“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” Vincent van Gogh
Time and time again, I see children incredibly nervous to begin their time at St Leonards – they hide behind their parents, barely speak to me, and even find it too difficult to make eye contact. It is amazing, sometimes just months later, to see these same pupils flourish into confident public speakers, caring peer listeners, fantastic football players, and risk-taking learners.
I was reminded of the immense courage of the children here at St Leonards when I accompanied a group of pupils to the Perform in Perth Festival this week. This is an annual festival of music, speech, and dance which runs each year in March, with around 2,800 performers. There was a packed auditorium with nervous children, anxious parents, and a petrified Mrs Pennycook! I soon realised, though, that I had worried in vain. Every child who performed from St Leonards was exceptional, and should be so proud of their ability to stand up and speak in public with such conviction. The children’s ability to handle their nerves as they entered untrodden territory really was amazing. None of this would have been possible without the endless hours that Mr Oliver and Mrs Stewart put in – they prepare the children so well for their LAMDA exams and performances. All the children who performed at the Perform in Perth Festival this week were testament to their hard work and dedication, and really were a credit to the school.
At some point in their lives, every child will have an interview, every child will have to present a project in front of their class, and every child will have to speak in front of a group of people. That is why we need to equip our children with the skills to communicate effectively, the ability to work with others, and develop strategies to cope with nerves and new situations. LAMDA is certainly a fantastic way to help our children develop these skills. The confidence that it gives children is almost like a magic pill. LAMDA helps pupils to become more confident, aids speaking and listening, helps to expand vocabulary, and improves the powers of self-expression, memorisation, and information recall. The transformation is often unbelievable!
I would therefore challenge every child at St Leonards to think about how they could push themselves out of their comfort zones and develop their public speaking skills, be that by starting LAMDA lessons or indeed taking the initiative to prepare a presentation for their class on something that fascinates or is important to them. Taking risks and having the confidence to attempt new things is a key facet of the IB learner profile, and by stepping out of their comfort zone, the pupils really will reap great rewards As the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh said: “what would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”.
Many congratulations to the following pupils, who were awarded certificates in this week's Celebration Assembly!
Last, but by no means least, many congratulations to Sofia who was also awarded a Spirit of St Leonards certificate for showing a responsible and caring attitude when escorting Lower School pupils from the bus in the morning.
PUPPET PERFORMANCE | On Wednesday afternoon, Years 1-4 were treated to a wonderful performance of the traditional Scottish folk tale 'The Lighthouse Keeper and the Seal' by Fife-based Clydebuilt Puppet Theatre. The story is focused on a lighthouse keeper, Peter Mackimmon, who rescues a young seal pup that he finds washed ashore one day. His kindness is repaid later in the story when the seal turns out to be a selkie, a magical being capable of shedding her skin and taking on human form. One night, a fierce storm blows up at sea and a ship is thrown treacherously close to the rocks below Peter's lighthouse. The light goes out and Peter falls while trying to relight it. Thanks to the selkie, both Peter and the ship's crew are saved from harm.
As well as enjoying the story and Steve's fantastic performance, the children were inspired by the use of objects in the performance that had been found washed ashore along the Fife coast to create both the set and the puppets. For example, a blanket found on a local beach became the hair on Peter's head, whilst a plastic bottle and an old jacket became a fluidly moving seal.
Years 2-4 then enjoyed a special workshop on shadow puppetry techniques, with a strong emphasis on found and recycled objects. This aligned nicely with their recent work with puppets as part of their Units of Inquiry.
Year 2 couldn't resist the opportunity to show Leigh the puppets that they have made in class, and she kindly let them use her screen to experiment with a little shadow play. They came away truly inspired, and with lots of ideas of things that they would like to try out for themselves!
SUPERB SPORT | There have been lots of sports fixtures in the Junior School this week. Below are some further details of each match. Many congratulations to all the pupils who represented St Leonards, and especially to the teams who emerged victorious!
THEATRE TIME | A group of pupils from both the Junior and Senior Schools enjoyed a fantastic outing to see the award-winning musical The Lion King at the Edinburgh Playhouse last week. The production has gripped audiences for over twenty years at The Lyceum Theatre, London, and so it was fantastic for the children to be able to experience the stunning show with its puppets, wonderful music, and colourful costumes whilst it was on tour. The children loved the performance and their interval ice creams, and some even had a taste of boarding in St Rule afterwards. It was a fantastic evening - many thanks to Mrs Pennycook and Ms Dutch for organising it!
READ-A-THON | As part of Book Week 2020, Miss Brannen organised the inaugural St Leonards Read-A-Thon Inter-House Competition. The competition ran for 7 days, and collectively the pupils amassed an incredible 38,095 minutes of reading. That is equivalent to 634 hours, or 26 days! Each class tracked their reading and set targets, and these were then added together to create the school-wide totals. The results are as follows:
1st place - Harris - 10,720 minutes
2nd place - Mull - 9,667 minutes
3rd place - Lewis - 9,058 minutes
4th place - Skye - 8,650 minutes
Very well done to all the children who read as part of Book Week - the results really are staggering. We hope that the Read-A-Thon has encouraged the pupils to read even more. Many thanks to Miss Brannen for organising the event, and to all of the parents who verified their children's reading!
