High school dux thanks supporters

Islay High School's 2020 dux winner, Samantha MacArthur.
Islay High School's 2020 dux winner, Samantha MacArthur.

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This year’s Islay High School dux winner has paid tribute to all those who supported her through her secondary schooling.

As she was not able to make a speech at an official awards ceremony, as is tradition, Samantha MacArthur has written the following piece instead: ‘I wish I could have made this speech in person to thank all the people who mean the most to me but due to the current circumstances, the celebration of achievements has been cancelled and so all of the students have missed the opportunity to be presented with their well-earned rewards.

‘The biggest highlight of high school for me was my expedition to India last year. I absolutely loved the expedition and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to go. I am so happy to have had such a lovely group of people on the trip with me, it was really nice to get to know everyone better. I am also very glad that Mr Pollock and Ms Priestly came on the trip with us, they were so much fun and were so hardworking in planning our trip.

‘All the staff at Islay High School are amazing but there are a few who made a big impact on me. I am very grateful to Mr Weatherhogg for letting our friend group clutter the music department, for giving me an interest in jazz music and helping me improve my musical ability. I am also very grateful to him for running the choir, school concerts and for planning so many brilliant trips for all of us which are some of my favourite memories.

‘I would like to sincerely thank Dr Weatherhogg for everything she does for the pupils. She is incredibly supportive and kind and is always there as a shoulder to cry on.

‘I would like to thank Ms Fuery for having me in her class throughout high school with only a brief one-year reprieve of not teaching me; she has given me an interest in geography I hope will last a lifetime. She has also been so supportive to me over the last few years and I am truly grateful to her, I will never understand her patience in listening to me list entire prospectuses and being equally enthusiastic about each course I decided on – until I changed my mind that is!

‘Mr Kitching is a brilliant teacher and he helped me understand the confusing word of physics in the most entertaining and funny way. His jokes on the whiteboard always made Monday mornings easier.

‘I would also like to thank Mrs Mitchell for dragging me through Higher maths because without her understanding and patience I would never have made it through the course.

‘I’d like to thank Mr McDermott for teaching me the saxophone and introducing me to music, I am very grateful to him for giving me this start.

‘Of course, I would also like to give a huge thanks to Mr Harrison for everything he does in the school as headmaster and for being a very good and patient chemistry teacher as well as a brilliant expedition organiser and fundraiser.

‘I would like to thank the office ladies, especially Mrs Carmichael for putting up with endless office-related requests as well as looking after me very well during numerous health emergencies!

‘I’d like to say an extra thank you to Mrs Bauld for helping me bring my ridiculous advanced higher project to life and for being such a brilliant support in the science department – I think I have put us both off liver for life!

‘In lieu of a speech I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of my family and friends who have supported me my whole life. In particular, I’d like to thank my parents for all of their support and guidance, I am very grateful to them for the work ethic they have instilled in me.

‘I’d like to especially thank my dad for spending countless tearful late nights – mostly on my part! – helping me through homework or studying stress. Despite him being my go-to for homework, he has always said I get my brains from my mother!

‘I would also like to thank my big sister Kirsty, she has always been a brilliant sister, a patient biology teacher and an even better friend.

‘I would like to thank both my gran, Gilda, and my nana, Merrick, for always being supportive of my decisions and for being such great encouragement to me. Gran is also the best spelling and grammar check anyone could ask for.

‘Nicole and Scott have been like siblings to me, I have always looked up to them and I am grateful to have them in my life. I would also like to thank Annette and Anna Storrie who have acted like my adoptive mother and sister. Anna was my original inspiration for going to university and I am so glad to have her as a role model.

‘Finally, I would like to thank Iona, Ailsa, Eleanor, Beth, Elinor, Helena and Natasha for being such wonderful friends to me throughout high school and beyond. They are like family to me and I am so grateful to have all of them in my life, without them I wouldn’t have made it through my exams and be where I am today.’