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Headmaster’s Headlines

Headmaster’s Headlines

6th March, 2019

At Assembly on Tuesday, we wished Henry (II Form) a happy birthday before handing over to Dr Mechie to talk about World Book Day.

merchiston world book dayWORLD BOOK DAY
Dr Mechie explained that Tuesday’s Assembly would be focussing on World Book Day, which falls on Thursday 7 March. He explained that books are not things we talk about just for one day: there are amazing things happening with books and with reading all over the school all the time, and that is what we want to share.
Dr Mechie then introduced Benjamin and Andrew to speak about the author, Kate Wiseman, who visited Merchiston last week:
On Monday 25 February J4 to 2nd forms had an interesting and enjoyable talk and workshop from Kate Wiseman, the  children’s author who wrote the fascinating children’s book Gangster School. The book is a funny and mysterious tale about a school for mastermind criminals. The school is called Blaggard’s School for Tyrants of Tomorrow and the masterminds learn subjects unlike ours: instead of Maths and English they learn Thievery and Fabrication. In the book an old blaggardian called Pecunia Bad Penny returns to the school with a secret plot to take over the school and then the world by using brainwashing headphones.
merchiston kate wisemanWhen Kate Wiseman came to our school she talked about her life, how she became an author and also gave a reading and introduced us to her characters “Millie and Charlie”, students at Blaggard’s School. We had the chance to buy her two books and have them signed by Kate. We then went to the library for the workshop where we learned about the history of Blaggard’s, which is quite different from the history of Merchiston! We then enjoyed creating prospectuses for Blaggard’s.
Some of us had the chance to have lunch with Kate and we found her a very inspiring and creative author. We found it inspiring that, even at the age of 50, when her son had left home to go to university, Kate had committed herself to writing a book! Her ideas about school subjects – thievery, disguise and deception – we found creative and hilarious. We thoroughly enjoyed our meeting with Kate Wiseman and can’t wait to finish reading Gangster School!

Dr Mechie then spoke about the School’s Book Groups which happen throughout the year and are open to all pupils to join. The Groups read many different types of books and pupils are encouraged to choose the ones to be read. It is not too late to get involved: there will be a full cycle of Book Groups next term, any interested pupils should send an email to Dr Mechie or one of the librarians. All are very welcome.

He then introduced Aonghas, who read to the assembly from the current Junior School Book Group reader Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean.
Finlay and Max who are both members of the Middle School Book Group spoke about the book to the Assembly;
Max: Every meeting we go around the table to hear what everyone thought of the book. What’s good about this is that there are no right answers you don’t have to agree with anyone, which sparks constructive arguments. It is also good how the discussion drifts off into different subjects. Members of the group then suggest what book they would enjoy reading next or recommend books that they have read in the past, then we decide on the next book, which the librarians order for us. My favourite Book Group book has so far been A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman as it was challenging in some ways while actually being really easy to read. Plus it was a graphic novel and had great pictures.
Finlay: Each time we meet, Mrs Williams or Ms Gibb take the time to bake something delicious for us to eat at the meeting. We eat these treats with the other boys from different year groups while we listen to each other’s thoughts on the book. Lots of teachers from the English department talk to us about the book to and ask us questions which challenge us to think in different ways about it and about other books that we’ve read. My favourite book I have read at the book group was my first, The Boy in the Tower, because it was the perfect book for me at that time of my life.

Dr Mechie then introduced Thomas, Freddie and John, who have attended lots of Book Groups and library events over their years at the school and they shared a few thoughts on what that, and reading and books in general, has given them during that time.
John: Reading is fantastic for your academic life. It helps to vastly expand your vocabulary, and assists with forming arguments. This is essential for essay subjects like English and History, as reading regularly will allow you to expand your knowledge on how to write argumentative pieces and gain an edge. It allows you to learn without thinking, as you can evolve your critical thinking skills while reading stories that interest you.
Thomas: Fiction in my opinion is the best type of literature. This is because it allows you to explore the depths of your imagination, broadening your interests and making you more interesting as a person. Also, if you learn to read you learn to write. This means that by reading you familiarise yourself with the structure and language of good literature, allowing you to mirror it in your own writing and your own thought.
Freddie: Not only can reading fiction enlighten your imagination, but reading non-fiction can enlighten your real-life perspective. By absorbing the techniques used by great writers, and great journalists, we gain the ability to think critically about the world, argue our points of view, and grow as people. Even though we’re celebrating World Book Day, it doesn’t have to be about books: just picking up a newspaper, reading whatever you have to hand, can help to enlighten your perspective by absorbing the words and worlds around you.

