School news 17th September 2010

S4 Prelims – Pupils are already working with their teachers preparing and planning for their exams, which start at the end of November.  Parents should be aware that S4 should now be focused on these exams.  They have been given appropriate materials for their subjects and advised about the steps they need to take to achieve their best grades. We would ask that parents support pupils in preparation for these important exams.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – Kieron Morrison was presented with his Bronze DofE certificate and badge at assembly recently.  Well done to Kieron!

Other Pupil Success – Over the summer Sofie Banister (S2) took part in various horse shows and trials in Perthshire, the Borders and Cumbria.  She did very well picking up several awards including a qualifying position in the BSPS Summer Championship Show.  Sofie is to be congratulated on her current riding success.  Well-done Sofie!

Future Energy Supplies – All pupils in the school attended a lecture in school recently about the looming energy crisis.  This presentation highlighted the renewable energy options that are currently available, but pointed out that the technologies are not yet up to the required standard, and that much research and development needs to take place over the next 20 years in order to be able to meet the demand for energy.  Further to this S3-S6 physics pupils then attended a lecture in Millburn Academy on the 8th September, sponsored by the Institute of Physics, which focused on nuclear fusion and the part it could play in helping to meet the energy needs of the future.  At both events one of the main messages given in the midst of economic uncertainly was that this is one area that will have to grow!

School Badges & Uniform – Last week pupils had the opportunity of receiving an embroidered badge for their blazers.  Many people in the local community have commented on the improved turnout of the pupils recently.  The Rector at Millburn Academy emailed to say that it was ‘fantastic’ to see our pupils arrive for the Science Lecture (mentioned above) ‘resplendent in uniform’.

Crofting Study – In Geography the first years are looking at crofting as part of a joint farming project with our link school in Malawi.  1B visited Mrs. Fraser’s croft in Big Sand and there is a visit planned for 1A.  As well as asking lots of questions about crafting, the pupils enjoyed meeting the pigs, ducks, cat and sheep and seeing the machinery and tools used on the croft.  They also went up to see the old fank, where the sheep used to be dipped.  Thanks to Mrs. Fraser for this opportunity.  Click here to see some photos.

Royal Mail  (Book) Awards – Pupils from S1–S4 are being asked to vote on the winner of the Royal Mail Award 2010 in the Teenage category. The awards recognize excellence in Scottish writing and are run by the Scottish Booktrust.  The winners of the awards are decided entirely by children in schools and libraries across Scotland, reading and voting for their favourite books.  The Librarian and English teachers are in the process of setting up a RMA book group which will meet every other Monday over lunchtime to discuss and vote for the short listed titles.  Then the final votes will be cast in January.  The three books shortlisted for the award this year are: Crossing the Line by Gillian Philip, The Witching Hour by Elizabeth Laird & Grass by Cathy MacPhail.

Website update –  We now have a link on the Parent News page to recent newsletters that have been sent home with pupils.  These don’t always get home so now you can check the website for copies although you might want to look in the school bag first!  The link is on the right hand side of the page and can be seen by clicking here or on the image above.

Report on the visit of Malawian Teachers

As most readers will be aware the new school session got off to an unusual start this year with the visit of 2 teachers from our link school in Malawi. Mr Chimtali, the Headteacher of Mlozi School, and Ms Ajawa, the Depute, were in Gairloch High School from Thursday 19th August until Wednesday 1st September. They were welcomed at an assembly that included performances by the school pipers and C for Craic and the presentation of a special welcome cake baked by Rosie Smith.

During their time at the school, they visited many different classes, learning about the work of our school and contributing to the lessons, including providing opportunities for pupils and staff to ask questions and learn more about Malawi. On Tuesday lunchtimes, Mr Chimtali proved himself a valuable addition to the staff team for the staff/pupil football matches and we lost count of the number of goals he scored. They also visited the Primary Schools at Bualnaluib, Gairloch, Inverasdale, Kinlochewe and Poolewe and had a very enjoyable time in each of those schools. During their visit, we planned some joint curricular activities that will take place in both schools over the next few months looking at food and diet in Science and farming in Social Subjects.

Outside school time, they enjoyed a full programme of activities with members of staff and community groups and experienced the natural diversity of our weather! The beach was a novelty for them, Malawi being landlocked, and they enjoyed a paddle after finding that the water was much less cold than they expected. They were welcomed to services at two of the local churches, had the opportunity to ride a horse for the first time in their lives (horses are quite unusual in Malawi), took a trip east to Inverness and Invergordon where Mr Chimtali tried his hand at judo, visited the local ATC and had a go on the flight simulator, attended training for the Wester Ross Youth Football team, visited the Gairloch Show, were interviewed by Two Lochs Radio and enjoyed hospitality in the homes of many members of staff and others. The social highlight of their visit was the Community Ceilidh on Saturday 28th August, which was mentioned in the previous edition, so suffice to say it was thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended.

Before they arrived in Scotland, our visitors had been told that people here are not as friendly as they are in Malawi, which is known as the “Warm Heart of Africa”. However, they found that this was simply not true in Gairloch and were overwhelmed with the warmth of the reception they received here from the schools and the community. They have sent their thanks to everyone for their kindness and welcome. In their short time with us, they touched us with their generosity of spirit, their friendliness and their sense of humour. At the final assembly before they returned home, they sang a traditional Malawian farewell song which was received with a standing ovation from the pupils and there were certainly a few moist eyes when they left. Many people were generous in giving them gifts for their school and their families, and the modest luggage that they arrived with was considerably supplemented on their way home. Gairloch High School would like to thank again pupils, staff, Primary Schools and members of the community for the welcome that you gave to our visitors and we hope that you enjoyed their visit as much as we did. This visit was supported by a grant from Global School Partnerships for which we are grateful.  (report by Dr C Caley)

School news 3rd September 2010

Visitors from Malawi – By the time this is published Mr. Chimtali and Ms. Ajawa will be on their way home to Malawi.  Our guests assure us that they had a wonderful and productive time in Gairloch learning about our teaching methods as well as our culture.  We have certainly enjoyed developing our friendship with Winnex and Sarah.

