The annual Junior Prizegiving took place at Loreto College Coleraine on June 25, recognising and celebrating the successes of the College’s Year 8, 9 and 10 students in all areas of school life: academic, personal, inter-personal, sporting and extra curricular.
Welcoming students and staff to the Prizegiving, College Principal Michael James said: “You are very welcome to our junior prize-giving at the end of another successful year. When I look out at this hall, I see the future – the future doctors, nurses, teachers, builders, engineers, programmers, police officers, economists, business owners, politicians, managers, social workers and many other jobs that have not yet been invented. And it causes me to reflect on what that future may be like for you.
“I have heard many people of my generation remark that they would not want to be a teenager today, because you face so many challenges and have so many choices to contend with. And that is true - certainly, when I was your age there were only three TV channels and if you wanted to watch live football you had to wait for the FA Cup final each year or the World Cup Final. Now you can watch nearly every game you want on a tablet or smart phone. And speaking of phones, if I wanted to speak with my grandparents in Wales I would walk to the corner of the street and use a phone box. One phone shared between a whole street.
“Today you just use your own phone and send a message through whatever social media platform you favour and have instant contact when you want. Now you may all think that’s just because I’m so old – and certainly I have few years on most of you. But the point is that we now live in a rapidly changing, technological age and with that comes great challenges and threats, but also great opportunities.
“Here at Loreto, we are trying to ensure that you are fully prepared to make the best of those opportunities, as we mould and encourage you to be the best person you can be. Our Loreto Education provides you with the skills, knowledge and aptitudes to face the modern world with
confidence and to embrace its challenges and opportunities equally.
“And that is why it is important for us to take time today and reflect on your achievements and successes over the past year. It gives us the opportunity to reflect on how well we are doing in preparing you for the future and how successful we are in giving you the skills needed for life away from Loreto.
“And certainly, there has been much to celebrate this year. Our ‘A’ Level students produced another great set of results with 73.5% achieving three or more grades A* - C and almost two thirds of all grades being a grade B or better. Among our top performers many students achieved the fantastic standard of 3 or more A grades, with Molly and Oisin Brennan each achieving three A* grades. Molly was also placed first in Northern Ireland in A Level Physics and received an Institute of Physics Award to recognise her achievement. Dominic Bradley won
a JP McManus Scholarship, reflecting his excellent results in all five of his A levels. “Meanwhile Sarah Dillon was awarded an Entrance Exhibition Award at Trinity College, recognising her outstanding results at A Level. Our first cohort of non-academically selected students achieved wonderful results at GCSE and their performances in the Department of Education’s key indicators are extremely pleasing with 88.2% of all students achieving five or more grades A* -C and 84% of all students achieving five or more grades A*-C, including English and Mathematics. 47.9% of students achieved 7 or more A*-B grades. 35% of all grades
achieved were A or A* and 62% of all grades achieved being grade B or better. These results compare very favourably with the Northern Ireland averages and we are delighted that the hard work and commitment of our students has been rewarded. These results again confirm Loreto College as a leading school in the area and this is something of which everyone here should feel rightly proud.
“So today, as we celebrate the academic successes in our Junior School, we are aware that it is your performances in these internal examinations that will lay the foundations for success in the future. Having just completed all the Junior reports I am glad to say that this group of students in front of me has been able to maintain the high standards of previous years and I can confidently predict that some of you in this hall today will be achieving similar results in years to come. I congratulate you all on your hard work and efforts, realising
that each Loreto student brings a unique presence that adds so much to the life of the school. “That is why today we celebrate the talents and abilities of each and every one of our pupils, not just our prize winners. As a Loreto school we are part of a wider Loreto family and we are proud of this heritage. We try to emulate the ideals of Mary Ward in our day to day working and our emphasis is on the importance of service to others through relationships, respect and spirituality. Our school community is built on mutual respect and trust, reflecting the values of the Loreto Order.
“It is why we are so insistent that all our pupils show respect and behave in a mannerly way, at all times. As a school, we hope that our students will grow as individuals, who will use their talents and abilities to build a more just and equitable society and create a better future for everyone. As a Loreto school we strive for spirituality and excellence in all areas and we are acutely aware that it is important to educate the whole person.
