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News Archive 2006/07

Earlston HS athletes excel in Hammer competition

Twins Scott and Jack Wilson of S4 celebrated recently following an outstanding performance at the Scottish Athletics Championships held in Grangemouth at the end of August. Scott beat his younger brother to the gold in the U17 hammer competition, throwing a personal best of 58.37m, while Jack threw 54.37m for the silver. In the U15 event Jasmine Bunting of S3 set
a remarkable four personal bests out of her six trials, unleashing a best of 37.94m to win the event.

Our congratulations to all of them



Ghana Visit By Andrew Mitchell

As part of my gap year I decided to visit Mangu Junior Secondary School which has been recently twinned with Earlston High School. The outline for the trip was to go and help out in the school, either in classes or with the construction of a new school building. This new building is being aided by efforts from all at Earlston High School headed up by a committee, the “Friends of Mangu” which was founded by Mr Richard Smart and his wife after they spent two years working in Ghana with VSO. The support and guidance offered from the committee to the community of Mangu is invaluable as without it the project would not be able to continue.


Even with the advice of Mr Smart I was taken aback by some of the sights that I saw. It is unheard of in the UK for a child to walk around half naked, or people not to receive medical treatment because they have a low income. However, this is the case for many people all over Ghana and in Africa in general. Despite the obvious hardships they face, the welcome I received from the people of Mangu and their generosity was second to none.



One of the many people that I met was a young man called Mohammed, who runs a football team for the young men in the village. This was exceptional as they trained every evening in 30˚c heat. He also works very hard with the younger generations to make sure that they make the most of the limited opportunities given to them. This work is priceless and I certainly could never repay him for the kindness that he showed me during my stay.


What impressed me the most was just how much they value their education, how hard they work and the amount of pride they take in themselves no matter what their circumstances. I will never forget my time in Mangu and hope to return there at some point in the future.

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The hard work, dedication and talent of the pupils paid off with another stunning summer show. Over 100 pupils were involved in the production both on stage and behind the scenes and every one helped make the show a resounding success. This was the first school performance of ‘Buddy’ by a school in the East of Scotland and only the second ever in the whole country. Buddy is a musical celebration of the legendary singer/songwriter Buddy Holly, who shot to stardom in 1957, only to die in a plane crash two years later alongside 17-year-old Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson - the ‘Big Bopper’.

Audiences were once again wowed by the polished performances of the cast as they rocked the night away to the music of Holly.

Buddy Holly was played by the recently appointed Depute Head Boy, Jack Lowden, who delivered a fantastic portrayal of the 50’s rock and roll legend, managing to perfect the sound, look and mannerisms of the bespectacled rocker. He was ably supported by Crickets, Martin Collier and Will Hoppe and the first act of the show explored how the trio made their way into the music business and managed to cast aside ‘Country’ for ‘Rock and Roll’. However, it is unfair to single any of the cast out for special praise as they were all so convincing. The second act culminated with a standing ovation from the crowd and many were up dancing along as we relived the last evening of Buddy Holly's life at a gig at Clearlake before he boarded that plane for that fateful journey.
Musical Director Mr Thomson who has been at the heart of the summer shows for 18 years now has another treat lined up for us next year. 'Anything Goes' by Cole Porter will be a change of pace from Buddy and will no doubt be another winning production.


Eco Schools is a nationally recognised organisation which encourages schools to be more environmentally aware. Here at Earlston High School, the Eco Schools Club was formed in October 2006. We meet every month to discuss how we can make Earlston High School more environmentally friendly. Pupils from all years and teachers come to our meeting. So far we have discussed environmental issues such as litter, waste management and transport. For example we have encouraged pupils to use the bins in school by introducing a ‘Litter Log’. Every month the Senior Management Team and janitors judged which year group had the tidiest Link Area; prizes included a lunchtime cinema show of popular TV shows and prize draws for music vouchers. We also involve other projects that are going on around the school. For example the Mass Media class helped us to promote our litter campaign through producing a number of short films encouraging pupils to use the bins. Through all this hard work by all involved we have achieved the Bronze award from Eco Schools Scotland and hope to continue the good work by concentrating on improving the school grounds. In the future we hope to achieve the Silver Award and we welcome any new members to the club to help us with this!

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Leavers' Evening
Leavers Evening celebrated the achievements of our pupils moving on to exciting new challenges….