They were apparently warned before they left Africa that Westerners are not generally a friendly people.  That has certainly not been their experience and they have been touched by the friendship they have encountered in Gairloch from all members of the community.  While entertained royally on each day of their visit, special mention must be made of the Community Ceilidh last Saturday in the Community Hall.  Both primary and secondary pupils provided a very high standard of music and song throughout the evening.  This was complimented by dance with music provided by the Gairloch Ceilidh Band. Mr Chimtali and Ms Ajawa (along with a couple of conscripts) demonstrated a dance from their homeland.

This event was a great opportunity for parents and staff to come together and celebrate our growing link with Mlozi School but also demonstrated the strength of our own community.  Mr. Port would like to thank everyone who was involved in making the evening such a success including members of the Parent Council for organising the refreshments.

Around 150 people attended and the raffle provided a donation of £300.40 for Highland Hospice.  In October Dr. Caley and Mr. Hulme will visit Malawi.

NESTA Project with S2 – Monday 23rd August saw the launch of iDiscover for S2 and S1B in Gairloch High School.  iDiscover is an exciting project that the school is involved with along with the high schools in Portree, Plockton and Ullapool. Pupils have selected the experiences that they will be working on in five days spread over the weeks to Christmas.  After Christmas, S2 and S1A will choose their experiences for the remaining days. It should be stressed that S1 are only involved because of the smaller numbers in Gairloch compared with the other schools; it is a bonus and we are glad that they are able to be part of this event.

The experiences are to be run by providers from outside the area and are very varied. One allows pupils to turn objects into robots, another gives pupils the opportunity to produce an internet based game. Microbes, radio broadcasting, rockets and puzzles are the basis of the other experiences.

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning officially launched the one-year programme, being operated with support from Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Highland Council, Learning Teaching Scotland and Scottish Government, at Portree High School on 1st September.  See P&J report here… and read the official press release here.

Comenius Partnership School Project – The school has been awarded a grant of 22,000 Euros from the British Council to fund cultural links with schools in different European countries.  Comenius has two main objectives: to develop understanding among young people and education staff of the diversity of European cultures and to help young people acquire basic life skills and competences for their personal development.

Mrs. Campbell submitted the successful bid and the school will work with four other European schools: Instituto Istruzione Superiore C. Golgi in Italy, the 7th General Lyceum of Illion in Greece, HS/RS Lehre in Germany and Preili State Gymnasium in Latvia.  Our project will run over two years, during which pupils and staff will visit each school in turn to plan, discuss and evaluate our input into the project.  Each school will study the cultural and political heritage of their area and consider how this has shaped their environment.  In planning and working together, pupils and staff will have the opportunity to increase their awareness and appreciation of their own and other cultures within the European Community.

In Gairloch we will concentrate on our historical, linguistic, artistic and musical culture and how it has made our country what it is today.

Our first visit is to Preili State Gymnasium in Latvia.  This visit will be in November.  Four pupils from S5 and S6, Kirsty Alexander, Ella McDonagh, Alasdair Paul and Sophie Donald along with Ms Campbell and Ms Hunter, will set off for Riga, followed by working meetings with our partner schools in Preili, where pupils will stay with host families.

I am delighted to have such a wonderful opportunity to visit Latvia.  It is a unique opportunity that I doubt I will ever get again.  I am really excited about staying with host families and learning about how they live, although I’ll have to learn some Latvian first – Ella McDonagh.  Read Ella’s full article here…

Pupil Success – Several pupils in the S3 Gaelic Learner’s class received certificates for work that they had submitted in June to a national Gaelic writing competition.  Pupils who received certificates were Adam Blyth, Rebecca Griggs, Caitlin Johnston, Donald Mackenzie, Malachi Robertson, Lyle Walker, Danielle Bulmer, James Conniff and Donnie MacLennan.  Luke Gorman wrote an outstanding piece and won the competition.  He received the first place prize of £50.  This success follows on from last year when Mairi Wyatt, another Gairloch High pupil, won the competition.

In the fluent competition, both Ceitidh Hulme and Ainslie Mackenzie received certificates for their short stories.

Kim Watson attended a Leadership Training course over the summer break as a guest of the Dingwall Rotary Club.  Kim reported that the week of activities and training was a great opportunity.  Last week Kim and her mum were invited to a Rotary dinner so that Kim could make a presentation to the Rotarians about her experiences.

Last weekend some of our pupils got prizes at the Gairloch Show.  Well done to Luke Gorman for his photography and his brother Jordan for artwork, along with Catherine Wyatt who baked an amazing gingerbread house!  It is hoped that next year the pupils will enter some of our own vegetable produce!

C for Craic in Edinburgh – Ella McDonagh, Margaret Matheson, Alasdair Paul, Conal McDonagh and Ross MacDonald, along with Rhona Sutherland performed their music to great acclaim in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh on the 9th August.  Click here to see some photographs of the event.

Parent Council Report – Prior to the summer break the Parent Council asked parents about their opinions regarding their experiences of working with the school to combat issues.  The completed report is now available on the school website.

Parents should have received a letter recently from the Parent Council inviting participation and alerting everyone to the upcoming AGM in October.  Details on the website.  The school greatly appreciates the support of our parents.