“However, it is right to strive for academic excellence and to achieve the best results we can in all our subjects. It is very important that we come together as a school community and celebrate the wonderful achievements of our pupils, not only those receiving prizes this afternoon, but all our students for their industry and hard work throughout the year. In particular, I would congratulate you all on your preparations for the recent summer examinations.
“I am delighted, as ever, with your participation in the wider school life. Any extracurricular activity helps develop skills and creates friendships that will last long after you have left school. It is important that as many of you as possible, avail of the wealth of opportunities provided throughout the school year, whether playing sport, singing in a choir or heading off on a school trip. This year, again, has been hugely successful in many
areas and I congratulate all those who have taken part throughout the year, as well as thanking all our staff who organise and run the various activities.
“This year, Loreto celebrated a tremendous Netball season, with the Minor B, the Junior and the Intermediate teams all winning their respective Leagues. The Minor A and Senior teams were runners up in their competitions, while the Year 11 team finished as runner-up in the NEBSSA Netball Tournament. The Year 8 Yellow team won the Coleraine & District tournament. Our thanks to Ms Wilson and Mrs McCullough on their commitment to coaching and running these teams. Mr Harkin was delighted by the performance of the the Junior Basketball team, which finished in Silver Medal position in the NEBSSA Basketball Tournament.
“Soccer teams participated at all levels in the Coleraine & District Leagues, with the Year 8 team winning the title for the third year in a row. Thanks to Mr Byrne and Mr McCloskey for their dedication and commitment.
“In Gaelic games, The Loreto Senior Camogie team won the Fr Davies Shield and the Loreto Senior Hurlers were again victorious in the Casement Shield. Congratulations to Mr Boyle for his continued success in this competition. The Year 9 Gaelic team won the Irish News Cup in May, with a thrilling victory over Rathmore GS Belfast. Thanks to Mr Murtagh and Mr Bradley for their efforts on behalf of the team. Following these successes, three Loreto students won All Star Awards: Tiegan Mullan and Kirsty McFerran in Camogie and Leo Passmore for Hurling. Congratulations to all our Gaelic games teams and the many coaches on a great season, taking part in competitions at all levels.
“In cross-country all Y8 students completed the twenty-fourth Mary McCabe race, with Connie McBride and Joe McNicholl emerging as winners. Niamh Carr (Year 14) won the Ulster Clubs’ Cross Country and then finished 5 th at all-Ireland level. She later won the district Cross-country competition. In the NEBSSA Cross Country, Niamh McGarry won her individual competition, the Year 11 girls team finished second overall and Cormac Carr ran a brilliant race to achieve a Bronze medal in his race.
“In athletics, Niamh McGarry (Year 10) had great success at the NEBSSA Finals winning both the 800m and the 1500m. Zofia Czajka (Year 10) finished third in the 100m and first in the Long Jump. Zofia went on to win the first ever Rising Stars Combined events competition, displaying great ability in four different events.
“At the District Championships Niamh Carr took first place in Senior Girls’ 800 and 1500m races, while Tolu Jide-Ojo was placed second in the Intermediate Girls’ 100m and Long Jump. Niamh went on to win the Senior Girls’ 1500 metres at the Ulster Championships before representing Ulster at the All Ireland Schools Finals, contesting the Senior Girls’ 1500 metres. Niamh won the Irish Schools’ title in an impressive time of 4:48:19 a wonderful culmination to her tremendous sporting career at Loreto.
“Several students had outstanding success in swimming this year. At the Irish Nationals, Eoin Mullan (Year 12) won Bronze in the 100m and 200m Butterfly. Kyle Cooper (Year 9), won the 100m Freestyle and was placed third in the 200m Freestyle at the Ulster Development Swimming Gala and at the Swim Ulster Schools Cup and Championships Eoin Mullan won 100m Butterfly as well as second in the 200m Individual Medley. Meanwhile, Orla Quinn won Bronze in the 100m Breaststroke and then at the Ulster Schools’ Swimming Gala Orla won the Breaststroke and Individual Medley, while Shannon Baird took first place in the Breaststroke. Eoin Mullan took
first place in the Butterfly event and was subsequently selected for the Ulster Swimming squad. Eoin had a number of successes at the Ulster Championships, winning Gold in the 100m and the 200m Butterfly, as well as Gold in the Individual Medley. Some new sports have emerged this year with the Junior Golf Team of Minnie Dihmis, Emily Henry and Amelia Murphy – winning the inaugural NEBSSA Team Final and Amelia also winning the individual girls competition. In another different sport, Year 8 tennis player, Sienna McKenna, won the North West Under 14 Tennis Tournament.
