Past Times: Institute’s creditable year

From The Shetland Times, Friday 11th July, 1958

Institute’s creditable year

The Anderson Institute rector, Mr Wm. Rhind, was able to report a creditable list of achievements at the school’s closing ceremony last Wednesday morning. He could rightly claim the year had been a successful one, and had cause for satisfaction.

Last year, he recalled, he suggested the school would have a roll of over three hundred for the first time. In fact 317 pupils were enrolled, and the first class was one of the largest they had ever had.

The larger number taxed the available accommodation to the limit, but with the assistance of the “wooden monstrosities” outside the main school they were able to get along quite nicely.

Mr Rhind had seen sketch plans of the proposed new extension, and he had been told that the new building would be ready for occupancy in 1962. He did not know whether that was an optimistic date or not, but it would be a grand occasion if they could celebrate the school’s centenary and open the new extension the same year.

Pupils had attended well throughout the session, in spite of a succession of snowstorms, which upset transport arrangements, and a slight epidemic of flu during the first term. The average attendance of 93.3 per cent was just about the usual for the school, and was slightly higher than the previous year.

The school’s main preoccupation was still the Scottish leaving certificate examinations, and sixty candidates were forward – 32 were awarded a certificate for the first time, and 28 added to their groups. In 273 individual subject presentations, a 91 per cent pass was achieved – a very high figure which could bear comparison with any school in Scotland. All those leaving school had very fine groups. Seventeen had been accepted for university, and thirteen for training colleges or similar institutions. These, contended Mr Rhind, were remarkable figures for a small isolated community like Shetland, and it showed what the local position was – how difficult it was to find jobs locally. Unfortunately not many of these thirty would return to the Old Rock.

In bursary competitions, one had entered for Edinburgh, one for St. Andrews, two for Aberdeen. The two Aberdeen entrants had been very successful, but the other two were not.

In the arts and crafts exhibition the school gained considerable successes, with at least six trophies being won. In the music festival, an Institute pupil won a trophy for the third year in succession and others gained many top awards. A team was entered for the drama festival, and very much to John Bain’s surprise he won the cup for the most outstanding piece of acting in the festival!

The school had again been invited to participate in the senior school camp in August, and Mr Rhind commended it to the pupils.

There were ten entrants for the Orkney and Zetland examinations, but they did not do quite so well as usual – the school’s best place was third. But in the general knowledge competition they again scooped the pool with the first three places.

Mr Rhind thanked the staff for their assistance and co-operation. They had been most loyal, and he knew he had a most efficient staff. He also thanked the Rev. K. N. MacRae for giving scripture lessons to the higher classes.

This year they were to lose the services of Miss Campbell, who had been associated with the Institute almost all her life, first as pupil, then as teacher. Many tributes had been paid to her during the previous week, but Mr Rhind would like the assembled school to wish her a very happy retirement.

In saying farewell to Class VI he did so in the knowledge that many of them were leaving with very fine certificates, and they ought to do well at university or college. The school had been very successful in taking them over the first hurdle, but that was only the beginning – their real test was only starting. He hoped they realised that, because unless they worked hard at their studies, regularly and diligently, there was no doubt they would soon fall out of the race. In this modern era of change and progress, he could assure them there was no time for any slacking.

The chairman of the Education Committee, Mr Robert Ollason, said the Institute had for many years enjoyed a splendid reputation amongst Scottish schools, and the latest report showed the work was as good as ever. He congratulated Mr Rhind and his staff on the work they had done, and also the pupils on the successes achieved.

Reference had been made to the retirement of Miss Campbell. All members of the Education Committee were well aware of her splendid reputation and capacity for teaching. She had taught a subject which she loved for many years, and had given her whole self to her teaching. She must have awakened the first interest of many in poetry and prose, and Mr Ollason was glad to be able to pay a public tribute to her on behalf of the Education Committee.

Some of the pupils were going to universities and training centres. He wished them success, and expressed the hope they would be good ambassadors for Shetland. People would judge their home, school, and native county by their behaviour. “Let it not be extravagant, but becoming, and a credit to all who had a hand in your training,” he said.

To those who would be returning to school, he would say: “Don’t be puffed up by success, or downcast by failure.” He extended best wishes for a happy and pleasant holiday.

Mrs Ollason then handed over the prizes, and was thanked by Mr Rhind, who also thanked the donors of prizes – Sheriff Wallace, Provost Conochie, Mr Ollason, Mrs McWhirter, and Mrs A. J. Smith.

The only other speaker was Sheriff Wallace, who said he was very pleased to see they had done so well again this year. It was extraordinary to visit the school year after year and hear about the successes, and to find they were all so highly educated and intelligent that there was nothing one could say to them!

The Sheriff spoke in humorous vein, but, as he always does, had something to say about a subject of importance. This year it was “spelling.” He declared that many of the letters he received from Shetlanders were frightful as far as spelling was concerned. Not that it was confined to local people – he got a letter from a Government department the other day which spelled Sheriff with two r’s!

But pupils should remember to do their best, because it made all the difference when they were applying for a job. Little things like that did count.

To those leaving school he suggested they should try to retain their happy memories of school – that would help them to get over the change. Closing say for them was a milestone.


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