BANBRIDGE High School held their annual prize night on Thursday with past pupil Lyndon-Hughes-Jennett the special guest.
Also in attendance were the Chairperson of Banbridge District Council, Councillor Junior McCrum and Mr David Simpson MP.
Principal, Mr Andrew Bell, started off the evening by saying that education is about accessing the volume of achievement and the breadth of achievement.
“For this school and for the pupils of this school it is looking at the achievements of the whole child,” he said.
“This year we had 73 A*’s, we had pupils coming out with strong GCSE profiles with 9½ to 11½ GCSE’s or BTEC’s, we had our largest cohort go through the Occupational Studies route in which many gained their double award at grade C. We never underestimate the potential of the young people that we educate, and we never under-estimate the ability of the staff to challenge and motivate our young people to ensure that they reach for their full potential.
“How true is Christopher Morley’s statement that “there are three ingredients in the good life: learning, earning and yearning.”
“At Key Stage 4 our students did very well. 71% of the total grades achieved were in the A*-C category while 99% of the grades achieved were pass grades. At A level 94% of the grades achieved were in the A-E category.
“To all our young people we extend our warmest congratulations. Such results have allowed many doors to unlock and open and the career paths that many have wanted to pursue are available. It is also important to recognise that it is the combined work of students, teachers and parents that make such achievements possible.
“It is the persistent application, diligence and encouragement from many quarters that gives us all the drive and direction that we all need.
“We like also to mention past pupils and the achievements they have made and how this very much encourages others: Beryl Ervine, Certificate in Counselling Studies (University of Ulster), Heather Cromie, BSc (Hons) in Agriculture (Harper Adams), Mandy Gault, PhD in Sport and Exercise Physiology (University of Chichester), Deborah Evans, the Cleland Ormond Rogers Prize for Academic Excellence in Children’s Nursing, Natalie Toman BA (Hons) in International Relations and Social Policy (University of Lincoln), Scott Gilliland, Foundation Degree in Science for Computing (University of Ulster), Linda Copes, BSc in Business Studies (University of Ulster), Mark McKelvey BSc Business Studies (University of Ulster), Edwin Ervine, BSc in Architecture (Queen’s University), David Kerr, BSc Quanity Surveying (Unversity of Edinburgh), Rachel Carlisle, BSc in Zoology, (Queens University), Pauline McAlister, BSc in Clinical Psychology (University of Ulster), Marc Williamson BA in Fine and Applied Arts (University of Ulster).”
Mr Bell then went on to outline the school’s sporting success over the last year, the highlight of which, he said, was the successes of the U14 XI Girls hockey team.
Rugby, netball and football teams also enjoyed success.
He added, “Other developments in the school throughout last year were wide and varied. Two pupils took part in the cycling championships in the Olympic Cycling Veladrome in London in May 2012. There were Shannon Buller and Matthew Taggart. They were representing Ulster in the School Games against other regions in the United kingdom. It was a very great achievement and along with James Curry and Jill Curry who along with Shannon and Matthew took part in the Inter-Regional MTB Championship in August we shall all watch with interest how their sporting careers develop.
“Another to keep an eye on is Olivia Mahaffey. She is well on her way to a professional career in golf. Olivia is rarely out of the local sports pages and plays in tournaments in many parts of the world.”
Away from sport there were other achievements and successes enjoyed by pupils.
Mr Bell said, “Earlier in November Lisa Castagnar, a past pupil of the school, spent three days filming in the school part of her film Elaine. Many budding stars were brought to the fore especially a music teacher dressed in canary yellow.
“We launched are new school website in January. Many thanks especially to Mr Adams and Mr Currie for their hard work in this and in December the Journalism Club launched their new student e-newsletter, with a special printed edition appearing in the Banbridge Leader in June 2012.
“Some of our Year 10 students appeared at the Stormont Education Committee to give evidence on the work they had been doing on the development of school councils, and for the years to come the school and their contribution can be read about in the Assemblies Hansard.
“Our fund raising efforts continued. Our now traditional Bag Pack at Tesco’s Banbridge raised £650 for Help for Heroes, while the sale of Poppies in School raised £670 and the annual Year 8 and 9 Sponsored Walk in Tollymore raised £6,500, £500 for a variety of Cancer Charities, including Macmillian Cancer and Marie Curie. A further variety of charities benefited from a further £500 of raised money including World Wildlife Fund, Lifeboats and the Holocaust Trust.”
Mr Bell thanked the parents of the school’s pupils for their support, saying, “Everything that we seek to do in this school is to help our young people achieve. We operate on the basis that every young person wants to achieve: every young person wants to be a success and every young person has ambitions and goals that they wish to achieve.
“In this goal I would once again wish to put on record my gratitude to the staff of the school who work so hard to encourage and progress our young people. The support that they give them in this school is outstanding. We know this because our young people and parents tells us this. To our parents we also express our gratitude for your support and help.
“Without it the task would be so much more difficult. We are being constantly reminded how difficult life is for of young people to get a start: maybe each generation has had its difficulties and each viewed them as just as difficult, what was key was that a way was found through the difficulty.
“So to you all can I encourage you to keep going, to keep pushing ahead and to never give up and never be too quick to give up. Two things happen when we keep going: we achieve what we set out to do and in so doing we encourage others to keep going also.
He concluded, “Education is about looking forward; as the Education and Skills Authority (ESA) dawns, we think, let us not forget that the Southern Education and Library Board, as with the other Boards will celebrate 40 years: 40 years of support, guide and comfort through some of the most traumatic and challenging times in education Life is about a mixture of the old and the new, the experienced and inexperienced. It is this rich combination that we need to re-instill and value within our society.
“One last thought. I cannot claim this thought as my own but I will share it with you. Occasions like this bear a resemblance to the harvest time: a harvest of achievement: these students have months ago sown the seed of hard work, revision and examination preparation. They have attended to the matters that have allowed the fruits of their labours to develop and grow. And tonight they are harvesting what they had sown. In the years to come, young people sow well to ensure a rich and plentiful harvest in where-ever life takes you. “