BEHIND THE STUDY DOOR
Towards the end of a Biology lesson where the teacher was explaining how limbs worked, he turned to the class and said: “That is why you are all very lucky to have two arms and two legs”. At that he turned to write on the board. It became clear to the teacher that there was some sniggering behind him. Upon turning round, he found a class of eighteen 14-year-olds trying to contain their laughter. Upon scanning the room, the teacher realised the error of his last comment as a prosthetic leg was placed on the desk of a particularly mischievous boy called Tom. Watching the teacher try to regain his composure was too much temptation for the mischievous lad, who had already had four prosthetic legs confiscated by teachers. How to make light of losing your right leg...
I spoke in Assembly on Wednesday about heroes and that the children do not need to look far for those who inspire them and that their real heroes can be themselves, their friends and peers and of course family. I told a story about a famous sporting hero of mine growing up, who inspired me in a number of ways. In the end, his bravery, courage, and indeed talents meant absolutely nothing as he was exposed as a cheat, liar and bully, and subsequently stripped of his titles.
This made me consider who really was a peer and a hero of mine, given what I had said in Assembly about heroes often being those sitting right next to us. As a 14-year-old I got to know a chap my age. I have no doubt he was very talented, but I have no idea what his talents, intelligence or sporting prowess were, nor does it have any bearing on why he was a hero in my eyes. He also overcame great obstacles, hurdles and through sheer bravery fought illness. However, this doesn’t matter either as it was not why I considered him to be a hero.
He was a hero because he had three great qualities:
• Authenticity - He remained true to himself and others, no matter who they were. He didn’t mind what people thought of him. He was utterly comfortable with who he was and would never try and be someone he wasn’t. Alas, the famous sporting hero who inspired me and millions of others turned out to be very different. He had carried a lie for many years.
• Generosity of spirit - He always put others before himself, showed great interest in those around him and went that extra mile to make sure others were involved, listened to and made to feel important. Despite going through a tough time himself, I never once heard him complain or think of himself above others.
• Kindness - Of course, this is wrapped up in others, but he showed enormous kindness at all times.
We will all know of people like this, and my colleagues and I see this every day from the boys and girls at St Leonards. We all have famous role models who have extraordinary talents, powers and prowess, however these are qualities that can be quickly forgotten. True qualities of kindness, generosity of spirit and integrity makes a true hero. As ‘fake news’, tales of success through pure greed and bullish power struggles, and almost daily revelations that some of our most revered super powers are not who we thought - or perhaps hoped - they were, it is more important than ever that these character traits are recognised, celebrated and harnessed. In potentially pressurised and competitive times, we can quickly forget about the really important strengths and concentrate only on our children’s academic progress, sporting prowess and other talents. Of course, we all want our children to be the very best they can be, and I had to steer myself away from becoming over anxious that Arthur couldn’t draw a perfect circle when he went for his 24-month check up for fear that he wasn’t developing with perfect metacognition! At all costs we must steer children away from trying to be who they are not, not being comfortable in their own skin and comparing themselves with others. What use is good grades, musical talent or 480 friends on Facebook if they are not happy, and true happiness comes from being true to yourself, kind and generous, and being surrounded by those with similar priorities. That is why I was able to say with absolute conviction to 156 children sitting in front of me on Wednesday morning, that they encapsulate just as many (if not more) heroic qualities than every single celebrity they had picked as their inspiration.
Do watch a selection of the children’s heroes. Towards the end are some really very moving statements.
Tom also had a wonderful sense of humour, and whilst you certainly don’t need a sense of humour to be a hero, I remember the many tales of Tom’s good humoured mischief making at his remembrance service.
Wishing all St Leonards families a happy and restorative Half Term, wherever your adventures take you.
INFORMAL CONCERT YEARS 1-3
YEARS 1-3 | The children in Years 1, 2 and 3 showed off their musical skills at the Informal Concert on Friday, 13 October with the performances made all the merrier by the addition of fancy dress for Heroes day. It’s not often that you find a young Tom Cruise in full Top Gun attire playing the piano, or indeed a budding Jonny Bairstow wowing the auditorium in cricket whites! Solos and duets on violin and piano were followed by group singing. The Year 3 children singing ‘Fabby Dabby Doo’ met with a loud round of applause and everyone came together to perform ‘Harvest Time’, ‘Being a Spider’ and ‘Clowns Noses’, complete with actions and certainly enhanced by the colourful costumes!
