from "St Michael's College and Academy - A Celebration 1921-2007",
published June 2007

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Activities and Trips
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Whole School Shows - Musicals & Pantomimes (from p.6)
The Book Trail (from p.9) and
Readathon (from p.19)
Barcelona trips 1998-2007 (from p.16)
Classics trips 1973-1999 (from p.17)
S1 Theatre Outings (from p.19)
The Comenius project (from p.24)
Biology field trips (from p.24)
Six slices of PiE - Partners in Excellence (from p.30)
Drama - from Stage to Stage (from p.36 & 97)
Some other St Michael's trips (incl. Lourdes) (from p.40)
History trips in Scotland and Europe (from p.41)
Marymass (from p.47)
Snowsports - Newmilns, the Alps and Aviemore (from p.54)
Retreats - Smithstone to Newcastleton (from p.58)
Ten Swiss trips 1986-2004 (from p.63-64)
Mission Week (from p.65)
(reprinted from 1959)
SVS (from p.70)
Geography trips to Arran (from p.82)
Burns Verse Speaking (from p. 91)
Arran hill-walking weekends (from p.97)
The Malawi project & visits (from p.98-99)

The Book Trail

Started 18 years ago in 1989, the Book Trail, fostering the reading habit, especially in S1 and S2, has led to awards at five levels for many pupils – hundreds of Bronze and Silver Awards, a large number of Gold awards, and several Platinum and Diamond awards.

Organised by Mrs Mitchell, all members of the English Department have played their part in promoting reading for pleasure which is so important for the development of our pupils’ skills in English. Parents receive a list of recommended books so that they can help their child to select books appropriate to their age and stage.

The award winners in the final year of St Michael’s are: Sarah Barrett, Rebekah Falconer, Chloe Ferguson, Shannon Goldie, Holly Grant, Tony Hendren, Clare Higgins, Ryan Jarvis, Chloe Johnstone, Jennifer Logan, Sam McGurran, Jordan McMenemy, Gino Maurri, Dariush Saheli, Diarmaid Scollay, James Sharp, and Courtney Wilson.

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Reading for charity

Twenty years (1988-2007) of Readathon, organised by the English Department, have raised over £5000 for Sargent Cancer and the Roald Dahl Foundation, both of which help children with cancer and assist their families. Mrs Mitchell thanks all who have contributed to these worthwhile causes – pupils, former pupils and parents. Special mention must be made of Alan McCormack S5, who has participated in Readathon for the past five years and raised almost £1000.

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S1 Theatre Outings

In December each year, from 1992 to 2007 (the 16th outing), the vast majority of S1 pupils have travelled to the Gaiety Theatre in Ayr for the annual pantomime – Cinderella, Snow White, Mother Goose and Aladdin, among others. Although requiring a great deal of organisation by the English Department, these visits have afforded our pupils the opportunity to experience a live theatrical production in pleasant surroundings. In addition, we enjoyed ourselves – Oh, yes we did!

Some (2007) pupil comments: “A good day off school” (DM, S2), “Three years ago and still remember” (anon, S4), “It was fun for the age I was” (anon, S4), “Everyone had fun and it’s good to go out somewhere simple instead of expensive things such as skiing” (AMcL, S2)

Footnote: A Nov. 1947 group went to the Gaiety Theatre to see the play “Jamie The Saxt” by Robert McLellan, and a Dec. 1949 group went there to see Sheridan‘s “The Rivals”.

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Biology field trips . .

A regular annual part of the Standard Grade Biology course – here we see Mrs Deeming with her students at Culzean Country Park in 1990.



From week-long woodland work at Garth field centre near Perth in the 1970s to recent S1 and S2 pupils handling animals brought to the school by ‘Zoolab’, many pupils and staff have participated in biology field work.

Weekend excursion destinations originally included Lendalfoot near Girvan and Glaisnock House near Dalmellington – lively excursions with pupils learning about the environment outdoors while also developing social skills.