“Away from sport, our science students continue to excel. We again had several pupils selected for the finals of the BT Young Scientist with Susan McKendry going forward to represent Northern Ireland at the Big Bang Fair in England. At the North West Scifest Anna Toner, Meabh Bryson and Teresa Sobocinska won the Maths in Science Award and the Allstate NI award to attend the UK Big Bang Finals. In Mathematics, Cahal Doherty, Oran Tosh, Niamh Murray and Grace McClements, were 3 rd in the Northern Ireland heat of the UKMT Maths Team Challenge. And just yesterday, Conor McCloskey won the FMA Award for Energy Conservation, while Grace McClements, Grace McConnell and Filip Podsada won the QUB Award for Physics as well as a Sentinus Grand Award and entry to the Big Bang Finals – the third consecutive year that Loreto College will be representing Northern Ireland in the UK Finals. Congratulations again to Mrs Close and Mrs Brolly for preparing all these students.
“Our annual Poetry Competition was held to celebrate National Poetry Day with Emma O’Connell, Emma Pepin and Charlie McDevitt all winning in the Junior section. Y10 students Grace McConnell, Sophie Crawford and Edward Mulholland all had their work published after winning Young Writers competitions and two Y11 students, David Farren and Nadine McAllister, won the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Week Writing competition. Ellie Dillon, Sophia Coyle and Emma Pepin were all winners in a Poster Competition for Anti-Bullying Week, whilst artwork produced by three Y11 pupils, Carla Smith, Neeve Campbell and Bronagh McLaughlin was incorporated into a large-scale sculpture by local artist, Sara Cunningham-Bell for display in Coleraine. Aisling McIntyre in Year 8 received a Certificate of Excellence for her entry into the Portstewart Community Association Logo Competition.
“Unfortunately, the Y10 Geography trip to the Giants Causeway was cancelled due to bad weather. However, the weather was much kinder for the group of 45 geography students, led by Mr Shaw, who visited Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where they spent six packed days exploring and learning about the geographical, historical and cultural significance of both cities. Closer to home, music and drama continue to thrive. Our traditional group, Tigh Tara, ably led by Mrs Close, was once again selected to perform in the All-Ireland Final of the prestigious Gael Linn Siansa competition. The only group to be made of musicians from the same school to do so. A fantastic achievement for all concerned and our thanks to Mrs Close for all her hard work in preparing these musicians. The group was also invited to play before the start of the Gradam Ceoil Awards in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast – another great honour!
“In Drama, a group of Year 11 students directed by Mrs McEwan won an Anti-Bullying Drama Award as part of Anti-bullying Week. Our Year 8, 9 and 10 Drama groups, coached and mentored by A Level students, put on a wonderful evening of musical performances in the Autumn, whilst our extensive, musical talent was, once again, showcased in a memorable Spring Concert. We thank the music and drama departments for constantly producing such wonderful shows and wish them well as they get ready for the 2019 musical, Beauty and the Beast.
“On your behalf, I would like to thank the teachers and other staff members who give so freely of their time to provide these wonderful opportunities, whether it is school trips to Los Angeles, Berlin or Rome, our school musical or Spring Concert, the Duke of Edinburgh Award, Gaelic Games, soccer, netball or cricket. This myriad of activities and sports is only possible through the selfless dedication and commitment of the staff who spend long hours preparing, planning and coaching on your behalf. I commend all of the staff involved and thank them on behalf of the school and on your behalf. As this academic year draws to a close, I would encourage you all to get involved.
OOn your behalf, I want to say a special thank you to all our teachers for their continued professionalism and commitment. I feel proud and honoured to have them as colleagues in our school and I am convinced that there is no finer staff in any school. I am confident that they provide a level of service that is truly outstanding, and I commend them to you and thank them on your behalf.
