DNA in Science: Forensics, Ebola, Human Evolution and the Future of Personalised Medicine plus practical – isolating DNA from fruit

On Friday 21st November 8pm, former pupil, Jennifer Port will hold a presentation in Gairloch High Science Department to discuss DNA in the world of science. This will include an introduction to DNA and various modern techniques used to understand Ebola, Human Evolution, Forensics and what this means for the future of personalised medicine.

We also plan to provide the the opportunity for you to extract DNA from various fruits. All welcome. You can ring the school beforehand on 712275 and let us know if you might be coming, message us here on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/events/808947435831521/ or just turn up.

The pupils will also take part in the DNA day.  TIMSTAR’s Lucienne McCallum and PhD student, Jennifer Port will be running presentations and activities throughout the day.

S5-6 will be given an introduction to the use of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and DNA fingerprinting in various scientific fields including Forensics, Infectious diseases control, Genomic Screening and Oncology. This will include a practical which allows the students to isolate their own DNA from saliva and visualise their ‘DNA fingerprint’.

S2-3 will be given an overview of the work that Jennifer does in the field of Cancer research including her university career so far and an introduction to Cancer. The students will also be shown how to extract DNA from various fruits, a surprisingly easy procedure which is crucial to research all over the world.

School news 14th November 2014

The National Mod – S4 pupil Alasdair MacDonald (S4) won the under-19 Open Accordion competition at the National Mod in Inverness recently. We are very proud of his achievement and everyone at the school congratulates Alasdair. Several other pupils took part and C for Craic gained a third in one of their events. Well done to all!

Rolls-Royce Science Day – On The 21st November Lucienne McCallum of Timstar and Jennifer Port of the Beatson Institute will visit science classes in Gairloch. Pupils will learn about DNA procedures and take part in experiments.

There will be an evening session at 8pm on the 21st November in the High School for members of the community. Come along and learn about DNA and perhaps get a chance to extract some for yourself! A few years ago these experiments could have won you the Nobel Prize. This event is part of our on-going participation in the Rolls-Royce Science Prize. Gairloch are one of 9 UK finalists.

Read more about our Rolls-Royce Science Prize project here.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – Megan Copland (S4) achieved her Bronze Award. Well-done Megan!

Deasbad Nàiseanta Gàidhlig BT / BT National Gaelic Debate – Innis Taylor and Ciaran Alexander travelled to Stornoway with Mr Cumming and took part in this competition on Tuesday the 4th and Wednesday the 5th of November.

National Gaelic Debate 2014

Here they report on the event:

“We left Gairloch at 8:30, and drove to Ullapool for the ferry to Stornoway at 10:30. Because of the stormy weather the ferry took a lot longer to get there, four hours to be precise. We had most of the afternoon to watch other schools debating before it was our turn. The motion for our debate was “Pupils should take a gap year before going to university”. We were up against Lochaber’s B team. We managed to argue our points, and made it through to the next stage.

The motion for round 2 was “Schools have too much freedom to create their own curriculum”. Although we knew for a week what the motion was, we didn’t find out which side we’d be on until 21:00 on Tuesday. This gave us less time to prepare and practice our speeches.

17:00 came on Wednesday, time for our second debate. This time we were up against Lochaber’s A team. This debate was much harder, for both teams.

Not only was the motion more difficult, but there was a power-cut as we debated! We managed to pull through again, and won. We, however, didn’t qualify for the finals in Edinburgh. Although we had won, only the top four out of the six winning teams went through.

Thursday morning meant we were homeward bound… or so we thought! All the ferries back to Ullapool on Thursday were cancelled. So instead of heading back to school, we visited some of the different Gàidhlig employers in Stornoway – MG Alba (where a lot of the work for BBC Alba and Radio nan Gaidheal is done), Acair (publishers), Comunn na Gàidhlig and Stòrlann. In the afternoon we spent a considerable amount of time at an interesting exhibition that detailed the devastating impact World War One had on Lewis.

