"PLANNING, ORGANISATION AND SHEER HARD WORK are the requirements for success in any sphere of life", Joe Kernan the Armagh Manager told St. Michael's students at the school's impressive Prizegiving Ceremony this year. He stated that these attributes were the key factors in contributing to his achievements as a Manager at both Club and County level and to the phenomenal success achieved this year by the Armagh players. The message from Joe, rightly acknowledged as the most successful sports leader in Ireland was never to give up and always to use your talents to the best of your ability. He said that no matter how difficult the task, no matter the demands required, effort will always be rewarded. Mr Kernan continued by saying that the Prizegiving Ceremony with so many outstanding students receiving awards for a wide range of achievements is a testimony to all the hard work on the part of students and staff in St. Michael's. He reminded his audience of students, parents, staff and invited guests, that success was often invariably a combination of some inspiration and much perspiration. Mr Kernan revealed that he had close links with St. Michael's. As a young boy he had often travelled in his parent's car when they were leaving two of his older sisters back to St. Michael's where they were boarders. Consequently he felt honoured to be invited back now as the principal guest at the school's prizegiving.

In what has proved to be a momentous year for Armagh, St. Michael's welcomed another giant from the world of Gaelic football as a special guest, a former captain of Armagh and current TV sports presenter, Mr Jarlath Burns. He told the audience that he believed that parents were the lynchpin to achieving success in academic life. The financial, emotional and moral support they provide is crucial. He said he was delighted to see so many parents present to enjoy the success of their sons and daughters. Mr Burns stated that he very much liked the idea of the two tier system operating in this area which avoided the immense pressures placed on a young child at eleven years of age. He felt the system operating in St. Michael's was much more child friendly and judging by the magnificent results achieved over the years, students at St. Michael's indeed reap the benefits of this system.

During her speech, St. Michael's Principal Mrs Teresa Corr congratulated the students on another year of impressive academic achievement. At GCSE level, results again equalled the very high average achieved by Northern Ireland Grammar schools. The results of the recently introduced AS levels taken by Year 13s were most encouraging Mrs Corr said. The cohort of 32 students who were taking the equivalent qualification through the AVCE route were also achieving well above the UK national average. But it was with the A level results this year, Mrs Corr commented, that the school was especially proud. They were the very best ever and show an impressive 50% improvement over the past five years. Over 80% of grades awarded to A level students at the school were in the category A to C. This success, Mrs Corr continued, was achieved by the students in a world of ever increasing pressures and distractions and for this they were to be congratulated. It was achieved Mrs Corr emphasised, thanks to the committed and active role of parents working in co-operation with the school. It was achieved by the excellent preparation the pupils had received in St. Mary's and St. Paul's Junior High Schools in particular, the schools from which many of our students transfer at 14. Indeed it is also important, Mrs Corr said, to acknowledge the vital and solid groundwork provided by the teachers in the feeder primary schools. Finally and vitally, Mrs Corr stated, the commitment, dedication, enthusiasm and sheer hard work of the entire staff of St. Michael's must be acknowledged. Mrs Corr added, that while success in external examinations was obviously important, it was but one facet of school life in St. Michael's. She spoke with pride of the school's expanding extra-curricular activities. She congratulated the different sporting teams on their continuing successes in a number of competitions. In Netball both the U19 and U17 squads are through to their respective finals in the Southern Area League and the U19s are waiting to play their quarter final match in the NI cup. In football a young Senior squad were beaten last year in the semi-final of the Mac Larnon Cup by the eventual competition winners. But this year expectations are rightly high among the squad that they can go all the way to the final. The Junior football squad also had an impressive year in which they reached the final of the Brother Treanor Cup. In Camogie too St. Michael's had excelled, the Senior team had reached the Ulster Colleges B semi-final last season and expectations for this season were high as was the mood among the volleyball squads. She informed the audience that for the first time ever the school had entered a ladies Gaelic team in the Ulster Senior Colleges competition and a Soccer team was now competing in the NI Schools Cup. Individually students had also achieved notable success in many different fields of sport including soccer, netball and boxing with students being represented at county, regional and national level. Representation at county level was also strong.

Mrs Corr said she was very pleased to be able to say that St. Michael's had, as always, given generously to others through raising over £12,000 for charities during the past year. The Year 14 pupils she said had just hosted very successfully, their annual party for children with special needs. Likewise the Music and Drama departments had presented a most enjoyable and professional Carol Service a few weeks ago as part of their annual programme. In public speaking the school had reached the final of the Rotary Youth Leadership and the Business and Professional Women's Competitions. A number of the school's science students took advantage of bursaries awarded by the Nuffield Foundation to carry out research projects in the local universities over the summer. Mrs Corr concluded by saying that all our achievements and the very evident progress and success of our students which we are now celebrating has been acknowledged and endorsed in the school's recent Inspection.

For a list of prizewinners please click here