Report by the Secretary on Research undertaken within the School Magazine Collection.

Following on the Report I submitted to the last Committee Meeting I have had the opportunity to read through some more of the Magazine Collection, the source of some useful information.

The House System in the School has roused many a discussion as to why the names were chosen and when did it all begin.

The following extract from the 1963 Magazine may serve as a reminder and is quite appropriate at a time when we remember Mr Charles Strachan and his contribution to School life, as it was written by him.

” The organisation which gave the School the long-cherished names of Randolph, Snowdon, Stewart and Douglas sprang from their existence of the Athletic Union, and it might be interesting and valuable at this time to look back to October 1919, when a letter stating the aims of this newly-created body was sent to parents and friends :-

” We desire to bring before your notice the institution of an Athletic Union at the High School of Stirling, and to request the favour of your patronage and support.

The Athletic Union has been formed with the object of organising the School games and thereby developing the corporate life of the school. It has long been the desire of those who wish the School to maintain the high position it has held in past years, to develop the athletic side of school life in common with the purely educational side, and thereby to attain the goal of a liberal education, namely ” a healthy mind in a healthy body. ” By adapting to a school with a great tradition, the principle of an Athletic Union as established and maintained in our Scottish Universities, it is hoped to foster among both present and former pupils that feeling of pride and love which the student bears towards his Alma Mater.

The Movement has the support of pupils, past and present, the staff and the Rector of the High School, and these are all represented on the Committee which manages the affairs of the Union.” From 1919 until the present day the Athletic Union has worthily furthered the aims of its creators , most of whom had just returned from the horrors of the First World War, and it is pleasant to record that its first secretary was Mr E G McHutchon who was to give his services again to his country during the Second World War and who was recently our senior invigilator in the S.C.E examinations, his spare figure as nimble, fit and vigorous as ever.

The immediate incentive to the creation of the House system came two years later, when Mr Alex Scott, the highly respected janitor of the time, presented two small silver cups to the Athletic Union, in memory of his wife.
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Considerable thought was given to the problem of how the cups might best be utilised, and two proposals were put forward. The first was that the cups should be presented annually to the girl champion and the boy champion at the School Sports; the second suggestion was that all the pupils should be divided into four HOUSES which could compete in the winter and summer sports and in whose fortunes all pupils could take pride and interest. After time had been given for consideration of these two proposals, a special meeting was held on the sixteenth of November, 1921 at which it was ” unanimously and enthusiastically decided that the House system should be adopted.”

Various suggestions were put forward for House names, the most favoured of which were Snowdon, King’s, Abbey and Cowane. Other names suggested were St Margaret’s, Stuart, Guild, Craigforth, Kildean, Randolph, Mar and Douglas. How grateful we must be to the members of the Committee, among whom were Mr J M Amess and Miss Jarvis, who in February, 1922, voted for the grand names : Snowdon, Stewart, Randolph, and Douglas.

Since then, year after year, the Scott Cups have been presented annually to the captains of the winning Houses, whose names are inscribed in special boards, now in store but which we hope will some day be hung on the walls of the new school.

The House system may seem an alien and somewhat artificial importation from English boarding schools, but in practice it provides an exciting division of the mass of pupils into units in which each pupil has a rightful place and in which he can take a pride, and it may well be that the time has come to extend the scope of “House” activities and responsibilities. The names breathe the very spirit of Scottish history and every High School boy or Girl should know as much as possible of the story behind the name of each house.

In conclusion, it should, perhaps, be recalled that from 1934 until it was closed down, the Primary High School applied the House system to normal school work. House points were awarded each week throughout the session and the fortunes of each House were eagerly followed as they were recorded on the House Boards in the School Hall, until the climax was reached at the Annual Prize Giving when the Banner for the champion House was triumphantly carried from the platform by the two captains. In addition, three trophies were presented : the senior trophy, the junior trophy and the infants’ trophy, the respective gifts of the Athletic Union, the Rotary Club and Mr J S Farrer. These trophies are at present in our homeless museum.”

This is interesting to those of us who went through the system and experienced the thrill of participation and strove to benefit ” our ” House whether in the academic or sporting field.

There may well be something in this extract for the present if only to make current pupils aware of the traditions behind the School House System.

As of August 2007 there were three houses in operation at the school – Stewart, Randolph and Douglas.