A fantastic evening was enjoyed by both parents and leavers on Friday 8 th June at our annual leavers evening. All leavers were firstly presented with their Record of Achievement by John Rogerson, former Principal Teacher of Technical. Following this, speeches were made by our Headboy, Headgirl and their deputes who then gave our nominated charities their cheques. Chest, Heart, Stroke Scotland were given £1475 , Borders Children’s Charity were given £1475 and our friends in Mangu will benefit to the tune of £2685 thanks to an extra donation from Mr Roxburgh who donated the monies he received when he retired. All the monies raised came as a direct result of work done by our 6 th Year charities committee. After the formalities were over, everyone was able to have a glass of wine and a piece of ‘leavers’ cake before then enjoying an excellent ceilidh.

An excerpt from Miss Strong’s speech:“I am delighted to be standing here recognising and celebrating all the fantastic things that our young people have achieved during their time at Earlston High School.

Earlston HS is a very special place. Earlston HS is not just about academic achievement, it’s about educating young people to be respectful and be good citizens to have the confidence to be successful in life and to be all they can be. Our success is due to our positive ethos and to the standards set by our staff. In fact listening to Steve Wright Sunday love songs last weekend the lyrics of this song rang true

I believe that children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride

(Whitney Houston)

I believe Earlston HS does allow seniors to take responsibility and develop pride. Tonight’s leavers have contributed a great deal to the positive ethos of EHS. All of them have contributed something to this school: time, energy, effort, expertise or just enthusiasm – on the sports field, producing pieces for the art exhibition, helping on the stage at the many concerts and shows, encouraging younger pupils to dance, serving refreshments to teachers and staff at parents evenings, raising funds, helping in classes, representing the school at debating or just keeping the link area or common room tidy. We thank you all.

Leavers evening is always full of mixed emotion – excitement about the next chapter of your life and fear that you are leaving the security of school and sadness that you are leaving friends you have spent many years with. Mr Roxburgh had many famous sayings but one that is pertinent to this evening is “You enter Earlston HS as children and leave as adults”

Let me finish with “Your future, your Adventure”

We're proud of each of you tonight

For all you've learned, and all you've tried to learn.
Knowledge brings the deepest satisfaction,
Not least because it's something that you earn.

And so we’re very proud of you
For being who you are,
For making something of yourself,
For making it this far.

Now that you're leaving
Your adventure has begun.
Your schooling has prepared you
For the race life has you run.

We praise you for your efforts,
And send good wishes, too,
For a future filled with happiness,
And hope your fondest dreams come true.

 To the class of 2007 – all leavers I say good bye, good luck and good fortune. Thank you.”

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Sports Day

Sports day took place on Thursday the 7 th of June, with new S2, S3 and S4 competing for the class championship. Mr Renwick ran his annual 100 handicap race, and this year there were medals for first boy and girl in each age group for the Class Fun Run, reflecting the emphasis placed on CRE work in PE class time. The Scottish summer provided the usual will it/won’t it rain trauma, but it stayed dry, if chilly, until the end of the day – indeed, certain members of staff were noted blagging travel rugs for knees! The beep test was notable for Dan Purves, new S2 reaching 123, and Mr McMillan losing his voice. Mrs Hall looked after the fun run, and associated fruit, with gold medals going to Dan Purves and Melissa Garrie new S2, Jack Fraser and Sarah Edwards, new S3 and Cameron Popplewell and Katy Nimmo new S4. Miss Anderson supervised the fun events including a very noisy Tug O’ war and Miss Clark’s new favourite, “The Plank”!! Rebecca Caswell ran a storming series of races, coming through to win Gold in the 100 handicap, a very popular event Mrs Lawrence and her “crew” looked after the finishing line, where a very tense last series of events saw new 4B crowned champions after the relays. Time was tight, but we managed to finish the event just in time! A big “thank you” to Miss Morton for providing the fruit, and all members of staff and senior/ex pupils for their help.


An Amazing Challenge for Our New Fifth Years

On the afternoon of Sports-day, Thursday 7 th June, instead of doing track or field events, the Fifth Years formed themselves into teams to do a series of challenging activities based on the idea of Crystal Maze. They ran from activity to activity spending 10 minutes at challenges such as Cross the Abyss, Untangle, or Balderdash. Some of the activities were physical and some cerebral.
Mr Weierter said, “This must be the most organised year ever. They got themselves into teams well in advance and even handed in completed team sheets in advance. When the time came to play the games they went round with such enthusiasm and energy.” He also said, “The Sixth Years who organised it and took charge of each activity also got their act together this year in a way which I haven’t seen before. Well done and thanks to them all.” The winning team with 83 points was the “Fawny Heeds”.


