The annual Speech Day was held at Friends’ School on Friday with AS and A level certificates presented to all pupils.
The Chairman of the Board of Governors, Margrit Grey, welcomed the Guest of Honour, Maureen Piggot, OBE, to Speech Day. Ms Piggot is Director of Mencap in Northern Ireland.
Ms Grey congratulated the young people present on the high standard of their academic achievements and paid tribute to the teaching staff for their contribution.
She also recognised the importance of the strong support from home and thanked parents for their close involvement in school life. Ms Grey spoke of the work undertaken by the Board of Governors to provide the best possible facilities at the school and likened the decision to proceed with the construction of two Astroturf pitches on site to the similarly forward looking decision taken by the Board in the 1960s to build the Assembly Hall, still in use to this day.
The Guest of Honour, Maureen Piggot, talked about her background growing up in South Africa and her experiences working in the field of mental health.
She highlighted the misconceptions others have about this type of work, ranging from surprise that charity work is paid, to regarding those who work in this area as being somehow heroic.
She congratulated pupils on their success and described how honoured she had felt when presented with her OBE by the Queen.
The Principal, Elizabeth Dickson, presented her report on the School over the last year.
She said: “Our motto, ‘Quae sursum sunt Quaerite’, ‘Seek that which is above’ speaks of a community that embraces challenge, a community which looks outwards with enthusiasm and optimism and it suggests why we are so proud of the young people whose achievements we gather to celebrate today.
“Our pupils’ outstanding academic performance reflects that desire always to reach higher.
“Against a background of fewer top grades being awarded nationally this summer, our A level students attained more passes at the top three grades: A*, A and B than ever before in School. 85% of all grades awarded here at Friends’ were at that level and, indeed, half of our pupils gained two or more A or A* grades.
“Jordan Fitzpatrick and John Logan, who are moving on to study Medicine at Edinburgh and Oxford respectively, were awarded A* passes in each of their four subjects at A level, whilst James Clarke and Caitlin Patterson gained three starred As and a further A grade.
“Danielle Agnew, Peter Elliott, Courtney Johnston, Sarah McCullough, Julia Smith and Nathan Steenson each had two A*s amongst their sets of three or four A grades. Julie Anne is going up to St Catherine’s College, Cambridge, to read Modern and Medieval Languages, and Peter Elliott to St John’s College, Oxford, to read Music.
“At AS level, the numbers gaining three or four passes at Grade A were up on last year, with many outstanding performances.
“Amongst our subject prizewinners this afternoon are a number who scored full marks at AS level: Susanne Shaw in Art and Design, Luka Danilovic in Electronics, Jack Henderson in English Literature and Kerry Patterson in Mathematics.
“Our pupils rightly have high expectations, reflected also in the excellent level of performance at GCSE. Robert Harrison and Brooke Watson were awarded an exceptional eleven Grade A* passes, whilst four pupils, Duncan Fleming, Helen Graham, Molly Harte and Kyle Minford, gained A* grades in each of their ten GCSE subjects.”