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Headmaster’s Headlines 26-11-19
christmas carol poster

The School play in conjunction with St George’s School is a suitably seasonal title “A Christmas Carol”. Performances will be held in the Theatre at Merchiston at 7 pm on 5, 6 and 7 December and tickets can be purchased by contacting Reception.

MVP MENTORS SCHEME (presented by Ben)
MVP is in its third year at Merchiston and it is growing as expected, with 16 trained L6 MVP Mentors this term. We have participated in training sessions with Mr Main and Mrs Nicol to prepare us to deliver important sessions to the 3rd and 4th Form pupils respectively. We have delivered two sessions already to each group and plan to deliver two more next term and one more in the Summer.
The topics covered so far include gender stereotypes, different forms of abuse, verbal insults and excluding others through social media. These are all very pertinent topics that affect every one of us, and it is important that we as a pupil body understand that these negative behaviours are unacceptable at Merchiston and in the wider world. What we also need to understand is that we have the power to challenge these negative behaviours as empowered bystanders, without putting ourselves in harm’s way, and contribute to creating a safe and happy environment where all people can thrive. These are the skills that we aim to discuss and build in our younger peers through these sessions, and having delivered two sessions so we are proud to receive our MVP badges so that pupils can speak to us around school if they need any help or advice.
Those of us receiving our badges are: BenDouglasJohnMykytaThomasJohnnieRobbieTomAlexTeddyCharles and Adam
On completion of their second sessions next term the following boys will also receive their badges: HenryFredToby and Tristan

MVP

BARCELONA BASKETBALL TOUR REPORT (presented by Danny and Oscar)
Over weekend-leave the basketball team headed to Barcelona. After touching down in Barcelona on Thursday, we had some free time to relax before a game against CB Calafel that evening. It was a tight game which went right down to the wire, but unfortunately we weren’t able to seal the victory and the game ended up with a score of 54-50. The next day, the team enjoyed looking around the city of Barcelona whilst visiting lots of famous landmarks, such as the Sagrada Familia cathedral. After sightseeing, we prepared ourselves for our next game against the American School of Barcelona.
After a solid first quarter we found ourselves with a comfortable lead but we got too comfortable and the opposition fought back, nonetheless we were able to hang on and eventually won the game 38-30. The next morning, we headed to the port Aventura theme park, where we were able to enjoy a whole day of adrenaline-packed rides. Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel for our final night in Barcelona and flew back to Scotland the next morning.
Thanks must go to Mr Sanford and Mrs Marshall for accompanying us on the trip, and also Mr McCann for organising such a great tour.

basketball tour

SPORTS REPORT
In Rugby, the U16As won 13-7 in their semi-final clash with George Watson’s. They have now secured a final at Murrayfield against Dollar Academy, on Wednesday 4 December. In other matches, the 2XV, B1s and C1s lost against St Aloysius and the D1s, U11As and U11Bs won. The 3XV won and the U16Bs, B2s and U13Bs lost against Berwickshire High School. The C2s drew. The B3s lost to George Watson’s. The U13Cs and U10s won against Fettes. The U13Bs, U11As, U11Bs lost.
In Football, the 1XI won against Glenalmond, 3-1.
In Tennis, the U18Bs won against George Watson’s.
In Golf, the U18s secured a place in the next stage of the Northern Regional Competition with a victory against The High School of Glasgow.
The Colts Fives and U18 Squash teams both lost against Edinburgh Academy.
In Swimming, well done to Micah who has qualified for the Scottish Schools Swimming Championships after his performances at the Edinburgh Schools Competition.

HEADMASTER’S MESSAGE
Another busy week is behind us and I would like to start by congratulating all of those involved in last Friday’s Choral and Instrumental Concert. It was an incredibly entertaining evening with some wonderful performances. I would like to thank all of those who performed and also Mr Dennis and his dedicated team of teachers who put the programme together.
If you have been reading the newspapers recently, in amongst the numerous references to the general election and Donald Trump’s impeachment proceedings, you may have noticed that Tim Berners-Lee, credited as the inventor of the worldwide web, is back in the news. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, whilst working at CERN in Geneva, Berners-Lee invented the worldwide web, an invention that has, to put it mildly, transformed society, being listed as the greatest cultural moment that shaped the modern world, allowing instantaneous communication all over the world and changing the way society interacts in a way not seen before. Berner-Lee’s vision for the web was to bring people together and to allow information to be freely shared. It has changed the lives of billions and has changed the world for good.
However, 30 years after creating the web Berners-Lee is deeply concerned that his vision of the web is being distorted and damaged. To that end he, and eighty organisations around the world, have drawn up a contract for the web to safeguard the future success of the web in society, to spread its benefits to every corner of the world, and to ensure that it is its benefits that are being promoted making the web a safe and positive tool for all to use.
His contract lists 9 principles split into thirds - three for governments to focus on; three for companies to focus on and three for citizens of the world to focus on.

Governments
1.    Make sure everyone can connect to the web
2.    Keep it available to all, all of the time
3.    Respect peoples’ right to privacy
Companies
4.    Make the internet affordable for all
5.    Protect people’s personal data
6.    Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst
Citizens
7.    Be inventors, collaborators
8.    Build strong committees that respect civil discourse and human dignity
9.    Fight for the web; in other words, fight to preserve all that it good on the internet and challenge all that is bad

I spoke a few weeks ago about political parties and their attack ads, using the internet and social media to drive negative agendas against their opponents. Companies like Facebook have this week been criticised by many (including Berners-Lee) for their willingness to run paid ads that contain fake news. The comedian Sacha Baron-Cohen has also challenged this behaviour, suggesting that companies like Facebook in another time would have been on the wrong side of history. In his view, their willingness to amplify lies at the expense of truth, compares to the approach that Nazi propogandists took in the 1930s and 40s.
So, I go back to Berner-Lee’s contract for the web, especially, Principle 8: Build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity. How often in our interactions online have we failed to do that? How often have we chosen to undermine others with negativity, unpleasant comments or lies? The man responsible for creating the internet, and the connectivity that it provides, is worried about the future of his creation, if it is to remain a positive potential source for good, then we as citizens must play our part in setting the right tone. Disengaging from hate, respecting individuals and community, online as well as in the flesh, and not hiding behind this notion that because it is online, it is not that bad; it is just chat/banter, “I would never say that to their face” kind of attitudes –  wrong, negative and destructive.
So, play your part; build strong communities; respect civil discourse, respect human dignity: online and offline.

Jonathan Anderson