Happy New Year!
As a new decade dawns, I wish you all a very happy, healthy and successful New Year! Here in Laidlaw we have started with a very positive vibe; the boys have returned well rested and ready for the term ahead.The Lent Term sees our Upper Sixth sitting their mock exams, the Lower Sixth applying for prefectship and we welcome Nacho, an exchange student from Argentina, for a month. Nacho is looking forward to all the different experiences his exchange has to offer and is settling in well. The boys have been very welcoming and I was heartened to find Muhammad and Fin (Laidlaw North Head and Deputy Head of House) at his door on Sunday evening introducing themselves, checking if he was comfortable in his room, had everything he needed, encouraging him to ask if there was anything at all they could do to help and inviting him to ‘Hot Chocolate and Cookies’ in the dayroom after quiet time.
This is also a great opportunity for Thomas who is heading to Argentina on an exchange this summer and is really excited about experiencing a different culture and learning about the government, which he finds interesting. The Schools' Exchange Programme with 6 different schools in 5 countries (South Africa, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia and India) offers an amazing opportunity for the boys who participate to develop their sense of autonomy, flexibility and resourcefulness as well as embracing and adapting to very different cultures.
I am ever impressed with the sense of community within the House and reading the British Boarding Schools (BSA) newsletter for January where the focus for this year is on diversity I feel that in Laidlaw we embrace this wholeheartedly. I’m happy to say that this has been reflected in feedback from our international pupils as well as in the recent wellbeing survey.
Our theme and focus throughout this year is celebrating ‘Diversity’ in our boarding community both in the UK and overseas. In so many ways our world is more connected than ever but often more at odds than ever. Boarding offers a true opportunity for different cultures, race, religion, and views to come together to learn and grow. (BSA Newsletter Issue 159, 10.1.20)
Learning and growing together in a community which draws together boys from all parts of the world is what we are all about and strive to improve on every day. From a boarding perspective it’s about all the little things which make a difference: about being tolerant, open-minded and inclusive as well as embracing and promoting the values identified within our Pupil Charter to enable pupils to grow, learn and develop. The desire to be “compassionate, sensitive, respectful and positive in our interactions with others” is flourishing amongst the young men of Laidlaw.
The values of “empathy, respect, forbearance and cooperation” which are outlined in the House philosophy are very much in evidence and promoted within the House community.
“Laidlaw is a place where boys should be allowed to exercise certain individual freedoms but always with due regard for the well-being of others and the sense of community and joint enterprise for which the House so firmly stands. It is, in some ways, a place of sanctuary from the rigours of everyday school life, but such liberty can only be permitted to prevail insofar as it ensures every pupil’s ability to flourish. In this way, the House is somewhere where empathy, respect, forbearance and co-operation are championed and where boys are free to explore who they want to be rather than what they want to be.” (Laidlaw House Handbook 2019-2020)
I’d like to finish by weaving the thread of community and diversity back to our final celebration of the Michaelmas Term where our boys embodied the community spirit once again by uniting pupils from all denominations, faiths, races and cultures in our inaugural Laidlaw Christmas Carol Competition.
This was a thoroughly heart-warming and very festive evening of tree decorating, hot chocolate, mince pies carol singing, the naturally competitive nature of the boys fuelling a hearty (and very loud!) competition between Laidlaw North and Laidlaw South, kindly judged by Rev and Mrs Blair, their criteria being tunefulness, enthusiasm and Christmas spirit … the whole House belting out The Twelve Days of Christmas, Ding Dong Merrily and Good King Wenceslas almost lifted the roof and after some consultation the winner was announced to great cheer .. Laidlaw North clinched it!! Their enthusiasm was unrelenting and their joy infectious as they took to the icy paths of Merchiston to share their Christmas spirit with the other Houses, giving them a rendition of their carols … returning about an hour later, with slightly gravelly tones, to sing the School song with all their hearts!
A perfect end to a wonderful evening of camaraderie, a true sense of belonging to their respective Houses and a spirit which exemplifies everything we stand for.
With very best wishes