Senior Prize Giving 2017

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Senior Prize Giving – St Malachy’s High School

6th December 2017

Record Breaking Results from one of the Best Post Primary Schools in the Area!

On Wednesday 6th December 2017, senior students, along with their parents and guardians, gathered in St Malachy's High School, Castlewellan to celebrate Senior Prize Giving.  The evening began with a variety of musical treats courtesy of the very talented school choir and musicians. The Principal and staff were very honoured to be joined by Guest Speaker, Mr Mark Sidebottom best known as a sports journalist for the BBC. In 2013 he became the head anchor for GAA coverage on the BBC and therefore became a familiar face to each of us on the ‘The Championship’ during the GAA season. The whole St Malachy’s Community were delighted and honoured to have him in attendance at this year’s Senior Prize Giving.

Principal, Mrs Orla O’Neill, began by congratulating each and every prize winner present and assured each and every student of how deserving they were to be recognised for their admirable achievements throughout the past year. Mrs O’Neill went on to say, “I am very privileged and honoured as Principal to be a part of this wonderful school that has produced such high calibre students. ETI fully endorsed this vision during our recent sustaining improvement inspection that took place in October. I am absolutely delighted that you are the first people to officially hear our wonderful news that we are once again classed by the inspectorate as one of the top performing schools in Northern Ireland having been given the highest grade possible. We ‘Continue to demonstrate a high level of capacity for sustained improvement in the interests of all learners.’ We are one of only a few post primary schools in the local area to achieve such an accolade the others being grammar schools – so we are up there as one of the best and rightly so!”

Parents, staff and students alike were delighted to hear about the record breaking examination statistics from the previous academic year. Mrs O’Neill stated with pride that St Malachy’s students continue to excel on the academic front with GCSE students once again producing record breaking results! The results from those students in attendance at Senior Prize Giving were outstanding again with 73% of students achieving A*-C grades in five or more subjects and an amazing 62 students achieving 7 or more A*-C grades and many achieving 9 ,10 and 11 GCSEs. Once again the quality of results has increased with many students securing several A* and A grades across the board in a wide range of subjects. Not to be out done, the A Level results attained by the Year 14 students were the best in modern records! 57% of the cohort achieved 3 A levels at grades A*-C, an amazing increase of 20% on the previous year. A third of all grades were at A* or A with 88% leaving St Malachy’s with three good A level passes. 17 of these wonderful students achieved 2 or more A* and A grades in their A level profile. Twenty-four of the twenty-five subject departments achieved 100% A* - E grades.  The percentage of students leaving St Malachy’s to follow courses at many of the top universities is again, well above the Northern Ireland average, many of which travelled from far and wide to return to St Malachy’s for this prestigious annual event.

Guest Speaker, Mark Sidebottom, captivated the audience and, in particular, the students found his words inspirational. He was good humored, providing anecdotes as well as words of wisdom. Mark has interviewed many sporting stars in his time over the years however two recent interviewees may have resonated most with the sports students!  In 2017 he has held one to one interviews with none other than Celtic Manager, Brendan Rogers and the notorious Conor McGregor. Mark is a very good friend of St Malachy’s and only a few weeks ago he hosted the Big Business Breakfast with local businesses at the school. Mark spoke fondly of his work as a sports journalist, words that resonated in particular were his recognition of St Malachy’s as a great school but on a much higher level than the academic success, “School is so much more than concrete and classrooms…bells and books…it is about the intangible, unquantifiable immeasurable things such as friendships, laughter, love and learning to love learning.” He ended with motivation for the students, “You go - go confidently, secure and serene in the knowledge that you represent your place, your people, your family, your community, your school, St Malachy’s High School, Castlewellan!”  

The evening concluded with light refreshments in the school canteen where parents, guardians, students and staff gathered to reflect on a most enjoyable prize giving.