Headmaster’s Headlines

Headmaster’s Headlines

19th April, 2017


First, I spoke to the School about the joy of the Summer Term. Of course, so many readers of Headmaster’s Headlines are from Scotland, but to this day, I just adore the hours of daylight in Edinburgh from 5am until 10pm over these months! I urged the members of the School to enjoy the campus and the splendour of the light and air. Yes, of course, some of our pupils have “little tests” to do over the course of this term, but I urged them to work with the staff, for the staff certainly wish the best for every young man. It was a great pleasure to welcome to the School Ms Sharp, who has been appointed to be a teacher in the Pringle Centre for the Summer Term. I really hope Ms Sharp soon feels at home in one of the many, many amazing parts of this School, namely the Pringle Centre! It is also marvellous to welcome new pupils Aprilnew pupils, so welcome to Harry (in J5), Joseph and Eden (both in the Fourth Form); James (in Shell); Matteo and Charles (in the Third Form). These are big moments for these pupils and young men and Mrs Hunter and myself enjoyed saying hello to them at the end of Headmaster’s Assembly. Enjoy seeing the photo, but equally enjoy seeing the photo (above left) of these new pupils at Merchiston with their guides.

I urged their guides to support their latest member of the Merchiston family with real care and attention. I really enjoyed having senior prefects with Mrs Hunter and myself listening to the advice of the senior prefects to Harry, Joseph, Eden, James, Matteo and Charles. It was humbling to hear their pieces of advice.

And in this section, I also congratulated members of staff: Ms Gilfillan is now married to Will, who teaches Chemistry at Fettes and is known as Mr Partridge; moreover, Mr Raikes celebrated his wedding in the holiday to Emily.  And many congratulations to Mr and Mrs Roache (Mr Roache is our Head of Physics) on the birth of their son James; and Mr and Mrs Newham (Mr Newham teaches History and Politics and is in charge of our Cecil Stagg Society) on the birth of their son Thomas.

And how fortunate the young men of this school are.  At the end of last term, and over the course of the holidays, there was a vast array of activities:

  • Rosslyn Park Sevens
  • Geography Field Trip to Iceland
  • Colinton Community Choir concert
  • School skiing trip to Saas Fee
  • National Schools Fives Championships, London
  • Sri Lanka Cricket Tour
  • Duke of Edinburgh Gold and Silver Practice Expeditions
  • Easter Camps

At in-service training, we always hear feedback from the staff who have led these trips and how pleased I was to hear that with regard to our School skiing trip, which included such a wide age range of pupils, that our senior pupils were excellent at encouraging, mentoring and nurturing our younger pupils. And how fortunate the boys are to have staff who push the boat out for them. I return to this later in this entry.

Thoughts for the Year

The boys will often smile at me and with me!  But we have been doing this concept of Thoughts for the Year for many years now, and as I explained to the School, it is just a question of trying to help each member of the School, and maybe occasionally one thought will resonate with one member of the School. It is important to note that this year the thoughts did not come from myself! They came from the Captain of School and his cohort of student leaders. So, we refreshed our memories with the Thoughts for the Year 2016/17.

“To remain indifferent to the challenges we face is indefensible.  If the goal is noble, whether or not it is realised within our lifetime is largely irrelevant.  What we must do therefore is to strive and persevere and never give up.”
Dalai Lama

“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.”
David Brinkley, American newscaster

“If an opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”
Milton Berle, American comedian and actor

“I never lose.  I either win or learn.”
Nelson Mandela

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“The goal is not to be better than the other man, but your previous self.”
Dalai Lama

Headman’s Advice

And again, the School smiles with me and at me as I concluded the morning with giving the members of the School some advice with regard to some of my Anchor Points. Anchor Points are helpful for us all, as we will remember that I have taken this concept from that famous hymn, Will your anchor hold in the storm of life. And these two are two of my favourites:

  • I am facing a challenge; I think I am going to act differently to how I think I should act.  What do I do?  Count to 10, ie step back from the situation and take time out.  Reflect on the values of my family and my school.  Seek advice from a mentor, a friend or “that person of warmth”.  Make an informed decision.  Remember that I am responsible for my own actions.  When the issue has settled, continue to seek advice from an adult, a friend, a mentor or “that person of warmth”.
  • My second, and one of my favourite phrases, is a really positive anchor point. Jump on the Merchiston Number 10 Bus of all the good and wonderful opportunities available to you. (As you know, the Number 10 bus route runs from School to the centre of Edinburgh and back).  I remind you that you are provided with a vast number of opportunities here.  But for what?  You, have to seize them!  The staff are here to lead you to water, but they cannot force you to drink it! Carpe Diem and seize the day says it all!

I concluded the first gathering of the term by asking the pupils in the School, are we ready to Do what we do do well?  Are we ready to rise to our own expectations and those of the members of staff?  I reminded the School that one of the other anchor points that I have used in the past is, Step up, stand out, it’s your shout!  That’s another way of saying Carpe Diem!

We concluded the gathering with that very important metaphor of a beginning of an academic term, handshaking …


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