Behind the Study Door
“The first stroke of eleven produced a magical effect. The tram cars glided into stillness, motors ceased to cough and fume, and stopped dead, and the mighty-limbed dray horses hunched back upon their loads and stopped also, seeming to do it of their own volition.
"Someone took off his hat, and with a nervous hesitancy the rest of the men bowed their heads also. Here and there an old soldier could be detected slipping unconsciously into the posture of ‘attention’. An elderly woman, not far away, wiped her eyes, and the man beside her looked white and stern.
"Everyone stood very still… The hush deepened. It had spread over the whole city and became so pronounced as to impress one with a sense of audibility. It was a silence which was almost pain…And the spirit of memory brooded over it all."
The Manchester Guardian. 12 November, 1919
One year on from the Armistice and end of World War One, the extract above captures the spirit in which people expressed and shared grief which must have still been very raw indeed. It describes how people showed their individual respect whilst connecting with strangers, and how, for the first time for many, they stopped their activities and villages, towns and cities came silent for two minutes. Whilst for some the level grief will have subsided, the last ninety-nine years have seen similar scenes with the same respect, connective-ness and reflection seen in communities, both small and large.
As I stood in front of Hepburn House this morning, I pondered our community, and how as a school it represents its own journey of triumph, celebration, sadness, suffering, and above all else, love. As we experience all of this, the community comes together in solidarity to support one another. How terrible for school communities during and in the aftermath of conflict, present and past, to experience loss through war. Writing in The Times this week, Alice Thomson recalls how the Headmistress of St Leonards read out the names of girls' relatives who had fallen in the war, on one occasion a total of fifteen people connected to the school in one week. What an absolutely tragic example of sadness and suffering that will have been felt by the entire community here at St Leonards, and replicated in schools and communities everywhere.
This morning, as we remembered the five St Leonards Seniors who gave their lives, one as recently as 2003, every school community has the same sense of reflection each year.
As a century since the end of the Great War passes, we also remember subsequent conflict and current struggles and dangerous ideology and rhetoric. It is only right to remember those who have lost their lives through conflict, but we must also encourage our young people to focus on peace as a means to avoid future conflict at all cost. Much of the rhetoric that threatens global stability today involves greed, a desire to dominate and a dangerous pride. If we can instil a genuine desire for peace, love and hope in our young people, these very ideologies will be threatened, and can eventually be overcome.
As part of the centenary of the armistice, many schools have supported the inspire movement: www.oasisinspire.org. The idea behind this is to encourage children to go much further than simply agreeing with, and understanding, the notion of peace.
‘INSPIRE is a Call to Action to Create a Movement of Change For Peace; young people who not only learn from the past but also choose to engage courageously with the present so that the future can be different’ - Oasis Inspire
It encourages school communities to undertake a daily responsibility to treating others as they wish to be treated themselves. It is as simple as that. By living our lives to be a force for good for others, we can continue to commit to a shared vision for peace.
As they continue to remember others caught up in conflict, the leaders of tomorrow can also consider their actions and responsibilities on an everyday level. If combined, these actions can form a powerful movement committed to peaceful resolution and love.
I certainly saw great potential in the 180 children in front of me this morning. Potential to lead their lives through peace. A potential to pay the greatest respect to fallen lives by creating hope and love.
Those of who you have seen the play ‘War Horse’ might recall the words from the song that begins and ends the production. It is called ‘Only Remembered’ by the folk singer, John Tams:
'Only the truth that in life we have spoken; Only the see that in life we have sown; These shall pass onwards when we are forgotten; Only remembered for what we have done.'
I hope our children will be remembered, not for conflict or antagonistic actions, but for truth and integrity and for sowing true seeds of peace.
We will remember them.
Pages of the Sea
PAGES OF THE SEA | The West Sands in St Andrews is one of a number of beaches up and down the UK, where people will gather on Sunday, 11 November as part of Danny Boyle's 'Pages of the Sea' project.
For more information, please watch the short video below.
Armistice Assembly & Act of Remembrance
ARMISTICE ASSEMBLY & ACT OF REMEMBRANCE | Junior School pupils, families, friends and staff came together this morning for our Armistice Assembly, followed by the Act of Remembrance. The children led a moving ceremony with prayers, songs and readings, and laid wreaths they had made in class on the steps of Hepburn House.
