School news 16th November 2012

Our Janitor is no ordinary Janitor – On Thursday 8th November, at The Highland Quality Award ceremony held in the Town House, Inverness, Andy Bowker was one of three final nominations for Highland Council Employee of the Year. While he didn’t win, he was certainly in with a good chance. His help with so many aspects of school life made him an excellent candidate and we thank him, especially, for all the extras that he does about the school.  Read about the event in the Ross-shire Journal by clicking here.

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Click on the photo of Andy to see other photos of the event and read the official press release.


Pupil Badminton Success – Congratulations to Mark McLean and Louie O’Brien who played in the Highland Schools Badminton Tournament recently. Despite strong opposition from around the Highlands and Islands, both played well with Louie reaching the semi-final of one competition and, playing as a doubles’ team, both reaching the quarter-finals. This was a highly creditable performance and deserving of our congratulations.

Basketball Coaching – On Thursday 8th November, we had a visit from John Kerray, Highland Regional Development Officer and National team coach. Throughout a very busy day John worked with all our basketball teams and some PE classes. All players had a good workout and learnt some new skills and drills to improve their games. Staff involved with basketball in the school also picked up some new coaching ideas from John. The Intermediate 1 Sport and Recreation class spent a lesson observing one of the basketball sessions. This was to help them pick up some top tips on how to be a good coach, in preparation for a unit of their course. Three GHS teams are playing in the National Schools ‘Cup competition this session. Fixtures this term include the Open Boys team against Fortrose on 15th November and against Glenurquhart on 6th December; S1 Boys versus the Nicolson Institute on 28th November and both S1 Girls and S1 Boys will play Charleston Academy on 18th December. Good luck to all the players and their coaches.

S5/6 Sleepover – On the night of Wednesday 7th November, 30 pupils from S5 and S6 spent the night in school to raise money for Blythswood.  Pupils were required to contribute a minimum of £5 in order to take part.  Throughout the evening, pupils took part in different activities, including games in the hall and a late-night quiz.  Many thanks to Heather Widdows, Susan Maclean, Mrs Somers, Mrs Fraser, Mrs Whall, Ms Velt, Dr Caley and Mr Milner who made this possible. Rachel Mackenzie organized this event, and full credit goes to Rachel for her determination to make this work. Despite little sleep, the staff were very impressed with the behaviour of all those who slept in the corridors, prefect room, multi-purpose hall and the PE social area. Reveille at 6:30am was not appreciated by most, but beautifully played by Nessie Gearing.

Road Safety – We ask those driving into the school grounds to adopt the following safe practice, particularly on wet days when visibility is reduced.

  1. Consider the safety of pedestrians and youngsters, at all times. Do not exceed 20 mph and consider a lower speed at the start and end of the day.
  2. At busy times, give way to pedestrians attempting to cross, again particularly when youngsters are present.
  3. Never park on any pavement. This restricts movement of pedestrians and poses a danger if they need to walk on the road or if the vehicle moves off.

S4 Prelims– These begin on Wednesday, 21st November. As intimated in the last issue, the Community Hall is being renovated so these exams will be held in the school. This may mean some disruption for other classes though this will be kept to a minimum. Many pupils have been taking advantage of the Study Club sessions being run after school by teachers. All pupils have been given revision materials and they should be using there spare time to revise for these important exams. Pupils have been made aware of on-line support, such as Bitesize or past papers on the SQA website; these should be used to further their preparation for the exams. Should pupils have a query or problem related to the work for these exams, they should make a special point of asking their teachers for help.

Culture Club Trip to Eden Court – On Thursday 8th November, a group of 11 pupils from S1-S6, travelled to Eden Court to see Scottish Opera’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.  The set design and stage effects were really impressive and reflected images from all kinds of sources, from freemasonry to movies. We especially admired the powerful performance by Mori Moriya of the well-known Queen of the Night Aria.  Everyone’s favourite, however, was Papageno, played by Richard Burkhard, because we could all relate to his situation, of having no one to love, yet making it funny.  As well as the music, we enjoyed the dialogue in the production, which had been adapted to suit a modern audience, with witty lines, occasionally improvised by Papageno, who, along with the burly Scottish Prince, found his love and had a happy ending!  A big thank you to Ms Gulliver and Ms Hunter for making this trip possible for us! [Nessie Gearing (S5) and Bethan Townsend (S4)]

Advanced Higher and Higher Art Exhibition – The opening night of the High School Art Department’s Exhibition was held for the first time in the GALE Centre on Friday 9th November. The Exhibition runs from Saturday 10th to Tuesday 20th November and features work from Ruairdhri Wright’s Advanced Higher folio and the Higher Design and Expressive work by Josie Ogle and Shannon Stewart. The standard of work is very high and all received excellent SQA results this year. It was also nice to see Ruairdhri there, taking time out from his studies at Gray’s School of Art to attend the exhibition with his family. The Art Department was thrilled to have Ms Gulliver open the exhibition, as she was responsible for teaching the senior pupils throughout their SQA coursework.


