The annual Prize Day at Cookstown High School was held on Friday 18 September in the school’s Upper Hall and was attended by hundreds of prize winners, parents and friends of the school.
The guest of honour this year was Mr Ian Thom, the Chief Executive of Viridian Group (Power NI). Mr Thom was Head Boy of the High School in 1980/81 and was joined by his wife, Diane herself a Head Girl in the same year. She assisted him with the presentation of awards. The proceedings were chaired by Mrs Lynne Dripps, Chairman of the Board of Governors.
Mr and Mrs Thom joined staff, governors, senior prefects and special guests at lunch in the school dining hall before proceeding to the Upper Hall for the prize giving ceremony which started at 2pm. The processional was ‘Pride and Prejudice’ performed by Leah Bell on the violin.
Prayers were said by Rev Tom Greer, the Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors. It was Mrs Dripps’ first Prize Day as Chairman and after welcoming all the guests she paid tribute to the work of her predecessor Mr Alan Kane QC. She went on to convey good wishes to members of staff who were leaving after years of service to school and welcome new teachers who were joining the staff. Her speech focussed on her own background as a former pupil and involvement with the school over a number of years. She drew particular attention to the school’s academic performance as well as the excellent provision it offered in extracurricular activities and through support for individual pupils.
The audience was entertained by the Senior Girls’ Choir singing ‘I say a little prayer for you’ and with a vocal piece by Zoe Seymour who sang ‘Defying Gravity’. The hymns were ‘My Heart is filled with Thankfulness’ and ‘In Christ Alone’. Prize Day 2015 saw the introduction of a new prize, the George Gourley Fine Art award, presented by Mr George Gourley who until June 2015 had been Head of Art and Design at the High School. The first recipient of the award was Grace Carson. After the distribution of awards a vote of thanks and presentation to Mr and Mrs Thom were made by Head Boy Christopher McReyolds and Head Girl Emma Nelson. The ceremony concluded with the singing of the School Anthem. Tea was served in the dining hall afterwards.
Mr Thom’s speech was engaging and entertaining but also thought provoking. The Headmaster’s speech reflected on the excellent academic achievement of 2015 with top grades at Cookstown High School being 7.5% ahead of the Northern Ireland average at GCSE and 9.5% ahead at A Level. He congratulated the Year 12 on their attainment where more than ten percent of those who did GCSEs achieved at least 9 straight As.
The Headmaster’s speech reflected on the excellent academic achievement of 2015 with top grades at Cookstown High School being 7.5% ahead of the Northern Ireland average at GCSE and 9.5% ahead at A Level.
He reflected on how the school community was like a great ship on a long voyage, each passenger was a unique individual but they shared the journey with all its high and lows. He looked back at highlights of the year gone by; reflecting on a total of £21,000 raised by the school community for charities, significant sporting success such as wining the Richardson Cup and a large range of trips and extracurricular activities participated in by hundreds of pupils. Mr Montgomery concluded, “Each day the great ship sails towards the distant horizon and into new water. This is an exciting voyage…our children will lead the future, we here are committed to ensuring that what we offer them prepares them for a future of change, of challenge and of fulfilment”.