Principal tells Prize Night that “these are good times for Larne Grammar School”

On Tuesday the 19th of September Larne Grammar School celebrated the successes of its pupils in both the internal and external examinations. The Guest of Honour for the evening was former pupil, and Consultant Paediatric Surgeon, Mr Bill McCallion.

The evening began with the Chairman of the Board of Governors, Mr Roy Logan, paying tribute to the pupils, staff and Governors on what has been yet another record breaking year for Larne Grammar School in external examinations. He paid particular tribute to the retiring Governors who are stepping down after four years of service.

Mr Wylie, making his seventh report as Principal of Larne Grammar School, was keen to highlight the upward direction of achievement in Larne Grammar School. "In the past four years, the school has obtained best ever GCSE results in 2015 and again in 2018 and best ever ‘A’ Level results in 2016, 2017 and 2018," he said. "These are good times for Larne Grammar School and we are now clearly established as one of the very top performing schools in the country."

There was particular success at GCSE this year; something which Mr Wylie simply described as "unprecedented". He highlighted that "the school achieved best ever results at each of the following measures – percentage of pupils achieving 5 A*-C (100%), 5 A*-C including English and Maths (99.1%), 7 A*-C (98.2%), 7 A*-C including English and Maths (97.3%), 7 A*-B (73.6%), 7 A*-B including English and Maths (68.2%), percentage of entries awarded A*-B (82.0%) and percentage of entries awarded A*-C (95.7%)."


After the distribution of the Junior and Senior prizes Mr Logan introduced Mr Bill McCallion to the pupils and parents that were present. Mr McCallion, who is a Consultant Paediatrician at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast is a former Head Boy of the school. He specialises in reconstructive surgery for babies born with congenital heart defects and, in his spare time, enjoys playing golf and also plays guitar in a rock band.

Mr McCallion began by congratulating the pupils present on their incredible examination results. He noted that schools in Northern Ireland have outperformed their mainland counterparts for many years and encouraged the pupils present to recognise that they are among the best in the UK.

He noted that he was not an exceptional pupil during his time at Larne Grammar School. Indeed he struggled most of the way through his school career and, despite excelling at rugby and being made Head Boy, left school with very average A Level results.

It was during his time at university that things were to change. It was by chance that he was reading an article to a group of friends when one suggested he may have dyslexia. It was this realisation that led him to develop learning techniques that enabled him to achieve success at University. These techniques, coupled with increased effort and determination, led to him winning numerous awards in his degree course and earning himself a place to study Medicine.

Mr McCallion went on to discuss his job and some of the more challenging situations he faces. As a paediatric surgeon he highlighted some of the difficult decisions he makes on a day-to-day basis and how those decisions impact on the lives of so many people. He urged pupils interested in medicine to think seriously about how difficult the job is before they embark on a career in medicine. He did, however, go on to give examples of how the work that he does has positive, life changing, consequences. He told a story of how he had recently met a young man at an Ulster Rugby match who he had operated on when he was born prematurely weighing just one pound. It was these moments, he said, that made his work special.

The final piece of advice Mr McCallion gave was the same advice he gives to his medical students – the three As of success. Ability – in order to do well, he said, you must have some level of ability. The pupils present, he argued, had all shown they have that in abundance. Availability – turn up on time and work really hard. He advised pupils not to get caught up on the name of the university they attend but to work hard when they get there. And finally, Affability – be approachable and smile. It costs nothing to treat people well, he said.

The final speech of the evening was from the current Head Boy, Luke McKay, and the Head Girl, Meg McCubbin. In their speech they thanked their teachers and parents for supporting and encouraging them over the past six years. They also shared funny and memorable moments from both inside and outside the classroom during the past six years at Larne Grammar School.

The undoubted stars of the night were the pupils who received prizes that rewarded the hard work and dedication they have shown throughout the last academic year and, in many cases, for a number of years. Well done to them all.

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