Two of Ballyclare’s best known educational figures were honoured today when new buildings at Ballyclare Secondary School were named in their honour.
The £3.7m MacConnell Building and McCrea Suite include state-of-the art Home Economics suite, English and Geography Departments, a Performing Arts suite as well as a new entrance hall.
The refurbishment and extension was funded by the Department of Education’s School Enhancement Programme.
The MacConnell Building is named after long-serving chairperson of the board of governors, Rev Dr JH MacConnell who was on hand to open the building alongside former principal, Mr Uel McCrea, who opened the McCrea Suite.
“It was a slow and lengthy process to get this far and today sees the fruition of the vision of many who worked towards the opening of these fantastic new facilities.
“They will serve our school community for many years to come,” said Reverend MacConnell, who has been a governor at the school since 1973.
Current principal Mrs Kathryn Bell welcomed guests from local primary and post-primary schools, past and present staff and governors, parents and special guests from the Education Authority and the Department of Education.
Mrs Bell said: “Ballyclare Secondary School is a child-centred school and all of these lovely new facilities are to enhance the learning environment for our young people - all of this is for nothing if we do not have the most important stakeholders of all - our pupils.”
Guest speakers at the opening were Education Authority chairperson Sharon O’Connor and Permanent Secretary Derek Baker.
Ms O’Connor said: “One of the Education Authority’s key priorities is to ensure a fit for purpose, modern and sustainable schools’ estate which will help raise standards and close the attainment gap.
“The new facilities at Ballyclare secondary School will undoubtedly contribute to that goal and help all its pupils become the best that they can be.”
Derek Baker added: “Schools across Northern Ireland continue to enjoy the significant benefits of the School Enhancement Programme.
“The programme was developed to provide much needed facilities to improve the school environment and create a better place for pupils to learn. I am sure that the investment of almost £4m in the new wing and refurbishment will have a positive impact on pupils, teachers and school staff, now and for years to come.”