“At this time of year, we also take time to thank those staff members who will not be returning next year as they move on to pastures new and to different challenges. This year, we say a fond farewell to Mrs O’Harte, Miss Martin and Miss Stewart. Mrs O’Harte has ably deputised in the absence of Mrs Mellon and we thank her for everything she has done for our students, as we welcome Miss Mellon back. Miss Martin, after five years within Loreto Coleraine is moving closer to her home and her fiancé. She has been a wonderful inspiration to
our pupils and staff alike with her happy disposition and her passion for mathematics. We are sorry to lose her and hope that she will be as happy in Loreto Navan as she has been here at Loreto Coleraine. Miss Stewart has been a member of our teaching staff for 39 years and her commitment to her students and her passion for her subject has never diminished in all those years. She has given exemplary service and her care for her students has truly been a reflection of our Loreto ethos. Her time here in our school has been filled with kindness and
compassion, both in and out of the classroom and although no-one is irreplaceable, it will be hard to replicate her unique qualities and we will miss her. We wish her well in her retirement but hope to see her back for our musical in the autumn.
“We were delighted to welcome several new teachers from September: Mr McGilligan, Mrs Carey, Miss McColgan, Mr McErlain and Mr McAleer. We hope they have all enjoyed their first year here in Loreto and wish them many happy years as part of our Loreto community. My thanks to all our support staff for the wonderful job they do on your behalf. They play a vitally important
role in maintaining the quality of services, buildings and grounds and their commitment and dedication to our students is unparalleled, whether providing meals in the canteen, offering support in the classroom, taking care of the buildings or dealing with your many queries at the office. My thanks to them all on your behalf.
“My thanks also to our Governors, who continue to make many important and onerous decisions on your behalf. They give very generously of their time and expertise and always have the best interests of the College and its students at heart.
“As I have previously mentioned, our Loreto education tries to allow you to mature and develop as a person and encourages you to use your talents and abilities in the service of others. We see our ethos being lived out by the action of our pupils who volunteer in their parishes as part of the Pope John Paul Award, or by joining ‘Habitat for Humanity’ to build houses in developing countries. Miss Galbraith was again joined by several of our pupils on her annual Pilgrimage to Lourdes – a wonderful and very memorable experience for them all. We enrich our own lives by helping and giving to others and I am always humbled by your generosity in this regard. One of the ways we all contribute to this in school, is our support for the school’s designated charities. At Christmas, an impressive total of 402 shoeboxes were collected for the Shoebox Appeal and 35 large hampers were collected for the local SVP chapter. During Mission Day you raised £4000 for the Loreto Missions and then went on to raise a magnificent total of £5240 for Trócaire. I would like to commend Mrs McCool for her hard work and commitment coordinating all these efforts and thank her on your behalf.
“My thanks, as always, to the Loreto Community both here in Coleraine and further afield. A sense of “community” has always been part of our school and that is why we are delighted that our Loreto Sisters continue to support us with their prayers and regular visits to the school. My thanks also to our Religious Education Department and the many visiting Priests for the time and effort they put into organising and celebrating our liturgies and retreats throughout the year. The pastoral support provided by our masses and liturgies adds greatly to our school life. These liturgies offer a focus for us all to come together and share in celebration, prayer and reflection. They are central to our Catholic ethos and are an essential part of life in Loreto.
“Finally, my thanks to you all here today. I thank you for your cooperation throughout the year and the polite and pleasant manner you invariably display. You, our pupils, are what make Loreto College so special. And as I said at the start, you are the future. And although the future may be uncertain there is one thing, I feel sure of and that is that manners, respect and courtesy will always be necessary. You may achieve great grades, you may win many trophies, you may make lots of money and have a great career, but if you are not mannerly and
you do not show respect and courtesy to others, then you will have achieved nothing.
“So, my challenge to you is to be the best you can be in whatever you do. Look after each other, look after our environment and strive for the highest standards expected of Loreto students. Remember, this day is full of promise and opportunity, please use it wisely.
“I am extremely proud to be your Principal and I hope that you are equally proud to be Loreto pupils.”