ocial distancing requirements and a greatly reduced capacity in the assembly hall meant that two events were held: one for Year 14 pupils, to celebrate success at AS level, and another later in the afternoon, to which those who had recently completed A-levels and their parents were invited.
The Guest of Honour at both events was Professor Peter Shirlow, who attended Friends’ from 1977 to 1984 and who is currently Director at the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies. Professor Shirlow also advises the British and Irish governments and the European Union, and is a regular contributor to Radio Ulster and BBC NI.
The Chairman of the Board of Governors, Philip McDonagh, opened proceedings by congratulating pupils on their achievements and thanking the staff for their hard work over the past year, particularly in the difficult circumstances created by the pandemic.
Professor Shirlow received a warm reception and gave an inspirational and entertaining speech to those gathered in the assembly hall. He reminisced about his time at school and spoke fondly of his time at Friends’. He spoke about the challenges of moving on to university, of adjusting expectations and adapting to a different style of working. He added that young people should not be in a hurry to achieve their goals, and that they should be aware that each one of us depends on the efforts of others to see us through life.
Stephen Moore, Principal, welcomed new members of staff, including Vice-Principal Steven Alexander, and paid tribute to those who had moved on over the last year. Mr Moore said that he was grateful to the leavers for the contribution they had made to school over the last seven years, and commended them for how they had coped with the challenges of the pandemic.