This year marks 100 years since the end of the First World War, and we were fortunate to be joined for our service by the Reverend Graeme Beebee, and Major William Minards, father of Freddie (Year 4) and Clara (Year 2).
A field of painted red poppies, created by the Lower School pupils, was installed for the morning beside the Outdoor Learning Area, as a tribute to those who fought and died.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for this morning’s Assembly and Act of Remembrance.
HOCKEY HIGHLIGHTS | The St Leonards U10 girls beat Kilgraston 4-0 on Wednesday afternoon with a hard-fought end-to-end match. Great goals by Rachel (x 2), Sanna and Katie.
Also playing Kilgraston, the U12 girls lost our 4-2 but with some amazing saves from Isha throughout the game. Two great goals were scored by Eliza and Thea.
SPECIAL COLLECTIONS | On Tuesday Year 2 were treated to a visit to the St Andrews University Special Collections Library. Here they were able to explore some fascinating local photographs and place them on a timeline by looking for clues in the pictures.
The boys and girls were shown some amazing royal family trees, including one that is 500 years old and goes all the way back to William the Conqueror, and the children worked to create family trees showing more recent monarchs. The class also saw some very old children’s books, which were used to teach young children useful lessons like how to read and how to be clean and well behaved!
Our heartfelt thanks go to Elizabeth Henderson and Rachael Hart for arranging such an informative and engaging visit.
PUMPKIN PARTY | St Katharines Hall was transformed into a spook-tacular setting for our annual Junior School Pumpkin Party on Friday night! Pupils and parents had a brilliant time bobbing for apples, dancing to disco tunes and playing all kinds of Halloween games.
The fancy dress parade was a chance for everyone to show off their very creative costumes – we had all sorts of scary guests from zombies, ghosts and witches to Egyptian mummies and eerie jesters.
Thank you to the St Leonards Parents Association for organising a frightfully fun Friday evening.
We hope you enjoy looking through the full album of photo highlights!
McManus Galleries Trip
MCMANUS GALLERIES TRIP | Year 3 took a trip to Dundee on Tuesday to visit the McManus Gallery. This is a wonderful resource, and if you are visiting the V&A during the holidays this museum, which was built as a memorial to Prince Albert, and was originally known as the Albert Institute, is well worth a visit.
During Tuesday's trip, Year 3 were shown around the museum by Cheryl, who was fantastic. She showed the children around the two main rooms, looking at all the wonderful artefacts that were brought back to Dundee by people who had been sent out to explore by many of the rich mill owners of the time. The pupils also saw the room that shows Dundee over the decades and how it has changed and evolved.
They were fascinated by the artefacts that were brought back for the museum, and were interested to learn about Mary Slessor a pioneer in her time, a missionary who opened schools, churches and saved the lives of twins who when born were left and abandoned. She brought them up and made the tribes people realise that these children were not evil and needed to be cared for just like any other children. She also stayed with tribes caring for the old and the sick when their own folk left them. She went to places that very few had travelled to let alone women.
Year 3 also learnt about Winkie the pigeon who helped in the rescue of an air crew during WW2 which had ditched in the North Sea. She flew 120miles to Broughty Ferry where the alarm was raised and all on-board were rescued. She received the Dickin Medal in 1943.
It was an amazing visit and we hope lots of our St Leonards families can find time to go and take a leisurely wander around the wonderful exhibits.
Rugby v Riley House
RUGBY V RILEY HOUSE | The U12 boys lost out 20-40 to Riley House on Wednesday. A good game against a strong Strathallan side.
Tsunami Appeal Update
TSUNAMI APPEAL UPDATE | Thank you to everyone who has made a donation towards the Indonesia Tsunami Appeal. Zachary has now raised an impressive £560, with donations still coming in! A brilliant effort for a very worthy cause.
Year 2 at Bell Pettigrew
YEAR 2 AT BELL PETTIGREW | Year 2 have had a very busy week, starting off on Monday with a visit to the Bell Pettigrew Museum for a workshop led by MUSA staff on ‘how to run a museum’. This is particularly relevant as Year 2 are hosting their own Family Histories Museum next Wednesday afternoon for the parents and grandparents of the children in the class.
The boys and girls learned how to display artefacts effectively, how to write informative captions for these artefacts, and even designed toys based on museum exhibits that could be sold in a museum shop.
Everyone was incredibly impressed by the Bell Pettigrew Museum and loved exploring its fascinating artefacts - what an amazing place!