There were celebrations at Banbridge Academy recently when the school held its annual prizegiving ceremony.
School Principal, Mr Raymond Pollock, welcomed everyone to the event, including MP David Simpson, Vice Chairman of Banbridge District Council, Councillor Hazel Gamble and special guest, Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie, the highest ranking female police officer in Northern Ireland.
At the opening of his speech, Mr Pollock paid tribute to student Christopher McAlinden who died suddenly earlier in the year.
“Christopher was a very, very special person who related well to everyone in our school community,” he said. “Teachers, support staff, fellow pupils, everyone spoke highly of Christopher. He was a quiet, friendly, warm-hearted, genuine young man who was loved and respected by all. A very able pupil who enjoyed school life, he was a loyal and true friend and we miss him greatly and feel his loss keenly.”
Mr Pollock praised everyone at the school for their hard work during the year, and made particular mention of the GCSE results, which he said were “as good as anything we have ever had with almost 96% achieving 7 or more A*- C passes.”
He added: “We are delighted for our pupils and congratulate them on their achievements and we wish continued success to those who have moved on. We also commend parents for the key role you have played in partnership with the school to produce the results we celebrate this afternoon.”
Mr Pollock also praised the students for their efforts in the sporting arena, as well as in extracurricular activities and charity work.
“I have spoken of partnership with parents and the local community and I have praised the professionalism of our staff and outlined the part we play in the preparing our young people for life itself,” continued Mr Pollock. “I have extolled our child centred provision which sends out confident, compassionate, knowledgeable young people.
“Education, as WB Yeats famously declared, is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. Hopefully you will see that we still light fires in Banbridge Academy,” he concluded.