School’s anniversary celebrations end on a high

Hannah Gault won the Ian Davidson Award, Jamie Horner was awarded the ICT Shield and Science Cup while Leah Weatherup was awarded the McWilliam Award for Work Experience.
Hannah Gault won the Ian Davidson Award, Jamie Horner was awarded the ICT Shield and Science Cup while Leah Weatherup was awarded the McWilliam Award for Work Experience.
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Ballyclare Secondary Principal Kathryn Bell brought to a close the school’s busy and successful 50th anniversary celebrations at this year’s prize giving ceremony.

The Principal paid tribute to her two predecessors, the late Bill Stirling and Uel McCrea - who was a guest on the evening - for each of their 25 years service to the school.

She said: “It is a great testament to the school that over its 50 year history there have only been two former Principals.”

At the prize giving ceremony, which took place last Thursday, October 18, the Principal welcomed David Farrell and his wife Audrey as special guests for the evening.

Mr Farrell was the school’s Vice-Principal for the past 15 years, having taken retirement at the end of last term.

He was instrumental in the school’s establishment of links with the Toyama National College in Japan. During his time he worked to develop long-lasting relationships and understanding of the Japanese culture with the school through email, video conference calls and trips to the country.

Mr Farrell’s work to improve British and Japanese relations has been recognised by both country’s and as a testament to his achievements Dr Yoshinori Naruse, vice president of the Toyama National College, attended the prize giving to celebrate the schools’ 15-year partnership.

“During Mr Farrell’s time he ensured the smooth day to day running of the school in such a calm, reserved manner,” said Mrs Bell.

“His commitment and dedication to Ballyclare Secondary School was always evident in all that you did and was valued by staff, parents and pupils. At times it is only when a member of staff leaves that you appreciate all the varied tasks they completed which even the most detailed job description can not capture.

“That is so true of Mr Farrell, so many times this term I have said the words “Mr Farrell used to do that” and particularly so over recent days as we have been preparing for this prize giving ceremony.”

The Principal also thanked long-standing members of staff Elizabeth Alexander, Tom Lewis and Colin Manson, who all took retirement this year, for their dedication to the school.

During her speech Mrs Bell acknowledged the tremendous effort the school’s pupils had put in over the past year.

She continued: “We come together to celebrate the success of the young people of this school for all of the past 51 years it has been the ethos of the school that regardless of intellectual ability or social background pupils should have a rewarding educational experience.

“Our aim is ‘personal excellence’ and I believe that our pupils do have a rewarding educational experience and we will acknowledge that and all they have achieved in not only academic terms but also sporting achievements and their contribution to the wider life of the school and community.

“The pupils of Ballyclare Secondary School achieve at the highest levels in so many areas.”

She continued: “This year’s results represent another very successful year for the school.

“Success in GCSEs has meant that more than ever, pupils were very keen to return to school to pursue advanced level courses and to continue their education in Ballyclare Secondary School.

“While A-Level successes have meant that the majority of former pupils are now studying their chosen subjects at university or at higher education or have moved on to the world of work.”

She went on: “The school, as in previous years, has had to seek the approval of the Department of Education for additional pupil numbers.

“The enrolment number for the school is 960 – currently on the rolls we have 1,037 pupils. For a school to be in a position where it is necessary for it to seek such approval for additional numbers in a climate of falling rolls says so much about the success of this school and the hard work which goes on day after day by the pupils and the teachers who teach them.

“I am all too aware that all around the country principals will be preparing and delivering their presentation and prize day addresses but not many, particularly in the secondary controlled sector, will be able to report results such as ours and an increase in pupil numbers such as ours.”

Mrs Bell also paid tribute to the school’s board of governors, teachers and staff for their continued dedication towards the school’s success.

She added: “This remains a very popular and successful school. As Principal I am incredibly proud of all our pupils, as your teachers we celebrate with you on your achievements and congratulate you on your success.

“Such a level of success and achievement does not happen by chance and I know that without the support and encouragement of parents and carers for many of you sitting here tonight the grades achieved may have been just a little lower.

“On your behalf, young people, I thank your parents and carers for their commitment to you and your school and as a staff we appreciate their ongoing support.”

See full prize night coverage in this week’s Times...