31st October, 2018
The School has just returned from Half Term break, and I hope that everyone had a good rest and spent some quality time with family. That said, there was plenty going on over the break. In addition to the two rugby festivals, our sister school in China officially opened, and our Close Harmony Group, along with pipers, were there to help MIS Shenzhen celebrate their new school with a touch of Scottish flair. I would like to thank the boys and Mr Dennis and Mr Thompson for making the long journey to represent the school. I also got the opportunity to meet a number of the parents, both coincidentally and as a planned part of my visit to China and Hong Kong, and it was great to see a number of our pupils relaxing with family. There was one additional achievement I was able to see first hand – Lukas passed his Sailing Federation Level 3 qualification, in what I understand were very difficult conditions, putting him only one step away from being a fully qualified instructor. Congratulations Lukas.
As MIS Shenzhen grows, I hope that the bond between our two schools will also grow and from that, opportunities for Merchiston pupils and staff in Edinburgh will arise. More on that to follow at another time perhaps!
I said that I would come back to rugby. We have already celebrated the success of our U15 and U18 teams at their respective tournaments, but there is one other aspect of our performance that I would like to touch upon and celebrate. I was unable to travel to Langley or St Joseph’s, but was able to watch the games on live feed from St Joseph’s end, and also follow the scores come in from Langley. It was most satisfying entertainment. But what made me most proud, were the team reports I received from former colleagues about our boys demeanour on, but more importantly, off the pitch. When someone who works in another school tells you that you should be very proud of how your boys interact with other schools and coaches, and how they are polite and considerate when you speak to them, it is hugely gratifying but also a testament to the school as a whole. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and it pleases me hugely that Merchiston boys do that so well. I urge them to keep this up! When you are polite and considerate it is recognised and admired.
In the coming weeks, as we move towards Remembrance Sunday, our minds will shift to that significant act of reverence.
History of the Poppy
Poppies were a common sight, especially on the Western Front. They flourished in the soil churned up by the fighting and shelling. The flower provided Canadian doctor John McCrae with inspiration for his poem “In Flanders Fields”, which he wrote whilst serving in Ypres in 1915. In 1918, in response to McCrae’s poem, American humanitarian Moina Michael campaigned to make the poppy a symbol of remembrance of those who had died in the war.
Artificial poppies were first sold in Britain in 1921 to raise money for the Earl Haig Fund in support of ex-servicemen and the families of those who died in the conflict. Selling poppies proved so popular that in 1922 the British Legion founded a factory – staffed by disabled ex-servicemen – to produce its own. It continues to do so today.
Poppies sold in Scotland are made at Lady Haig’s poppy factory in Edinburgh by some 40 veterans – the majority with disabilities.
The Scottish poppy is a different shape to the English poppy – it has four lobed petals and no leaf. It is actually botanically incorrect to have a leaf, and the charity that makes the poppies in Scotland say that it would cost £15,000 to add a leaf, so they believe that that money is better spent on veterans.
Other charities sell poppies in different colours, each with their own meaning, but all to commemorate the losses of war. White poppies, for example, symbolise peace without violence, and purple poppies are worn to honour animals killed in conflict.
Why a Poppy?
The poppy is not a glorification of war but a humanitarian act of remembrance. The poppy continues to be sold worldwide to raise money and to remember those who have lost their lives in the First World War and in subsequent conflicts. As we wear them, let us remember why we wear them and what they symbolise.
Notices from Whole School Assembly
Jack, from The Scots College, Sydney, has joined the Fifth Form at the end of the Half Term holiday and is staying with us until the end of term.
ESU Junior Debating Competition
Congratulations and commiserations to the ESU Junior Debating Team comprising: Kit, Alec, Calum and Ruaridh. In a competition just before Half Term, the boys had to oppose and summarise the motion: This house would make all bus transport free in Scotland.
As the youngest, and least experienced competitors, they were commended for the depth of their analysis and their exemplary skills in persuasive argument. Narrowly defeated by former Scottish finalists Craigmount High, the boys did well as total novices and should be proud of their individual achievements as participants in a national debating competition.
Delivered by Jamie and Lachlan
I would like to start by reporting of the sports during the last few days before Half Term started. In rugby, the 1XV have progressed to the next round of the Schools cup. They recorded a convincing 50-5 against Glenalmond. The 2XV, U16As, B2s and C2s won against The Royal High School. The U16As won and the B3s and C3s lost against Lasswade. The U13Bs and U9s won against Belhaven Hill. The U13As, U11As and U10s lost.
In basketball, the 1V recorded two wins in the league against Portobello and Holyrood High Schools. In football, the 1XI won against Stewarts Melville B team. There was another hat trick in this match, so please come forward to receive a match ball, James.
The Colts Fives team won their first game of the season against Fettes. And in squash, the U18s lost against Fettes.
Just back from Half Term, on Saturday, the U16As drew against Hawick and won against Newcastle School for Boys. The B1s and U13As won against Hawick and the C2s lost. The C1s won against Newcastle School for Boys. The U13Bs won and the B2s and C3s lost against Selkirk.
Over Half Term, the 1XV and B1s travelled down to the St Josephs and Langley National festivals respectively. This is the fifth year in row we have attended these very competitive tournaments down in Norfolk.
On Day 1 at St Joseph’s, the 1XV topped the group after wins against John Fisher, St Joseph’s and Whitchurch HS. This meant we had three further group matches in the cup competition against Hurstpierpoint College, Denstone College and RGS Newcastle on the Sunday. After beating Hurstpierpoint 17-7, the physical nature of the tournament was starting to take its toll. Two tough defeats against Denstone and eventual winners, RGS Newcastle meant it was the end of the road. However, for the third year in a row we had a top 4 finish in the event. This tournament is real test for all boys who play and we hope this will have been a learning process for all who represented the school. A superb effort for a school of this size.
The B1s travelled down to Langley looking to go one step further after losing in the final last year. Facing Abingdon School in their opening fixture, Merchiston hit the ground running and playing some typically fast-paced rugby, they finished the game as worthy 47-0 winners. With their spirits high, Merchiston faced a strong Dulwich College side in their next game which proved to be an extremely challenging encounter. In a bruising affair between two highly competitive teams, Merchiston’s resolute defence proved too strong, earning a hard fought 22-5 victory. Having won both of their group games, Merchiston were placed into the Cup Group alongside Bedford School and tournament hosts Langley School in Phase 2 of the competition. After a fast start to Day 2 and a comfortable victory against Bedford they had to recover quickly for the Cup Final. As expected, the final was played at a frantic pace in front of a vocal home crowd with both sides threatening each other’s defences equally. With everything still to play for in the second half, Langley redoubled their efforts only to find themselves outmuscled and outplayed by the Merchiston side. The game ended 34-0 and Merchiston were crowned Langley School U15 Rugby Festival Champions for the first time. Well done to the following boys and please come forward: Andrew, James, Robbie, Felix, Monty, Callum, Tom, Rudi, Matthew, Gregor, Amaan, Alex, Jonathan, Arran, Drew, Jack, Frederick, Jonathan, Lachlan, Max, Callum
We also had 10 pupils who represented Edinburgh and Glasgow at Under 16 and Under 18 level with Edinburgh lifting the Junior 1872 Cup at both ages. We are extremely proud as a school to see our boys stepping up to the next level and performing well. Congratulations to the following boys on their selection;
U16 – Edinburgh- Rudi, James, Guy, Oscar, Tom, Teddy and Ben
U16 Glasgow – Adam
U18 – Jamie (Captain) and Dean
Well done to everyone recognised in the Team of the Week!
Oscar U16 A