We were delighted to hold our formal Prize Giving this year on 21st September – after a hiatus due to the Covid pandemic. It was wonderful to celebrate the achievements of our pupils and reward them for successes in academic subjects, music, sport, attendance, community spirit and so much more!
A recurring theme throughout the celebration was one of resilience and tenacity; as speeches delivered by Mr Reilly (Chair of the Board of Governors) and Mrs Maxwell (Principal) paid tribute to the hardworking and committed staff team who worked alongside pupils and families to ensure that our students receive the highest standards in education and pastoral care.
Our guest speaker this year was former pupil, Willie Anderson, and he challenged the audience – and particularly the students present – to show grit and determination and set goals for their future, without fear of failure. He spoke about being proud of his upbringing, proud of being a pupil of Omagh Academy - paying tribute to teachers who encouraged and supported him - and the fantastic opportunities which allowed him to travel the world in pursuit of sporting success. Mr Anderson presented the school with a wonderful photographic portrait of one of his most iconic sports matches – the Ireland rugby game against the All Blacks in 1989.
Head Boy and Head Girl – Conrad Hale and Jessica Rennie – presented a report on the vast array of extra-curricular opportunities available to pupils throughout the year.
Five senior musicians sang a beautiful rendition of ‘Then Sings My Soul’ – an arrangement of the hymn favourite, How Great Thou Art.
Prizes were presented by Mrs Heather Anderson, wife of the guest speaker.
In her report, Principal Mrs Ruth Maxwell commented:
“When we started last academic year in September 2021, we were all relieved to begin the gradual reduction of restrictions. Pupils were circulating around the school again and practical classes resumed. The school canteen reopened to all pupils and senior pupils were once again allowed to leave the school premises at lunchtime. Extra-curricular activities resumed but there were still restrictions on numbers and school functions on-site were not permitted. As a school community we continued to work hard to think creatively and adapt to ensure that the nurturing and learning experiences of the pupils in our care remained at the core of our ethos. Thankfully, most of the restrictions were lifted by the third term.
I would like to pay tribute to the entire OA community, pupils and staff, parents and carers, Governors and friends of the school, for their exceptional response to a third year of difficult and unprecedented circumstances. The resilience and solidarity of our school community was yet again drawn upon and we supported each other through. The response of our school community is testament to the dedication, commitment and forbearance of all as they embodied and lived out our School values and aims.
I wish to place on record my thanks to pupils, staff, teaching and non-teaching, parents and carers, and Governors for their encouragement, cooperation and goodwill as we worked together through these most challenging of times.
The main purpose of this event is to celebrate the achievements and successes of our pupils. Turning now to academic results, I wish to pay further tribute to the hard work of pupils and staff, and to the continued support of parents and carers.
As society grapples with unprecedented challenges, I am pleased to assure you that, based on the successes of the pupils of Omagh Academy, our future is in very capable hands.
Our pupils sat the first set of externally assessed examinations in three years. Many pupils had little previous examination experience and many encountered disruptions to their learning. Despite the adverse circumstances, our pupils produced outstanding GCSE, AS and A2 Grades. Our younger pupils also excelled in their School examinations.
I am very mindful of the many personal, academic and emotional challenges our pupils have overcome in securing their successes. None of this excellence is achieved without hours of unseen study, practice and personal sacrifice. Our headline statistics as a school read very well and our results represent many individual successes and personal achievements.
I am proud of the achievements of all pupils, and I am proud of all of the staff who worked hard to ensure that the pupils achieved their potential in a hardworking, encouraging environment where kindness prevailed.
Our academic achievement, together with our participation in extra-curricular activities, is confirmation that at Omagh Academy we strive to produce well rounded, ambitious young men and women, eager to learn, eager to work hard, eager to do their best and also eager to make a positive contribution to society. Our ability to cope, be adaptable and be versatile when faced with many challenges is to the credit of pupils, staff and parents. We continue to support each other to flourish and to generate an atmosphere whereby each pupil can achieve their very best according to their ability and develop their gifts and talents for the good of themselves and of others.