Fifty years celebrated at Donard School

Staff, parents and pupils are preparing to celebrate 50 years of Donard School with a special Service of Thanksgiving.

The school is marking this special anniversary with a range of celebrations for those involved with the school.

A Service of Thanksgiving is planned for Tuesday June 9 in Ballydown Presbyterian Church at 10am, at which they hope to be joined by former staff, past pupils and their families and friends.

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However, as they look to the future, the Donard School will be hoping to expand, with growing numbers of pupils meaning they are currently working from an additional four mobile classroom units.

The school was recently disappointed to be informed that planned extension work has been deferred due to budget constraints.

Principal Mrs Edel Lavery, however, said that accommodation for the growing school remains an area to be addressed.

Donard School first opened its doors to eight pupils on 1st July 1965 under the Principalship of Miss Doris Scovell.

Locals would have known it as the Dunbar School or Banbridge Special Care School.

In June 1981, after an eighteen year battle to secure more spacious accommodation for the pupils of the Dunbar School, Donard School opened in four mobile classrooms in the grounds of Banbridge Hospital.

The present purpose-built school building was not officially opened until 2003. By then pupil numbers had increased to 40.

Today Donard School caters for 87 pupils, aged between 3 and 19 years. It has been recognised as being ‘Outstanding’ in its provision for pupils by the Education and Training Inspectorate.

Mr Jim Smyth, Chairman of the Board of Governors, pays tribute to all those who had been involved with Donard Special School, over the past fifty years.

“They had watched with pride, a school which had risen from humble beginnings to the school that it is today.

“It has done so because of the dedication of the entire school staff working as a team, the selfless contributions and commitment of the Parents Association and the wonderful way in which the Banbridge community has taken the school and its pupils to its heart.”

The Staff at school would look forward very much to meeting with former pupils, colleagues and friends.

In order to cater for the event the school requests that all those who wish to attend inform the School Secretary on 40662357.