Flora MacDonald Day

May 03, 2018 at 6:25 PM

It was second time lucky for the Girls’ School after inclement weather called off Flora MacDonald Day at the end of Term 1. Fortunately, today dawned gloriously, turning into a crisp, autumn morning with blazing sunshine as the girls readied themselves for a day when the daily timetable is suspended in favour of tradition and fun!

Founded to honour Saint Kentigern’s Scottish ancestry from a feminine perspective, the day is named after an 18th century Jacobite heroine who risked her life to smuggle Prince Charles Edward Stewart – ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ – from exile in Scotland over the sea to the Isle of Skye. It was on account of her bravery and strength of character that Flora was chosen as a strong namesake for the Girls’ School day of celebration.

No Saint Kentigern function would be complete without the skirl of the bagpipes! As the College Pipes and Drums prepared to lead the march, it was a delight to see Kate Pennycuik, one of the first girls to take up the chanter at the Girls’ School, now playing with the Band, undoubtedly with a sense of pride as she played for her former school.

As the Pipes and Drums headed off on parade, the clans fell in behind with the older girls taking charge of the younger students for the day. Cargill, Chalmers, Hamilton and Wishart were further divided to eight smaller clans with each taking the name of a Scottish town: Kirkaldy, Inverness, Skye, Argyll, Glasgow, Dundee, Roxburgh and Stirling. Tagging along were the wee girls from the Preschool also sporting tartan!

Pipers and Drummers flanked the entrance way to the hall as the girls, staff and special guests filed in. Principal, Ms Juliet Small welcomed one all before Head Girl, Kate Thibaud and her Deputy, Miabella Robertshaw once again told the tale of Flora MacDonald’s extra-ordinary bravery. It was only natural that this story should lead into the singing of ‘The Skye Boat Song,’ retelling the tale of how Bonnie Prince Charlie fled mainland Scotland to the Hebridean Isle with the help of Flora.

This was followed by the orchestra’s first performance of the year playing ‘Brother James’s Air,’ by James Leith Macbeth arr by Dr Jenkins – with Ms Small joining in on the violin.

Ms Small continued by explaining the history of tartan for the girls to understand the significance of the plaid fabric in time and place, including her own Baird family tartan, and how the Saint Kentigern Tartan came to be.

One last song, the iconic, ‘My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean,’ brought out the very best in choregraphed ‘bobbing’ from students and guests alike, stirring up a sense of excited expectation for the girls!  As Reverend Reuben Hardie finished by leading us in a joyous Scottish prayer, the smell of shortbread began to fill the air, signalling morning tea was ready for the guests in the drawing room!

With the formalities over, the girls headed for their day’s activities, with the older girls mentoring the younger ones at each stop. As the morning progressed, there were delicious wafts of sweetness from the kitchen as the girls worked in groups to make oaty biscuits. Whilst Scottish country dancing kept the feet nimble, and creating Scotty dogs and tartan bows kept the fingers nimble, it was the burst of intense activity out on the lawn and pool that brought the biggest giggles of the day, as the girls slipped and slid down the soapy water slide, bounced on the inflatable obstacle course, negotiated aqua-orbs on the pool and tested their abilities at the Highland Games, including the rather Kiwi gumboot toss! A more restful time back in the science lab to make wild thyme scented soap rounded out the day.

The weather could not possibly have been better and the activities chosen were as much fun for the oldest girls as well as their youngest charges. Happy and tired, the girls unanimously declared that Flora MacDonald Day was worth waiting for!


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