Big Green Challenge

Written by Charleston Academy on . Posted in Achievements, Wider Curriculum

BGC 2012The Big Green Challenge is a series of debates about the environment and global warming. Secondary pupils, from S1 to S3, from all over Scotland take part. The finals are held in Edinburgh at the Scottish Parliament for teams winning their local heat.

On Thursday 21st June, along with Mrs Fraser and Mr Kemp, we travelled to Edinburgh by train and then caught a taxi out to Herriot Watt University where we were to stay for the night. After dinner in the student canteen, we spent the evening practising our speeches for the next day.

Early on Friday morning we got up, had breakfast and then were taken by coach to the Scottish Parliament with the other seven competing schools. When we arrived, we had a brief talk and then it was time for the Quarter Finals to start. Just before the debate began Lewis was sick but he bravely decided to continue.

After all the schools had completed
the Quarter Finals, we were quite
confident that we would get through to the Semi Finals. We did! We only had about ten minutes to prepare our speeches but that didn‘t phase us as we had speeches already prepared and were ready to go. Our opponents were Kirkwall Grammar School and it was a very lively and animated debate. After the other Semi it was a nervous and tense wait to see if we had made it to the Final. We didn‘t expect to get through but the judges told us that Kirkwall and Charleston were through. We were really pleased for ourselves (and for Kirkwall as we had got to know them quite well).

After about ten minutes of preparation it was time for the Final. We sat facing Kirkwall and the debate began. It was a strong debate and both sides performed very well – but the last speaker from Kirkwall was superb and blew us off our feet. The Judges put Kirkwall first and we got second place. We got an android tablet each and Kirkwall won a trip to the Eden Project in Cornwall.

The debates were all live on Scottish Parliament TV so pupils and teachers at Charleston were watching us and sending text messages of support. It was nice to know that they were cheering us on – even if they were far away!

After a lovely meal in Bella Italia it was time to catch the train home. We were delighted with our achievements and hope other pupils will get the same opportunity next year.

We would like to thank our Debating coaches, Mrs Fraser and Mrs Storey, who gave up so much of their time to help us and also the senior pupils in the Debating Club who provided us with so much encouragement.

Thanks to Mr Kemp for coming to Edinburgh with us and putting up with us on the train journeys!

Jemimah Morris (2L2), Lewis Hilditch (2K2), and Kieran Watts (2K2)

City of Inverness Youth Pipe Band

Written by Charleston Academy on . Posted in Achievements, Wider Curriculum

The City of Inverness Youth Pipe Band was officially launched at a concert on the 22nd of March 2012.

Many of you will know the band by its former name Charleston and Nairn Pipes & Drums. The name was changed to reflect the fact that the members are now coming from a wider number of schools.

The concert was held in the Inverness Royal British Legion, in Huntly Street. The event was well attended by parents and other guests who included the provost, Jimmy Gray. The Band, including Charleston Academy pupils: George Ashton, Liam Eaton, Bruce Gibson and Euan Morrison entertained everyone with an hour long concert.

The concert included two solo performances, a mini band and of course the full band of 11 pipers, 7 drummers and the two tutors.

As a token of appreciation for thier support over many years, a set of bagpipes was presented to each of the Rectors of Charleston Academy and Nairn Academy, Mr Chris O‘Neill and Mrs Julie MacDonald. These pipes, which will be held by the band, will be used to help new pipers and potential band members from Charleston Academy and Nairn Academy to make the transition from the chanter to the pipes before having to buy a set of their own.

In the few weeks before the concert the band had been working very hard to make it happen. This would have been possible without the hard work of the tutors, Lewis Barclay (pipes) and David Murray (drums).
We would like to thank McCallum Bagpipes, who made the pipes and all who attended the concert. We hope the band continues to keep up this standard and you get to hear us sometime.

Euan Morrison (3L1)

City of Inverness Youth Pipe Band – Charleston Academy’s Legacy

Since November Charleston Academy piping group has re-started it‘s weekly lunchtime rehearsals in the Music department. These rehearsals have been for pupils in S1 to S3 allowing the newer pipers to start playing in a group without feeling too overwhelmed.

This also helps them acquire the basic reportoire every piper should have and the chance to develop their group work skills. Once the SQA exams are over our pipers in S4-S6 will be joining the younger pipers, bringing a large mix of abilities together to play in and around the school, at school concerts and related events. We’ve already got a busy diary!