Click on Josie’s portrait to see more images from the evening.

S3 Hospitality pupils, taught by Kirsty Thistlethwaite, prepared and served excellent food for the evening. The pupils were covering the ‘Event Planning’ unit of work, as part of their Intermediate 1 SQA coursework and were marked on their performance on the evening. The pupils were very professional and fulfilled their individual tasks with great enthusiasm. They also worked very well as a team to ensure everything ran smoothly.

Miss Hunter and Isla MacKenzie played the harp throughout the evening, showing their talent and expertise to provide some beautiful music. This helped create the perfect atmosphere. This cross-curricular event was a great success, very well attended by guests including Richard Greene, Local Councillor, parents, pupils, teachers and members of the local community.

A huge thank you to Mrs Browne our new art teacher for organising the event and those who others who took part to make the opening evening a success: Kirsty Thistlethwaite and her hospitality pupils, Beth Hunter, Isla MacKenzie and Pat Gulliver. Thanks also to Janet Miles and the GALE Centre for making this perfect venue available.

School news 2nd November 2012

S4 Prelims 2012 – S4 pupils have already received a copy of their exam timetables.  Due to closure of the Community Hall these exams will take place in the school although strict exam conditions will still apply.  These exams are extremely important in preparing pupils for the exams in May and June next year.  Study Club is available to provide support beyond that given in class already.  Exams begin on Monday 21st November and end on the 3rd December.

Young Ambassador Programme – Two pupils in S5 – Chris Young and Isla Mackenzie – were chosen to attend the Young Ambassadors conference in September, which was run by the Youth Sport Trust in partnership with sportscotland.  This training qualified them as Young Sports Ambassadors for Gairloch High School, working with the PE department and Active Schools, when possible.  They take on responsibility as role models to young people, leading and supporting them while promoting Olympic and Paralympic values.

Isla wrote a bit about the day.  On the 25th Sept Chris & I travelled to Nairn for the Young Ambassadors conference.  Whilst there, we met Gold Paralympian David Smith, three times world Curling champion Ewan MacDonald and Gold medal Gymnast Steve Frew.  The day helped us make lots of new and exciting plans.  We shall be hopefully doing lots of new activities during the next year.  As Young Ambassadors we shall be doing the best we can to promote sports and awareness of Olympics, Paralympics, Commonwealth games and other important sporting events.

Religious & Moral Education event – Just before the holidays, the ‘Big Questions’ event was held.  All of S5 and S6 took part in this whole day event that started off with pupils being asked to consider what influences the choices they make on moral issues.  The rest of the day was spent in lively discussion on these issues, with pupils encouraged to think about and express their views, as well as listen to the views of others.  Thanks go to Mrs MacRae and Susan Maclean who organised the event, and to Jeremy Ross, Alastair Macleod and Donnie MacRae for helping to facilitate the discussions.  Feedback from the pupils was very positive and we hope to repeat this event next year.

Electrolabs at Gairloch High School – S2 pupils at Gairloch High School were treated, during the last week of term, to a wonderful musical experience.  Dave Martin and Steve Gasgarth of Electrolabs brought up to date electronic music into the classroom.  Pupils in Gairloch are already used to exploring the magical world of Apple Mac music making, using software packages such as Garageband and Logic.  Dave and Steve provided the opportunity for pupils to work with the latest, industry-standard software and Mac Pro laptops.

During Monday to Thursday, pupils created, from scratch, 13 brand new pieces of music.  These can be heard on and include the use of live instruments and synthesized keyboard sounds.  On National Poetry Day (Thursday), pupils used an original poem by local poet Dr. Ian Blake of Aultgrishan called “Sitting In” as the basis of one piece.  Dr. Blake wrote the poem whilst “sitting in” Miss Hunter’s music class one day, listening to a clarsach player practising.

In addition, on the final day, electronic music was combined with the school’s traditional players from the band C for Craic to produce an innovative sound, which the band really enjoyed.


With the new Music Courses including Music Technology as a separate exam, such experiences as this one provide pupils with the possibility of studying Sound Technology in more depth.  Miss Hunter, said, “What an amazing week we have had; it would be fantastic to have the Electrolabs crew back here again.”  Click on the photo above to see more images.

Comments from pupils: “It was a great insight into sound engineering and the music industry”, “Great fun!”, “The music we created was amazing!”, “I really enjoyed the experience of it all”, “Can we do it again?”, “Making our own music…….  It is so cool!”

Many thanks must go to Norman Bolton and the Highland Council for giving our pupils this unique opportunity.