The S6 Environment Committee organised what was a very successful Question Time on Tuesday 17 th April. The event was well attended with around 30 people in attendance, both teachers and pupils. 5 th and 6 th year pupils, as well as 1 st and 2 nd year pupils were present, which presented a wide range of interest from younger generations in the issue of preserving our environment. P7 pupils from other various Border primary schools; Channelkirk, Lauder, Newtown and Earlston were also in attendance, which brought the issue to the attention of a primary audience.

The panel consisted of three MSPs, a local Councillor and two EHS teachers. Miss Morgan (Geography) and Mr Anderson (Biology) were on the panel, and we are grateful for their input in representing the school at this event. Also on the panel were MSPs Derek Brownlee, Chris Ballance, Jeremy Purvis, and waste disposal and recycling manger from the Scottish Borders Council, Ross Sharp-dent. The panel were given a range of questions, ranging from the issues of energy resources and waste management. The event was chaired by Sarah Sutherland, vice-chairperson of the S6 Environment Committee. The Question Time, which was held in the afternoon, was filmed by two 3 rd year students, and we are hoping that the footage can be used for educational purposes in the school. Thank you to all who attended, and those who helped to organise this event.

Rebecca Hogg, Secretary of the Environment Committee

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Burns Supper

On 25 th January senior students, staff, parents and guests gathered to honour the memory of our National Bard, Rabbie Burns. The event was organised by the School Association, which is a very active group made up mainly of parents but with several members of staff.Mr Renwick, of the PE department, was the Chairman and he did a great job – combining his natural enthusiasm with his mischevious sense of humour.
Depute Head Boy, Chris Hardie, gave the Selkirk Grace. A very short grace and some might say rather blunt, but when we remember how much Burns cared for the poor he was surely sincere in asking us to remember those who do not have enough to eat before we take our simple meal.
The Haggis had its traditional welcome to the notes of the bagpipes played beautifully by Marc Williamson as the company stood to see the Haggis accompanied by “ Scotland the Brave”.
Next, we were treated to a unique “Toast to the Haggis” by senior student Nico Falcone. Nico gave us his translation of the Burns poem into Italian – to mark the twinning of Earlston with the Italian town of Cappella Maggiore. It was marvellous to hear the familiar themes in another language. Congratulations to Nico on giving us such a special toast.
After a lovely meal of soup, haggis, neeps and tatties, oatcakes and shortbread, we were entertained by a programme of songs, recitations and speeches. Firstly there was a duet – Elizabeth Maclean and Jack Lowden gave a beautifully harmonised arrangement of “Ye Banks and Braes”.
The “Immortal Memory” was given by our Chaplain the Reverend Michael Scouler. As always Mr Scouler held his audience enthralled as he varied the moods in his speech – from Burns belief in the equality of all men (and women) to some very humorous stories. Of course Burns was very fond of the ladies and the occasional whisky, but these were very different and difficult times as Mr Scouler explained. Elizabeth Maclean demonstrated her great musical talent by playing a rousing “Set of Reels” on her accordion and also sang a solo. Her contributions of the highest quality were very much appreciated.Mr Renwick explained that one of the many advantages of coming from Hawick is that he knows Cameron Rudkin whom he persuaded to come again to our Burns Supper to perform Tam O’Shanter. He did not just recite the famous poem, he acted it out and took us to a dark night in Ayrshire as we accompanied Tam on his frightening journey from the pub to his wife, pursued by the witches. A wonderful performance which was enjoyed by all.
Our Head Boy, Aidan Rooney, gave an excellent “Toast to the Lassies” and Head Girl, Kirsty Bell, showed her own marvellous poetic skills with a very skilful balance of praise and criticism of the boys in her reply. Rector, Mr Roxburgh and Depute Rector Mr Weierter enjoyed playing the parts of the boring teacher and the awkward pupil – in the style of Burns. Finally the vote of thanks was given by Depute Head Girl, Vicky Wilson. All those present appreciated the contributions made by so many people.

Graphic by Dianne Sutherland. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk

Celebrating Success and Progress Awards

Last year the school positive behaviour committee introduced a new system to celebrate success and progress. It aimed to recognise and reward the high achievers but also to motivate the hard working in the class – a sector that is frequently left out in awards ceremonies. Given its success we are continuing with the scheme this year.

How does the scheme work?

Each year in December, March and May each first and second year class teacher can nominate any pupil who is

  • Continually working hard
  • Making pleasing progress
  • Making a positive contribution to class discussion
  • Producing good jotter work
  • Being helpful
  • Showing respect to others
  • Behaving well
  • Completing homework on time

These nominations are collated and certificates issued

  • Gold Award ( 12 nominations or more)
  • Silver Award (9 nominations or more)
  • Bronze Award (7 nominations or more)

The teacher can nominate as many pupils in the class as they feel deserve; it could be the whole class or very few. The School has a lot of deserving and hard working pupils and the committee felt it was important not to limit the number of pupils gaining awards.

