Annette Kelly, former Head Girl at Dean Maguirc College was guest speaker at the school’s recent senior prize giving.
Annette qualified as a teacher in 2011 and since then has travelled widely and taught in Africa, Australia, England and has now returned to Ireland.
Annette paid tribute to her former school saying, ‘The craic and friendships with pupils and teachers have moulded me into the person I am today, and hand on heart I can say those indeed were the best days of my life’.
Addressing her audience Annette acknowledged how times have changed and how we now live in a world where we are over stimulated by technology and social media. ‘We play the compare game and this can have a serious impact on our wellbeing’.
She continued ‘restrict your time living through the lens of your phone and try to live in the present. Look up from your device when you come in from school and greet your parents. WIFI may make you feel connected but it can disconnect you from your real family.
As a mental health advocate I encourage every person in this room to aim to build coping skills and resilience on a daily basis. When life becomes stressful and overwhelming know that you have a great support system around you. Offer gratitude to the adults in your life that are there to support and nurture you.
This is such an exciting time in your life even though it may be daunting. Choose a path that will nurture the person you are and avoid the path of self-destruction. Peer pressure is powerful, a good friend once advised me ‘own my actions.’ That’s wonderful advice, know your limits and stay true to your values.
You are all on your own journey. There will be smooth and straight roads. Unknown paths and diversions, and no doubt several pot-holes that can stop you in your tracks.
However, you are the driver of your own destination. Fuel yourself with the right attitude and you will go far. I wish you all well’ concluded Annette.
Principal James Warnock addressed the assembled guests,
Invited guests, parents, staff and pupils, I hope you are enjoying this special occasion as we come together to celebrate achievement at senior level for the last academic year within our school community. We salute especially tonight our Year 12 and Year 14 pupils of 2018.
We congratulate Year 14 on the results achieved this August which saw 73% of our students achieve A* – C in three or more subjects whilst 100% achieved A* – C in two or more subjects in this year’s A – Level examinations. A further feature of this set of results was that 27% of the grades awarded were in the
A* – A range with 64% of the grades by our students being in the A* – B range. We are very proud of the number of high achievers at A – Level this year and I wish the A-Level pupils from last year the very best as you embark on the next stage of your education.
Turning to our Year 12 pupils, I congratulate you on on your achievements which entailed success in our educational provision of GCSEs, Occupational Studies, Prince’s Trust and Essential Skills Courses.
81% of our pupils achieved A* – C in 5 subjects or more and it was great to see that 70% of the boys in Year 12 last year fitted into this category. 27% of the year group got 10 GCSEs or more and I say more because 3 of our pupils obtained 11 GCSEs with 60% of the year group getting 7 or more GCSEs.
We are very pleased with such statistics but being a school that caters across the whole ability range we are more than delighted to see our pupils achieve their full potential at the end of Key Stage 4 having followed a pathway that enables such. This has resulted in much high achievement in the equivalent G.C.S.E. courses which we provide at the ‘Dean’.
This month has seen 56% of our Year 12 pupils from last year returning to the Dean to pursue their Post 16 studies and for the remaining 44% who have moved to South West College in Omagh and Dungannon, I wish you every success in your chosen course.
I compliment all of you here this evening on what you have achieved to date – at an academic level, vocational level, the success you have experienced at extra-curricular activities and the contribution you have made to Dean Maguirc College in general.
Of course I can’t let the occasion go without congratulating the six pupils from our current Year 11 group on the outstanding grades they achieved in their G.C.S.E. Irish examination which they sat in June of this year. Maith sibh!
Our world is very competitive and challenging and as a centre of education we have a duty to equip our pupils with skills for life both now and after formal education. In addition to our educational provision, we must strive to meet the personal, social and spiritual needs of the young people who come through our school doors. Being resilient as Annette has referred to is a necessary attribute for our pupils in today’s demanding society and thus as educators we must endeavour to impart this vital gift onto our pupils. Equally high on our agenda nowadays is raising awareness with regard to the abuse of social media, alcohol and unprescribed drugs.
As individuals we want you to be successful, responsible and respectful and thus my message to you G3, G20, E8, E11, E15 and E29 is to keep setting targets for yourself and to keep believing in yourself. Act responsibly and sensibly as you continue on your educational journey.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” – the opening words from the novel, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Changing to the present tense we can say it is the best of times for Dean Maguirc College as apart from our academic success last year we have seen the biggest intake ever into Year 8 requiring a temporary variation being sought from DENI to admit our 106 pupils. For the first time in the history of the school it was necessary to have five form classes to accommodate the pupils transferring to us from various primary schools. Another first is our pupil population for 2018 – 2019 – we had peaked at 509 two years ago but this evening I can tell you that this number is now 537, an increase of 6% on last year. Public confidence in us as the choice of post primary school is at its highest and of this we are very appreciative.
Whilst we experience such popularity I have to admit that it is also the worst of times for us as school managers and educators. Budgets have been slashed and a continued reduction in funding will have a detrimental impact on our schools. The provision of quality education in Northern Ireland is very much under threat as reduced funding means staff redundancies, bigger classes and inevitably a reduced curriculum. This is the harsh reality but let me steer away from such by focussing on this evening of celebration.
I wish to thank all the people who work so closely with our school, the various external bodies and agencies, our feeder schools, South West College in Omagh and St. Ciaran’s College, Ballygawley involved in collaboration with us and of course our local community groups. To the Board of Governors, the dedicated and committed teaching staff and non-teaching staff I say thank you and to the superb team of people led by Mrs. Quinn and Mr. McGuckin who have been responsible for this evening’s ceremony, I say gur raibh maith agaibh.
To you the parents, my deepest gratitude for your continued support and the confidence you have in us as a community school which is stronger now than ever.
Finally to you, Annette, I thank you for accepting our invitation to be the guest speaker at this year’s senior prizegiving and for the great support you always show to your ‘Alma Mater’.