Pupils were hailed for their exams success at the Dromore High, Sixth Form Celebration of Achievement.
Principal Ian McConaghy hailed the students and said their achievements, particularly at A Level, were down to a team effort.
Addresssing the class of 2018, he said: “To our leavers and year 14 pupils, this recognition of achievement is our chance to put you in the spotlight and say ‘well done’,‘congratulations’ and ‘best wishes’ for the next stage of your lives, to all of you. It is right and fitting that your families join us for this occasion since achieving success in education and particularly at A level, is indeed a team effort”.
Reflecting on the examination results Mr McConaghy continued “The results this year are excellent; 87% of all the grades achieved were A*-C and all subjects were passed with no fails at all. These results are a tremendous credit to everyone involved and reflect highly on the sixth from provision here in Dromore High.”
“There are so many success stories I could mention, but for tremendous achievements I would highlight Zara Malcolmson and Charles Wright our top two pupils with 3 A* and 3A grades between them, but in truth I could carry on down the list to include many, many more all of whom worked really hard and succeeded. As per our ethos we value the achievements of every single pupil who has done their best, worked hard and succeeded”.
Mr McConaghy had a special welcome for retired teacher Miss Hazel Uprichard, a member of the Senior Leadership Team and Head of Science who retired in August after 33 years of dedicated service and loyalty to Dromore High, wishing her well for her retirement.
Commenting on the make up of the school’s sixth form Mr McConaghy said “a considerable number of pupils join our sixth form from other schools.These pupils are an extremely welcome addition to our sixth form transferring typically from Rathfriland High School, and other schools in the locality. These pupils settled in Dromore High extremely well and they brought some new perspectives and a fresh balance to the sixth form.
“We are delighted they chose to study here and their results are an affirmation of their choice. Two of them were chosen as Head Prefects, Deputy Head Girl Zara Malcolmson and Deputy Head Boy David Whiteside.”
Reviewing the leavers destinations,’ Mr McConaghy indicated that approximately 20% of them were going to the UK mainland to continue their third level studies with the majority choosing to go to local universities. He said degree courses being undertaken in Accounting, Agriculture, Archaeology, Business, Biomedical Science, Communication, Economics Education, Engineering, Geography, Human Nutrition, IT, International relations and politics, Law, Mathematics, Nursing, Pharmacy, Psychology and Sport.
Mr McConaghy added: “Six of our pupils have secured Higher Level Apprenticeships in Accounting, Mechanical Engineering and Luke Edgar secured an IT apprenticeship with worldwide multinational firm Google. He takes up his position in London this month”.
He paid tribute to the staff for their commitment in curricular and extra-curricular activities, mentioning in particular the very broad and beneficial Enrichment programme for sixth form pupils which helps prepare them for the next stage of their career. All of this helps us as we seek to continue to educate our students to look upon themselves as global, rather than as parochial, citizens, and be able to assess risk, analyse world affairs intelligently and adapt accordingly.
“Additionally, into year 13 this year we have admitted almost 100 pupils which again is a most encouraging intake and a vote of confidence by the local community and those from further afield in our sixth form”.
Reflecting on the disappointing lack of political progress in Northern Ireland, Mr McConaghy nonetheless offered his thanks to several local politicians for their ongoing support for the school “away from the spotlight”, in particular Sir Jeffrey Donaldson who “continues to advocate strongly on our behalf concerning our critical need for a new school building and the lack of places for pupils in year 8”. Mr McConaghy urged a strengthening of political support for the needs of the school at this critical time.
“It is said that ‘self-praise is no recommendation’ however I feel it is my duty to heap praise on my staff and all those involved in educating this group of leavers. This school and it’s staff does a magnificent job and I offer as evidence to support that claim this tremendous group of young adults who are a credit to themselves, their families and this school.
“Finally I would say to our leavers group, we don’t wish this to be your last event with your school. Join our alumni group being set up this year by Mrs Mitchell and keep in touch. Even though your formal education here is now complete we can be of assistance to each other. Be proud of this school wherever you study and wherever you ultimately find yourselves. We remain here to help should you ever need help in any way. My sincerest best wishes to you all.”
Guest speaker Miss Claire Beckett BSc reflected on her time in Dromore High which she had enjoyed tremendously. Claire had always faced the challenge of combining a love of study with a love of farming.
Very early morning starts to complete her work on the family farm near Donaghcloney preceded her busy days in school before returning to the farm for more work. Claire had enjoyed both aspects of her life tremendously. Early in life she knew that she wanted to work with animals and identified a gap in the knowledge of effective nutrition for cattle. Her education had prepared her for this and she was now pursuing this through her career with her employer Trouw Nutrition.
Claire advised the pupils to commit to the highest levels of study now even if they did not have a final destination in mind at this stage.
It was important to balance all one’s endeavours in life and realise that sometimes some things have to be sacrificed for long term benefit, even if it is difficult at the time. Her advice was to “work hard at whatever is right in front of you at the time”.
Claire had been influenced by a number of people in her life to good effect including her family and her teachers and she paid tribute to them. Reiterating wise words given to her that “if you enjoy your job you never work a day in your life”. She urged the pupils to work hard and pursue their dreams that they may enjoy their careers also.
During the celebration, two musical items provided entertainment for the audience, a vocal solo by Sophie Tate accompanied by her grandfather Mr Donald McClernan on acoustic guitar, ‘Song Bird’ and a piano solo by Erin McNally entitled ‘A Steady Hand’
Chairman Mrs Woods thanked Claire for her inspirational speech and for presenting the certificates, prizes and cups to the recipients. Mrs Woods concluded the celebration by reiterating her pride in the pupils and the school “wishing all the pupils well on the next stage of their journey” wherever it was leading them.
SEE NEXT WEEK’S LEADER FOR A PICTORIAL ROUND UP OF THE DAY.