The principal of Aughnacloy College has praised the ‘truly impressive results’ achieved by GCSE students this year.
Mr Colin Berry was speaking to guests at the school’s annual prize day.
The Carnteel Road school was packed to capacity to celebrate success at the annual prize day. Mr David Blevins, Senior Ireland Correspondent Sky News was guest of honour.
In his speech, Mr Berry welcomed everyone to the event adding that ‘this year we mark the 55th anniversary of the school’.
He continued: “The school was opened on September 3 1963. A newspaper article at the time reported the following: ‘A magnificent new Secondary School has been erected on the Dungannon road at Aughnacloy and will open to new pupils on Wednesday, September 3, the official opening will take place later in October. The school which is surrounded by extensive grounds for various activities starts off with approximately 200 pupils.’
“The first Prize evening was held at the beginning of the second school year on October 23 1964. The Guest of honour then was the Minister of Education and there
were two obvious differences from this Prize Evening. First, the event was held in the afternoon at 2.00pm and second, ladies were kindly requested not to wear shoes with stiletto heels.”
Mr Berry welcomed Mr. David Blevins explaining: “We are privileged that you have taken time out of your very busy schedule to be with us tonight. Mr Blevins is the Senior Ireland Correspondent at Sky News. In the 22 years he has been with the network, he has reported from 10 different countries on four different continents, received a Royal Television Society Award nomination for his coverage of the Omagh bombing and won commendation from both sides of the political divide in Northern Ireland for his balanced and impartial journalism.
“Mr Blevins reported the brokering of the Good Friday agreement, the decommissioning of weapons, the establishment of power-sharing government at Stormont and the Queen’s historic visit to Ireland. He has interviewed US Presidents, Irish Presidents, British Prime Ministers and Irish Prime Ministers. More
recently, he has reported the collapse of devolved government, the DUP’s confidence and supply agreement at Westminster, the referendum on Ireland’s
constitutional ban on abortion and the Papal visit to Ireland.
“Prior to joining Sky, Mr Blevins worked for various newspapers and was a newsreader/reporter on Downtown Radio and Cool FM for five years. He holds
a diploma in journalism and an honours degree in theology. He occasionally lectures journalism students in the United States on the role of the media in the
peace process. Mr Blevins you are very welcome to Aughnacloy College tonight and we look forward to you speaking to us later.
“An occasion such as Prize Evening gives me the opportunity to express my thanks to all those who have assisted in the smooth running of another school year. My grateful thanks to all of the teaching staff for the hard work they put into their classes and with assisting in the extra-curricular activities of the school. I recognize the positive impact a teacher can make in pupil’s lives and I am confident that in Aughnacloy College pupils encounter teachers who are committed to their achievement, interested in their development and dedicated to their well-being.
“Our classroom assistants carry out a valuable support role within the school and I am indebted for all their hard work with the pupils throughout the school. The school office is always the centre of activity in any school and Aughnacloy College is no different. I am indebted to Mrs Clarke who works tirelessly in the office for the benefit of the school and ensuring my role as Principal is made easier. My thanks to Mr. Salley, the schools building supervisor and to Mrs. Zwecker, Mrs. McGuigan and Mrs. Anderson the school cleaners who everyday leave the school immaculate.
“To Mrs Hadden and the ladies in the canteen I say thank you. There is no way any pupil could leave this school saying they were hungry. Portions are always very generous and the canteen ladies enjoy the banter with the pupils while serving the food and at the cash registers. There are not many schools where the pupils are known personally by every member of staff. This means that in Aughnacloy College pupils have a more personal educational experience. Here pupils are protected, nurtured and guided in an individual way that would be impossible in a larger school. Because we know, really know all our pupils and their families, we are determined that they will reach their potential. We as staff take our pupils success and therefore their failures personally.
“Pupils are encouraged by staff who have their interests at heart. Pupils leave Aughnacloy College with positive experiences and memories and also understand the
importance of taking pride in their appearance through our high expectations in their school uniform. They will make friendships that last a life time and enter the world as well rounded, well-disciplined individuals. Thanks to every member of staff who ensure this happens.
“I want to publicity acknowledge the voluntary role carried out by the Board of Governors. I am particularly thankful for their support and assistance in all matters concerning the management of the school. As a new Board is about to be constituted I want to thank those governors who are standing down at this time and thank them for their dedication to this community over the past four years.
“We are grateful for the assistance that we receive from the school counsellor, education welfare officer, the careers officer, the educational psychologist and the local ministers. They all in their own way make sure that our pastoral and spiritual needs are met.
“As a school we recognize and readily seek the support of parents. Parents, your role is vital and I am pleased to report that the level of support from parents is very high and it is something that I do not take for granted.
“At our Prize Evening last year, I mentioned the work that was starting on the new 3G pitch. The official opening of the pitch was held on 10 th May. Finally, we have a state of the art sporting facility for the school and the whole community. My thanks to Mr Paul Bell who made sure this vision became a reality. He has spent hours on this project and continues to make many phone calls as the last few outstanding items are completed.
“Let me now turn to congratulate our GCSE pupils the class of 2018. Congratulations on an excellent set of results. It is great to have you all back with us this
evening. Every year the Department of Education use the percentage of pupils who obtain 5 or more GCSEs – with grades A* - C to measure success against other
“This year 96% of our Year 12 pupils obtained 5 or more GCSE results grade A* - C. The NI average for non-grammar schools like ourselves is 74%. However, to
further measure the success of schools the Department of Education also measure how many pupils obtained 5 or more passes including English and Maths. For
Aughnacloy College this year the figure was 73% with the NI average being 49%. That is 24% above the average - a great achievement of which you can be
proud. Later you will hear of the individual success of each of those pupils.
“Congratulations class of 2018. You’ve coped with the pressure, worked hard, listened to your teachers, listened to your parents and delivered on the day of the
examinations. As I finish this evening a final thought for everyone here tonight.
“Outside this assembly hall is a memorial window in memory of the first principal of the school, 42-year-old, Mr Cormac McCabe who was murdered in office in January 1974. The following words are itched on that window: To think only the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best. To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own. These words link in with two Bible verses I have been sharing recently with the pupils and staff as I lead assembly. They are found in Philippians Chapter 2 verses 3 and 4: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.
“Yes, look out for yourself but also look out for the interests of others. What a different place the world would be if we all looked out for the interests of other’s just much as we look out for ourselves. It all comes down to being humble.
“CS Lewis once said ‘Being humble does not mean thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less May we all take those words to heart.”