Milestone year for St. Louis Grammar

A year of academic, sporting, cultural and social achievement was celebrated at St. Louis Grammar School’s prize distribution last week.

Principal, Mr. Sean Rafferty, noted that academic success can be a ‘crude measure’ of a school’s success and while that purely educational target was fulfilled, he was equally keen to mark the individual extra-curricular achievements of students in all the many different elements of school life.

He stressed that the combination of academic, extra curricular success and participation was a recipe for progress.

He paid fulsome tribute to present staff for their hard work and commitment and noted that the last 12 months had been a ‘milestone year’ in the life of St Louis.

“We said goodbye to a number of our longest serving staff and awe convey our best wishes to Dr Byrne, Mrs Blaney, Mr Fusco, Mr Graham, Mrs McKelvey, Mr Marquess, Mrs Mulvenna and Mrs Whincup as they availed of redundancy packages. We also wish Mrs Fraser, Mrs McCann, Mr McFlynn and Mrs Tovey well in their new teaching positions.

“Our non-teaching staff also saw the retirement of Mrs Johnston, Mrs Cassidy, Mrs McCluskey and Mr Doherty, again we extend best wishes to those staff members who in almost all cases spent the majority of their careers in St Louis. We wish them well for the future,” he said.

Mr. Rafferty’s summation of the academic aspects of school life revealed that the performances of St. Louis pupils were well above the Northern Ireland average (94% A* - C 3 subjects or more NI 79%;98% A* - C 7 subjects or more NI 83%).

“What can one say apart from applaud the students, their parents and our teachers for enabling and empowering our students to succeed. This cohort of students at GCSE level really exceed and are reflective of what can happen if you have self-belief, confidence and the desire to achieve. We have recipients of 11 A*’s, 10 A*’s, 9 A*/A grades but there are many, many other students who have made us so proud – well done.

“To our ‘A’ Level students, as they embark or have embarked upon new pastures, we salute your focus. In these times of multi media distractions, social and peer pressures to achieve as highly as you have, is quite simply amazing.

We have 6 students studying medicine and almost all students have been offered places at university. Forgive me if I break with tradition and single out 1 student but Catherine O’Callaghan, with an amazing 4 A*’s, deserves special mention.

“At this point can I, as Principal, and on behalf of the Board of Governors convey our gratitude to all the teaching/ancillary/clerical staff of St Louis who have facilitated this high quality learning and teaching environment to prevail.

“Finally to you students…you are the real winners today as you receive acknowledgement of your achievements in so many different fields. Always strive to be the best you can be, never accept second best and never let others influence you negatively,” he said.

Mr. Rafferty acknowledged that St. Louis students have always been prolific in their quest to support good causes and almost £12k was raised last year by students, from bun sales at break-time to sky diving on Saturday mornings in Coleraine.

“Again, such generosity of time and support of such worthy causes, is reflective of our caring, considerate and compassionate school community,” he said.

Turning to matters of Faith, the Prinicipal said: “We as a Catholic school are always keen to promote Christian/Catholic values and our involvement in the Faith Friends Programme, with our partner primary schools is one feature of that promotion. Once again we saw faith in action as our students mentored P7 students prior to confirmation. We intend to develop this programme in the 2012/13 year with our partner primary schools.

“We are also delighted to have the services of Fr. Lyons as our Chaplain and spiritual director and class Masses, penitential services and assemblies led by him are visible signs of our faith based ethos.”

On the sporting front, there were some notable performances, said Mr. Rafferty.

“In the Gaelic Colleges Football McLarnon Semi-Final we lost to eventual winners, St Paul’s, in a truly exciting game. The future of gaelic football in St Louis looks bright with our Year 10 team reaching the semi-final of the Loch An Iuir competition, narrowly beaten by St Paul’s, Bessbrook.

“Our camogs also battled well, winning Year 8 blitz and losing to St Killian’s in Under 16 final. Again, positive attitude, team spirit and sense of purpose are all features that lay solid foundations for our students,” Mr. Rafferty contended.

Other significant performances came from the school’s soccer teams (NI Cup U16 semi final, Windsor Park; NI Cup U14 finalists, Showgrounds). In athletics, Josh Henry won the NEBSSA 200m & 400m final.

“We also acknowledge Nicholas McNaughton and Dermot McAleese in their BT Colleges All Star Awards. This is the First time both gaelic/hurling disciplines have been acknowledged in our school at this level.We also had three All Star Camogs in Shari Carey, Lauren Elliott and Shauna Devlin.”