these challenging times for everyone, we know that protecting the mental health
and emotional well-being of young people is so important. Young people
need to be supported to understand their mental health and encouraged to seek
help if they are experiencing any personal struggle or difficulty.
Our School Community are joining many other Schools, Sporting Clubs and organisations across the country in creating a partnership with ALPs (All Lives Are Precious) and Talk to Tom and today invite you to join us over the summer months on our 2021 Walk a Million Challenge .
Starting on May 16 Mental Health Week 2021, until World Suicide Prevention Day September 10 2021.
By way of supporting Religious Education and Literary Endeavour, the Knights of St. Columbanus invited Year 12-13 students in all Secondary and Post-Primary Schools throughout the island of Ireland to participate in a special essay competition. Students were required to compose a critical essay of up to 2,000 words on religious and ethical themes, notably, social media and the Gospel; Justice and Peace; Living the Christian life and Young Christians in today’s Church. Adjudicators commented that the winning entries from St. Mary’s Grammar School demonstrated excellent clarity of expression; clear exploration of the topic from a religious, spiritual and faith perspective; excellent inclusion of insights from Church and other sources; coherent use of literary techniques in support of arguments, opinions expressed and a high level of personal insight and opinion. The students’ essays are going forward for adjudication for the National Awards.
Our Year 8-11 pupils enjoyed their long-awaited, safe and
happy return to St. Mary’s yesterday. Pictured are a selection of winners from
our Key Stage 3 Easter Maths Challenge. Well done to all who took part and
congratulations to those with winning entries! Egg-cellent effort!
Congratulations to Year 13 pupil, Cara Murray, who walked a
marathon with her friend to raise money and awareness for the South Derry Down
Syndrome Group and the Foyle Down Syndrome Trust. The girls raised an
impressive £3000 which was split between these two very special charities.
The Department of Education for Northern Ireland has this week launched a new Text-a-Nurse service for young people aged 11-19.
The service aims to provide young people with a secure and confidential text messaging service which will allow them to easily and anonymously get in touch with a school nurse for advice and support about their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Safer Internet Day 2021 is on the 9th of February and will be celebrated with the theme ‘An internet we trust – exploring reliability in the online world’. Safer Internet Day inspires conversation about using technology responsibly, respectfully, critically, and creatively. Coordinated by the UK Safer Internet Centre, the celebration sees thousands of organisations get involved to promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people. In 2020, the campaign reached 49% of young people aged 8-17 and 26% of parents.
Unfortunately, the school’s Annual Awards Ceremony could not be held this year. However, to recognise their achievements in 2020, A Level students were invited to visit the school to collect their awards. They were congratulated by Mr Dunlop and received their awards in a socially distanced manner. Internal awards ceremonies were held to celebrate the success of GCSE students. Photographs can be viewed within the Media Galleries section of the school website.
The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children
and Young People (NICCY) will be recruiting young people to join the NICCY Youth Panel (NYP) during 2021. The purpose of the NYP is to advise the Commissioner in her day-to-day work of promoting and safeguarding children’s rights in Northern Ireland. It is made up of young people from across Northern Ireland, who share their experiences and thoughts with the Commissioner and her staff to help NICCY make decisions about issues that affect children and young people.
Lifeline is the Northern Ireland crisis response helpline service for people who are experiencing distress or despair. No matter what your age or where you live in Northern Ireland, if you are or someone you know is in distress or despair, Lifeline is there to help.
As the Christmas season approaches, it is important to remember that Christmas is not a happy time for all families.
show that there are increased incidences of domestic abuse during the Christmas school holiday period.
year, politicians from across political parties in Northern Ireland have come together to produce a short video raising awareness of this issue and to
provide signposting to help anyone experiencing domestic violence or abuse.
click on the link below to view the message from politicians:
The Head Boy of St. Mary’s Grammar School, Magherafelt has been named as one of the winners of the national Spirited Arts 2020 competition. Adam Rocks entered the competition which is held annually by the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) and challenges students to think about Religious Education through Art.
In its 17th year, this competition has attracted over 320,000 participants averaging 20,000 competitors per year since 2004. Hundreds of UK schools get involved, with entries submitted from as far afield as Cyprus and Australia, Indonesia and South Africa.
Adam’s artwork was based on the theme ‘Art in Heaven’ and he called his piece ‘The Age of the Ocean’.
