Mackie Matters - Looking forward to Christmas break

It is hard to believe that December has arrived already and the end of term is nigh. Things have been exceptionally busy here at school and weeks are genuinely just slipping away. At the same time many of us – pupils and staff alike – are looking forward to the Christmas break.

As an addition to last week’s note about the YPI competition, I received a lovely letter from Home-Start Kincardine this week about our team – Marie Airth, Erin Blackwood, Eleanor Jack and Joy Reid – who won the competition and £3000 for this charity. A short extract from the letter read,

“Over the years we have had many Mackie students undertaking the YPI Challenge. All have been unique and enthusiastic but I felt that I had to let you know that this year the students have been exceptional.”

They have gone on to talk about all of their achievements and it is, yet again, one of those moments that makes me very proud to be Head Teacher of this school.

Yet again, our Wild West trip has not only resulted in a fantastic experience for our pupils but has resulted in £900 being donated to charity as a result of the fund-raising DVD evening held at the end of November. A fitting end to a wonderful event that is now being repeated in 2015 and 2016. I am lucky enough to be taking part in this in 2016 and cannot wait.

Despite the gloomy weather our sporting fixtures continue apace with basketball, netball and rugby all being played this week. In addition to this, we had Steve Frew, a Commonwealth Gold Medallist in Gymnastics, in school on Wednesday, December 3, to mentor two of our S1 groups. It was a fantastic experience for our pupils and one I am sure they will not forget. Individual achievements continue to flow in and this week we heard that Matthew Duguid did very well in his most recent badminton competition in Stockholm, where he won the U17 boys doubles title and reached the last eight in the singles. Well done, Matthew.

I received a lovely letter this week from Merton College, Oxford, informing me that a former pupil, Samuel Dickinson, achieved a 2.1 in PPE. He has also returned to Oxford to continue with graduate studies. Whilst I was not here when Samuel was a pupil at Mackie Academy, from speaking with other staff I know he overcame great adversity to attain such an accolade as this and I am sure he will continue to flourish in his academic career. It is always lovely to hear about former pupils doing so well and we are looking to develop a part of our website to support this work. Further information on this will follow in the near future.

This week our Parent Council met as planned. Unfortunately, the event started with the sad news that one of our members, Mr Kevin Reid, had passed away the previous week. Mr Reid was an active member of the Parent Council and raised many valid issues with the group whilst being a great supporter of the work of the school. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family at this difficult time and we will remember him for the positive contributions he made to the Parent Council and the school.

Despite a number of late evenings this, with events at school, my week was rounded off by a fantastic South / Central Aberdeenshire Music Centre Winter Concert. Having listened to them rehearsing prior to the event at Mackie Academy, I knew we were in for a treat. The Youth Orchestra led the way with a varied programme including part of a Mendelssohn Symphony as well as the movie soundtrack from Dances with Wolves. A very accomplished performance. This was followed by the Youth Concert Band, who like our own band, had performed at the Scottish Concert Band Festival in Cults the previous weekend and won a Gold Plus Award. I cannot say that I am surprised. The programme was superb and I was blown away by a piece called “Voyager” by John W Stout. It is quite different and was accompanied by a video piece that showed the Voyager space craft on its journey out and through our solar system. You were immersed in this, whilst listening to the music created by our young people, and it was amazing. I have no doubt that the work of the peripatetic music staff in Aberdeenshire is worth every penny when you see results like this. A massive thank you to Richard Paton and his team for a superb evening.

On that note, we prepare ourselves for the final two weeks leading up to the Christmas break. As always they are a little frantic but one which everyone looks forward to.