St Patrick’s Grammar School Senior Prizegiving took place recently with students, parents, guests, and staff enjoying a memorable celebration of recent external examination results.
Mr Clarke began proceedings at Prizegiving acknowledging the many and varied ways in which the students and staff of St Patrick’s Grammar School have responded to the challenges and opportunities presented to them in the past academic year.
He spoke of the hard work and commitment required for success after recent challenging times. Addressing the most recent past pupils in attendance he congratulated them on their achievements but remembered all the students in the St. Patrick’s community and mentioned how so many of them had worked hard and realised their full potential over the last seven years.
Guest speaker for the evening was past pupil and artist, Mr Stephen Farnan.
Stephen is one of Northern Ireland’s most successful artists, renowned as an innovator who constantly pushes the boundaries of mediums and techniques.
He was a student in St Patrick’s in the 1990s, gained a First-Class Honours Degree in Fine and Applied Art from Belfast School of Art in 1998 and a Masters in Ceramics and Glass from the Royal College of Art, London, in 2000. Stephen currently works from his studio in Belfast and sells his unique and bespoke ceramic pieces all over the world.
Paddy Mohan, a past Head of Art and Design in the school, credits himself with having taught Stephen how to throw a pot on the wheel one day here in school!
In the words of Paddy Mohan, “watching a skilled potter turn a lump of clay into a delicate, beautiful and also useful object is truly an amazing experience. Stephen could quietly transform and create. He did this in his business and with people.”
Stephen advised prize-winners to always seek out mentors who can see their potential and nurture it, emphasising that his teachers and mentors were a part of his own success.
Stephen concluded his speech by reminding the students to “go forward with confidence and passion, for you have the power to shape your own destiny.”
Plaques were presented to those students who were chosen by staff to be top achievers in each GCSE and A Level subject at St Patrick’s, and it was affirming to see the obvious pride of students, staff and families when these awards were being presented.
Several students were recognised for outstanding achievement at A Level. These students displayed the St. Patrick’s values of “diligence” and “determination” at all times during their seven years in the school.
The Brendan Vallely Memorial Cup was presented to St Patrick’s Grammar School’s top student, Cormac Toner who achieved three A* grades in Biology, Chemistry and Health and Social Care.
Maitiu McSorley and Charlie Denvir received the Drohan Cup for A Level Performance. Maitiu achieved two A* grades in Mathematics and Physics and an A grade in Software Systems Development, and Charlie achieved two A* grades in Mathematics and Construction and an A grade in Software Systems Development. Both students are heading to QUB to study Software Engineering.
A further four students were recognised for their A Level achievement and were presented with a Stephen Farnan Ceramic plaque. Sean Toye achieved an A* in ICT and two A grades in Construction and Travel and Tourism.
Ryan McAlary is beginning a highly sought-after Higher-Level Apprenticeship with Kainos in Computing. Ronan O’Hanlon will study Accounting at QUB, Matthew Morrison heads to University of Ulster to study Pharmacy, and Daire McArdle begins the study of Building Surveying in Ulster, all four having achieved an impressive three A grades in their A Level examinations.
Two GCSE students were awarded the Professor Paisley Bursary for top award in GCSE English and Mathematics in 2021. Matthew Greene received this award for English and Ciaran Callaghan was awarded the Mathematics accolade. It is of note that Ciaran was only a Year 11 student when he completed his Mathematics GCSE assessment. Principal Mr Clarke expressed his pride in the 60 Year 11 students who completed an early GCSE in Fast Track Maths or community languages this year, explaining that it gives these students a confidence boost and a fantastic head start as they begin their Year 12 studies.
The Ciarán Donnelly Memorial Cup, presented to a student who encapsulates the spirit of the St Patrick’s community, was given this year to a very worthy recipient, Callum Miles.
Vice Principal, Mr Damien McAlary spoke of Callum’s achievements, stating “Entering St Patrick’s in September 2016, this student had been through much for his 11 Years. Having Pfeiffer Syndrome he has experienced significant difficulties in life and more than 60 operations to date. He has borne each challenge with determination, motivation and positivity and we are delighted that he has had such success as a St Patrick’s Grammar School student. Callum was top achiever in Northern Ireland for Prince’s Trust and made his way to the UK finals walking the red carpet in London two years ago!” A well-deserved accolade for an impressive young man.
This award was followed by the presentation of The Cadian Feeds Cup for Senior Mentor of the Year to Cathal McLoughlin. Head of Junior School, Mrs Julianne Denvir described Cathal as, “a young man who embodies everything we would ask for in a senior mentor. He is compassionate, patient, and good natured and always happy to help our younger boys. He has a wonderful sense of humour and is always at hand to help staff and students in need of support. His kindness has not gone unnoticed. Cathal McLoughlin is a superb senior mentor and has had a tremendous impact on our key stage three boys over the past two years.”
The winners of the Henry Murray and Company Cup for Services to local voluntary work was awarded to two students, Ryan McAlary and Charlie Denvir. Both boys were very active members of our SVDP team. Regularly attending the SDVP shop in Armagh and helping in school in any way they could. Head of Senior School, Miss Lisa McMahon spoke highly of these students stating, “Charlie and Ryan epitomise all that is good about being a Patrick’s Student, kind, thoughtful and generous in giving up of their time for others. Both gentlemen achieved a gold medal in their John Paul II Award, through which they had the great honour of becoming Eucharistic Ministers as well as carrying out numerous hours of voluntary work to achieve this prestigious accolade. When it came to SVDP the boys could not do enough, regularly carrying out voluntary work in the SVDP shop in Armagh, as well as helping to spearhead our schools Christmas hamper appeal. In addition, these two students helped organise and deliver preloved uniforms and food parcels to the local foodbank. All these endeavours were in addition to their extensive prefect and senior mentor duties- often carried out in their lunch or break times, carrying out their roles as Anti Bullying Ambassadors and whilst maintaining high academic standards and representing the school in sport. Two excellent role models for our younger students.”
An address from Martin O’Hanlon, Chair of Governors, reminding the leavers of 2023 that the doors of the school will always be open to them, ended a most enjoyable celebration of academic, cultural and sporting success by the senior students of St Patrick’s Grammar School, Armagh, during 2022/2023.