Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School is twenty-five years old this year and on Saturday 16th June, the City Hall hosted past and present Principals, staff, past pupils, parents and supporters of Aquinas. We were also privileged to have the school’s founder, Bishop Patrick Walsh, accompanied by Bishop Farquhar and Father Patrick McKenna.

The beauty of the City Hall’s rotunda was the setting for people to mingle, meet and greet. Guests then progressed to the Great Hall which was beautifully decorated with flowers, balloons and generally the Aquinas colours. Bishop Walsh then lead guests in Grace, thinking of others less fortunate.

After the beautiful meal, guests then listened to our three after dinner speakers. First was Mr Kelly who spoke eloquently about the importance of the community that helps develop our pupils holistically, he added, “The teachers of Aquinas believe it is important to develop a good person rather than simply a good pupil.”

Next to speak was former Head Girl, Caroline McNeill who spoke of memories of teachers and the opportunities she took whilst a pupil in the school. Again she emphasised how Aquinas, along with family, had made her the person that she is today.

Finally, the first Principal, Mr Finbarr McCallion recounted happy memories of establishing the school, making decisions like the uniform colours and appointing the founding ten members of staff (five of whom are still on the staff). He spoke of the crucial role played by Bishop Walsh in establishing the school and spoke fondly of the late Monsignor Bartley whose vision for Aquinas helped Finbarr lead the school in those earliest of days.

Sense of community was mentioned at various times in all speeches and certainly those gathered gave a great representation of what makes the school such an important part of the day-to-day life of South Belfast.