Rising to the Challenge
“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” Albert Einstein
If your house has been anything like mine — awash with cardboard, duct tape, marbles, sticky back plastic, and other detritus — then you and your family have certainly embraced the Junior School challenges this week! There have been boats built, chairs constructed, and animation sets assembled, and that is before we consider the challenges that our pupils are completing day by day as we move through the second half of the Summer Term.
The staff here at St Leonards are also facing a challenge at the moment, as we start to work through the practicalities and logistics of returning to school next academic year. We really are so excited to welcome our children back to school, and to see how they have flourished and grown as individuals over the past few months. The health, safety and wellbeing of our pupils is our central concern and, as I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, we will continue to keep you up-to-date on any developments. If you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to be in touch.
As the famous physicist Albert Einstein famously said “in the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” By pushing themselves out of their comfort zones, the pupils have developed both their characters and academic skills — through these challenges they are becoming more resilient, taking more risks, and reaping the rewards. Indeed, the past few months of lockdown have certainly shown us as individuals, a school, and a nation that we can grow in change in ways that we had never imagined. The pandemic has certainly provided unprecedented opportunities and new ways in which to serve the community and develop our teaching resources.
Let’s keep encouraging our children to embrace the challenges that they face — within them the opportunities for growth, development, and even joy are endless!
CELEBRATION ASSEMBLY | As usual, there were lots of achievements to celebrate this week. Many congratulations to the following pupils who were awarded Commendations this week.
PUPIL SPOTLIGHT | This week, we were delighted to hear from two sets of siblings: Lewis & Molly, and Shelagh & Ishbel. We hope that you enjoy hearing about their favourite hobbies, recommended reads, culinary creations, and more broadly their reflections on lockdown life.
TEACHER SPOTLIGHT | This week, the teacher spotlight has landed on the lovely Mrs Stewart. We hope that you enjoy reading her reflections on lockdown life below, which include some gorgeous photographs of her labrador puppies!
Thank you for shining the spotlight on me this week. What a time it has been, a real mixture of challenges and emotions over these long weeks of lockdown. The first thing I would like to share is how very, very lucky I feel staying safe in my home and surroundings with my family. What a privilege. To add to that I have been able to continue with my teaching from home, and learned that it is indeed possible to stay connected on a deeper level online.
I live near Elie with my partner Colin, who is an architect. My two daughters, Samantha (24) and Lucy (22), have been living with us and working from home during lockdown. Some of you might have met Lucy - she has been working with key worker children at school, which she has so enjoyed. Samantha and Lucy both went to school at St Leonards. Samantha got a First in Business Management and is now working for PWC, and Lucy is studying Human Biology at Glasgow University. The IB has done them proud in their further studies. My son, Fin, is in Australia working at a school on his Gap Year. He will start at Edinburgh University next academic year. He is coming home on 12 July and we cannot wait to see him - it will have been a whole year!
Just before the start of lockdown one of my labradors had a litter of 8 puppies. These little bundles have kept us busy and entertained during lockdown. Of course it was hard work, but that is nothing compared to the joy that they have brought to us. We have been breeding labradors for years and we now have five generations of a line that goes eleven generations back started by my father. So we have Great Great Granny Cara, Great Granny Penny, Granny Lexie, Mum Conker and puppy Mabel. Mabel often comes to my online lessons and the students have seen her grow from a tiny sweet puppy into a big naughty puppy who brings me disgusting things from the garden, or trots by with shoes or socks whilst I am trying to teach!
As you can imagine Dog Walking is a big part of our lives. We usually walk Mabel with her Great Great Granny and then the other three together, but sometimes we do three dog walks a day which keeps everybody fit and outdoors whatever the weather. We live near the sea so the beach is a big part of our lives. Labradors love water!
Fitness in general is very important to us as a family. I have a Pilates and a Yoga class every week in our house, and they have gone online during lockdown. It has been really beneficial to keep these things going, but I am so looking forward to getting back to the real thing. I also play a lot of golf, and last week I played for the first time in months. A massive treat to get back to it, although I need to put in some practice!
I play the piano most days - it is important to practise. I want Mr Bell to be proud of me when lessons start again next term although I often have a labrador asleep on my foot which makes the soft pedal tricky!
I have been amazed at how online quizzes have taken off in this period of time. Colin is a brain box and we do at least one, sometimes two, Zoom quizzes a week with friends and family and have thoroughly enjoyed them. The St Leonards staff have a quiz every fortnight which is a great way to have some time together not talking about teaching! I hope that we will maybe keep it going once we are out of lockdown.
Teaching online has been a steep learning curve as I am not brilliant with technology. Samantha and Lucy have really helped me with this and now I really enjoy online lessons. I have had to use my imagination to think of ideas for Drama which will work online, some work brilliantly and others need some fine tuning! I am lucky enough to teach every year group from Year 1 to Year 11 so I go from playing ‘Captain on the Meet’ with Year 1 to a set design module in Year 11. The lovely thing is that I keep connected with the pupils all the way up the school and see them grow up. It’s a special thing.
