A Magherafelt student has been awarded second place in a national essay-writing competition for senior cycle students.
Year 12 pupil at St Mary’s Grammar School, Catríona McCoy, took one of the top places in the 2017 Life Advocate Awards.
The annual competition aims to encourage research and critical-thinking on human rights and right to life issues.
This year, students were asked to discuss the words of Dr Martin Luther King Jnr who said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”
Catríona’s essay highlighted the importance of not staying silent on issues that deny others the right to life.
She wrote: “If we wish to see a positive shift in our society, then we have to ignite a passion for change in the world around us”.
Emma Sisk, organiser of the Life Advocate Awards, said of Catriona’s work: “We were very impressed by the high standard of entries we received from students all over Ireland this year.
“All the judges agreed it was very close between the top three essays which were all outstanding. Catríona’s approached the topic with great maturity, compassion and understanding. It was these qualities that made her one of the top entries in 2017.”
Joint third place was awarded to David Giles, a Transition Year student at Hamilton High School in Bandon, Co. Cork and Victoria Kinder, a Year 12 student at St Ciaran’s College, Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone.
The overall winner, Emma Dineen, a 6th year student from St Brigid’s Presentation Secondary School in Killarney was congratulated by a video message sent from Dr Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King Jnr.
Ms King said: “I believe the struggle for the right to life is at the very heart of the worldwide struggle for human rights. Today in the 21st century this is our greatest challenge”.
Kerry football legend Mick O’Connell surprised staff and students at the school’s annual awards ceremony when he arrived to present Emma with her award.
He shared how the Life Advocate Award is close to his heart. He said: “I have a boy with Down Syndrome. In various countries, over 90% of children who could be born with the prospect of Down Syndrome are aborted prior to going to full-term. My Down Syndrome boy Diarmuid was born in the 1970s and has been the greatest gift that has ever happened to me.”