Mr David Mehaffey, speaking at the school’s annual speech day welcomed guest speaker Geoff Chambers - who reached the summit of Everest in May.
Paying tribute to all those who had given him so much help and support Mr Mehaffey said: “We are fortunate to have as a staff a group of people who work well together, and work for the good of all the pupils. They are caring and dedicated; they do a tremendous job in challenging circumstances and I would like to publicly acknowledge their efforts.”
“I come to the school year 2010/2011, a year that will last long in the memory. I remember very clearly opening the mail on the morning of 27th August and finding the Department of Education’s letter informing us of a forthcoming standard inspection. Exactly a month later - on 27th September – a team of nine inspectors arrived for the first of three days spent scrutinising every aspect of the work of the school.
“I won’t pretend that it was a pleasant experience but, rather like banging your head on a wall, it felt good when it stopped. And it was gratifying when an independent inspection confirmed what we already knew to be the many strengths of the school. Many different areas were singled out for praise, among them the standard of the pupils’ behaviour; the extent to which their personal and social skills developed over the two years; the care and support demonstrated by the teachers for the welfare of the pupils; the quality of the teaching observed during the inspection; the good use of ICT to support learning and teaching; the effectiveness of the pastoral care system and its links with the special educational needs provision; and the quality of leadership and management at all levels throughout the school.
“Nevertheless, pleasing though this undoubtedly was, it was not nearly as pleasing as the news that there would not be any need for a follow up inspection; that the quality of provision was good and that the school itself was well capable of addressing any issues that had been raised.
“I will, though, share with you the final comment of the reporting inspector. It doesn’t appear anywhere in print but since there were at least half a dozen witnesses I’m confident that I won’t be accused of making it up. Apart from urging us to go out and celebrate, her parting words were that she would like to return at some point in the future on a day when she needed cheering up. Those words have stayed with me for I thought at the time they were a very sincere endorsement of all that was good about the school.”
He went on to say: “The sports arena always provides pupils with opportunities for success – and over the course of the year success arrived at both team and individual level. The Under-16 hockey team won the Northern Ireland High Schools Cup yet again, while the Under-15 team won the Mid Ulster Cup and shared the Mid Ulster League with Dromore High School. In rugby the Under-16 team won the Ulster Under-16 High Schools Plate while the Under-15 soccer boys won the Mid-Ulster League. The Under-16 girl’s football team also brought home silverware as joint winners of the Dale Farm League.
“Team of the year, however, had to be the Under-16 boy’s volleyball team, who won the Under-16 All Ireland Championship and the Under-16 Northern Ireland League, as well as being runners up in the Northern Ireland Cup, a defeat in the final that still rankles as the only blemish on an otherwise perfect year. Their female counterparts, moreover, were runners up in the Northern Ireland Under-16 League.
“There were many sporting successes on the part of individual pupils as well. In volleyball Peter Stewart was a member of the Northern Ireland Under-17 Volleyball team that played in the UK School Games as well as being selected for the Northern Ireland Under-21 team. Graeme Currie, another all round sportsman, was a member of the Northern Ireland Under-17 volleyball squad as well as being a part of the Ulster Under-17 and Under-18 Rugby Development Squads.
“Judith Edgar was a member of the Northern Ireland Under-16 volleyball team that played in the UK School Games while Zoe Wethers and Rebecca McCrory were members of the Under-16 squad. Julia Kennedy and Laura Cassells were members of the SELB Under-17 and Under-15 Hockey Teams respectively while four boys – Aaron Duke, Jamie Greenaway, Brett McKinney and Jack McNally all represented Co Armagh in the Milk Cup.”
On the academic side he said: “May and June, of course, brought us to the business end of the year as the 326 young people in the year group undertook a total of almost 2,500 examinations. 99.5% of all the entries resulted in passes from the full range of grades and more than 90% of those grades were at Grade E or better. Over 60% were Grades A*-C and 52.5% of pupils achieved five or more A*-C grades.
“Top achiever overall this year was Timothy Conn closely followed in joint second place by Josh Black, Lauren Hutchinson and Zoe Wethers, while also on the leader board were Natalie Archer, Rebekah Collins, Andrew Milne, Julia Eakins and Chloe Roberts. Particularly pleasing this year was the fact that good grades were not the sole preserve of those pupils considered to be the most academically able. Through hard work and determination a number of pupils far exceeded their own expectations and their success gave great satisfaction to all the members of staff who had worked with them.”
61 pupils were awarded the Royal Society of Health Food Hygiene Certificate while 74 candidates were each entered for two CCEA Single Awards in Occupational Studies. 44 of them, approximately 60%, achieved a Level 2 pass that equates to a grade C at GCSE while the remaining 30 passed at Level 1.
At the Occupational Studies Learner of the Year awards held in Lisburn Civic Centre in March past pupil Alison Gibson received an award as top pupil in the Design category.