20 December 2021

Celebrate like it's 1981 - 40 years of Mintlaw Academy

Mintlaw Academy has been celebrating reaching 40 this month, with a number of celebrations for pupils and staff. Dressing up ‘80s style’ was a highlight, along with a senior pupils’ ceilidh and tree planting.

A planning committee of sixth year pupils and staff have been busy since the start of the year. They designed a commemorative logo which was printed on mugs, glasses, pens and Christmas decorations. They also ordered cake and decorated their social area with balloons and photos for ‘80s-themed’ and ‘touch-of-red’ dress days, and senior pupils were delighted with a celebratory buffet kindly supplied free of charge by local restaurant, Heathhill, for their senior ceilidh. They also enjoyed support from the Woodland Trust to plant commemorative trees as part of the celebrations.

Even this month’s staff professional development event was themed around the anniversary and the school’s leadership team is really pleased with how much young people have gained from the whole anniversary experience.

Head teacher Linda Duthie, who shares this role with Gerry McCluskey, commented: “We’ve had brilliant fun going back in time with pupils and staff. Senior pupils really put their organisation and planning skills to the test and I think they’ve had a lot of pleasure in seeing how much everyone else in the school has enjoyed it too.

“It has been a great way to recognise some of our longest serving colleagues and celebrate our history over the years and the school’s many successes. Well done to everyone who has been involved.”

Looking back at the school’s history, prior to Mintlaw Academy being built, pupils in the Central Buchan area attended Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Turriff or Ellon Academies. The current catchment area stretches from New Pitsligo in the west and takes in Strichen, New Deer, Maud, Auchnagatt, Clola, Rora, New Leeds, Fetterangus and Longside.

The school cost just £2.5million and was officially opened on December 9, 1981. Its first head boy was Colin Slessor, now an auctioneer with ANM and a star of BBC Scotland's ‘The Mart’. Originally built for around 500 pupils, Mintlaw Academy has been extended twice as new houses were built in the villages and families moved into the area, and various renovations inside the building have helped the school remain modern and fit-for-purpose. 

The school’s first head teacher was Bill Sarson, who remained in post until 1994, and there were two others before Mrs Duthie took over, supported more recently by Mr McCluskey.

Mr Arthur Milne who has been there since the beginning is the school’s longest serving employee, and although he is officially retired, Mr Milne who specialises in biology and science is still supporting the school as a supply teacher. Mr Milne is joined by a number of other long serving staff, testament to the ethos of the school and its strong values.

The school roll has fluctuated over the years, with its peak at around 1,000, and currently Mintlaw has just over 800 pupils. Especially well-known for its successful girls' football teams, one of the school’s most famous alumni is Kim Little, the recently retired Scotland international footballer.

The school hopes to be able to invite former pupils, staff and members of the community on tours around the school, which has been extensively modernised over the years, as restrictions allow.