A happy, if belated, new year...

A very Happy New Year, if a little belated, from all the staff and students here at Mackie Academy.

I hope everyone had a good rest over the festivities as we have a very busy term ahead of us.

Our senior students are currently preparing for their prelims which start at the end of January. For our S4 students this year things are a little different with the new Nationals qualifications.

This means that for some the number of exams they have are limited and therefore their “study leave” is also limited. Where this is the case they are going to be attending lessons so that they can complete assessments which will count towards their final course outcomes in August 2014.

We have a number of key events coming up this term as well associated with curriculum choices that our students will be making.

On January 28, we welcome S2 students and parents to school in the evening to discuss how they can personalise their curriculum in S3. On February 11 we have our first ever “Senior Phase Choices” evening.

This is an opportunity for students from S3 – S5 and their parents to come into school, look and discuss the range of subjects and options available to them as well as discussing with external bodies such as FE Colleges, universities and employers the options open to them with their choice of subjects.

Some of our students may be noticing a few changes around the building. Our new seating and screening for the social area has arrived as have the remainder of the lockers.

So very soon we will be able to get rid of the old lockers and give everyone who has asked for a new locker just that! The rearrangement of the social area means we will have designated “bag drop” areas so that we don’t have these left everywhere and anywhere.

It should mean that students’ belongings are much safer.

As we return to school the message has been reiterated to students about school uniform and the importance of behaviour both in and out of school. It is unfortunate when individuals let the school down but we are working hard with the community to make sure this becomes a rare occurrence. Thank you to everyone who contacts the school with their comments.

At the end of last term a couple of things happened that I did not have time to report on. Our 2014 calendar was delivered by Nexen, our business partner, and we are really proud of the quality of photos produced by our students as well as the professional touch added by Nexen’s sponsorship of this. All S1 and S6 students have been provided with a copy as well as staff and other members of our community.

Well done to the Photography Club, Miss Scriven and Mr Sim for making this happen. The staff Christmas performance on the last day raised £137 for the Cash for Kids appeal.

As always our PE department are off to a strong start this year. Cross country training is under way on Thursdays with the aim of the RunBalmoral Race in April 2014 to aim for. The S5/6 interhouse basketball competition took place this week with Fetteresso leading the way in front of Dunnotar and Rickarton respectively.

The Aberdeenshire Leader Programme is available to our senior students who may wish to gain sports coaching qualifications over the next year whilst younger students in S1-3 are being encouraged to help form Mackie Football Academy. The aim here is to develop the technical skills to improve your overall game and skills for work.

Rock Challenge is ramping up its rehearsals as well as set painting getting under way. I know everyone is working really hard in order to live up to the success of last year and it is great to see so many people getting involved.

Trips to the Six Nations Rugby are planned and already a group of staff and students have made it down to Edinburgh to see the Lion King. Many more such visits are planned for this term which is fantastic to see.

Finally, I am going to see the Scottish Ballet’s production of Hansel and Gretel soon in Aberdeen.

I then found out that not only would I be watching world class performers but that it would include a Mackie Academy student, Gemma Banister, of S2 Swanley. What a fantastic opportunity for her and I look forward to telling you about it.