Charleston & Nairn Pipes & Drums was officially formed in 2002. Over the years highlights have included two very successful CDs (Debut and Off the Rails), a 2007 Tour of Belgium to learn about the WW1 tunes and a trip to the Piping Centre to do a course developed as part of the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland.

The Band have made numerous radio appearances, performed on TV twice, once with Fred MacAuley. They have performed for Caley Thistle’s Annual Ball as well as a wealth of other corporate and charity events. And at the same time the band have undertaken a series of regular community performances and the pipers still performed in their own school piping group at their school events.

In 2011 as part of cost cutting measures in Highland Council there was a re-structuring of the piping instructors and it was felt that the band should be opened up to cover schools in Inverness and the surrounding area.

With a wedding imminent and the many changes on my school timetable I felt it was time for me to pass the reigns on to a colleague, Mr Lewis Barclay, and the band’s name has been changed to the City of Inverness Youth Pipe Band which was launched in March this year.

Charleston & Nairn Pipes & Drums
and everyone who was involved with the band have left a wonderful and very valuable legacy; the way the band was set up; gaining charitable status, the insistance on a band uniform, band drums, marching tom drums, the drum major‘s mace and healthy band funds. All of this will go on to benefit piping and drumming youngsters from all over Inverness and the surrounding areas. We wish them all the best.

Any young pipers in the school who would be interested in being involved in Charleston’s piping group should contact Mrs Louise McBain or a member of the music department staff.

Mrs Louise MacBain, Charleston Academy Piping Instructor

National Gallery of Scotland Visit

Written by Charleston Academy on . Posted in Curriculum, Wider Curriculum

On the 18th of September, one of the Higher Art classes set off to Edinburgh to gain an insight on their history of art, at the spectacular national gallery of Scotland. The trip was led by Mrs Corrance (Art) and Mr Seymour (PT Technical). We departed the school around 8.30am and after an hour or so we stopped for a bite to eat at the Ballinluig motor grill. Before we knew we back on the road, on route to Edinburgh.



We eventually reached the Gallery at 1:00pm, just in time for our tour. We were warmly welcomed by the staff and taken care of right away. The class were introduced to Alicia Bruce, our tour guide. She told us a bit about herself, that she was a photographer and studied at Edinburgh College of Art. Alicia explained the rules in the museum – unfortunately like most museums we weren‘t allowed to take photographs in the gallery itself, due to issues of copyright – and began to ask us a bit about what we were studying and if any of us had been to any galleries previously.

Olympic Dream…

Written by Charleston Academy on . Posted in Achievements

On the 6th of September four Young Ambassadors and two teachers took the sleeper train from Inverness to Euston on our way to the London 2012 Paralympic games. It was an exciting and restless trip as all of us were ecstatic to finally be going down to London to experience the games.

On arrival in London all of us were tired but looking forward to the day ahead of us. The games kicked off before we arrived at St Pancras to catch the train to the Olympic Village. As we walked there were loads of world records painted on the pavement along our route to the station including Usain Bolt‘s 100m World record, needless to say all of us tried and failed to match his stride length.

As we handed over our tickets to get access to the Village we could see the massive Olympic Stadium on the horizon and our anticipation increased as we marched up the steps to get a glimpse of the track. We got to view four hours of competition and medal presentation including the amazing blind triple jump, T46 800m‘s and then at the end Oscar Pistorius receiving Gold for the 4x100m relay. It was an incredible experience; we saw loads of the Olympic venues including the Velodrome and aquatics centre in the incredible weather. We even got a chance to look in the massive 2012 Olympic store. The day was made by all the volunteer Games Makers that rallied the thousands of people that were bustling through the village to see the events.

After a long day of walking and cheering we settled into a dinner at Nandos to reminisce about the day’s events. It was a day to remember and a memory that we will all treasure. And on the train home although we wanted to stay up and carry on talking we were all too tired to comprehend the day we had just had.

Alexander Thorne (S6)

Platinum Young Ambassador for Charleston Academy

The Young Ambassador programme is a SportScotland initiative supported by Active Schools and school PE departments. Charleston Academy has two Platinum Ambassadors (Alexander Thorne and Yuka Gallagher) and two Gold Ambassadors (Callum White and Beth McDonald) whose role it is to inspire and motivate others through sport and volunteering.

A Date with the Dalai Lama

Written by Charleston Academy on . Posted in Curriculum, Wider Curriculum



On Saturday 23rd June, a group of Charleston Academy S5/6 Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies (RMPS) students, accompanied by their RE teachers Mrs McConnachie and Mrs Mackenzie, set off to Eden Court for a once in a lifetime experience. They met up with over one hundred other students from Highland schools to spend a day with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, who addressed a packed Eden Court Theatre. His theme was “Be What You Want ……the World to Be.”

