Minister is committed
to newbuild

Kathryn Oliver was the first recipient of The Spirit of Dromore High School Award � Edward Byrne Photography INBL1446-239EB
Kathryn Oliver was the first recipient of The Spirit of Dromore High School Award � Edward Byrne Photography INBL1446-239EB

Dromore High School can reach new heights and do great things, according to John Wilkinson, who, in his 18th and final principal’s

report, revealed a fresh

ministerial commitment to delivering a new home.

Addressing Thursday’s school Speech Night, Mr Wilkinson, who recently announced his impending retirement, said he had met Stormont Education minister John O’Dowd the week before.

“At the meeting the Minister did commit to finding money before the end of the financial year to secure the ground and expressed his desire, alongside that of the SELB and the school, to seeing this plan come to fruition.”

Of his retirement at the end of February next year, he said he had purposefully avoided letting the subject take over Speech Night.

“This is a fun night,” he said, “a night to be enjoyed, so rightly we have celebrated achievement and success.

“This school is about preparing young people to live in society and function as valuable members of it. As leaders of a school we are only given the lend of it for a short time.

“Therefore we need to drive it forward, securing the best outcomes for the pupils. This moral imperative needs to be at the forefront of everything the school and its leadership does, ensuring the overall welfare of the young people it serves.”

Of his time at Dromore High, he said: “I’ve had some fantastic opportunities. The success or otherwise of my time here is better judged by others. I’ve just had a great time.

“I hope I have made a difference to the life opportunities of young people.”

The long-serving principal paid tribute to what he called “some significant people”, beginning with the school’s 10 “commmitted and honourable” governors, some of whom, he said, had served the school for 18 years or more.

There were thanks too for a “willing and creative” staff, without whom, he said, nothing would have been achieved, for a senior management team dedicated to seeking the best for the school’s students and for clerical staff, technicians, classroom and general assistants, librarians, caretakers, cleaners, supervisory and canteen staff, who contributed in such a positive way.

There was an aknowledgement of “amazing” support from parents and the contribution of courteous, empathetic and hard-working pupils who had given him, he said, such joy over the years.

Mr Wilkinson finally thanked the wider Dromore community for giving him the opportunity to lead “this great school” and for their constant support and trust.

“In many ways,” he added, “the Headship of a school can be a lonely job. There is a relentless pursuit of excellence, a passion to do the right thing and do the thing right, an insistence on continuous improvement, an accountability for your actions and the actions of others, so without good friends and trustworthy colleagues the job could become unbearable.”

Reluctant, he said, to succumb to the temptation to shape the future for Dromore High, which would soon be under new leadership, he spoke of the power to do great things and urged everyone to support his successor.

“There is a job to be done,” he said. “A school never stands still; for this reason I don’t believe anyone has the luxury to take six months or a year to get going. At a maximum you have three months; then its game on. I do wish my successor every blessing in the future.”