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Out with the mould and in with the new

Spring has arrived and along with lots of sunshine (well, it is exam time after all), azaleas, rhododendrons and magnolia bring lots of colour to what is normally a very grey and green environment.

"It's like living in a watercress sandwich," my husband usually moans when we are in the depth of winter and growing fungus due to the damp. And then spring arrives and Argyll seduces us yet again into thinking we are in God's own country. Yes, this is why we live here.

"Yes, this is why I am in teaching" were my echoing thoughts after Oban High's senior prize-giving ceremony. Like Topsy, the modern awards ceremony has grown and grown and (rightly so) now recognises the full range of achievement.

The down side to this is that the scale of the organisation required to sail this massive tanker is akin to a military operation and in the process my depute loses more hair than he can afford.

"It'll be all right on the night" was my helpful comment, to which I received in reply a growl. Still, as always, it was all right on the night.

Our guest speaker this year was Dr James Hunter, a former pupil of Oban High and current chair of Highlands and Islands Enterprise. This was very topical since we've just appointed a principal teacher for education for work and enterprise.

Dr Hunter is one of those people who makes me wonder just what I do with my time. Apart from his important job, he is a prolific author and, among many other accomplishments, founded the Crofters' Union. He has worked tirelessly to build the economic future of the Highlands and islands.

His speech at the prize-giving ceremony contrasted the Highlands of the 19th and early 20th centuries, when we lost so many people, to the developments of our times. His vision for our land in the future filled us all with hope.

In keeping with putting pupils at the centre, our head boy chaired the event and head girl gave the vote of thanks. These were highly polished performances, with confident and well-paced delivery, just the right amount of humour and holding the audience. (Here I must give special thanks to North Lanarkshire which, by releasing a certain depute headteacher on early retirement, has provided us with a great supply teacher and expert on public speaking.) Our prefect management team has not disappointed us this year. They have set up pupil councils, buddied S1 and S2 pupils, helped out in classes, run clan events, raised money for charity, prepared tea and coffee at parents'

evenings, produced a great year book and were one of our best ever Young Enterprise teams.

They have been a delightful group of people to work with and Scotland will have a great future if we can hold on to young people like these.

Such were my thoughts at our prize-giving ceremony as I watched pupil after pupil come up on to the stage and proud parents and grandparents in the audience. This is what education is all about.

Linda Kirkwood is headteacher of Oban HighIf you have any comments, e-mail

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