We had been looking forward to the event but enjoyed it even more than we had expected. We have no doubt that our communication and debating skills have developed greatly as a result. It was also good to meet young Gaelic speakers from all over Scotland.”

Blythswood Shoebox Appeal – Once again the school participated in the annual Blythswood Christmas shoebox campaign and 25 boxes were collected. The next charity event will be Children in Need on 14th November.

Blythswood Christmas Boxes

Halloween Dress & Disco – On Friday 31st October the pupils donated money to wear fancy dress. Over £100 was collected to share between the Malawi & Slattadale Projects.

Gairloch HalloweenClick on the image above to see more fieldwork photos

Higher Geography – The Higher Geographers planned their own fieldwork on the beach at Gairloch, investigating how the sediment changed up the slope and also looking for evidence of longshore drift. After completing their risk assessment, planning the techniques they would use and creating their own data sheets they set out and worked in two groups to measure a profile up the beach. Although it was very blustery the pupils worked well in groups and were able to return to the classroom and use their data to successfully draw a beach profile.

Using a clinometerClick on the image above to see more fieldwork photos

S2/3 Boys’ Football – Highland Small Schools – The team travelled to the Northern qualifying competition in Ullapool on Thursday 31st October. We were drawn in a group that included Ullapool A, Kinlochbervie B and Dornoch. We won all three games, scoring eight goals and conceding none. To qualify for the finals of this tournament which includes schools from the southern Highlands we had to finish in the top two positions. In the semi-final we drew 0-0 with Ullapool B (after extra-time) but, unfortunately, lost on penalties. We therefore did not qualify but did come very close. All the boys were very happy with how we played. To play four games and not lose a goal was an excellent achievement. Thanks to Mr Cumming and Mr Bowker for accompanying us on this trip.

S2/3 Football Team

Important Dates – Here are a few upcoming events. Please contact the school if you are in any doubt.

18/11/14 – Parent Council AGM Cheese & Wine – 7.30pm  Click here for more information.  You can contact members of the Parent Council via email: gairlochhighpc@gmail.com

21/11/14 – Rolls Royce DNA Science Event 8pm

22/11/14 until Thursday 27/11/2014 – Art Exhibition GALE Centre – display of work produced by senior pupils up to Advanced Higher Level. The 2015 School Calendar will also be available for sale.

28/11/14 – Evening performance of Frozen!

School news 17th October 2014

The ‘new school building’ was opened twenty years ago on Tuesday 30th September 1994. While few in the school now knew the old building with it collection of huts, leaking roofs and poor facilities, those who did are still proud of the building we are fortunate to work in today.

The Mod – Several pupils did very well at the local Mod in Poolewe recently. Head Boy Innis Taylor was presented at school assembly with his trophy for achieving the Highest Overall Marks in the Fluent Oral competitions. Well done to Innis and the rest of the participants.

We are aware that a number of pupils are competing in the National Mod (Inverness) this year. This is the largest group of pupils participating from Gairloch High in a good many years. We hope to be able to report of their success in a future issue.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra Masterworks 2014 – S3-S5 Music pupils recently had a unique opportunity to take part in a project with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.  Paul Rissman, a Scottish composer and educator, chose to work with our pupils on a piece by the Swedish composer Karin Rehnqvist called “Arktis, Arktis!”  This piece was inspired by the composer’s participation in an Arctic expedition, and her music describes breaking through the ice and also the bleakness & beauty of the landscape.  The orchestra provided us with teaching materials, as well as a workshop for all the Highland Music teachers taking part, and a visit to the school by 2 members of the orchestra – a double bass player and a trumpeter.  Everything culminated in a visit, on October 2nd, to Eden Court Theatre to see the orchestra perform the piece.  Paul Rissman talked us through the important features of the music, and then the whole piece was performed in the second half.  Karin Rehnqvist came all the way from Sweden for this event, and she contributed to the discussions about her music.  Miss Hunter met and talked with the composer at the interval, and she was extremely positive about Scotland, and was very interested in our Comenius project; pupils and staff travel to Finland in December, and will visit the Arctic Circle as part of the programme.