Jeffrey world book day boysDr Mechie stated that all the boys we heard from in Assembly this week are readers, and have benefited from being so. I would encourage you to read more too. He issued a challenge to all assembled –  pick up a book this week and read it; discuss it with someone: a friend, a Teacher, a Housemaster. 

merchiston shelvesFinally, this week, all pupils were sent images of the book shelves belonging to some of the Teachers at the School, with the challenge of identifying the owners of the shelves. The books we read and keep on our shelves contribute to making us the person we are and they travel with us through our lives. The pupil who correctly identifies the most shelves will win a prize of Book Tokens. There will be one winner in each section of the school. Submissions must be received by this Friday and the answers and winners will be revealed at sectional assemblies next week.

HERIOT WATT UNIVERSITY VISIT (presented by Jeffrey)
Merchiston JeffreyDanielHector and I were excited that Dr Pettigrew took us to Heriot Watt University to attend a workshop held in its undergraduate Chemistry laboratory. What a large laboratory! Fume cupboards were all around, with all sorts of strange apparatus and unfamiliar chemicals. Esters were the “thing” we were trying to make, with a lot of heating, distillations, shaking, sniffing and fun.
We were ahead of most of the other groups as we have done plenty of practical work at School, which definitely helped. Burgers, chips and pizza in the canteen were absolutely delicious; so was the ester we made, it smelled nice!
This was an enjoyable day, without anyone injured in the laboratory fortunately!  We wish to thank Dr Pettigrew for teaching us Chemistry in school, and taking us to such an amazing event.

CHINESE PROFICIENCY EXAM (HSK)
Merchiston CharlesIn order to prepare our Mandarin learners for the Chinese market, Mrs Chang has always encouraged UVI pupils to sit the Chinese Proficiency Exam (HSK) as well as their Advanced Higher Exams. HSK is an equivalent Chinese version of IELTS which is recognised globally and is a university entrance level qualification. Edinburgh University has just confirmed that Charles (UVI) has passed the HSK Level 3 with a very strong score: achieving HSK level 3 will enable him to study in many of the top Chinese Universities or Colleges.

SPORT REPORT (presented by Rory)
In Rugby, the 2XV, U16A, U16B, B1, B2, C1, C2, U13A and U13B all won against Stirling County. The U12 won against Clifton Hall.
In Hockey, the U18 won 4-1 against Harris Academy to reach the final of the Aspire Cup Plate in Glasgow next week. The U14 and 1XI lost and the U15 won against Fettes. The U15 drew against Stewart’s Melville.
In Football, the 1XI won against Fettes. The U9 and U10 won against St Mary’s and the U9B lost.
In Squash, the U18 lost against Stewart’s Melville.
In Swimming, the U13 and U11 lost against Fettes and Loretto.

Merchiston FreddieWell done to all the Merchiston juniors who took part in the IAPS Cross Country running Championships at Belhaven Hill. There were some fantastic performances. Congratulations to Freddie, who won the U9 individual boys event and set a new course record with a time of 7.27.
Also in Cross Country, well done to all the boys who competed in the Whole School Cross Country. The event was run in a fantastic spirit with boys showing an enthusiastic and committed approach. All boys who competed should be pleased with their contribution to their Clan as everybody scored. Well done to the following boys who won their respective races:
Merchiston Charlie and RuaridhPringle – Ruaridh (Pentland)
Middle Years – Euan (Spylaw)
Seniors – Charlie (Redford)

Here are the overall Clan results from the event:
1 – Spylaw (207 points)
2 – Dreghorn (198 points)
3 – Pentland (179 points)
4 – Redford (170 points)


Thank you to all those who contributed to Tuesday morning’s wonderful Assembly. It is beneficial in so many ways to take to the stage to present, and I encourage all to take these opportunities when they occur.
Have a great week and enjoy Weekend Leave when it comes.

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