School closed as mark of respect for much-missed member of staff

Mrs Katrina Johnston sharing a joke with students and parents at the Subject Fair in February
Mrs Katrina Johnston sharing a joke with students and parents at the Subject Fair in February

COOKSTOWN High School’s doors remained closed on Monday as a mark of respect and in memory of a popular and dedicated teacher, Katrina Johnston, who died at the weekend.

Mrs Johnston (nee Bradley) was the mother of two teenage sons, Ross and Ryan, and husband of Niall, and died peacefully after a short illness on September 28.

Primarily a geography teacher during her 28 years at the school, Mrs Johnston also served on the school Board of Governors.

Acting Principal Richard Marsh said, “It was with great sadness that the staff and pupils of Cookstown High School learned of the tragic and untimely death of Mrs Katrina Johnston.

“Mrs Johnston was the Head of the Geography department and was an experienced and dedicated teacher who was loved and respected by staff and pupils alike. Her commitment to her pupils and her desire to help them reach their potential could never be questioned nor could her passion for the subject that she taught.

“Katrina was a teacher in Cookstown High School for 28 years, during which time she made a lasting and valued contribution to the life of our school. She was heavily involved in the work of the school’s Ecoteam, she assisted behind the scenes during numerous school productions, she helped run a school table tennis club, and in recent years, she served on the Board of Governors as a teacher representative. She also organised and led many Geography trips to Switzerland, to enrich the educational experience of her students.”

The school closed on Monday as the whole school community came to terms with their loss.

In addition to this, a number of special assemblies were held in memory of Mrs Johnston on Tuesday while the school counsellor and some of the local clergy were in school to speak to any of the pupils who needed to avail of their services.

“The whole school community has been united in their grief and everyone will miss Katrina’s bubbly personality and pleasant smile that lit up our school. Our most sincere thoughts are currently with her immediate family and close friends at this difficult time.”

The sister of Jillian and Kenneth, Katrina’s funeral took place on Sunday from her home on Station Road in Magherafelt to St Swithun’s Church.

A book of condolence has been opened at the school for pupils and staff to express their thoughts and memories of Mrs Johnston.