Two prize giving events took place just before the Christmas holidays, one for Year Thirteen in celebration of their GCSE achievements and the other for last year’s Year Fourteen, in celebration of their A’ Level achievements.

Mrs Julia Dolan, retired Senior Teacher from the school, was the Guest of Honour for the Year Thirteen Celebration and she spoke of the satisfaction of seeing young people achieving their potential. The students listened intently and she finished by saying that the biggest thing that helps anyone achieve in life is a positive attitude and she encouraged the students to take heed.

Principal, Mr Barry Kelly, then publicly congratulated the students’ achievements explaining how the young people and their families certainly had a lot to be proud of because 55% of all the grades received were A*/A with twenty three students getting straight A*/A s in all ten of their subjects. In fact, 96% of the Year Thirteens achieved 7+ GCSE grades A* – C compared to the Northern Ireland average for Grammar Schools of 93.7%. This is indeed a fantastic achievement for these students and the entire Year Group. Their parents and teachers are understandably very proud of their success.

Finally, individual student success was reported to Aquinas from our main examining body CCEA when they informed the school that Micheal Lynch was second in Northern Ireland for GCSE Biology and  Emma Norris was third in Northern Ireland for GCSE Business Studies. The pupils were duly congratulated from the stage on their achievements. The landmark award of the day, the Monsignor Bartley Award for academic achievement, was won by Michael Lynch, Jack McAlinden, John McGowan and Emma Norris.

Music for the event was beautifully performed by our own pupils.

The Leavers’ Prize Giving occurred on the evening of Thursday 18th December. Guest of Honour for the evening was Counsellor Nicola Mallon, Lord Mayor of Belfast.

The Lord Mayor spoke eloquently about the trials and tribulations of growing up and the challenges she faced as a teenager studying for her A’- Levels. Her honesty and humility received warm applause from the large audience of past pupils, their parents and teachers

Mr Kelly congratulated the students on their A’ Level achievements noting that 53% of all grades were either A* or A; 82% of all grades were A*- B and 95% of grades were A* – C.  One pupil in particular, Matthew Nixon, not only got accepted to read Mathematics at Cambridge but he also achieved SIX A*s in his A’- Levels: a remarkable accomplishment.

Once again, individual students achieved top marks in Northern Ireland in various subjects at A2 level. The first was Matthew Nixon who came first in A’- Level French and Music and Amaia Moore who came first in A’-Level Spanish. These students received special awards for their outstanding achievement.

Finally, the three milestone awards for the evening were presented by the Lord Mayor. The first one, the Paula Grant Award for Endeavour was awarded to JJ O’Reilly; the Monsignor Bartley Award for Academic Achievement was won by Matthew Nixon and the Bishop Walsh, Spirit of Aquinas Award was won by Fionn Price.

Again, the music for the evening was performed by the school’s musicians, a piano solo by Aoife Maguire and  a singing solo performance of O Holy Night by Peter McEvoy with Aoife Maguire accompanying on piano.

The evening finished with past-pupils, parents, teachers and guests enjoying refreshments in the Mall in a true mood of celebration. Many congratulations to all.