I can hardly believe that it is more than four months since we returned to school after the summer holidays. It feels as if the term has passed by in the blink of an eye.
Last week I once again had the very great pleasure of attending the Christmas Concert. Due to unprecedented demand, we put on two concerts this year and the standard was, by common acclaim, the best yet. The confidence, skill and hard work of all the performers and their dedicated music teachers is so wonderful to see. The smiles on the faces of the audience and the performers too tells its own story of a job very well done. Through a collection at the two concerts, we raised well over£250 for mental health charity SAMH. Thank you to everyone who gave so generously, in particular Mrs Denvir who contributed her £100 raffle prize to the cause. Well done to Kathryn in S6 for organising the collections.
We have welcomed a new S1 year group into Firrhill and our new parents have had a chance to come into school to meet with Pupil Support Leaders for their Settling-In Meeting as well as the conventional Parents’ Evening in early December. For parents higher up the school there were opportunities to come in and spend an evening with the Maths faculty to learn more about N5 and Higher Mathematics courses and how to best support pupils on those courses.
This term has brought its usual crop of pupil successes. A dedicated group of five S3 pupils won the Innovation Award in the Royal Horticultural Society ‘Green Plan It’ competition for their inspired ‘Gardeners of the Galaxy’ interstellar-themed garden design. The name alone is surely worthy of a prize!
Callum, S1, took a 2nd place in the Foil event at the Scottish Secondary Schools Individual Fencing Competition. At the Midlothian Swimming Championships Firrhill pupils (Ben, Alex, Archie, Lewis and Erika) managed to collect three firsts, a second and four fourths and two sixth-place finishes between them. Rosa, S4, is competing for Lothian in the Scottish Disability Swimming Championships. Michael, S6, is now ranked 20th in the UK for open C1 Men Premier Division for kayaking. Six senior boys (S4 to S6) were key members of the Boroughmuir U18 side that won the Scottish Plate final at Murrayfield earlier this month.
Three pupils (Alice S2, Callum S5 and Helen S6) performed in this year’s Gang Show. You may also have spotted some of our S1 pupils in a Reporting Scotland report on the 6VT Youth Café. Billie, S4, travelled to Germany earlier this month as part of the 6VT exchange programme. Cailean, S6, returned from China with a 1st place in the 3rd Hung Kuen World Competition set forms category and 5th place in weapon set forms.
Over 100 pupils participated in the six Duke of Edinburgh expeditions at Bronze, Silver and Gold levels of the Award. A tremendous achievement by the pupils and a massive thank you to all the staff, so ably led by Mr Boyd, who give up their own free time to make these expeditions possible.
Well done to Ailsa, Anisha, Cameron and Joel who finished joint fourth (just two points behind the winners) in the Top of the Bench Chemistry competition. A tremendous team effort.
If you are in town over the Festive period, you may want to pop into the Writer’s Museum on Lady Stair’s Close for a few minutes to marvel at the beautiful paper sculptures created by pupils from the City. Eleven of the twelve pupils involved were from Firrhill. Be warned – that short visit might last much longer as you marvel at the skill and intricacies of the work involved.
This year marked the centenary of the end of the First World War and our Remembrance Assembly in November focused on those last few terrible minutes of the war. As has become the norm pupils read with emotion and passion, the music and singing was beautiful and the entire audience showed proper respect throughout the whole assembly, especially the two-minute silence and the laying of the wreaths. It was very special that parents/carers of many of the pupils participating could join us.
As is tradition, the last day of term will be our non-uniform Christmas Jumper day and this year, rather than the usual cash donation, we asked for donations to support the Edinburgh SW Foodbank. As some of you may have seen on the school website, the Rights Respecting Group delivered (literally) a taxi-full of food and other essentials to the foodbank to support families over the Christmas period. A big thank you to all the pupils and staff who organised the collections and to everyone who donated. The Evening News attended so keep your eyes peeled for the photos.
The school was hit hard by the tragic news of the passing of S6 pupil Jason Galloway. As is the Firrhill way the wider school community has come together and looked after each other. A group of teachers and Jason’s friends attended his funeral earlier this week. I was able to speak with Jason’s father for a short time after the service and took the opportunity to pay our respects and to pass on the condolences of the entire Firrhill community.
At the funeral Jason’s family suggested a donation to SAMHwould be a suitable way of remembering him. Should you wish to donate in hismemory you can find more information at www.samh.org.uk.
We have welcomed new staff to Firrhill during the term and have said farewell to some long-serving colleagues. Ms Kupisz has joined us in the Maths faculty and Mr Coyle has started in D&T. Ms Campbell who was already teaching in D&T on a temporary basis has now joined Firrhill on a permanent basis. Mr Murray has started as a teacher in Support for Learning taking over from Mrs Gray who has moved to a post nearer to home. We have also welcomed three new PSAs to the team. They are Ms Duffy, Mr Matyunin and Ms Le Royer.
After many years of excellent service to the school Mr Mulholland, following a period of ill health, has left Firrhill. Ms Gilbert will permanently take up this post in the new year. Ms Graham, who has been covering the post this term, will be finishing at Christmas. Mr Crichton in PE has secured a permanent post and he will also leave at Christmas. Ms Martin will be joining us in January to fill that vacancy up to Easter and the return of Ms Carmichael following her maternity leave.
Mrs Crawford who worked in the school office for a number of years has left for a new role in the Health Service and we have welcomed Ms Oliver to the admin staff and also Ms Bridges who has moved from her role as a PSA to work in the office.
I am sure you will join me in welcoming all of our new staff to Firrhill and to wish all those staff moving on to new challenges, all the very best for the future.
As I say every year, I hope that Santa is kind to you and that you can spend time with those who are nearest and dearest to you. I wish you all the best for a happy and successful 2019 and I hope the new year will bring everything you wish.
School will finish for the holiday at 12noon on Friday 21December. School resumes for pupils on Wednesday 9 January 2019 at the normal time of 0835.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!