflected in strong performances, particularly amongst our most natural mathematicians.  Details of results will be included in a future .mail once the papers have been returned by the University of Leeds.
Thursday saw the Education Committee gather to discuss this year’s successes, progress and to identify areas for further development in the academic year ahead.  Once again, the experience of Mr John Robertson, former Rector of Dollar Academy, proves invaluable as he leads these forums.
This morning’s assembly was delivered by Mrs Runciman, who allowed us to accompany her son Scott, and his girlfriend Vicki, on a visual and photographic tour of their 13-month expedition in South America.  The most exhilarating journey, with some wonderful photographs and anecdotes, could not have failed to leave the assembly with an appetite for travel and adventure.  We are very grateful to Mrs Runciman for her presentation.  I then had the pleasure of awarding book tokens to Geordie and Oliver L, before yet again announcing further Festival Poster Competition success for St. Mary’s.

ophelia art work
Ophelia - age 4 yrs

Though amongst Miss Wood’s talented artists we have not got a top three place this year, we do have a regional winner out of 5,000 entries, in Ophelia.  We also congratulated Tegan,, Isla and Lara, who, alongside Ophelia’s poster, will feature in the Fringe Festival Poster Exhibition in Dynamic Earth at the end of the Royal Mile throughout the summer months.  Ophelia, who was unaware of her success, looked somewhat mystified as I held up her winning entry and asked the artist to identify themselves.  Ms Wood assures me that St. Mary’s remarkable record in this annual competition is not a result of any secret contact amongst the judges.  It is simply a reflection of how talented our young artists are!

After assembly, despite some concerning snowfall, and following close scrutiny of Traffic Scotland cameras on Soutra hill, Miss McRae and Mrs Harvey headed for Fettes with 13 pupils to take part in the Fettes Orchestra day.  As I write, I have received confirmation that they have arrived safely, and that the road is now clear.  We look forward to welcoming them back tonight, and to hearing how their busy, enjoyable and fulfilling day has gone. 
We are very excited to be welcoming back astronaut Dr Jim Reilly next Tuesday. Dr Reilly will be involved in lessons with the middle school throughout the afternoon, and will be talking to Forms 6, 7 and 8 and their parents.  Parents and pupils from P7 at Melrose Primary have also been invited to pop along from 4:00-5:30pm.

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