Teachers Then and Now

At Stromness academy there is always lots going on around the year and not a lot of people know about what goes on with the teachers. Some are just starting their careers and some are almost leaving the school.

We wanted to interview some teachers who started around 30 years ago and the new teachers that have started in the last 2-3 years to see some differences in their careers so far.

Mr Blance, a physics teacher at the school, has been here since 1989. He said that when he started teaching, “There were a lot more people to teach and it was more crowded. All of the staff where different too, and I was actually the youngest.”

When asked what it was like seeing the other members of staff leave the school through the years, he said, “It wasn’t really that weird; it was just like people leaving at any other job but then it was almost all male teachers and the nav school was still a part of the school.”

Mr Blance didn’t feel too much pressure as a new teacher in 1989. “I wasn’t really pressured when I started because I had already taught in a school in Aberdeen and I just followed the course. I started here in 1989 but after a bit I went to Perth, Australia to teach for a year but then came back.”

The school has changed a lot during the time Mr Blance has been here. He said, “There used to be four houses and five practical classes. Activities has always been a thing but we never used to finish early on a Friday. The school layout has changed a lot: the rooms in the SfL base used to be the dentist’s. There was never the access for disabled pupils until recently and there used to be a smokers’ area in the staffroom. There was also never any college courses offered to you back then; none of the agriculture courses. I don’t think it’s better the way it is now.”

Mr Blance said that even after 32 years, “I don’t feel more important in the school; I just feel more experienced.”

Miss Ewen in PE started teaching at the academy in 2022. She said, “being a young teacher at the school is exciting. I feel like I am able to relate to pupils and provide learning opportunities that are meaningful to them.”

“I do not feel less important [as a newer staff member]. I feel listened to as a member of staff and with pupils, I feel like due to the relationships I’ve made, pupils respect is given to me and is reciprocated back to them.”

Miss Ewen said her ‘favourite time of year is the end. It’s a great time to celebrate our pupils’ successes in events like Sports Day, Senior Phase Awards Ceremony and Junior Inter-county.”

Mr Blance is also looking forwards to the end of term. “My favourite day of the year is absolutely Band Comp”.

Mr Powell is just finishing his first year of teaching English and will be going to work at a different school after the summer. He said, “my favourite day of the year was going to Hoy [on the S2 Hoy trip] and also the drama activity,” where students competed in the SCDA festival, performing a play both written and directed by Mr Powell. “It’s quite a nice school to work at.”

Report by Scott, Sony, Thomas, Harvey, Ruari. 


Band Comp is a music festival for the end of summer term in Stromness Academy every year where kids get on stage and perform songs to the whole school.  

There is a S2 competition and a S1 competition, as well as supporting performances by older music students.  Each house performs a song as a separate ‘House Band’ competition as well, where anyone can join in including teachers.   

Back during the 80s, band comp was started by two music teachers, Jean Leonard and Moria Summers. The first judges were Gordon Scott and Jim “Pie” Groundwater (they were a maths teacher and a modern studies teacher, who had their own band called Gerbil).  

The competition started when Jean Leonard took one of her younger classes and taught them how to play a couple of songs and they performed them on the last day of school. Since then band comp has been the reason most pupils have come to the last day of school. There is now an S2 bass trophy which is used to honour Gordon Scott who unfortunately passed away not long after his retirement. 

Originally the pupils that would play in front of the whole school and would play one new song, one old song and one The Beatles song. Nowadays, the pupils would play two songs from S1-2 and now there is also a house band where the staff members in the same house would join on stage. 

Students from S2 had mixed feelings about band comp considering how they already did it when they were in S1. One student said, “It’s fun”, while Paiton, another S2 stated that it is “terrifying but fun at the same time.” 

Even though the pupils have different opinions on band comp it gives the students a good reason to go to school and enjoy the last day of term.  

Report by Emma, Erin, Paiton, Alyssa, Orlagh. 

Pupils Visited by Jewish Professor

S1 and S2 pupils were treated to a visit from professor Joe Goldblatt on the 27th and 28th of May as part of their RME class.

