All systems go at Mackie

It was a very exciting week for our basketball students here at Mackie Academy when, at very short notice, they had a visit from the Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill, on Monday, February 24

The visit was two fold – one to see the hard work that has gone in from the local community, Basketball Scotland and Cashback for Communities to create a vibrant basketball network in the Kincardine and Mearns area and secondly to reward the hard work of Jackie Bruce who is the inspiration behind the local programme and the development of the Portlethen Panthers Basketball Club.

Jackie received her 2013 Volunteer of the Year Award from Mr MacAskill and I which was great to be part of. The Scottish Government’s Cashback for Communities programme has enabled Basketball Scotland to help support clubs like the Portlethen Panthers using funds which has come from money seized from criminals through Proceeds of Crime legislation.

It is part of a package which since 2008 has seen over £1m invested in free basketball activities for children and young people throughout Scotland.

We are hoping to welcome back Basketball Scotland as part of our Primary 7 transition programme this summer so watch this space.

In addition to this we also welcomed Corrie Fraser to the school this week to speak to a selected group of our S4 girls. Corrie is a fantastic role model for our young ladies as she has set up her own charity, Kids Club Kampala, off the back of her gap year experiences. She is now working part time to fund her work associated with the charity.

She has also been recognised by Cosmopolitan magazine in the “Ultimate Woman of the Year” Awards where they won the Global Champion Award.

Having spoken with some of our S4 girls who attended this they were really motivated by what they heard and Corrie returns next week to speak to another group of students. It is great to have these opportunities for our students and anyone who wants to read more about Corrie’s charity should go to her website at

Our Youth Commissioners have submitted their work to the ELL committee which is now going to be presented at the May meeting.

In the meantime I have received their certificates which will be presented to them in the near future. Congratulations go to Ben Smart (S5), Maya Vertigans (S4), Lauren Begg (S5) and Max Kelly (S2).

I am also now in possession of some more Duke of Edinburgh certificates and awards for some of our students who have gained either their Bronze or Silver Awards.

I cannot stress how much time, effort and commitment goes in on behalf of the students (and quite often the parents) to gain these awards.

No wonder they are one of the top things that employers look for when reading a CV!!

Bronze Awards are winging their way to Adam Taylor (S4), Serena Shoker (S4), Katy Bateman (S4) and Euan Lownie (S4) while Silver Awards are going to Stephanie Geddes (S5) and Eilidh Latto (S5). Congratulations to all of them and hopefully they will aim for Gold.

Our Careers Fayre took place on Wednesday and was a roaring success.

This event complemented our Senior Phase evening from a couple of weeks ago by giving senior students the opportunity to speak directly with employers about the options available to them; at the same time Higher and Further Education providers were available to discuss the pathways that they offer.

I managed to get around a few of the stalls myself and it was great to see our students taking the time to speak to people about their futures.

The employers that I spoke to were very impressed with how well informed our young people were and the challenging questions they were asking.

Thanks must go to Carolyn Maniukiewicz and her team for organising the event which will prove invaluable as our senior students make important decisions about their future.

Another opportunity is now coming the way of our S1 and S2 students here at Mackie Academy in the form of a coding club.

All about the writing of computer programmes, Mrs McNeill is taking her inspiration from President Obama who recently stated “Don’t just buy a new video game — make one.

Don’t just download the latest app — help design it. Don’t just play on your phone — program it.”

And that is exactly what they are doing!!

And finally I thought I should bring to your attentions our “Mindfulness, Sleep and Chocolate” lectures that are being led by Mr Hewitt.

You may wonder what that has to do with school? However, the aim is to explore methods to help manage and reduce stress around exam time, while also establishing good techniques for staying focused while studying.

I think this is a fabulous way to support our students as they head into the final phase of the academic year.