Events such as this are invaluable in supplementing the pupils’ musical lives.  Our grateful thanks go to the SCO’s Connect Team, who gave us this fantastic opportunity.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – Deborah Connop (S5) was awarded with her Silver certificate and badge at assembly recently. Well-done Deborah!

Ross-shire School Seashore Art and Poetry Competition – Nadia Fenton (S1) was awarded with 1st Prize in a competition that took place before the summer. Nadia entered the competition when she was still at Shieldaig Primary.   Congratulations to Nadia who was presented with her certificate along with a gift voucher at school assembly.

Several other pupils from Poolewe and Shieldaig Primaries won prizes or were highly commended in the competition.

S4 Work Experience – In the week beginning 6th October all of our S4 pupils were out on Work Experience. Some of the pupils work locally with builders, shops, primary schools and nursery, local estates… but several head off to the cities across Scotland and may even venture across the border. We are very grateful for the support of every employer who helps us give the pupils this valuable opportunity. In school we thank Mrs Flora MacKenzie and Mr Milner. Without their hard work this week would not happen.

Jeans for Genes – On Friday 3rd October the pupils paid money to wear their jeans. Jeans for Genes is a charity that aims to improve the lives of children with genetic disorders, care for their families and invest in research. Pupils (and staff) had the opportunity to wear their jeans to school in return for a contribution towards this worthwhile cause. A total of £184.96 was raised.

Blythswood Shoebox Appeal – Please support the pupils and help them fill shoe boxes for Blythswood. Pupils have been issued with leaflets and shoe boxes should be brought to school in the week we return to school.

Golf Competition – On Wednesday 24th September thirty-two pupils from across all year groups took part in an inter-house golf competition. The event was organised by Ian Graham at Gairloch Golf Club and the schools Active Schools Coordinator, Martin Godwin. With the sun shining and two in-service days to follow directly after the afternoon of golf, all the pupils enjoyed a competitive but fun and friendly afternoon. It was great to see pupils who have never played golf before taking part and embracing the event, as well as seeing the more accomplished golfers playing some difficult strokes. In the end Tollaidh House was the winner of the event earning 15 house points, Kerry was awarded 10 points and Maree 5 points. The individual winner on the day was Joe Smith who scored an impressive 31 strokes around 9 holes and takes the individual trophy for the third year running! Well done to Joe and everyone who took part in this event. Our thanks go to Martin Godwin, Active Schools Coordinator, and members of the Golf Club (particularly Ian Graham) for helping arrange this tournament.

Golf Competition

Important Dates – Here are a few upcoming events. Please contact the school if you are in any doubt. More dates are also available here on the school website.

27th October – INSET day – staff only.

28th October – Pupils return to school.

31st October – Halloween Dress Day and evening Party.


Parent Council AGMNext meeting of the Parent Council is on Tuesday 18th November 2014 at 7.30pm. All parents and carers are welcome to attend. The meeting will take place immediately after the AGM at 7.30pm in the school.  There will be cheese and wine on the night. You can contact members of the Parent Council via email: gairlochhighpc@gmail.com

Kindness Certificate – Mr Hulme has been promoting kindness in the school recently. Daily quotes have been read out at registration for staff and teachers to contemplate at the start of each school day. Mr Hulme reports that this is just the beginning! As a result of our interest in promoting kindness the school has been presented with a certificate by Kindness UK.  Kindness Day in the UK is November the 13th this year!

School news 3rd October 2014

Comenius Trip to Turkey – On Saturday 22nd September our fifth Comenius visit of the current project began. Miss Hunter, accompanied by Mr & Mrs Port, set off with 5 pupils to visit a school in Turkey. Calum Nelson, Callum MacKenzie, Matthew MacLean, Gregor Vickerstaff and Cameron Tallach met up with the Turkish pupils that they have been in communication with during the project. A group of staff and teachers from eight countries met enjoying a range of cultural activities culminating in a final ceremony of music, dance and food.