Last week, we had online parents evening with Year 10, it was a bit like being in a Harry Potter movie suddenly appearing in different sitting rooms across the globe... I went as far as India, but it worked so well we might consider keeping parents evenings online in the future.
My colleagues at St Leonards have been amazing, I can’t speak highly enough of their support, friendship and energy throughout this period. Mr Shiells has kept going with Ukulele club and we have put together a performance of ‘With a Little Help From my Friends’ so appropriate for this time. Please have a listen!
Mr McLeish and I have kept connected with Year 7, and tutor times with 7C have been a highlight of online school for me. We have become really close over lockdown and tutor time has been a mix of interesting chat, lots of laughs, sharing our pets and Kahoot quizzes!
I have no words of wisdom for surviving lockdown - we are nearly there now! But as we come out of lockdown, I would say to take a minute and recognise what has been better for you and your family. I know that I now have a weekly video Whatsapp call with my two brothers who live far away. We never used to do that and I am determined to keep that up now. We can so easily let connections slip and lockdown has taught me how important it is to stay connected to those we love.
Remote Ridgway Update
REMOTE RIDGWAY UPDATE | Last week, we were delighted to share with you some of the different challenges that our Year 7 pupils had set themselves and then accomplished over the half term holidays. This week, we have more challenges to report on! As part of the Remote Ridgway experience, Maya camped in her garden for five nights, foraged in the garden for vegetables and used them to cook lunch, and went on an expedition to Tentsmuir forest where she honed her map reading and cycling skills. Excellent effort, Maya!
POLISHED PROJECTS | Over the past few weeks, Year 5 have been working hard to prepare presentations on a specific event in Scottish history. This tied into their current Unit of Inquiry, which has focused on the geography and history of Scotland. The pupils covered a vast period of history ranging from Neolithic Scotland to the Battle of Culloden, and the Industrial Revolution to the recent Scottish Independence Referendum!
The project was a chance for the pupils to work together with their peers over Google Meets. Mr Barrable and Miss Brannen were blown away by the enthusiasm and diligence of the pupils. Last Friday, the pupils gave their group presentations and, since then, have created a big timeline of events that has now been successfully exhibited on the class website. Please do visit the website to see the superb projects - you will need to use a St Leonards account to login. A huge congratulations to all the Year 5 pupils. We are so proud of all the hard work that you put in to make this project such a success!
FABULOUS FEEDERS | Over the past few weeks, Year 3 have been drawing their Unit of Inquiry Sharing the Planet to a close. The finale was creating bird feeders out of apples with bird seed stuck to them. The pupils were imaginative and creative when designing their bird feeders: Christina used fruit, Adam used peanut butter to help make the seed stick, James made a feeder using an orange scooped out and stuck to them, and Rakan used an old water bottle and put sticks through it for the birds to stand on while eating the seeds. The feeders certainly look fantastic!
TECHNO CHALLENGE | St Leonards has been hosting the Techno Challenge for over 20 years. In normal circumstances, we welcome teams of children from around 25 primary schools for a day of fun STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) challenges. In the past, attendees have been tasked with creating a balloon-powered car, cracked codes in the IT suite, and also enjoyed the renowned Maths relay race!
We were determined that our Year 6 pupils would have a taste of this excitement, and so Mrs Pennycook, Mrs Fynn, and Mrs Cormack set to work to devise some challenges that could be done at home. The pupils were set five challenges, which used a lot of cardboard!
- Build a boat from cardboard that is strong enough to float, even with a weight on board.
- Construct a chair that you can sit on using only cardboard - no glue, tape, or other fixing materials were allowed!
- Making a periscope using a shoebox.
- Create a marble run using a cardboard box and cardboard struts. The marble had to run for 60 seconds.
- Create an animation with a superhero theme - this challenge required detailed planning and storyboarding, the creation of visually interesting and well-crafted characters, and a steady hand while filming.
The results were fantastic. Here are a few of our favourite boats below.
Adjectives and Alliteration
ADJECTIVES AND ALLITERATION | Inspired by poetry readings of the work of some well-known children's writers, Year 2 have been writing their own minibeast poems, full of wonderful adjectives and even some alliteration. Having listened to the work of Shirley Hughes and Shel Silverstein, Dylan, Jamie and Jonathan conjured up some evocative imagery in their poems on slugs. We hope that you enjoy reading their poems below.
TIDYING TOYS | This week, in line with her Unit of Inquiry on toys, Grace has been busy sorting her toys into different categories: homemade and shop bought, soft and hard, large and small, and able to move by itself and unable to move by itself. Great work, Grace!
Virtual Sports Day
VIRTUAL SPORTS DAY | On Tuesday, the Junior School pupils participated in the inaugural St Leonards Virtual Sports Day. The PE Department adapted classic sports day events for our pupils to do at home - from a rolling pin relay to a standing long jump challenge. We were so impressed with the videos uploaded... to date, there have been over 300 across the Junior and Senior Schools. The event was a great success - many congratulations to all the pupils who took part!