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Dollie sat at one end of the table watching the little groups form.  All the old mistresses who stayed: Ivy Stephens, Caitlin Oldroyd, Kay Johnson, Sarah Winter and Joan Robinson tended to stay together, while Lorna Carey and Margery Alton were sitting with May Phipps.  She looked thoughtful, and she realised yet again of the challenges she faced at continuing the Chalet School here in England. 

Miss Edwards rapped the table.  “May I have your attention please,” she said with a smile.  “I think this meeting needs to get under way.” 

Everyone fell silent almost immediately as they were all curious as to what was going to happen that term. 

“I would like to welcome you all here today she said and hope you will all be happy here.  If anyone has any problems please don’t hesitate to come and see me or the Senior Mistress, Ivy Norman at any time.” 

“Now we do have a lot to get through, so I think we’ll make a start.  First thing is first, I think its important to all introduce ourselves and say who is teaching what.  I’ll then let you all know which will be your form.”

“I’ll start, I’m Dollie Edwards, Headmistress and I teach Maths”

“I’m Ivy Norman, the Senior Mistress and I teach English.”

“Ivy Stephens, Geography,”

“Caitlin Oldroyd, English,”

“Kay Johnson, Maths”

“Sarah Winters, Handcrafts and Needlework,”

“Joan Robinson, History”

“Rhyll Everett, Gardening,”

“May Phipps, Kindergarten”

“Margery Alton, Kindergarten”

“Lorna Carey, French and Latin,”

“Samantha Kennedy, Science”

“Grace Matthews, History and Geography”

“Margia Stevens, Piano,”

“Anne Martin, Art,”

“Maria Marani, German and Latin,”

“Mabel Mason, Domestic Science,”   

“Joanna Linders, Singing and Piano”

“Monica Marilliar, Games”

“Alison Goodley, the school secretary”

 

“Well, I think I should make you all go through and tell me everyone’s name again,” said Dollie with a smile.  “I know some of you know at least some other and two or three of you are completely brand new to the school, I’m sure though you will soon feel like you’ve never taught anywhere else.”

However, I’m sure you would all like to know what form you will be teaching and after much discussion Ivy and I have decided the following:

VIa: Miss Edwards,

VIb: Samantha Kennedy,

Va: Lorna Carey,

Vb: Caitlin Oldroyd,

Upper IVa: Ivy Stephens,

Upper IVb: Maria Marani,

Lower IVa: Margia Stevens,

Lower IVb: Grace Matthews,

Upper IIIa: Ivy Norman,

Lower IIIa: Kay Johnson,

Lower IIIb: Anne Martin,

IIa: Joanna Linders,

IIb: Joan Robinson,

Ia: May Phipps,

Kinders: Margery Alton.”

“I think that covers everyone.  If there are any problems and anyone feels they would prefer a different age group then please let me know at some point today and we’ll try and accommodate you.  We have tried though to ensure mistresses aren’t form mistress for any relative and I would have to say that has been hard for a couple of you.” 

Dollie’s eyes twinkled at this point.

“Now, I think we need to address a few issues,” continued Dollie.  “The first one is as many of you are aware Tanswick Chalet School closed two terms ago and many of their girls transferred here.  They make up the bulk of our senior forms namely VIb and Va.  Many of them are finding it heavy going with their work so we’ve decided to break VIb and Va into sets.  It will give the girls a chance to work in smaller groups and so hopefully a lot more groundwork can be covered and the girls make up their missed work more easily.  A number of girls have been promoted as a result if they are the right age for the fifths but aren’t necessarily the right standard of work.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” said Monica Marilliar listening with interest.  “That’s what we did at Braemar House.  It certainly helps you pick up the ground work,” she said feelingly, knowing full well it had helped her with her Latin and Botany.

“How will it work with the girls who are up to standard?” asked Caitlin Oldroyd, with concern. 

“There will be three sets,” explained Dollie.  “Set A will be for those of VIb standard while Set B will be for those of Va standard and Set C is for those below both.  We’ll mainly follow it for the main subjects like English, Maths, Science, History, Languages and Geography.  I’m hoping that by the end of the year everyone will have reached the standard they should be at, if not, be making good headway by the end of this term.” 

“One good thing is the number of girls in each form,” commented Ivy Norman.  “VIb only has 15 girls while Va has 16 girls, and so smaller classes means the girls get more one on one time with the mistresses.” 

“And some of those girls need it,” said Ivy Stephen’s feelingly.

“They do,” said Dollie with a sigh.  “It’s another reason why I would like to keep the forms small; I’m hoping we can exert greater influence on some these older girls to become more responsible.  We have a lot more younger girls than we do older girls  and most of our natural leaders in the senior forms have left for the Swiss branch and many that are left are not what you would say have character.  Some of our quieter students will be taking on the leadership roles.”

