Dr McAllister was a student in St MacNissi’s College 1986-1994 and a former Head Girl. Presently she is a prominent surgeon and Researcher in Queen’s University heading a group of clinical academic trainees in plastic surgery. Her group are studying wound healing, with a focus on the therapeutic potential of endothelial progenitor cells.
Dr McAllister recalled her school days in Garron Tower, her former teachers, including Biology teacher and VP Mrs McKay and a young Mr Brady who arrived as a teacher in her latter years in the school. She was a contemporary of present teachers Mr Downey, Mr McAllister and Mr McIlwaine.
She congratulated the school on the tremendous academic and extra-curricular successes of the past year and delivered a short message to the students present. She summarised it : live a life of faith and service, and always do your best. She also referred to failure and the necessity for everyone to fail and take ownership of failure and learn from it – never to allow failure to take ownership of you.
“Our talents are all different – you might be really good at complex tax law, or planning how to put the electrical workings into large buildings, or crop rotations and looking after the countryside, or singing, or teaching or building houses. And most of you won’t even know what you’re really good at yet. So find your talents – and don’t worry if it takes a while – and then do everything you can to use them to the best and fullest. When you do something badly, work out why and do it better. When you do something well, look at what you did and see how to do it better. Always try to do your very best. And when you do every little thing with great love, you’ll find that you are always trying to do your very best.”
Mr Brady, as usual, gave a comprehensive round up of all the achievements of students in the College.
Here are just some of his points :
– Last year’s GCSE results, once again, placed the College as one of the top performing non-selective schools in NI when measured against the percentage attaining 5 GCSE grades A*-C, including English and Maths.
Of this year’s group 35% completed 10 GCSEs and of those 95% attained A*-C while 25% of students who took up the option of 10 GCSEs were rewarded for their hard work with 10 A*-A grades in all 10 subjects. At GCSE 20% of students attained 7+ A*/A grades.
75% of students achieved C or better in Maths and 72% achieving a C or better in English. This is a great credit to our college strategies in Literacy and Numeracy and resulted in 70% of our GCSE students obtaining 5+ A*-C grades including English and Maths.
– Top GCSE achievers were Aine and Emer Quinn who between them have 20 A*-A grades.
– The 2018 A Level students represent our second year intake as St Killian’s. 92% achieved grades A* – C and 100% attained 2 good A level passes. 58% with A*/A and 26% with 3 straight A’s or better, all of which is well above the national average.
– Due to our exceptional A level results this year there are 3 students who will receive the Liam Agnew Cup as the joint top achievers at A Level. Conor McCollam who achieved a superb 4 A Levels 1 A* and 3As, Hannah Craig and Aidan McKenna who both achieved an outstanding 3 A*.
– I am very privileged and honoured to be a part of this wonderful college that has produced such high calibre students and who represent all that is great about inclusive Catholic education. Indeed, once again this clearly proves that not only can they produce high quality outcomes but more importantly demonstrate that they are well rounded, resilient and caring young people – of whom we are all rightly proud.
Mr Brady outlined some of the sporting successes
Hurling – MacNamee Cup winners and finalists in three other competitions. Francis McCurry and Ed McQuillan are Ulster Colleges’ All-Stars
Camogie – reached to Ulster schools’ finals while many of our players represented Antrim at under age level. Head Girl Ellen Hynds captained Antrim to the Ulster and All Ireland Minor titles. Beth McAuley captained Under 16 Antirm team to an All Ireland Under 16 title with five more players on the teams.
Netball – The Year 9 & Year 12 teams both won the Ballymena and District Leagues and the Year 12 team also won their Northern Ireland District League. The following girls were selected for the North Eastern Development squads Under13 – Colleen Duffy, Erin McCambridge and Cliona McCann, Under 15 – Ciara Healy. As a result of this renaissance in Netball our girls are now playing for local netball clubs such as Ballymoney and Ballyclare.