Professor Goldblatt is chair of the Edinburgh Interfaith Association. He helped create the “JOES Boxes” which are available in every local authority in Scotland. These boxes contain twenty different Jewish ritual objects to help pupils better understand how Jewish people practice their religious and cultural activities throughout the world.
He visits schools all over Scotland every year and spends time with thousands of pupils in the Orkney Islands.

During his popular classroom programme he demonstrated how the Jewish people celebrate their weekly Sabbath rituals and how the various colourful festivals are celebrated throughout the year. These included a traditional Jewish wedding and a Bar or Bat Mitzvah which is the coming of age ceremony for Jewish boys and girls on their 13th birthday.

Ms Lidwell, Head of geography and RME, said she enjoyed watching how pupils responded to Joe, his passion for teaching and engaging pupils, she said that he wanted people to understand diversity and that persecuting people was wrong. She also let us know that he has been coming to the school for 10 years as part of an RME programme and visits us during folk festival, as well as visiting Stromness academy he also visits KGS and other primary schools.

Ms Groundwater, in history, said she learned about the ways of negotiating the parents of the bride and groom have at a wedding. She enjoyed the way he spoke easily to the pupils and kept them engaged and involved with the lesson. Lastly, she said being a part of the lesson was exciting and fun and would love to see him again.

Report by Ellen, Ola and Dana

Orkney celebration of STEM

On Wednesday the 29th of May 2024, a competition was held at the Kirkwall East Church, bringing together schools from all across Orkney to show off their science experiments, participate in some fun STEM activities, and of course compete in the Marble Run.

Seven S1 and S2 pupils were there representing the Academy.
The event heralded many sponsors, including EMEC, Kyloe, Orbital Marine Power and many more, who all set up fun activities for the students to partake in.

“It was very enjoyable and I learned a lot.” said Daniel Moore, an S2 pupil from Stromness Academy.

Each school had displays set up in the main hall, but the real main attraction was the Marble Run. Each school entered their own unique marble run, and whoever’s got the most marbles down in three minutes would win a hefty sum of money.

Although every school did their best, only a couple could take home the prizes.

The winners were:
Stem Challenge: Kirkwall Grammar School (Runner-Up: Evie Community School)
Regional Club of the Year: Stenness Community School (Runner-Up: Shapinsay Community School)
Report by Magnus and Daniel

The first cruise ships for Orkney

The first cruise ships for Orkney

by Scarlett

On the 24th of March 2022 Orkney’s first cruise of the year, MS Gann, visited, later followed by Viking Venus on the 3rd of April, at Hatston Pier in Kirkwall. This is especially good because cruise ships have been cancelled between March 2020 and July 2021 due to Covid.

Thankfully, this year has a record-breaking number of cruise ships scheduled to arrive in Orkney – a total of 209 ships. Despite predictions that these numbers will fall, there should still be at least 160 ships arriving; the cruise ships in Orkney are making a full return.

Image from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Gann_(ship,_1982)#/media/File:MSGann.jpg

Report by Scarlett, using research and interviews found in “Cruise liners set to return in full in 2022” published 13th Feb 2022 in The Orcadian online, and “Cruise set to return bigger than ever in 2022” published 30th August 2021 on Orkney islands Council website.

Rising Energy Prices

Rising Energy Prices

by Lachlan & William

People are becoming increasingly concerned about the rise in the price of energy. This will affect many families who cannot afford to pay any more money for their electricity and gas bills. This is happening all over the world right now. It’s all happening because the companies producing the energy need more money to cover the costs of producing it.

Image from www.smart-energy.com/industry-sectors/new-technology/clean-energy-technologies-key-to-climate-targets-iea-reports/
Credited to: Image credit: lassedesignen / 123RF

Cristiano Ronaldo and the Impact of Child Loss

Cristiano Ronaldo and the Impact of Child Loss

by Alida

As most people currently on social media and football fans know that the famous Cristiano Ronaldo and his partner Georgina Rodríguez have lost one of their new-born twins recently.

