(Let There) Be Light ...

 
It is the 14th February. St Valentine’s Day. Far more importantly though, we are now half way through February. That means we are now getting an hour more daylight than we had on 31st January. How do I know this? Simply because when I walk Nellie around the grounds at 7am each morning, I am no longer bumping into trees or falling over benches – I can now see where I am going.
 
Actually, St. Valentine’s Day is another big day in the Belhaven calendar. Tradition has it that a large red post box is created and left in the front hall for all the children to post their Valentine’s Day cards then, at break time, the Form 1 pupils stand on the Red Stairs and distribute the cards to the expectant crowd waiting below – it really is a lovely sight; loud but lovely.
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Scholarship season is now in full swing. We were delighted to pick up three more scholarships from Merchiston – a full house of Sport and All-Rounder Awards. The Radley, Oundle, Merchiston and Strathallan academic scholars will all be sitting their papers after half term; they are primed and ready – I know this as one of them asked me the other day the difference between ‘to assume’ and ‘to presume’. I made some excuse about needing to be elsewhere in a hurry; I still don’t know the answer so am avoiding him studiously. The potential Art scholars are also finalising their portfolios and the ‘Fettes Four’ are champing at the bit. I have no doubt that there are more awards to come ...
 
We have had further success on both the netball court and hockey pitch – four girls have been selected for the representative Dandylions’ side to play the WOSPS at Kilgraston on 4th March. The senior boys competed in the IAPS regional hockey finals at Fettes and, although they were just pipped into second place, they have qualified once again for the IAPS National finals at Millfield on 19th March. Obviously there has been plenty of other success elsewhere too.
 
There was a plethora of LAMDA certificates to give out in Assembly last Friday, many children passing their levels with either Merit or Distinction. Although there were no Accelerated Reader certificates last week, Mrs. Parks has started a Reading competition between the Patrols and had some hugely impressive statistics to share with the school. This has led to even further reading and quiz-taking from all the children and there were 17 more certificates awarded this week, to children who had reached their reading target. As it stands, The Wolves have read 4,382,476 words this term and completed 121 quizzes; the Owls, 3,559,545 words and 98 quizzes; the Woodpeckers 3,457,356 words and 105 quizzes and the Lions 2,180,838 words and 80 quizzes. The school, as a whole and in just 6 weeks, has read 13,580,215 words. That’s roughly 110,000 words read by each child – where do they get the time?!
 
Talking of Patrol competitions, we are fast approaching one of the highlights of the school year – the Mansfield Music Cup. The Patrols have all been practising furiously and it should be a very close and hard-fought competition, judged this year by an ex-Belhaven Music Gapper who is currently the Director of Music at a school south of the border. We are also well into Mastermind season – last night’s semi-finalists answered questions on a wide variety of special subjects from Show Jumping, Asterix and Steven Gerrard. Their general knowledge is hugely impressive too.
 
Be-Light-3Finally, I must report on the Reels Party that took place last Saturday evening. We had over 150 guests (Forms 1 & 2 and their parents) for a champagne reception, followed by Cottage Pie (not quite Jeffrey Archer’s Krug and Shepherd’s Pie parties) then Brownies and Raspberries for pudding. The guests then moved down to the hall for two hours of dancing, fortifying themselves between Reels with huge plates of tablet and shortbread, coffee and plenty of wine. Whilst the food was impressive, it was the reeling of the children that impressed me the most. Whilst I think it would be fair to say that they haven’t always been exactly angelic during their evening reels practices, they certainly pulled it off on the night and maintained Belhaven’s reputation as having some of the best prep school ‘Reelers’ (?) in the country. It was a triumph.
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And so here we are, half way through the coldest and darkest term, consoling ourselves that by the end of February, we will have 2 more hours of daylight than on 31st January and we will be well on the way to those long Summer evenings, when golf can be played (and the children can still swim) at 10pm. Bliss.
 
That is all.

Henry Knight, 15/02/2019