Other certificates are awarded for good attendance and commitment to extra curricular activities.

Awards Ceremonies 2006/07

The special awards will take place on Monday 11 December for S1 pupils and Wednesday 13 December for S2 pupils. At the awards ceremonies the S6 Heads of school will give motivational speeches to pupils on the importance of setting goals, maintaining high standards and next steps.

The exercise is repeated in March and pupils are encouraged to strive for the next level of award. The challenge for the December Gold award winners will be to maintain the high standards to achieve a second gold award in March.

Senior management and guidance will analyse trends and support those pupils not receiving awards or those that have moved down a level.

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At the start of this session I let our teachers know that I will retire in 2007. Later I told our School Board that I would leave at the Easter holiday. My post has been advertised and interviews for my replacement will be held in January.
I came to Earlston in 1988 and it occurs to me that if a child was born in that year and came to our school then I have been here until he or she has completed (or is about to complete) his or her school education. Also – every person who is between 12 and 36 is or has been at the school when I have been here.
Of course, being head of school carries many responsibilities and at times it is very difficult but it has been a great privilege to be Rector of Earlston High School. When people ask me what it has been like the main point I make is that I have been very fortunate to work in this school. Our pupils have always been excellent. With very few exceptions they respond very well to good teaching. They work hard, they care about each other and they are confident to take part in the extra opportunities available to them.
I have been very lucky to have excellent members of Senior Management and with most teaching staff. Many of our own teachers have willingly given of their own time to provide extra activities such as: Choirs, Musical Shows, Concerts, Clubs, Sports, Excursions, etc. Also, our school has been very fortunate to have great support from non-teaching staff. Office staff, janitors, technicians, cleaners, librarian and canteen staff contribute a great deal to our school. All of these things contribute a great deal to the ethos of the school.
Also, we have been fortunate to have excellent facilities which have been increased as the school has grown. Our school has grown from 560 in 1988 to the present roll of 880 – and it is expected to continue to grow. As a result we will move into new school buildings in 2009.
I have enjoyed tremendous support from parents. The turn out at parents’ evenings, concerts, etc, is remarkable as most have quite a long way to travel. Also, if we need parents’ support to assist pupils through difficulties, almost without exception, parents are very supportive.
In 2002 the Inspectors consulted parents on their views about our school. It was very heartening to learn that the feedback from our parents was among the best the inspectors had ever seen.
If I am so fortunate to be at Earlston you must be asking why I want to leave!. I have been very fortunate with my health and I am able to put a lot of time and energy into the job. However, the time has come to hand over to someone younger who will take the school into a new era as well as new buildings. There are several exciting developments planned for Scottish Education. There will be improvements to courses and there will be new courses. New technology will play an increasing part in classrooms and will affect assessment and reporting. I am sure these changes will be exciting but I am equally sure that the essential core of a good school will not change – and that is good teaching. As long as Earlston has enthusiastic and dedicated teachers it will be a very good place to spend your teenage years.

WEEK ENDING 1st December 2006

Earlston High to Twin with a school in Ghana

Recently it has been agreed that Earlston High and the Mangu Junior Secondary School in Ghana should set up a twinning committee which will benefit both schools through a variety of links. Mangu School is in the town of Wa in the Upper West Region. There is a significant north-south divide in terms of wealth and there are high levels of unemployment. Around 80% of the community live below the poverty line and average daily earnings for labourers are only about 65p.
The school was originally founded by Methodist missionaries as recently as 1992 but the buildings were constructed from mud brick and only lasted 2 years. After this, the community attempted to rebuild but ran out of money and the incomplete construction collapsed.
At the moment, classes have to meet in the open under the shade of trees and, while this might sound idyllic to us, in the wet season, pupils and staff are crammed into very dilapidated buildings which the primary school vacated.

The school population is around 350 but attendance is poor for a variety of social reasons. There are very few resources – only 3 blackboards, a few tables and chairs and it seems astonishing that pupils have to bring their own desks to school each day!
Head teacher, Mark Naga, and the community hope to rebuild the school to create six classrooms, a staff room and an office. Ultimately they would like to establish a school library and a computer room.
It is difficult for us to imagine the huge hurdles which have to be overcome in order to achieve even a minimal level of education in such conditions. The community wholeheartedly contributes to the building work. Funds raised so far have been used to purchase building materials and tools only. Women have to carry heavy containers of water on their heads for 2 miles from a dam to the work site.