On Thursday the 28th of October 2021, the famous footballer Cristiano Ronaldo (37) and his Wife, Georgina Rodriguez (28), shared with their fans and supporters the exciting news that Georgina was pregnant and that the couple were going to have not just one, but two babies joining the family.

Georgina then took to Instagram and was very open, revealing the genders of the unborn twins with a video.  During her pregnancy, she also shared with their supporters the designer cots the twins were to sleep in when they arrive.

But on 18th April, Ronaldo announced on Instagram that, although their daughter was fine, her brother had tragically not survived.

Child loss in known to be one of the most traumatic events that a mother can go through and can cause severe mental health issues for the parent. Common feelings include guilt, depression, anxiety, grief, denial and numbness, though not all parents will feel this way: everyone will cope differently in any and every situation, especially with loss.

Child loss may happen for many reasons and most of the time isn’t the mothers fault it is just how it is, and it takes a lot of courage to even think about having another child and even seeing new-borns or incredibly young children can trigger a negative reaction from either parent.

If this has happened to you then seek help with a therapist or find a healthy way of coping like speaking to your partner, friends, family and if you are worried about the safety of your partner or yourself then please contact 999.

Morbius box office disappointment

Morbius box office disappointment

by Rachel and Callum

Morbius, the Sony film starring a spiderman villain, has been a big disappointment at the Box Office since its release in America on 1st April 2022.  The film is about a terribly ill guy with a rare blood disorder who tries to cure himself.  This gives him super abilities, but also a lust for blood.

The failure of the film affects the company who made it:  there most likely will not be a standalone sequel, and the company will only gain a little bit of money or – depending on how it does – they could lose some of the $75-83 it cost to make.  Many well-known actors are featured in the film such as Matt Smith, Adria Arjona and Jared Leto.

At the Domestic box office, Morbius is failing quite badly, only making around 66 million dollars between opening and today (21st April).  So far, other films that were released later in the USA and Canada have done better, like Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which made more in its first weekend, taking in 72 million dollars in its opening weekend.

Morbius is not doing that well internationally either, only making around 81 million dollars in the rest of the world, as of now, which is not that good. The full total gross of the film so far globally is around 147 million dollars, which might sound like a lot if you do not know movies but it is small in comparison to other film releases.

The film’s box office disappointment can be traced back to the fact that the original trailer was released two years ago.  A wait that long for a film that was delayed is not good for a film, because people forget about it. The trailers released recently were not that well received and got a ridiculously small number of views compared to other films trailers.

The film was also based on character hardly anyone remembered.

The film’s first impressions were also not that good, with critics saying things like “as bad as you were expecting. 2005 plot collides with visually confusing CGI to create a bit of a snooze fest” (said by Sab Astley) and “Morbius is just as disjointed and boring as you expected it to be” (said by Cameron Howe).

A big nail in the coffin was a score of just 16% from review website Rotten Tomatoes, which made audiences not want to see it.



Ukraine child killed trying to escape

Elisei Ryabukon was thirteen years old when the fighting had first started, him and his family were stuck in Peremoha until Russian soldiers had given them permission to leave in March. Elisei was then shot dead by the Russian soldiers whilst trying to escape Ukraine.

“On 11 March, the Russians gave us permission to leave. They even waved us goodbye and wished us luck. Then when we were crossing a field, they started firing at us from every direction”.

There were five cars all together evacuating, Elisei was escaping in the second car with a few other people, no one in Elisei’s car had survived.

“I crawled through the field and saved my three-year-old son by dragging him by the hood of his jacket. The fact that any of us made it out alive was pure luck”.

Inna Ryabukon says that her remaining child is “the only reason she’s able to carry on.”

Elisei is one of 200 child victims in Ukraine: 186 children at least have been confirmed dead and killed during the fighting. Ohmatdyt hospital has had dozens of children who have been injured.

Inna wants Justice for what the Russians have done and has filed a complaint to the police.

She says, “I want the world to know about the crimes of Russia. I want every victim to be counted. I want Russia to be held accountable for the people, children, and women, they have killed on our land”.


Report by Esme, based on research and interviews by Yogita Limaye, BBC News, 19th April 2022.

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