Anti-Bullying Week takes place from 16-20 November 2020. The theme for this year is United Against Bullying. To mark the beginning of Anti-Bullying Week, St. Mary’s is joining other schools to take part in the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum Odd Socks Day initiative on Monday 16 November 2020. Pupils and staff in St. Mary’s are being invited to wear odd socks in recognition of the uniqueness of each individual and to celebrate diversity within our school community. Together, we are united against bullying.
Read full story
On Tuesday 10 November 2020 St. Mary’s was delighted to welcome representatives from Gideons International to the school. Due to Covid restrictions, we were unable to hold our usual Year Eight assembly but through Religion classes, pupils will be told about the work of the Gideons and will receive their own copy of the Bible. Many thanks to Gideons International for taking the time to visit the school and for providing a Bible for each Year Eight pupil to keep.
Barnardos has launched a new emotional well-being service – See, Hear, Respond.
This service will work with children and young people in Northern Ireland who might need additional support to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic, offering practical and therapeutic support. It will also offer advice and guidance to any adults who are concerned about a child’s mental health and well-being.
Business Studies and Economics students in St. Mary’s Grammar School, Magherafelt were busy before the Covid-19 lockdown setting up and running a successful Mini-Company to raise money for local mental health charity, ALPS. Mini-Company Director, Caitlin McCormack, and her team successfully designed and distributed over 800 jerseys and crew neck jumpers to the St. Mary’s community. The students were delighted to present a cheque for £2,500 to ALPS founder, Ronan Gilchrist. In thanking the students, Ronan stated: “I am totally blown away by the support provided to ALPS by St. Mary’s and the Mini-Company within the school. To see young people wearing our logo on their school jumpers and jerseys really was one of the proudest days of our organisation. ALPS is indebted to the school and everyone involved for everything.”
Mid Ulster District Council is seeking YOUTH VOICE members to represent the voices of young people across Mid Ulster.
Young People aged 16 – 21 years old who live in the district are invited to apply to be part of Mid Ulster Youth Voice. This 2 year programme will be managed by the Council in Partnership with the Education Authority Youth Service.
Youth Voice will provide young people with the opportunity to:
- engage with key decision makers;
- have their say on local issues;
- meet new friends;
- be a representative voice for young people in their area; and
- be involved and pro-actively engaged with local decision-making processes.
Mid Ulster Youth Voice will meet on a regular basis to identify and take forward common issues relating to young people in the local area along with opportunities for residentials and to participate in study visits to UK or Ireland.
This year, the University of Exeter set a Grand Challenge for Key Stage 4 pupils. Students were asked to submit an essay discussing what concerns them most about climate change. Peter Cassidy (Year 12) was awarded first place - a £100 Amazon voucher and a University hoodie for his entry. Peter’s unique approach in critiquing the question and the intertwining of Religion (and Nemo!) into the theme impressed the judges.
We are delighted with how well our new Year 8 pupils have settled in to life at St. Mary’s as we come to the end of their first two weeks of lessons. We wish the class of 2020 every success as they begin their journeys of excellence at St. Mary’s.
Following the release of 2020 examination results, Mr Dunlop (Acting Principal) has reported that 99.3% of A Level students in St. Mary’s Grammar School, Magherafelt were awarded 3 A* - C grades while 99.8% of all entries resulted in A* - C grades.
At GCSE, 84.2% of pupils achieved A* - B in 7 or more subjects, including English and Maths.
The St. Mary’s community has been greatly saddened by the death of our esteemed colleague Mrs Sonya Monaghan (RIP) who passed away on 10 April 2020. Requiem Mass for Mrs Monaghan was celebrated in Holy Trinity Church, Cookstown on Sunday 12 April 2020.
Mrs Monaghan joined the staff of St. Mary’s in 2013 as Head of Mathematics and in 2015, she was appointed to the school’s Senior Leadership Team. The Mathematics Department flourished under Mrs Monaghan’s tenure. In her Senior Leadership role, she had primary responsibility for the academic progression of pupils at Key Stage 5. Mrs Monaghan was innovative and forward-looking in her approach to education and was pivotal in bringing about curricular reforms at both Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5.
ICSS are providing a summer service. This is so that any young person can obtain counselling between 1 - 14 July and 17 - 31 August. All referrals can be made directly via the digital referral form on the Familyworks website or via telephone helpline numbers, which are 02891821721 and 02891820341.