Basketball results – The S1 basketball players had their first competitive outing, playing Alness Academy yesterday. While losing 60-30, they worked hard and have a good idea of what they need to concentrate on.  The senior boys’ team played a very good Alness team in the first game of the National Schools’ Cup. (Alness were finalists last year). The boys lost 48-34 but everyone there felt that they played one of their best games ever.

Congratulations to Sara Johnston and Gregor Vickerstaff, who have been selected for the national basketball “Future Starz” development programme. They will get regular coaching from national coaches and have the opportunity to attend trials for the Scotland U13 teams in March.

Archaeolgical Dig – On Thursday 25th October Mr Port and five pupils (Annie Maclennan, Maia MacKenzie, Lewis Brady, Roddy MacRae and Donald Mackenzie) helped at the roundhouse dig above Achtercairn.  Although wet and windy for part of the morning the pupils assisted with excavation and mapping.  During the short time we were there the pupils were involved in uncovering two potentially important finds!  Thanks to Mrs MacRae for her help in organising this, Anna Welti, Jim Buchanan, Jeremy Fenton and others present for making us feel so welcome.  We look forward to reading any conclusions from the excavation.  Click on the photo below to see more images.

Archaeolgical Excavation

Boys’ football  – On Wednesday 3rd October a group of S2/S3 boys made up an A and B team from Gairloch High School. They travelled to Ullapool for the annual Small Schools football competition. The previous fortnight they had played in the first leg in Dornoch and confirmed their place in either the top or bottom 4.

In Ullapool, Gairloch B team played in the top 4. They did exceedingly well winning all but one of their matches. This won them a well-deserved place at the semi finals.

The A team also did well but played in the bottom 4. They won two games and drew one making them overall winners of their group as well.  Sadly they did not qualify for the semi-finals because they were in the bottom 4.

We’d all like to give a huge thank you to Mr Gorman, Mr Cumming and Mr Bowker – Louie O’Brien

Interview Skills – S5 and S6 pupils have been given the information they need to submit an application for a mock interview.  Deadline for application is 5th November.   Thereafter applicants will be given a time for interview.  We invite members of the community with suitable experience and members of Dingwall Rotary to interview the pupils and provide personal feedback on the same day.  The interviewees receive the pupil applications prior to visiting the school in preparation for the interview.  This opportunity has previously only been for S6, however we now wish to make this valuable experience available to S5 pupils as well.

Staff success – Before the October holiday Mrs Carol Bulmer successfully achieved the Summer Mountain Leader qualification.   This adds to the number of staff that can support pupils in outdoor activities.

Pupil SuccessSofie Banister won the Show Pony class in her last show of the season and went on to take the Show Pony Champion title.  She also won the BSPS Scotland Summer Points Challenge in the 148cm Open Show Pony Section and was also Reserve Champion.  In addition she also won the Highland Trophy for the highest number of points.  Well-done Sofie!

Former Pupil SuccessEllie Richardson has given us an update on her progress to represent Scotland as a track cyclist at the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

I have just completed three days of racing in the British National Track Championships with the aim of finishing in the top 10 in the UK and ideally the fastest Scottish rider.  I surpassed my expectations, finishing 6th in the sprint and 7th in the 500m time trial beating professional full time athletes in the process and proving myself to be the fastest amateur.  Last night was the highlight of the championships when I took silver in the Team Sprint. I was the fastest Scot of the championships in all my races and my opening lap time in the team sprint was the fastest in the finals.  Well-done Ellie.  We have high hopes for success in 2014 if all goes to plan.  Ellie will be riding next in the newly opened Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome!

Malawi Trip – During the holidays Dr Caley made a personal trip to our partner school in Malawi.  She carried letters from pupils and staff and began arrangements for our planned visit with pupils next October.

Last week we received very positive feedback from the Global Schools Partnership:  This is clearly an enthusiastic partnership, which has helped to develop a global dimension within both schools and their communities. The projects and visits appear to have gone well with students and staff richly benefiting from their exchanges. It is pleasing to read that the coordinators intend to further drive the partnership forward and that the benefits of teaching global education has been realised within many subject areas. 

Art Exhibition in the GALE Centre – From Saturday 10th November till Tuesday 20th November 2012 there will be an exhibition of Advanced Higher and Higher Art work on display at the GALE Centre.  This provides an excellent opportunity for pupils, parents and the local community to enjoy the artwork of our senior pupils.

R Wright 3

Standard & Quality report – This annual report has been published and distributed to parents. The full report was presented to the Parent Council last Monday evening and is available on the website here.  Paper copies are available for the school office on request.

Important Dates – The website is updated regularly.  Click here for more dates.

30th October – S4 Study Club began, 3 nights a week for 3 weeks (Tue, Wed, Thur).
5th November – S2 monitoring reports issued.
21st November – S4 prelim exams begin.