Community week at Ballymoney High School

It’s that time of year again when pupils at Ballymoney High School get active in experiencing a whole range of different activities across each year group as they welcome members of the local and wider community into their school.

This enriches lessons learned in regular class and helps develop broader skills, values and interests in the young people

This week was even more fun packed and busy than previous as the event grows year on year. Representatives from various organisations gave the pupils a wide range of experiences throughout the week. These included charitable organisations such as Compassion, the Samaritans, Wycliffe Translators, Save the Children and the Anti-Bullying forum. These organisations provided workshops for the pupils highlighting the work of their charities and how they can help the young people with various aspects of their lives. There was an emphasis on encouraging pupils to look outwards helping others not just locally but across the globe.

Also involved in the week were the Ulster Scots Association who entertained the young people and allowed them to explore and sample various aspects of their local culture including Scottish Country Dancing, Storytelling and Highland dancing. They also gained awareness of different instruments such as the flutes, the fifes, the bagpipes, the lambegs and the accordion. Pupils were amazed by the talents of each of the facilitators and had a go at each of the instruments and the dancing. Britain’s Got Talent - watch out because you will be outdone by Ballymoney’s Got Talent next year!!!!

Other local interest workshops included a talk by Keith Beattie from Ballymoney Museum on the old workhouse. Ballymoney Borough Council were also active in supporting the event. Declan Donnelly, the Council’s Environmental Officer, addressed key environmental issues - particularly from a global perspective including themes such as recycling and fair-trade. This was good preparation for Ballymoney High’s aim to go for the Green Flag eco schools award this incoming year.

Adam Farquahar from Ballymoney Resource Centre led the pupils in exploring issues around diversity in their community and their wider world, while Ballymoney Branch of the Northern Bank had input on money management and budgeting – a necessary skill in credit crunch times . The Northern Trust facilitated an information workshop on the dangers of drugs and alcohol. These local inputs helped pupils to consider their community and their place in it and some pupils were involved in mask making on aspects of their identity within their local community.

Other highlights of the week included a workshop from the Facing History Project encouraging young people to see links between the past and the present. The Armagh Planetarium had the pupils reaching for the stars with their inflatable dome and representation of the night sky. In the ‘dome’ pupils explored various aspects of astronomy in an engaging talk by a representative from the Planetarium. In addition the Royal Navy demonstrated aspects of Science through some engaging experiments and encouraged pupils to think of Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths based subjects.

Playing a major role throughout the week was the NEELB Youth Service co-ordinated by Jill Young the school’s youth worker. They facilitated workshops on various key themes including conflict and mediation. Pupils were involved in role plays and various group activities as they worked together considering the themes and then evaluating their week through the interactive tool- Quizdom.

The finale of Community Week was a Sponsored Walk in aid of Marie Curie and school funds. This charity was chosen this year as it was the chosen charity of Mrs Hazel Ramage who passed away at Easter. Mrs Ramage was an excellent teacher, a popular member of staff and an inspiration to so many pupils and the wider community. Therefore it was fitting that the pupils and staff to whom she devoted so much of her life would do something together to mark the occasion. As ever pupils and their wider families and friends have been generous and the present total is £3,000, £2,000 of which will be donated to Marie Curie. Should any past pupil or members of the wider community wish to make a donation please contact school.

Additional fund raising throughout the week raised £300 for MacMillan Cancer, who celebrate their 100th Anniversary this year.

This hive of activity will continue next year at Ballymoney High as the school enters its 50th Anniversary Year in September. There will be a range of events for past pupils and local and wider community to be involved in. Further details on these events can be found on the school website or by contacting the school.

The pupils and staff would like to thank the various community organisations who willingly participated in this week and helped to make it so enjoyable and successful.