DUP leader Arlene Foster visited Magherafelt High School with MLA Keith Buchanan to congratulate pupils on their recent success at a world LEGO competition in the USA.
Speaking before she met with the eight students who travelled to St Louis, Missouri at the end of April, Mrs Foster said: “I am very much looking forward to seeing the facilities and also looking at the LEGO.”
The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA commended the team of five boys and three girls for placing in a competition that involved tens of thousands from around the globe, as their teachers and parents looked on.
FIRST LEGO League is a global Science and Technology challenge involving over 33,000 teams of 9 -16 year olds.
It aims to encourage an interest in real world issues and develop key skills that are crucial for their future careers, particularly in STEM subjects.
“It’s wonderful because it promotes skills for industry,” Mrs Foster said.
“It’s good to see a mix of sex as well.”
Vice principal Stephen Fleming said the MHS students were just one of 110 teams to win a place at the world final, but the first ever to represent Northern Ireland.
“We ended up winning the most improved team, so they had an amazing experience when they were out there,” he said.
“Everything was wonderful and the kids performed so well.”
Speaking on behalf of parents of the year 10 students involved in the team, Derek Ferson said: “They got the opportunity of a lifetime... they are getting what they deserve now, just a wee bit of praise to show how well they have done.
“We can’t praise the school and Mrs and Mr Chambers enough.”
As for the students, some said they wished they could go back and change their GCSEs to include more hands-on subjects like ICT after taking part as they enjoyed it so much.
“We are so pleased,” added principal Steven Elder.
“We want to get recognition for the children - it’s nice for the school as well.”