There are now foundations and floors laid for 3 classrooms and walls are under construction. With the help of Richard Smart, Head of Biology at Earlston High, £5,000 has been raised and sent to the school to fund this initial work. Richard spent 2 years in Ghana and has first hand knowledge of the area and its needs.
This is an exciting new venture for both schools and should provide many valuable and lasting educational and cultural bonds for both communities.



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Two weeks ago every parent was invited to the meeting in Lauder where, along with other schools, we learned about Parent Councils. The main points are :

Following the Parental Involvement Act each school must prepare to have a Parent Council.
  • School Boards will cease to exist from August 2007.
  • The constitution of the new Parent Council must be in place by April 2007.
  • It is suggested that PTAs (or School Associations) will be incorporated in the Parent Councils.
  • The main aim of Parent Councils is to give parents more rights to be involved in their children’s education.
  • Parents have considerable flexibility in deciding the kind of Parent Council they wish to have.

The next step for us was to invite all staff, parents, pupils and “friends” of the school to a meeting on 28 th November. As well as giving an invitation to each pupil we have advertised the meeting in the local press. The next stage is to prepare a constitution which must be in place by April 2007.


Hockey Results Against Galashiels Academy

EHS 2nd X1  2    GA 2nd X1   1

EHS S3        0    GA S3        6

EHS S2        3    GA S2        2

EHS S1        0    GA S1        3


South Schools Indoor Tournament

In the first game of the Tournament EHS played Selkirk High School. The opposition were on the receiving end of a very disciplined and polished performance as the girls displayed their silky skills and took advantage of every scoring opportunity; winning the game 5-1 with goals from Laura Scott, Annie Hunt and three from Caitlin Tiemessen.This performance continued into the second game against Jedburgh Grammar School. The opposition put up a fight but EHS proved too strong in the last five minutes of the game, winning 4-2 with goals from Laura Scott, Caitlin Tiemessen and two from captain Vicky Wilson. The last game in the section was against Peebles High School. Peebles were the stronger team and won the game 3-0. the semi-final EHS played Kelso High School. Despite a very gutsy performance the girls lost 2-0 and Kelso went on to beat Peebles in the final.

Well done to all the girls in the Squad. Player of the Tournament – Caitlin Tiemessen.


Weekly Themes

This session we are very keen to improve standards set by pupils and expected by teachers in a range of themes. So far we have focussed on the use of the Homework Diary. Teachers have been asked to check every pupil has the diary and that it is used for test dates, etc, as well as homework, etc. Another recent theme is to stress the importance of coming well prepared for lessons. Time can be wasted when pupils do not bring the proper books and equipment. Pupils should always carry spare pens/pencils etc. Also it is very useful if pupils bring their own calculator – so that they get used to it for tests and exams as well as classwork.

Young Enterprise

One of the tasks of this group is to run the School Christmas Card Design Competition. Pupils have been asked to hand in their designs and there will be a prize for the design chosen as our 2006 Christmas Card. Of course they hope to make a little money to add to the Charity Fund.

Third Year Reports

These were issued recently. As always parents are asked to return the reply slip and to take the opportunity to ask any questions they have. Every question is answered by letter. Pupils have now been waiting on their Standard Grade courses for about one term. They are about 1/5 th of the way through their courses. The grades given will show how the pupils have started their courses. Of course there is plenty of time for pupils to improve if they believe they can do better.

Scottish Judo Championships

Four pupils from Earlston High were competing in the Scottish National Schools Judo Championships at the weekend. They were Andrew McDonald who achieved Gold, Cora Gardiner – Silver, and Alexandra Mather – Silver and Alexandra Kontothanassis – Bronze. Well done.




Week ending 24th November

Pink Party

Staff and friends recently held a Pink Party in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer. The hall looked spectacular decorated in a pink theme with balloon, kindly donated by Maid by Marion, adding the final touch. The evening got under way with a welcoming sparkling drink generously provided by Cullen Kilshaw. Some light-hearted games and a quiz followed, with a scrumptious 2 course buffet rounding it off.

The Pink Party Planners would like to thank all friends who came along, local businesses and individuals who kindly donated raffle prizes and food to this very enjoyable and successful evening. We will be sending a cheque for £1332 to Breakthrough Breast Cancer – a fantastic amount. Thank you all.


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East End, Earlston, TD4 6JP | Tel: 01896 849282 | Fax: 01896 848918 | Email: earlstonhs@scotborders.gov.uk