We are also delighted to announce that last week's Character Parade raised £171.00 for Book Aid International. This money will go towards 85 books to help combat illiteracy around the world. Many thanks to all who contributed.
Learning in the Library
LEARNING IN THE LIBRARY | Year 4 had a fantastic private tour of Queen Mary's Library by Ms Tawse, our Librarian, earlier this week. We are extremely fortunate to have such relevant and interesting historical evidence on our school campus! They studied various different paintings and artefacts in order to make connections between the past and the present. The children have been collecting, analysing, and validating evidence from a wide variety of sources as part of their Unit of Inquiry into the life of Mary, Queen of Scots. Ms Tawse commended the children on their manners and focus throughout the visit - excellent work, Year 4!
Chariots of Fire
CHARIOTS OF FIRE | On Tuesday, the Running Club tried a new route and ran to West Sands. The weather was beautiful and, as soon as we reached the beach, the children immediately wanted to dip their toes in the water. The children did a little Chariots of Fire reenactment and ran along the water's edge for fun. Their joy was clear for all to see. This experience has inspired Mr Barrable who now has something exciting planned... but at the moment it will remain secretly stashed up his sleeve!
WORRY BOXES | The Peer Listening Scheme is now well and truly up and running, with members of the team on duty in both the Years 1-3 playground and the Years 4-7 play area. In this week's meeting, the team discussed the different ways in which we can encourage pupils across the different year groups to share any concerns/worries that they might have. They suggested that each class had a worry bag/box, and are now going to carry this proposition forward. They will be delivering a box to each classroom in the next week or two with brief instructions on how it can be used. The hope is that the worry boxes will enable children in the Junior School to write down and then let go of things that are making them anxious, rather than carrying their burdens around with them. These worries will then be read by teachers and peer listeners, who will be able to support their pupils and peers.
QUIZ QUESTIONS | On Wednesday afternoon, St Leonards had the honour of hosting the annual Rotary Club Quiz, and were delighted to welcome teams from Greyfriars, Canongate, and Lawhead primary schools to take part in the event. Each team had four members, and the St Leonards team was made up of Sophia, Emmy, Shreyas, and Archie. There were some tricky questions, with categories including everything from Music to the Human Body, Grammar to Geography, and Famous People to Science. Whilst the St Leonards team did not win this year (finishing in joint third place), the team had a fun afternoon and were excellent ambassadors for the school. Many congratulations to all those who took part, and in particular to the Greyfriars team who were the overall winners.
CREATING CHARACTERS | This week, Years 1-3 enjoyed a fabulous presentation on the art of writing and developing characters from visiting author Mr Justin Davies. They learned that you can never have enough notebooks to record all the things that you see and hear, or the people that you meet. Mr Davies explained that these real life encounters can form the basis for characters in stories. He encouraged the children to develop their story writing skills by reading, reading, and more reading. Mr Davies also treated the children to an excerpt from his new book (Whoa! I Spy a Werewolf), and they tried to impress him with their best werewolf howls!
Many thanks to Mr Davies for taking the time to come and visit St Leonards, and for preparing and delivering such an inspirational presentation.
AMAZING ANIMALS | Year 1 have got stuck into their new Unit of Inquiry this week, researching their favourite animals, and animals more broadly. The class discussed what they already knew about animals, and what they would like to find out. Year 1 are very excited about exploring habitats, animals raising their young, and protecting animals. They will use the concepts of change, connection, and responsibility to structure this Unit of Inquiry.
In English, they have been using Rumble in the Jungle to explore animals and in Maths they have used The Very Bad Tempered Ladybird to introduce the concept of "o'clock" time. They have identified the features of the analogue clock, and explored seconds, minutes and hours. They questioned why a minute of silence felt so much longer than a minute of running around in the playground, and why they could colour in more apples in a minute on their second attempt compared to their first. They look forward to more investigations next week!
Year 1 also presented their very first class assembly this week, which they had written themselves. It was wonderful to see them all up at the front and presenting with such confidence. Very well done, Year 1!
COLLABORATIVE COMMUNICATION | On a previous visit to the beach, Year 5 had noticed that there was a huge tree trunk in the sand and so, last week, they set off to the East Sands with two shovels with the intention of removing it. They worked hard as a team to dig and remove the sand using the shovels that they had brought, as well as makeshift shovels and some children even used their hands! It was hard work. They then decided to tie two ropes to the trunk, one at each end. 5C pulled the trunk from one end, and 5P from the other... and the trunk moved! Unfortunately, their time on the beach was up and so they did not manage to fully remove the trunk. It was a great opportunity for the two classes to come together and work collaboratively, and they exemplified the IB Learner Profile attribute of being 'communicators'. Great work, Year 5!
SPECIAL DELIVERY | In the run up to Book Week, Year 4P wrote to their favourite authors. Yesterday, a very special letter arrived for Marko. His favourite author, Kieran Larwood, had sent a handwritten response to his letter! We will let you know if any of the other children hear back from their favourite authors.
Perform in Perth
PERFORM IN PERTH | Over 50 children took part in the Perform in Perth Festival this week, reciting poetry and prepared reading. There will be a presentation of certificates in the Celebration Assembly next week, and results will be announced in next week's newsletter. Watch this space!