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Until we see you again, Urquharts
Director Jim Urquhart playing Bulgarian gaida

On Wednesday the school held a special, all school assembly to formally say thank you, goodbye and send all our good wishes to our outgoing School Director Jim Urquhart and his wife Andie who has served both as the Athletics and Activities Director and as a Middle School counsellor.

After eight years at AAS, the Urquharts are leaving this summer and the school marked the occasion with a school-wide celebration. It was a chance to recall the huge contribution that Jim, Andie and the Urquhart family have made to the school and how much they will be missed. Jim was presented with a commemorative plaque from the Chair of the School Board, Mr. Justin Friedman, who thanked him for all he had done for the school. We were then entertained by the Elementary School HipHopsters before students, staff and members of our PTO shared their thanks and memories and funny anecdotes.

One such anecdote came from our Business Manager, Marchella Ignatova, who told the story of Jim trying to get to grips with the Bulgarian language when he first arrived at the school. He thought he was doing rather well and so proudly said loudly each morning to all in the business office “Haĭde raboti!” thinking he was encouraging everyone to work. It took two months of him saying this before someone told him he was actually saying “Let’s go robots!”

Jim’s love of the Bulgarian bagpipes (gaĭda), as well as the Bulgarian language, is well known, with professional players being invited to play at most of the big events during Jim’s time at AAS. So, as a farewell gift from the school Marchella presented him with his very own gaĭda that had been specially made and engraved with his name in Bulgarian (Mitko). Jim was then invited to try them out to the delight of everyone.

One of the things that Jim and Andie have nurtured and developed during their eight years in Sofia, is the deeper bond between the international element and the Bulgarian at the school. This has been done by honouring the Bulgarian culture and language and emphasising the importance of understanding the history of the host country in both a formal way - as in Bulgarian Culture Week - to the informal - encouraging the ‘spontaneous’ dancing of the Horo. So, it was fitting that the celebration ended with the Bulgarian water ceremony, which traditionally washes the pathway clean of obstacles and makes the forward journey smooth.

We do indeed wish Jim, Andie and their family, a smooth and happy transition to the next stage in their lives and, as one speaker said, this is not a ‘goodbye’ but ‘until we see you again’!