The young people were assembled on-stage, sitting at either side of the spiritual leader of millions of Mahayanan Buddhists worldwide. His Holiness spoke of the need for inner calm and compassion towards all living things. He also stressed the need to see each other as “blood of my blood, bone of my bone working in harmony to make the 21st Century less materialistic, less self-centred.”

The event started with a film collection of “Wind Horses” with sayings and drawings connected to the theme. These were prayer flags made by primary school pupils with sayings such as “A smile costs nothing”, “Stand up and be the change” and “One person can‘t do everything but everyone can do something.” There was also a film of younger pupils each saying “We are the future.” While the youth of to-day was clearly the focus, the Dalai Lama’s message was open to all.

After His Holiness had delivered his talk, the students were invited to ask him a range of questions. “Is it ever possible to find true happiness?”, which he answered with sincerity and humour.

Then the finale, and what a finale! Everyone, including the overspill theatres and with the Dalai Lama taking centre stage, gave great gusto to a splendid rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” lead by a tenor and accompanied by a pipe band. Finally there was an exchange of scarves with His Holiness giving out “Khatas” which are blessed scarves, and receiving one in the pale blue of world peace tartan. A fitting end to a special day!

Mrs Agnes McConnachie (PT Religious, Moral, and Philisophical Studies)

Albert Roux Dinner 2012

Written by Charleston Academy on . Posted in Achievements, Curriculum, Personal, Wider Curriculum

Our annual Albert Roux Gala Dinner was held on 30th October 2012. Mr Albert Roux and his expert staff from Le Gavroche in London and Rocpool in Inverness spent the day with Charleston Academy pupils. Our Hospitality pupils were put through their paces by the world’s top chef, who advised, assisted, and praised the work of our Hospitality pupils as they prepared and then served a three-course dinner for over 100 paying guests. This year our guests included Provost of Inverness Alex Graham and important representatives from the hospitality industry from across the Highlands. And of course our food critics, the parents of the pupils themselves.

The Video of the 2012 Gala Dinner is now available. CLICK HERE.

Mr Chris O’Neill, Rector

Rotary Youth Leadership Award 2012

Written by Charleston Academy on . Posted in Achievements, Personal, Wider Curriculum

Before the summer we were nominated and selected to participate in the Rotary Young Leadership Award (RYLA) course for a week in the summer holidays. We had to go through an interview process to get on but were both successful. The course was set up to develop the leadership and teamwork skills of the young people of today.

Participants are sponsored by their local Rotary Club who also select candidates following interviews. The course is designed for 14-18 years olds and emphasises leadership, citizenship and personal growth. The course aims to demonstrate Rotary‘s respect and concern for young people, provide an effective training experience for the selected young people and encourage leadership in young people. The programme also aims to recognise publicly recognise the young leaders  who are providing good service to their communities.

During the week there was a range of outdoor activities with talks in the morning dealing with different aspects of leadership. The talks included ‘A Happy Leadership‘ talk by Grant Wright and another talk on Leadership by Graham Clark. The activities included gorge walking, mountain biking, climbing and hill walking.

RYLA is a great opportunity to develop your leadership and teamwork skills, along with meeting other young people from all around Scotland. It is also a great time to try new things and have fun.

We both really enjoyed the week at RYLA and would recommend it to anyone offered the opportunity to participate.

Anna Duff (6S) and Rory Finlayson (6S)

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Anna Duff

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Rory Finlayson

Chess Club 2012

Written by Charleston Academy on . Posted in Achievements, Wider Curriculum

Mr Ian Cripps has hosted the Chess Club in his room at lunchtimes for many years. As he retires at the end of this session, the 2012 Chess Competition will be his last. Mr Cripps reports:

New entrant JC Jones Biagtan (S5) won every game he played to become Charleston Chess Champion for 2012. The race for runner-up was very close with seven players in contention up to the final round of games. Aaron Christie (3T1) just beat Michael Wilde (2S1) and Michael McFadden (4T1) for second place. They were followed closely by Russell Dobson, Blake Allan, Ewan Morrison and Fergus McIntyre.

There were sixteen contestants in total and for the first time in three years girls entered the competition. Awards were presented by Mr O‘Neill and the shields and medals were provided by the Charleston School Fund. All players received a memento of their participation.

Mr Ian Cripps, PT History