Later we decided to study marine life at Portencross and Troon shores, using our hutted accommodation (p.4) for writing reports and organism identification; all S3 Biology pupils took part.

As years went on, the expert Ranger Service at Culzean Country Park was employed to help with both woodland and seashore ecology, every year in May or September (photo p. 24). Educational and enjoyable, these trips also taught some of the practical techniques for Standard Grade Biology. Some pupils also attended Auchencruive to learn about dairy industries in their biotechnological work.

Sixth Year Studies students were taken to Loch Doon for a four day visit completing their prescribed environmental work. At other times pupils studying biology or Standard Grade Science visited Eglinton Park to study woodland, pond and river ecology.

Visits to the capital also featured – to Edinburgh Botanic Gardens for THE WORLD OF PLANTS workshops, and to Edinburgh Zoo for the study of baby animals in the ANIMAL SURVIVAL topic. Advanced Higher pupils enjoyed expert advice from zoo staff for projects on Animal Behaviour.

Higher Biology pupils attended the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow for a theatrical presentation on evolution and later two large groups travelled to London in two successive years to visit The Natural History Museum with the then innovative human body presentations. Pupils also shopped at Harrods and saw a West End show.

Smaller groups have had summer visits to Inchcailloch Island on Loch Lomond and even visits during class time to Whitehirst Burn and to the small wood beyond the school fence known as the ‘Pinies’.

All staff have enjoyed introducing pupils to ecology and hope to encounter the same enthusiasm in the new school.

Mrs S Deeming

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Some other St Michael’s trips . .

1962 – 48 pupils on ‘Dunera’ cruise, led by Miss Wade
1963 – senior day trip to Nunraw Abbey, East Lothian
1964 – 43 pupils on ‘Dunera’ cruise, led by Miss Doran
1966 – choir visit to Berlin; 50 pupils; Mr McFarlane
1975 – Holy Year pilgrimage to Rome
1977 – Easter trip to Belgium
1978 – Easter trip to Germany
1979 – Easter trips to Holland, led by Mr C Cassidy, and to Berlin led by Miss F Murphy and Mr T Nellany
2005 & 2007 – football trips to Holland, led by Mr A Latta (the second one with girls as well!)
also whole-school summer term trips to Rothesay in the 1970s and to Alton Towers in recent years


Easter 1958 – our pupils in front of the Rosary Basilica during the Lourdes Centenary Year visit to Paris and Lourdes – the banner was designed & executed by Miss Brosnan

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History trips in Scotland and Europe

France and Belgium

Since 1990, the History Dept has organised several overseas trips to France and Belgium, and occasionally to Paris. In Paris pupils have visited the main cultural sites, eg Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Montmartre and Disneyland Paris. Trips to France and Belgium gave opportunities to see remains of 1st World War battlefields around Ypres, the Somme and Vimy Ridge. Over the years, various members of staff have taken part: P. Carmichael, F Murphy, A Lennon, J Jenkins, A McNicol, A Brown, A Herbert, M McArthur, P Dorrian and M Wilson.


Since 1991, each year, S1 pupils, as part of their course on the Scottish Wars of Independence, have visited Stirling to see sites associated with Wallace and Bruce: the Wallace Tower, Stirling Castle, the Bannockburn Heritage Centre and Bruce Monument.


P Carmichael

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Mission Week (reprinted from 1959)

This article will ring true even with our pupils today, even though discos have taken over from Skiffle Shows!

Last year, we pupils of St Michael's College were asked to devote our energy and cash to assisting the Foreign Missions. This test of the diabolic ingenuity of the religious teachers in emptying the pockets of the pupils was welcomed with a curious enthusiasm by the first year pupils but dreaded by the more experienced upper forms. For a full week the school playground was turned into a Market-Place cum Gambling Saloon.

