Stromness Academy is a six-year comprehensive serving the west mainland of Orkney. There are now about 350 pupils. Five primary schools send their pupils to Stromness Academy, namely Stromness, Dounby, Evie, Stenness and Firth. Pupils from Hoy & Walls and Rousay also choose to attend Stromness Academy.
The school began life in the 1870s in the centre of Stromness, and many generations of former pupils remember their days there with great affection.
In the mid-1980s, the school was rebuilt on the outskirts of the town. As a community school, extensive sporting and social facilities were included. The new school is a focus for all sorts of activity, every day of the week. Ironically, in the light of the debate of the suitability of the site of the new primary school, the site for the new academy also came under a lot of debate as to its suitability.
In 2010 a large extension was opened housing new PE and Guidance offices and storage, a new fitness suite and a large well equipped Music department over two floors. The old music department was converted into bright new offices for the management team and admin staff.
In 2014 the first phase of insulation was carried out with cladding and windows replaced on the main teaching block. In 2018, the next phase of insulation and window replacement started.
The school uses a system of ‘houses’ to organise pupils. Pupils are assigned to a house, which they will retain throughout their time at Stromness Academy. Each house is led by a staff “House Champion” and two pupil “House Captains”. All pupils have morning registration and PSE lessons within their house groups, and younger pupils also take many subject lessons within their house. Pupils earn house points in and out of lessons for effort and attitude as well as for achievement, and competitions and events such as sports day have a strong house element. Our three houses are:
MAGNUS: House Colour green (Originally Yellow). Named after Saint Magnus (? – c. 1117 AD). Son of Erlend, joint Earl of Orkney, and himself a joint Earl with his brother Haakon, who murdered him on Egilsay. Buried in Birsay and later transferred to Kirkwall Cathedral. St. Magnus Cathedral is named in his honour.
ROGNVALD (Pronounced Ronald): House Colour Red. Named after Earl Rognvald of Orkney (? – 1158 AD), the nephew of Saint Magnus. He was baptised under the name of Kali, but took the name Rognvald. He founded Kirkwall Cathedral in 1137, and undertook a pilgrimage to the Mediterranean. He was canonised in 1192.
THORFINN: House Colour Blue. Named after Earl Thorfinn of Orkney (c. 1009-1065 AD), eldest son of Sigurd, by daughter of Malcolm II. He fought against Duncan I, his cousin (and the basis for King Duncan in ‘Macbeth’)., and he perhaps partitioned Scotland with Macbeth. He went to Rome c. 1050, and built a cathedral at Birsay for the bishop of his earldom of Orkney. His two sons fought with Harold Hardrada, King of Norway, at Stamford Bridge in 1066, and his daughter Ingibjorg married Malcolm III.
SIGURD (Disbanded): House Colour Green. (Disbanded in 2014 due to falling school roll) Named after Earl Sigurd of Orkney ( ? – 1014 AD). Thought to have been converted to Christianity by King Olaf Trygvasson c. 995; married a daughter of Malcolm II and was father of Thorfinn; killed at battle of Clontarf in Ireland.
Now no longer used or widely known, the Stromness Academy school song was at one time often sung (and memorised) by pupils. In keeping with the curriculum of the time, the song was in Latin, and ran:
This was printed in the first The Stromnessian in 1941.
W.F. Ritchie A.M.
Nobis est amicus pontus,
Brencio colli tegente,
Scholam et muros laudemus
Tibi Matri corda lacta
A Free Verse Rendering of Stromness School Song
This isn’t a literal translation of the Latin version of the song.
Our home is in the North,
“Brinkie’s” looms behind us:
Reverence we the old Halls
To our Alma Mater
Another Version of the Song from an ex-pupil
“With regard to the SA school song, in my days as a pupil at the school, we sang a version of the song S has found in Latin, sung in English with a Latin chorus It went like this (presumably to the same carol tune of ‘Gloria in excelcis Deo’.” (Ex-pupil)
Set beside the friendly sea,
Sheltered from the western foam,
Stromness is our dwelling place
Stromness is our ho -ome.
Flo-o-oreat Stromnessia (x3)
Floreat in saecula.
Viewed afar from Brinkie’s Brae
Fields are green and seas are wide,
Though we wander far from home
Here our thoughts abi-ide
Let us gladly praise our school,
And its honoured name revere.
And when from its gates we pass
Hold its memory ever dear