Saturday, 31 January 2009

Burns Supper

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne
(Robert Burns)

On Friday 30 January 150 performers and guests at Liberton high School celebrated the 250 anniversary of the bard's birth. This event was also part of the school's 50 anniversary. The entire event was superbly organised by Mrs Norah Watson, our Principal Teacher of HE.

The evening followed the traditional format of a Burns supper. First we were treated to a lovely supper consisting of Haggis, neeps and tatties. The food was all produced by our HE department and S4 pupils and was served by senior pupils. We are grateful to the Witchery restaurant for taking the time to train senior pupils in waiting. Following the supper, the Immortal Memory was brilliantly delivered by Dick Staite, former headteacher at Beeslack High school. Dick served as an Assistant Head Teacher at Liberton High in the days when Henry Phillip was Headteacher. I worked with Dick at Beeslack in the mid 80s, when I was the APT for Science. Following Dick's presentation, we had contributions from various performers. The order of events was:

• Joanna Greig (Welcome)
• Joyce Lochrie (Grace)
• Chris Saddler (Piper)
• David Russell (Address to the Haggis)
• Julia Lawson and Joanna Greig (Dancing)
• Dick Staite (Immortal memory)
• Eleanor Graham (Singing of ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’)
• Mark O'Neill (Toast to the Lassies)
• Rachel McDade (Reply from the Lassies)
• Ian McBain (Singing of ‘Ae fond kiss’)
• Cathy Ritchie (Tam O'Shanter)
• Sheila Kennedy (Kate O'Shanter)
• Joe Walker (Holy Willie's Prayer)
• Alison Steel and Alison Thayne (Singing of 'Coming through the rye')
• Rosy Fraser (Mouth Organ) accompanied by Donald MacIntosh and
• David Donoghue (Vote of thanks).

The master of ceremonies for the evening was the hugely entertaining and witty Iain Hutchison.

All in all, this was a hugely enjoyable and successful evening. Enormous thanks are due to our HE department and pupils, especially Norah Watson who has been superhuman in her efforts to stage such a stunning evening.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Stand up to hatred

On Tuesday of this week at Liberton High we decided to make our own special contribution to the city's 'Stand up to Hatred' day. As a school we decided to focus on the Holocaust. This follows a visit by two of our senior pupils (Stuart Wilson and Megan Bryant) to Auschwitz last Autumn. The main organiser for the day was Sharon Kean our PT of Social subjects.

The day went superbly well. In addition to lessons delivered by all departments that touched on some aspect of the Holocaust, we held a conference for all S2 pupils throughout the day on the theme of standing up to hatred. To close the conference we were delighted to welcome Rabbi Soetendorp to our school to deliver an address. In all my years as a teacher I have never been as moved as I was by Rabbi Soetendorp's presentation. Rabbi Soetendorp shared with us how, being born in 1943 into a Jewish family in Nazi occupied Arnhem he would not have been expected to have survived beyond a few days. That he did so is because of the humanity of others and a great deal of good fortune. Reading about many of the events of that period in occupied countries, as I have done through the years, is one thing, but actually meeting a man who has survived and subsequently dedicated his life to promoting world peace was truly inspiring. Selecting one pupil at random in the audience Rabbi Soetendorp made the point that everyone in the world is special and unique. He made a point of emphasising that we are all special and unique whether we live in Palestine, Israel, Scotland or Darfur. He told us that that he wished for a world where there was no hatred and, in particular, a world where no children would suffer.

''Mans inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn'' (Robert Burns)