“What about our Prefects?” asked Rhyll Everett abruptly. 

Dollie and Ivy Norman looked at each other before Dollie continued not wanting to offend anyone and fully aware Maria Marani’s niece Gisel Mensch was in VIa. 

“All the girls in VIa are hardworking, quiet students who have never had a leadership or Prefect’s role in the school,” she said slowly, “and will need as much encouragement with it as possible.” 

“I know,” nodded Maria Marani.  “Gisel and Natalie were discussing that with Gisela over the holidays.  Gisel was worried about it.  She thought there was a good chance she would be a prefect and wasn’t sure if she was really suited for the role.”

“Why?” asked Kay Johnson involuntarily.  “Gisel is one of the kindest, most unselfish girls in the Sixth.  She’s friendly with everyone and they all like her.  She’s good at Cricket and I know she helped with coaching the younger girls last summer so the younger ones do know her and they all like her.  She has endless patience,” at that point Kay started to run down before realising Dollie was smiling at her.

“So why does she have doubts?” asked Margia turning to Maria, “and what did Gisela say.”

 

“I don’t think Gisel realises that she’s held in such high regard, and she certainly doesn’t see herself the way you do,” said Maria looking at Kay.  “A lot of what she does, in helping others, is very much part of who she is that she doesn’t think anything of it and with something like coaching Cricket, Gisel loves doing that, that she doesn’t think anything of it.”

“Gisela talked a little about what it was like as Head Girl, the first year of the school and how she didn’t feel that she was a leader as such, but she wanted to do well and she didn’t want to let Madame down.”

“But, she was so nervous about doing it.  She wanted everyone to know they could talk to her if they needed someone so she tried to take an interest in everyone in the school not just her own age group and she said that helped.  And she said that you had to be fair to everyone.” 

Margia looked stunned.  “She made it seem so easy,” she murmured.  “She was probably our best Head Girl,” she said aloud.

“Why do you say that?” asked Anne, puzzled.  “Everyone said Joey was the best Head Girl ever when I was at school.”

“She was in some ways,” said Margia thoughtfully, “but I never realised until after I left school, just how much I looked up to Gisela, more so than any other Head Girl and how fair she was or how hard it would have been being the first Head Girl.  She did set the standard and I know I compared all Head Girls after Gisela to her.  She was the yard stick.  Whoever is the Head Girl here will do the same for the Carnbach branch especially if as you say, the natural, forthcoming leaders have all left,” concluded Margia.

All the Mistresses could feel the weight of Margia’s words and no one wanted their branch of the school to fall on its face in its first term.

“So who will be our Head Girl, then?” asked Ivy Stephens quietly.

“We’ve decided on the following girls as prefects: Gisel Mensch, Amy West, Lorna Wills, Gwyneth Jones, Hilda Smith, Jane Thomas, Jean Downes, Lilias Robertson, Janet Lee; and our four Sub-Prefects will be Alison Grant, Barbara Gow, Joanna Reay, and Moira Damer.  Our Head girl will be Gisel Mensch and the Games Prefect will be Lorna Wills,” said Dollie.

“Lorna Wills,” said Joan Robinson musingly, “then Hilda, Jane and Jean will all be helping her with the Games side of thing.”

“I know,” said Dollie Edwards, “those four do tend to stick like glue, but Gwyneth Jones will be the Second Games Prefect; she and Lorna compliment each other with Games and we made Lorna Games Prefect because she is very good at organising things, whereas Gwyn is a lot more relaxed with that sort of thing.”

A chuckle went around those in the group that knew Lorna of old; she was the most organised creature in the school.

“I take it everyone approves,” said Dollie, eyes twinkling and looking a little relieved.  “Madame, Ivy and I discussed this at great length and it was the best list we could come up with.  All the sub-prefects are in IVb with you Samantha, while all the prefects will be in VIa with me as their form mistress.”          

She gave a sigh.  “I know it’s not usual the Headmistress to have a form but I did want to keep a closer eye on the prefects and be able to offer my support and any pearls of wisdom,” continued Dollie smilingly, saying the last a little tongue in check.  The mistresses chuckled appreciating their Headmistresses’ humour. 

“It does make sense,” agreed Caitlin Oldroyd who had worked with Dollie for years, “and you haven’t had as much to do with the older girls being here at Carnbach for all of last year while the upper school was on the island.”

Dollie nodded, “that is the other potential problem,” she said.  “In some ways, it will feel like we do have a whole group of new pupils especially those I didn’t teach as juniors but it will give others a kind of a fresh start, with the mistresses at least anyway.”

 




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