Comenius Turkey

The school that we visited is in the town of Akyazi in district of Sakarya around 160km east of Istanbul. We arrived on the Sunday and crossed into Asia via the enormous Bospherus Bridge. Later in the week we had a tour of the shoreline under the bridge, exploring both the coast of Asia and Europe.

Comenius Turkey

Click on the photo above to see more images from the trip and watch a video

An extraordinary amount of work goes into arranging each of these trips and the boys made their thanks known to Miss Hunter on their return to Gairloch. Her efforts were much appreciated and the boys had the trip of a lifetime experiencing living with Turkish families and making friends from each of 7 other countries. They went shopping in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul. The boys also visited Hagia Sophia, one of the most iconic and longest lasting structures in Europe, managing in its time to represent both Christianity as a church and Islam as a mosque. We also visited a museum commemorating an earthquake in 1999 that affected the region around the school killing thousands of people.

The boys experienced various traditional Turkish dishes during the week. In the historical town of Beypazari they visited a silver bazaar along the Silk Road between Istanbul and Baghdad and were entertained by an effusive tour guide who didn’t speak a word of English! Later in the year we plan to hold an evening presentation for the community to share our experiences of Comenius. Watch out for your invitation!

The group would also like to make known our thanks to Mr Andrew Bowker and Mrs Ann Fraser for helping with transport to and from Inverness train station. Another group of pupils will head off to Finland in December followed by a different group to Spain in February. The last event of the project will see representatives from each of the schools in Greece, Spain, Latvia, Finland, Poland, Portugal and Turkey arriving in Gairloch next April. So expect a ceilidh at the very least!

Slattadale Restoration Fundraising – A very great thank you to everyone who has responded to our appeal for funds so far. Recently Mr Milner has been encouraging you to donate online. The page on JustGiving.com totalled £1250 by the deadline. We also received donations to the school not recorded on the website. We are constantly surprised and gratified by the support that we receive from the community. It is much appreciated and encourages us to develop extra projects that we believe will help the pupils.

Concussion as a result of sports injury – Concussion is a brain injury caused by direct or indirect force to the head. It results in a variety of non-specific signs and/or symptoms and most often does not involve loss of consciousness. Most people recover in a few days but recovery can take longer for children and young people. You can find information on the school website here made available by the Scottish Government and fully supported by the official football and rugby organisations. The message with regard to children is be aware and if in doubt get the children to sit out of the game. Always seek medical advice if you are uncertain.

Blythswood Shoe Box Appeal – Over 1.7 Million boxes have been donated and distributed through the years and this is the 21st anniversary of the Appeal. Gairloch High School pupils and parents continue to support this annual event.

It’s very easy to put some basic items together. Things we take for granted can often be luxuries for people living in desperate poverty.  Boxes will go to Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Kosovo, Moldova, Pakistan, Romania and Serbia this year.

For Christmas delivery your shoebox should be at the school by the end of October. Leaflets have been distributed to pupils already. You can get more details of what to do on the Internet – just click here for Blythswood Shoebox Appeal 2014. By filling a shoebox you can share the true meaning of Christmas.

This is just one of the projects S6 prefects are tasked with supporting. They organise a range of fundraising charity events throughout the year involving all pupils.

Important Dates – Here are a few upcoming events. Please contact the school if you are in any doubt. Dates are also available on the school website.

9th September – S3 Monitoring reports were issued to parents.

3rd October – S4 Monitoring reports issued to parents. Pupils involved in Local Mod in Poolewe. Jeans for Genes Day in school.

6th October – S4 pupils on Work Experience for 5 days.

10th October – School Closes for 2 weeks break.


27th October – INSET day – staff only.

28th October – Pupils return to school.

31st October – Halloween Dress Day and evening Party.


Halloween Bash planned


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