Gaelic Football – Year 8 Shield champions and finalists in Year 9 Cup
Our students have also been engaged in a range of activities across all subject areas which give them a wider experience of that subject than can sometimes be achieved in the classroom. From travelling, – to experiencing new cultures, – in visits to universities (e.g.) Royal Society Lectures, from Skiing in the Alps, trips to Rome and London or the Gaeltacht, developing further insights into STEM areas, or to visiting theatre productions at the Riverside in Coleraine, the Mac and the Lyric in Belfast, to visiting construction sites involving themselves in local history and geography field trips. This summer a number of our students attended summer schools in the Universities of Durham, Cambridge and Oxford.
On 30th June 2018 a number of students also were involved for the first time with Camps International in a 4-week Volunteer Programme. The group of 14 students managed to raise £50000 between then for charity work in schools and local community. Much of the work when they arrived in Kenya included education programmes with local school children, local women’s groups, the local farming community and building new classrooms as well as restoration work around school resources.
Our students were also involved in a range of extracurricular events to encourage different experiences of the subjects outside the classroom. For example,17 of our students were awarded the John Paul II Award and they had the privilege of the Awards ceremony being hosted in our own College chapel where they along with other young people across the diocese received their Awards. The college also had the honour of Bishop Emeritus, Bishop Walsh marking 60 years of continuous involvement with the college celebrating mass and at the service he commissioned 16 of our Year 13 students as Eucharistic ministers.
We enjoyed success at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Competition in Dublin. Three projects qualified for the BT Young Scientist Competition Finals over 4 days in Dublin in January 2018.
Clare McGuickan and Alex McCormick were highly commended in the Senior Technology Group while in the same category Niall Black, Orla McNaughton and Ciaran Cairns won overall third place in the competition. However, pride of place goes to Ellen Martin and Rachel McAuley who won the best Key Stage 3 Technology Group project with their ‘Smart Desk’. This is an interactive learning environment which enables children with Dyscalculia to learn numbers by using visual, auditory and kinaesthetic methods accommodating all types of learners. It also provides feedback on success and can be remotely monitored by the teacher or a tutor using Wi-Fi.
Ellen and Rachel went on to gain further success with their ‘Smart Desk’ by winning two prizes, the Junior Engineering Runner Up and the GKN Global Award for Engineering at the Big Bang Competition Finals in March. This great tradition of developing ideas and making them practical applications for everyday use has been continued with Cathal McDonnell and Liam Black who won the Key Stage 3 Runner Up Best Project Award at the Scifest in Derry in May which gives them the opportunity to represent NI at the UK Big Bang Finals in Birmingham with their project QUAD for Quads – which is where the quad bike is fitted with a safety sensor that will contact a home phone if the quad is overturned.
St Killian’s well established KS2 to KS3 transition programme continued. The Science Project, now in its fifth year is very successful at aiding the transition between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3. We have now further developed closer and proactive links between Key Stages 2 and 3, in the area of English and Maths. This included the use of innovative Maths strategies, developing poetry in Primary School and visits to the primary schools by our English and Maths teachers.
We are delighted that our Trocaire partnership of the last three years, aimed to provide clean water pipes for five villages in South West Uganda enabling approx. 5,000 villagers to access drinkable water has been achieved with the College supporting half the total funding for this.
In conclusion Mr Brady thanked all the staff who have supported the students to achieve their potential in some many areas of academia as well as providing many more experiences for the holistic development.
“Finally, a special thanks to you, our parents, who have entrusted us with your children. I promise you that we the community of St Killian’s will do our best to shape and form your children into adults who will be the creators of a fair and just society.”
Top individual awards went to :
SIXTH FORM CUP : Aisling Kerr (Awarded by Peers)
JUBILEE AWARD : Katie McNeill
GLENARIFFE CUP : Gemma Black
NORTHERN BANK CUP : Ruairi McIlhatton
PRESIDENT’S SHIELD : Meabh Allen