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Cookstown High School, Cookstown

Prize Day 2021

20th Sep 2021

The annual Prize Day at Cookstown High School was held on Friday 17 September at Molesworth Presbyterian Church and was attended by prize winners, governors and staff whilst parents and friends of the school watched proceedings via live stream.

The guest of honour this year was a past pupil, Dr Rajan Bedi, a globally recognised, space-electronics authority developing award-winning products and services for the global satellite industry. In 2020, Dr Bedi won Great British Disruptive Entrepreneur of the Year. As founder and CEO of Spacechips, he leads the design and building of advanced electronic engineering for the satellite industry. He also supports and advises global companies on how to develop their businesses. In addition to addressing the prize winners and their families he presented the awards.  The proceedings were chaired by Mrs Lynne Dripps, Chairman of the Board of Governors. 

Prior to the prize day ceremony, Dr Bedi had a tour of the High School, and met with pupils to discuss and share his experiences of the space industry, employment opportunities as well as the positive benefits of astrophysics and space science.

The academic procession was accompanied by Mrs Fiona Gormley playing ‘Aria from the Goldberg Variations’ J. S. Bach

Prayers were said by Rev T Greer, vice-chair of the Board of Governors. In her speech Mrs Dripps conveyed good wishes to members of staff who were leaving after years of service to school and welcomed new colleagues who were joining the staff.  In her speech she praised the exemplary work and dedication of staff throughout the past year during the most challenging of circumstances. The academic achievements of pupils as well as the wider provision are testament to the strong partnership between parents and staff. Mrs Dripps thanked governors for their commitment and support for the school throughout the year.

The audience was entertained by a flute solo ‘The Irish Washerwoman’ by Lois Cunningham.

After the distribution of awards, a vote of thanks and presentation to Dr Bedi was made by Head Boy Max Anderson and Head Girl Jolie Kane.  The ceremony concluded with the singing of the School Anthem.  The recessional music ‘Voluntary’, J Stanley was played by Mrs Gormley.

Dr Bedi’s speech was engaging and inspiring.  After reflecting on what an honour it was for him to be back at this old school, he recalled, as a school boy, being very surprised, when told that school was the ‘best years of your life, and to grasp every opportunity’. As a child of 5 years old growing up in Cookstown he was mesmerised by the sky, and his dream job, as a child, was to build space craft. Having founded a company which creates and develops space technology and satellites, providing solutions to many of the world’s problems and communications, little did Dr Bedi realise the extent to which his dreams would be realised. Dr Bedi pressed upon students the need to ‘work hard and create their future, never to give up as dreams lie on the other side of fear’.

The Principal’s speech reflected on the excellent academic achievement of 2021 with top grades at the High School being ahead of the Northern Ireland average at GCSE and eight percent ahead at A Level.   She congratulated the Year 12 on their attainment where over ten percent of those who did GCSEs achieved at least 9 straight As.

She focussed her remarks around the theme of the school community and the privilege of contributing to part of a child’s education. ‘With unity there is strength and when there is teamwork and collaboration wonderful things can be achieved to ensure the highest educational standards, aspirations, and opportunities’.

Despite the pandemic, school development continued, the highlights of the year included: a tour by the minister for education Mr Peter Weir MLA; recognition of international sporting achievements by current and past pupils; charity fund raising; and success with the Aberdeen Angus youth challenge. Pupils had the opportunity to benefit from enhanced learning opportunities last year creatively maximising the local community historically, geographically, technologically, and physically. This year the school has benefited hugely from the financial support from parents through the school fund with the purchase of new ICT equipment, clevertouch boards and a beautiful new pupil seating area.

She concluded, ‘My hope is that you will flourish in your character and achieve beyond your own expectations and that you will see the importance of the key role that you play in positively shaping the future of the High School community and wider community. We have a school that we can be very proud of, and as each of us give of our best, our school becomes stronger in higher standards, providing more opportunities and success for all pupils and contributing to a very secure future’.