INFORMAL CONCERT YEARS 4-7
YEARS 4-7 | The String Club, with the welcome addition of their new percussion section, kicked off a packed programme of performances from pupils in the Junior School. The Informal Concert on Thursday, 12 October, was one of the most popular yet, with 26 talented soloists plus entertaining duets and ensembles taking to the stage.
After the String Club’s rendition of 'Short Ride in a Fast Machine' by the American composer John Adams, the audience was treated to a series of solo items starting with 'We’re off to See the Wizard' on the piano. 'Hakuna Matata', sung by William Jacks and Henry Wedderburn, went down especially well, as did Alastair MacFadyen’s fantastic performance (from memory!) of Dvorák’s 'Humoresque' on the violin. The Guitar Club played Purple Haze and everyone enjoyed the performances from the Year 7 pipers and drummers, as well as 'Scarborough Fair' as a flute duet.
FUN RUN & HEROES
FRIDAY FUN RUN | It was a blustery day for our charity Fun Run but that didn’t stop the children from taking on the challenge in aid of Scottish Air Ambulance. Year group by year group, it was ‘get ready, set, go’ as the pupils sprinted off towards the Astroturf in the customary full fancy dress.
The children were invited to come to school dressed as a hero, which could have been anyone from the classic fictional superheroes to a real-life inspiration and it was wonderful to see such a range of outfits from Spiderman to a sumo wrestler!
The theme for the day tied in perfectly with our school charity of the year, Scottish Air Ambulance, and by raising funds through the Fun Run and other activities around the school, we can help the real heroes who work across Scotland providing necessary air support. The run itself was a great success and, most importantly, lots of fun!
HEADMASTER'S CELEBRATION ASSEMBLY ON MONDAY
Our Celebration Assembly is always a highlight of the week, giving pupils, parents and staff an opportunity to celebrate individual and collective successes. This week's Assembly included the presentation of a fantastic number of Headmaster's Commendations, as well as Spirit of St Leonards awards and the announcement of the all-important House Points.
Headmaster's Commendations were awarded to:
Ishbel Reid for writing a most informative book showing her family history.
Angus Sloan for showing determination and perseverance in Maths.
Sal Hillman and Harry Purvis for producing a wonderful quiz through team work.
Eilidh Jarrett for producing a spectacular piece of work in the form of a most original 'Heightography', a cross between a family tree and a height chart, tracking her life. Eilidh's project was inspired by Roald Dahl's 'Boy'.
Bella and Paula Timmins for being wonderfully creative and designing their own project about Switzerland.
Pupil of the Week certificates were awarded to:
Thomas Crook (Year 1) for a caring and helpful attitude, always being keen to do the right thing and taking time to do his best.
James Wright (Year 2) for consistently demonstrating the core values of the school, both in class and with his own learning, but also in care and interest towards others.
Rory Koenig (Year 3) for being an all-round team player.
This week's Spirit of St Leonards awards were presented to:
Alfie Pullin for supporting another pupil in a group task in Maths, showing great encouragement towards others and teamwork.
Alastair MacFadyen for taking great pride in his homework, ensuring it is completed to a high standard, with great care over presentation, and for showing commitment to learning.
Lucy Black for always being focused, organised and tidy and listening to instructions.
Eabha Lang and Jennifer Niven for working extremely hard in Maths this term, despite finding areas challenging at times.
Archie Barton for always being on time, neat and tidy, for working extremely hard, always being polite, helpful and unfailingly enthusiastic in all that he does.
Esme MacMillan-Doran for generosity of spirit towards others and quiet, unassured kindness, helpfulness and care.
YEAR 2 GO WILD
During this week's circle time meeting the children in Year 2 discussed their 'special places'; places we feel are safe and secure and where we can hide ourselves or our belongings, places such as bedrooms, cupboards, boxes and hidey holes. We then started talking about dens and decided that we had to make one of our own! These are the results...