The principal of Carrickfergus Grammar School reflected on continuing academic success in his final prize evening address ahead of retirement.
Kieran Mulvenna told guests, parents and pupils that his successor will be in place for the final term of the school year.
“By the time March comes I’ll have been on the planet for six decades and been sitting at the principal’s desk for 10 years, so, all things considered, it’s time to move over and let someone else take the reins. The new appointment should be made by December, and that gives three months for handover.”
Mr Mulvenna also stated: “This year’s GCSE results were so good that we had to amend our awards and colours system to acknowledge them. As you will see in your booklets no fewer than 17 pupils achieved School Honours for academic achievement. This means that their average grade in 9 subjects was at least halfway between an A and an A*. In fact almost half of all the grades received in the school this year were at A or A* with 27 pupils achieving top grades in nine subjects.
“Our A-level results similarly testified to the hard work of our young people, the dedication of their teachers and the support of their parents. With over 90% of our A-level pupils attaining at least one top grade they are certainly well placed to take the next big step into their future.”
The head teacher stressed too the school is about more than academic success, important though it is. He drew attention to sport and extra-curricular programmes in helping pupil development.
In a moving address, the deaths of two young men with strong Carrickfergus GS connections were recalled. Among the new prizes awarded was the Peter Arthurs Trophy for Dedication to the Mentoring of Junior Instrumentalists. Mr Mulvenna said: “Peter was one of our Instrumental Tutors. He tragically passed away in June last year through illness at the far too young age of 36, and being a big man with a big heart he has left a big gap behind him.”
He also spoke of the “pain” the school community felt in learning of the sudden death of former pupil, Ben Finch. “The scourge of poor mental health can take hold stealthily, and schools must do all we can to educate minds in more ways than one. The advent of social media has many advantages, but there is no doubt that it can also bring unseen pressures and unspoken worries to formative young minds. A broken limb can be seen, but a broken spirit can lie invisible. This was driven home painfully in March of this year when we learnt of the sudden death of our former pupil, Ben Finch. Ben joined us in 2007 as a bright, pleasant child and left us in 2013 as a young gentleman with tremendous potential. He took up his place in Queen’s from where he graduated with a strong honours degree and had made an impressive start to his career with Action Renewables when as a bolt from the blue he took his own life. May we take a moment now to remember Ben Finch, Peter Arthurs, and those in all our lives who are gone, but lovingly remembered.”