RODNEY Scott, the principal of Ballymoney High School, has urged pupils to “step forward with confidence.”
Mr Scott challenged all present in the packed assembly hall at the school’s Annual Prize Distribution to step forward ably and confidently, with proper self belief and purpose in the future of the school, themselves and the community.
Prize Day, as always, was an occasion for friendship and celebration, reviewing the busy life and learning, efforts and successes of Ballymoney High in the year past.
Chief Guest on the occasion was past pupil and Belfast Giants net minder Andrew Dickson. Andrew remembered fondly his learning days in Ballymoney High and encouraged the present pupils to work hard to fulfil potential and ambition and that the school would certainly assist them in their learning and development as they had done so well for him.
Andrew said it was good to be back in Ballymoney High and he explained also how he had found a career in ice hockey from early days of being a “wobbly ice skating and roller skate hockey in local car parks”.
Andrew told how he needed to show determination to fulfil his ambition and pupils and all in the audience were cheered and impressed by his straightforward presentation.
Chair of Governors, Mr Desmond Fulton, extended a warm welcome to all pupils, staff, governors, parents and friends of the school present. Remembrance and tribute were paid to the late Rev Dr RFS Poots OBE, past Chair of Governors.
Mr Fulton praised the staff and pupils for their continued and varied successes, academic and personal, through another school year.
He commented on the continuing response to Inspection being made by the school to strengthen further provision and opportunity for pupils of all ability.
This included a sustainable future for the school in its own right under Area Based Planning and a willingness to partner with other local post primary schools.
There were also current high hopes to benefit from the School Enhancement Programme for improved accommodation and facilities at the school.
Parents and the community in and beyond the Ballymoney Borough could retain confidence in the school for the future and its place in education in the area was sound and sustainable, said Mr Fulton.
In his speech, Principal Mr Scott said: “Life for us all has its mix of success and challenge. The world, countries, communities, families, our school or ourselves – we need to be bold and confident and prepared to step forward to meet the challenges and demands when they come our way. Like David against Goliath, we need to face and step forward towards our giants – not cower away and allow them to overtake us.
“We see others in need – we experience personal difficulties – we face challenges at school or work – we have decisions to make and opportunities to take or leave.
“Have a sense of determination, direction and purpose to step forward. Show strength of character and achieve success.
“It’s my wish for our school that we step forward with confidence as we work determinedly to sustain and improve what we provide for and achieve with the young people of Ballymoney High.”
Mr Scott said academic results play a big part of school life but said while they are the measuring stick of school life and learning “we should not lose sight of the flesh and blood young people behind the results.”
He continued: “School life, school work and school improvement are first and foremost about people, not percentages. All people in the school context (teachers as much as pupils) need and respond better to a balance of encouragement with challenge, sharing in our best practices for mutual benefit and success.
“We are resolved to be and do better as a community of people – following good practice and fulfilling necessary bureaucracy – but not bound down by these or statistics as ends in themselves. We do and should put pupils as young people first year on year – their experiences, their achievements and their all round development.
“Let me provide the key figures of exam achievement and take satisfaction from our joint efforts. A fantastic 95% of the year group achieved at least 5 GCSE passes A*-G and no pupil left school without at least one GCSE or equivalent qualification.
“This is testimony to a relevant and rewarding curriculum offer and diligent work by teachers alongside parents and the pupils themselves. A very creditable 42% of pupils achieved 5 or more GCSE passes at Grade A*-C and no less than 29 pupils secured more than 7 such top level grades. Well done indeed. This was a very similar set of results to last school year. We remain determined to improve these further next school year.
“Yet we do concede and are determined that our headline figures of achievement should improve. We are not shy of the challenge and I trust that teachers, parents and most of all pupils will prove their worth by maximising achievement. I congratulate the young people with their parents and thank the teachers for the expertise and effort that lies behind these results.
“It also delights us always to hear of continuing success of pupils at A level, FE and University and indeed in the summer past no fewer than six former pupils have graduated with 1st class Honours degrees. This is continuing evidence of the sound and successful education first received here in Ballymoney High.
“There have long been 3Rs associated with school – “reading, writing and arithmetic”. Let me share 3new Rs with you today as past pupils and present: Remember all you have learned and enjoyed – Realise your full potential as you continue with your life, learning and career – Run towards your challenges and opportunities, take them on with best effort and ability and be successful and well satisfied with your future,” said Mr Scott.