As you are aware, the Department of Education has recently issued guidance on pupils returning to school in the new academic term. In order to support this transition back to school, AAIS have added an additional chapter (Chapter 5: “Going Forward”) into our AAIS “Staying Safe: - Dealing with COVID-19. A booklet for post-primary pupils”. It is hoped this will prepare our young people with ASD with changes which may occur in the new term. The booklet, and further resources, are available in the home learning resources section of the AAIS website: -
The Royal Geographical Society (RGS) is the United Kingdom’s leading centre for geographers and geographical learning and promotes Geography by recognising and rewarding excellence in geographical examinations through the RGS Excellence Award. Barry has the distinction of being the top A-Level student in the CCEA A-Level Geography examination in June 2019 and his achievement was recognised by CCEA in December 2019 at a reception in The Titanic Centre, Belfast. Barry has now also been recognised as one of the top performing students in A Level Geography in the UK through receiving the RGS Excellence Award. He was presented with his certificate from the RGS by Mr. Dunlop (Acting Principal) and Mrs Bradley (Head of Geography).
Our Year 14 Economists enjoyed resounding success in the Young Economist of the Year Competition. The competition required students to submit a research project of their choice on a current Economic topic.
St. Mary’s GS are working in partnership with ALPs and Talk To Tom and inviting all in our St. Mary’s community to take part in the Walk a Million Step Challenge.
Starting on the final day of Mental Health Awareness Week, this Sunday May 24th 2020, until World Suicide Prevention Day September 10th 2020, together we can assist to change lives across the country whilst promoting Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention.
By Walking, Running, Jogging, Dancing over 109 days, you are asked to achieve the million steps.
The challenge can be done on your own, in a family or a team setting- it is entirely up to you!
Registration is £12 and can only be done online through this link on Eventbrite:
For the fourth successive year, St. Mary’s students have achieved top awards in the 2020 LifeWorks Education National Life Advocate Essay Competition. Final year student, Orlaith McAuley, received high praise for a thought-provoking essay that picked up first place in the essay-writing competition. This annual competition for senior cycle students aims to encourage research and critical thinking on human rights and right to life issues.
This year students were asked to discuss the following words of Martin Luther King Jr, ‘injustice everywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’. Chloe Toner, Year 14, and James Murray, Year 13, also received Highly Commended for their essays.
Geraldine Aherne, LifeWorks Co-Ordinator noted, ‘We saw a big increase in entries to the competition this year, which was all the more impressive given the difficult conditions teachers and students are presently working under. The field was very competitive, and the judging panel praised the high standard of student’s work’.
Familywoks Counselling are really keen to connect with young people and to let them know that they are available to offer them the help and support they need and require at this time.
To promote the service they are running some competitions. All pupils have to do is to like their page, share the original post and tag us to three friends on Instagram and they’ll be entered into a free draw.
St. Mary’s Art & Design Department were delighted with all the entries to their Positive Image Photography Competition. The winning entries, in all categories, were chosen by Dr Ruth McGonagle, an A&E Doctor at Antrim Area Hospital. She said the photographs fitted the brief perfectly and she was very impressed by the high standard and quality of our pupil’s photographs.
AWARE Northern Ireland launched its inaugural Investors in Mental Health Awards on Friday 6 March 2020 in the Bridge Suite of the iconic Titanic Belfast. St. Mary’s GS were delighted to receive an Investors in Mental Health Award in recognition of our strong pastoral care system and promotion of positive Mental Health in our school community. Pictured are Mr Dunlop and Mrs. McNeill, Head of Year 13, alongside Year 13 pupils who participated in the recent Mood Matter programme coordinated by AWARE.
To help pupils prepare for their AS Modules, all Year 13 pupils attended the ‘Ready Steady Study programme’ on 9 March, delivered by Paul Gray, Company Director of Learn Spark. This course provided students with the attitudes, confidence and skill to study effectively and to A Level standard. It set out tried-and-tested techniques, strategies and approaches to support revision, and detailed the key steps required to effectively plan and manage learning and revision time. The day placed a strong emphasis on the students learning to think, act and study independently, all of which are essential life skills to implement in their learning and study.
are extremely proud of our Year 10 pupil Charlie Curley who finished 46th
place at the recent Irish Life Health All-Ireland Cross Country Championships.
With over 100 competitors from schools throughout the country, Charlie ran 3.5k
in just over 14 minutes which was a tremendous pace and demonstrated great work
rate and tenacity. Charlie is pictured with his proud P.E teacher, Miss
Year 11 Art and Design pupils attended a comic book and character design workshop with comic artist, Tanya Roberts, organised by Scottish Book Trust, as part of their Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour.