The Aquinas Prize Evening for the academic year, 2017-18 took place this year on Monday 17 December 2018. The event combined the Celebration of GCSE achievement, for the current Year Thirteens, and the Celebration of A’ Level achievement for last year’s Year Fourteen.

It was indeed a pleasure to welcome Mrs Geraldine Goodall as Guest of Honour and keynote speaker for this year’s prize night. Geraldine, in the early part of her career, worked in local government but for the majority of her working life she was devoted, along with her husband John, to the rearing of their four children, Helen, Nicolas, Michael and Rose. All past pupils of Aquinas.

Geraldine has been associated with Aquinas from the day her eldest child, Helen entered the school in September 1996. Geraldine has always backed the school 100% throughout its short 26 year history and in 2005 stood, and was elected to, the Aquinas Board of Governors upon which she served for a further 12 years. Geraldine’s speech emphasied the importance of family in supporting children through their education and said how proud she was to present awards to our students in the presence of family members.

Principal, Mr Barry Kelly, publicly congratulated the GCSE and A’ Level students’ achievements giving details of their impressive grade statistics. Their families and teachers are understandably very proud of their success.

Heads of Departments were on stage and presented pupils who scored the highest in the year group with specific subject trophies.

The pupils were duly congratulated from the stage on their achievements with the landmark award for GCSE, the Monsignor Bartley Award for academic achievement, won by Maria Kelly who achieved eleven A/A* grades.

Three of our Year thirteen students were publicly applauded for gaining top marks in Northern Ireland in their GCSEs. They were: Maria Kelly who was first in Chemistry and third in Technology and Design; Kristen Murray who was joint first in French, and Aoibh O’Hare who was joint first in Food and Nutrition.

Finally, the three milestone awards for the evening were presented by our guest of honour, Mrs Goodall. The first one, the Paula Grant Award for Endeavour, was awarded to Joseph Murtagh; the Monsignor Bartley Award for Academic Achievement was won by Tom Sharkey and the Bishop Walsh, Spirit of Aquinas Award was won by Sean Conaghan. These prizes are highly valued, hard earned and the three pupils fully deserved them for all their efforts.

Music for the event was beautifully performed by our own pupils, with the opening piece performed by the school’s Chamber Ensemble, the intermission piece played on violin by Grace Cunningham and Niamh MacDermott and the final piece of Christmas music was performed by the school’s Jazz Ensemble.

The current Head Boy, Cillian Spence and Head Girl, Orla Harney presented Mrs Goodall with a gift and vote of thanks for his valuable contribution to proceedings and Father Grant brought the event to a close with a prayer and reflection.

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