Hard work and good fun!
Laidlaw is an industrious place, with our young men working hard towards their A levels and/or Highers, as well as their involvement in numerous co-curricular activities, but it is also a place of peace, warmth and respite from busy schedules. We’ve been busy refurbishing the Dayrooms, considering what the boys felt would make them feel more comfortable and homelier. The result has been welcomed by both the boys and visitors alike. Cushions, plants, lamps and rugs together with new leather sofas have created a relaxing atmosphere which the boys really appreciate. This feeling was aptly captured by Alex, who after a very busy day came in and collapsed on to the sofa saying, “Ah, this just feels like home!” Music to a Housemother’s ears!
Lent is a short but intense term, especially for the Upper Sixth who sat their mock exams just before the Half Term break, the results highlighting any gaps and areas of focus, which they have lots of support to address, both in and out of the House. A brief sigh of relief that they’re over, a celebration in VIA Club, a Half Term break and they’re back on track, with a strong work ethic and a renewed spirit. This is the time of year when every available nook and cranny becomes occupied either by individual pupils surrounded with books and flashcards or by groups of boys testing each other’s knowledge. This sets the tone and is an encouraging example for our Lower Sixth, whose progress exams are coming next term. Again, after a short lull, the boys will need to keep the momentum going as they continue to work through their A-level and Higher courses.
It’s not all hard work though, and Laidlaw is also a place of fun! Outdoor activities have been somewhat curtailed in this ongoing spate of rather wintry weather; however, the boys have been active nonetheless and many a social event has taken place. One event which took advantage of the wintry weather was the Winter Skills Weekend, in which several of our boys, from different corners of the globe including Romania, China and Germany, took to the hills of Glencoe in chilling temperatures to learn about weather, the natural environment, movement on snow, ascending and descending and the use of an ice axe and crampons, but, above all, resilience and teamwork. This is part of our Outdoor Education Programme headed by Mr Rowlands, which offers incredible weekend opportunities such as canoeing down the Tweed, mountain biking in Glentress Forest, rock climbing in Perthshire and hill running in the Pentlands on a Sunday morning. A great way to promote well-being in the outdoors, making new friends and gaining new skills. These weekends are particularly popular amongst our international pupils.
In House we’ve had lots of break time socials, a corridor at a time on rotation with the Housemasters and Housemother. These mainly revolve around bacon rolls, pancakes and the likes, but are also a great opportunity to socialise with a small group, building bonds and having a laugh!
Our House breakfasts each Half Term are another popular event where the boys are afforded a lie-in, a later roll call and a full breakfast in House – this is usually in the last week before Half Term break / End of Term, when a little bit longer in bed is most welcome! Sunday evenings in House are used to take some quiet time to prepare for the week ahead followed by a hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream with the Housemother, often with some home baking which the boys help to make on a Sunday afternoon. Cooking continues on Tuesday evenings for those interested in learning some culinary skills and this term has seen home-made pizzas (including the dough) and homemade burgers and potato wedges as well as stir fries and Thai curry. Hopefully the boys will continue to cook when they leave the folds of Laidlaw!
The VIA Club continues to be well-frequented, with the popular Wednesday night quiz, hosted by Toby, drawing in the crowds. The boys enjoy the space to play pool, darts and board games as well as just chill with friends or watch T.V. It’s a great meeting point for the boys who are now resident prefects in other Houses to catch up with their mates in Laidlaw.
To celebrate Shrove Tuesday, we had the inaugural Laidlaw Pancake Races and a bit of heathy rivalry between Laidlaw North and Laidlaw South! Great fun was had racing down the driveway, tossing pancakes as they ran (in their suits!), the result, a draw between the two Houses with Cameron of Laidlaw South clinching the greatest number of tosses and the coveted title of Greatest Pancake Flipper!
Through all of this tapestry of industry and activity we also try to promote the importance of rest, sleep and downtime as well as healthy eating. Mr Lieberman has also introduced a Friday yoga and mindfulness session which has proved very popular with the boys.
Lastly, continuing in the theme of diversity which I focused on last time, I’d like to finish by highlighting the incredible diversity in the achievements of our Laidlaw boys, across the board from Mandarin to Maths and Engineering to piping and sports.
In Laidlaw North, Johnnie, Bertie and Charles represented Scotland in shooting; Thomas and Daoxin together with Daniel and Han from Laidlaw South did extremely well in the Senior Team Maths Challenge in London; and Adam was Vice Captain of the winning Caledonia U17 team competing in the FOSROC 4’s District Championships at the Oriam.
At the Scottish Engineering Education Scheme finals, our senior team comprising Nicholas, Tom and Harry from Laidlaw North, together with Christian and Joseph from Laidlaw South, won the "Pupils’ Choice Award" which is for the best project as judged by the students from all the competitor teams.
In Laidlaw South, Joseph also received a Headmaster’s Distinction award for his outstanding commitment and achievement in HSK Level 3 Mandarin (Chinese exam equivalent of IELTS) which is recognised globally and serves as an entry-level qualification for university education.
In Rugby, Rory represented the U23 Gibraltar team against Jamaica, whilst Charlie and Ben played for the Scotland U18 team in Wales. In Fives, Marcus, Ben and Tom took part in the Scottish Schools Fives tournament at Fettes, all three reaching the quarter finals, and Ben and Marcus keenly competed against each other in the final, which was clinched by Ben, our new Scottish Singles Champion. Ben also won the annual Jesters Fives tournament, involving 53 players from around the U.K., partnered with one of the Jesters. Further success for Ben and Marcus ensued, winning the Scottish Schools Doubles Cup, beating Tom and Lachlan (V Form) in the final. In Cricket, Tom competed in the U19 Cricket World Cup in South Africa during the month of January, as Scotland’s first choice wicketkeeper-batsman; an incredible achievement!
Our pipers from both North and South have had a busy week both internally and externally, Johnnie (Laidlaw North) took third place in the Senior Merchiston Piping Competition and the Pipe Band played at events at both Murrayfield and Edinburgh Airport!
For a small school our boys are truly amazing and as their Housemother I am brimming with pride!