The main danger, as survivors of previous mission weeks can testify, came from the traffickers in raffle tickets. Anyone who dared set foot on the large open expanse of school-yard courted financial ruin. The tickets, like the sellers, appeared in all shapes and sizes. Almost every class, inspired, of course, by their religious teacher's threats, had collected a huge pile of cheap articles from which the lucky ticket holder had to choose his prize. The value of each prize was, of course, always guaranteed to be at least that of the ticket. The unfortunate who, perchance, had bought a winning ticket, was faced with a great problem: should he take the two-ounce bag of dolly mixtures or the hand-embroidered-during-needle-work-periods antimacassar? Nine times out of ten, by a kind of poetic justice, the winners were teachers.

The raffle tickets were not our only scourge. Numerous other rackets were being operated in every part of the school. Every dinner-hour, the Domestic Room was converted into a Cafe. This highly unorganised establishment had some scruples: it served you with a cold cup of chocolate or an unsweetened, milkless cup of coffee – for only ninepence! Then, of course, there were the Skiffle Shows and the Record Hops. At these, for only sixpence, it was possible to hear any and almost every record under the sun. Puppet-shows, Fortune-telling and Treasure Hunts were only a few more of the catchpennies. One class even presented a play: its religious teacher had produced, directed, prompted and generally organised it. This play had the primary school kids enthralled, but proved only an escape from lessons for the older pupils. The whole idea, it seemed, during that week was to get as much money as possible from others, without spending any oneself.

On the Monday after that mad, topsy-turvy week, Sister Pauline stood up on her lectern, rubbed her eyes incredulously with her left hand and addressed the assembled pupils. She told us the sum-total of our mission effort. It was a staggering amount. The thing that struck me later was that although the pupils were congratulated and thanked for their efforts, nobody thought of thanking the religious teachers for the work they put into the week. However, I think they were rewarded enough by the sight of all that money pouring out of what they had pretended to think were the meanest set of pupils in the land.


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SVS - "SocVoc" - Social & Vocational Studies

SVS . . Members of the Social and Vocational Studies class enjoying a sail

and, below,

with Mrs M King and Mr J A Aitken, presenting a cheque to the Special Baby Care Unit.

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Colouring in clouds – and looking at cows!

[We regret that we do not have the originals of the photos on p.82.]

Yes, this really is what some people think we do on our Geography field trips to Arran. Actually we do some serious fieldwork into Glaciation, Rivers, Settlements and Tourism and we have been doing this since 2002. As well as the serious stuff we have also been having fun trying out the climbing wall, and swimming in Auchrannie pool as well as hillwalking. Last year we also stayed a night in the new "Wigwams" at cloud base.

All of this would not be possible without Mrs McCabe and Mr McGuigan of the Geography Department and also those very nice people at AOER who helped us so much in having a good stay. Thanks to Nigel, Annie, Alex and Archie, Liz who works hard behind the scenes, and Pat who makes our dinner!

Mr A McGuigan

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Burns Verse Speaking ‘comes of age’ as St Michael’s closes!

This competition is now in its 21st year. The number of entrants varies from year to year, with an exceptionally high number last year. Part of the English Dept philosophy is to encourage an interest in, and a love of, Scottish Literature.

Since 1990, Mrs McClung, something of a Burns expert in her own right, has been assisting Mrs Mitchell in organising and judging. Mrs McClung has spent many hours coaching entrants in preparation for the competition. She has also accompanied pupils to the North Ayrshire Council Burns Verse Speaking Competition where several successes have been secured. Prizes are donated by Irvine Burns Club (of which Mr Dickson is a Past President). The photo shows 1990 winners Stuart McMillan and Geraldine Gallacher.

The winners of the final Burns Verse Speaking Competition on 25th January 2007 were: 1st Robyn Donnachy (104), 2nd Katrina Kennedy (104), and 3rd equal Sian Hughes (202) and Lewis Latham (203).

Particular praise goes to former pupil Danny Strachan who gained Burns Verse Speaking Awards for five consecutive years and was presented with a statue of Robert Burns in recognition of this achievement in 2005.

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