Pupils, staff, the Board of Governors and the wider school community of St. Brigid’s Primary School came together on Thursday 28th April to celebrate the achievements of Mr. Malachy Conlon, during his nine years as Principal.
It was with great sadness that the school had to say farewell to Mr. Conlon, as he takes up his new position as Principal of Mary Queen of Peace Primary School, Glenravel.
Rev. Fr. O’Brien celebrated Mass, during which he recognised Mr. Conlon’s commitment to the Catholic ethos of the school and praised his many achievements.
At present the school’s enrolment is 213 pupils, which is the highest in recent years, reflecting the very high esteem in which St. Brigid’s PS is held in the community.
Later in the afternoon Mr. Conlon’s family, the Board of Governors and former colleagues joined the pupils and staff in a very special assembly. St. Brigid’s is well known in the Ballymoney area for its high standard of music, dance, art and drama and Mr. Conlon and guests were therefore well entertained by a variety of performances from all classes.
Mr. Conlon was appointed Principal of St. Brigid’s in September 2007.
Almost immediately he spearheaded an ambitious building programme to improve the facilities and conditions for pupils, staff and parents.
This involved overseeing an £1.3 million refurbishment programme, which was completed in November 2015. Marc McGarel, a Y7 pupil, expressed his excitement that the building improvements included a lift so that he could access classrooms upstairs.
It was a very special day for him and his friends and one, Marc says, he will always remember.
Mr. Conlon has continually recognised and appreciated the work of the Board of Governors in securing such an extensive building programme.
Pupils have benefited from Mr. Conlon’s commitment to ICT, as now every classroom has an Interactive White Board.
In 2010 the school launched its website which now receives over 1,000 hits each month.
Vice-Principal, Mrs McNally, said: “News of Mr. Conlon’s decision to leave St. Brigid’s has saddened many in the community, as they value his commitment to and passion for high standards in learning and teaching.
Mr. Conlon has effectively led St. Brigid’s with a clear vision and high aspirations for all, pupils and staff. In partnership with his committed staff, he promoted innovative, active and creative learning and teaching which resulted in an excellent Inspection Report in September 2013.”
An avid reader himself Mr. Conlon invested £20,000 in purchasing books to promote the joy in reading and through an Accelerated Reading Programme develop the educational value of reading regularly.
Mr. Conlon has a keen interest in a range of sports and is, some would say, a fanatical supporter of his local GAA club, Ruairi Og, Cushendall. Some pupils however, recall that not everyone was pleased when they discovered he was a Man United supporter!
In 2007 St. Brigid’s already had a succession of successful netball teams but Mr. Conlon was determined to build on this. In nine years he has promoted hurling, camogie, football, soccer, hockey and swimming.
The school now offers eighteen after school clubs organised by the staff and local organisations. In 2014 the girls made history when they won the school’s first ever GAA and Hockey trophies.
Mr. Conlon, will be remembered in particular for his insight and understanding as he strove to ensure that children were given a chance on the playing field, regardless of their ability.
He also ensured within the school the profile and importance of non-sporting achievements were fully recognised and celebrated.
The PTA also made a presentation to Mr Conlon, thanking him not only for his support and guidance through many fundraising events but also for involving them in many of the school initiatives, academic and non-academic.
St. Brigid’s Primary School has two Learning Support Centres and on behalf of those parents and families Mrs McNally expressed their gratitude for his understanding of and commitment to their children’s additional needs.
Goodbye and good luck, Mr Conlon.