Students and staff at New-Bridge Integrated College in Loughbrickland were delighted to host Taoiseach Leo Varadkar when he visited the school recently.
The Taoiseach was keen to see how the College’s approach to integration throughout school life had earned it the Evens International Prize for Peace Education – the first school in the UK and Ireland to win this prestigious award.
Leo Varadkar was welcomed by Principal Anne Anderson; Head Boy Matthew Houston and Head Girl Alanna McCourt; Roisin Marshall, CE of the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE), Tina Merron CE, Paul Caskey and Richard Lemon, Director of the Integrated Education Fund; along with Founding Chair of New-Bridge Board of Governors Mrs Norah Connolly and Deputy Chair Mr Philip Mehaffey.
The Taoiseach was welcomed to the school by a warm round of applause from students who formed an impressive guard of honour on his arrival.
Ms Anderson said: “It is a great honour that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has chosen to visit New-Bridge Integrated College in person to see our work and to learn more about the ethos of integration.
“We are very pleased to be able to show him the great work of our staff and students and to demonstrate how an openly diverse society can form a united community. This is a proud day for the New-Bridge Community.”
After touring the school’s facilities, the Taoiseach took the opportunity to speak to pupils who discussed their experiences of diversity and integration at New-Bridge IC.
Speaking as he left the school Leo Varadkar said: “I am very happy to congratulate New-Bridge Integrated College on winning the international Evens Peace Prize. Having met students and staff I can say the honour is well-deserved; this school shows how diversity can be celebrated and nurtured in a context of educational excellence.
“The confident, considerate and outward-looking attitudes shown by the young people here set a very optimistic tone for my visit to Northern Ireland.”