Greetings from a sunny Edinburgh – I hope this finds you all safe and well.
Part of what it means to be community is that we commune, which means to meet, to come together, to share. Just now, as we know only too well, that notion has been severely challenged and for Merchiston to come together as a community is not possible.
However, over these last few weeks we have ‘met’ virtually in classes, with tutors, with each other, and I am sure that you have found new ways to socialise and connect with those you do not share your homes with. It has been great for me to drop into our House meetings and to see faces – I never considered how much I would miss simply seeing faces, and it made me realise even more profoundly, the power of being able to meet and engage with one another.
Part of what it means to be a community is that we are there for each other when one of our number is struggling. Again, we cannot physically be there for each other, but we can support each other emotionally, thoughtfully and prayerfully; regulations and guidelines cannot create barriers to such support. You know that you can always, somehow, be there for someone!
Part of what it means to be a community is to celebrate with those who celebrate, to encourage those who are in need of a boost, and mourn with those who mourn.
This week we have as a School community, mourned for, but also remembered with deep affection, one of own. As these parts of being a community come together, we remain a whole community. While that is our reality, it remains our commitment to one another.
I cannot express the extent of my pride in each and every member of our community who has done their bit in ‘keeping going’ over the past weeks. It has been a test and a challenge for us all, but it is so heartening to see this test being embraced so positively; well done!
While it is good to hear that our nation may be over the worst of COVID-19 and that it may not be too long before we can look forward to the first steps towards more familiar ways of living and working, we at School await clear guidance on returning to our campus and how and when that might happen. We are ready to reanimate every aspect of School life on site and look forward to that day, but it is clear that we will need to remain patient for now in the hope that it will not be long before we see you back with us in Edinburgh.
As we continue to move forward this term, we want to provide as many positive learning experiences as we possibly can, mindful of the fact that the Summer Term is, traditionally, a very different experience for many year groups when compared to other times of the year. So far, we have listened to feedback and responded accordingly, and will continue to do so.
Wellbeing for all concerned remains very much at the centre of our planning for successful learning and teaching. There will be opportunities – perhaps opportunities that would not have ordinarily existed – to take a fresh look at the second half of the Summer Term: ways to vary what is learned and how, and crucially how we might prepare our pupils for the next stage in their educational journey, whether that be senior school, GCSE study, A Level/Higher study or University life.
For now, I wish that all remain safe and well. Keep going, and do not forget the strong bond we all share as members of our exceptional Merchiston community. I am hugely proud of each and every one!
This week, the Houses welcomed their new prefect teams and they have busied themselves with organising House social activities. There have been lots of House quizzes, and Chalmers West have started up an Afternoon Club with plans to create a collective movie trailer – I look forward to seeing this @MerchiCW! Rogerson House have been encouraging each other to try and learn a new skill, with some great examples like wood turning, baking and barbecues already being shared @MerchiRog. The Sixth Form continue to do great work with their charity fundraising initiatives, and Mr Rowlands has been out-and-about doing deliveries for the local community in the school minibus (follow him @Merchi6th).
Well done to Stephan (Fifth Form) who spent the Easter holiday organising the manufacture and delivery of 3000 masks and 15,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to the charity MENCAP to help protect their staff at this crucial time. He used his Mandarin speaking skills to source a suitable Chinese manufacturer, place the order and organise the import of the goods via airfreight and train. This shows amazing entrepreneurial spirit, and also generosity of time and energy. You can read more about his story and what he learned from his experience on our web news.
This week we also thank our Summer Sport Captains. Although they have unfortunately not been able to fully test their leadership skills this summer, we thank them for their commitments to school sport. Congratulations to our Captain of Athletics for 2020, Jamie, whose work ethic, dedication and commitment to the programme has been outstanding. Well done and we hope to see you back on the track soon. Congratulations too to our Co-Captains of Cricket, Tom and Michael. Both boys have displayed a passion and dedication to their cricketing journeys, and their commitment to the cricket programme all the way from Pringle must not be overlooked. Hopefully you will still get some game time in August and September.
ACADEMIC AND CO-CURRICULAR UPDATE
Tuesday afternoon sport sessions – This week saw the start of a weekly programme of Zoom sessions offering help and support with training, visits from special guests and ideas to stay active.
PUPIL SUPPORT UPDATE
Wellbeing Top 10 – Chalmers West have risen to the challenge of creating different versions of our "Wellbeing Top 10" and here is one of their creations, thanks to Hamish! (see image below).
Wellbeing Survey – Last week the pupils had the opportunity to complete a short wellbeing survey on their experience so far this term and their feedback was very helpful and will be taken into account as we continue to reflect and improve, looking to keep everyone engaged, supported and inspired by our "distance school" experience.
If you are a parent, you will find the full version of the Headmaster’s weekly message on the Parent Portal. Please also visit the News Centre to see all our latest news, blog posts, podcasts and social media posts.