Speech Day 2015
BGS prides itself on the array of talents and skills amongst the pupil body and Speech Day is a special opportunity to recognise the endeavour, determination and hard-work put in by so many boys across the school. The ceremony began with the procession of staff and distinguished guests, including the Mayor of Ards and North Down, the Chairman of the Board of Governors and our guest of honour, Dr Andrew Massey, with a rousing musical accompaniment from the Jazz Band. The report from the Chairman of the Board of Governors, Mr Ian Henderson was particularly poignant this year as it was his final time addressing pupils and staff at Speech Day, having served his fourth and final year in post.
Mrs Huddleson gave her second report this year as principal. It was an inspirational affair as she detailed the multitude of successes the boys of Bangor Grammar have achieved over the past year. Mrs Huddleson's pride was evident, especially as she rightfully drew attention to the immeasurable courage and bravery of Joshua Martin and Peter Clarke as they battled serious illnesses and returned to school this year.
The ceremony then moved to the distribution of prizes and special mention must be given to Matthew Agnew who achieved 8 subject prizes and was awarded a range of special prizes. This year's Speech Day also saw the inaugural presentation of The House Cup, in honour of Amanda Chapman who served the house system with such vigour during her time at BGS. This special prize was presented to the school by Amanda's sister, Shelley. It was an emotional part of the day for everyone present and it is a truly fitting tribute to someone who always encouraged her pupils and inspired them to get involved and believe in themselves.
The 11th November is a particularly poignant day in the life of Bangor Grammar School as it marks our annual remembrance service. This tradition is truly one of the special parts of school life, as Years 11 and 13, along with members of the Board of Governors and other special guests, come together to remember all those who gave their lives in the two World Wars, particularly those from Bangor Grammar.
The service began with the procession of guests into the hall, accompanied by Nimrod, played by the concert band. The service itself began with the dedicatory prayer which was given by the principal, Mrs. Huddleson which was followed by the Head Boy, Luke McWatters, reading from Psalm 46. Both these addresses contained a message of reflection and respect for our past. Reverend Mairisine Stanfield of First Bangor Presbyterian Church led our annual address from a local church leader. Her address focused on the sacrifices people made during the wars and how they did so selflessly. As is tradition, the roll of honour was read for the upstanding congregation by Deputy Head Boys Jamie Fulton and Jordan Edwards. This, as always, strikes the whole congregation on a visceral level as we remember those young men, not very different from ourselves, who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.
One of the highlights of the school year is the school play, and this year is no different. However, instead of just one production taking place, the Drama department chose to perform two plays written by William Shakespeare, the first being the classic tragedy, Macbeth. In another first for the Drama department, the production would not only be performed in school, but also at the MAC Theatre in Belfast, as part of the Shakespeare Schools Festival. This renowned festival is the largest youth drama festival in the UK and the world, offering students from all backgrounds the opportunity to perform Shakespeare on their local professional stage. BGS leapt at this opportunity to showcase the talents of the Senior Dramatic Society to a wider audience as part of this fantastic event.
As part of a punishing rehearsal schedule, the cast undertook some training in stage combat from fight coordinator Shane McCaffrey, who has worked on shows such as Game of Thrones.
The Taming of the Shrew
Macbeth wasn't the only school play this year. In yet another first for the Drama Department, two plays were staged in school on the same night: the dark and exhilarating Macbeth was performed alongside Shakespeare's comedy The Taming of the Shrew. Staged in the Atrium, Jack Wright played the titular 'Shrew', Katherina, a young woman with a particularly nasty reputation. A lot of the town residents admired her younger sister (played by Theo Arran) who could not be wed until Katherina was married. As a result, Katherina was introduced to Connor McKee's character, Petruchio who claimed he could 'tame' his wife-to-be. The play followed the events as Petruchio tried to get his wife to respect him, behave courteously and rid herself of her bad reputation.
Children In Need
Friday the 13th had a different shade to its predecessors this November. An exuberant common room held host to a slew of familiar faces, including blockbuster movie characters, 80s rockstars and… Mrs. Huddleson? Yes, you read that correctly; a very brave Jordan McVeigh dressed as our own principal and the costume was as brilliant as you might think - the dress he wore was personally donated from Mrs Huddleson's own elegant and extensive wardrobe! Other personal favourites were the Channel 4 news team from Anchorman, Joel Mawhinney's terrifying Joker and a scarily accurate portrayal of Barbie and Ken by Connor McKee and Allan Jenkins.
The main focus of the day was to raise as much money as we could for Children in Need, and our involvement did not stop with fancy dress. At lunchtime, an avid crowd gathered in the atrium to watch an extraordinarily frightened contingent of Year 14 pupils put their masculinity to the test and have their legs waxed. In the courtyard, a vast crowd came to see the team of Senior Prefects get sponges thrown at their faces. I stood side by side with Head Boy Luke McWatters, who either received the worst treatment or the throwers had the best accuracy while trying to soak him; you can decide on that for yourself. He described one of the throws as “a very hard punch in the face.” It's all for a good cause, Luke!
Carol Service 2015
For many within the Bangor Grammar School community, the annual Carol Service means one thing: Christmas has arrived. And following suit from last year's event, which has been said to be ‘the best in the last fifteen years’, the music staff and boys have pulled off, what I feel has been, without a shadow of a doubt, the best in my time at the school. Bangor Grammar have been extremely lucky to have the opportunity to perform in the warm, welcoming environment of Bangor Parish Church. From the bagpiping of Glen Baxter, to the newly formed Traditional Group, the evening shone with a variety of musical talents.
Mad. Crazy. Strange. These are just some of the words that I have been called over the past few weeks when I have been describing what I would be getting up to from the 11th-13th of December. I had signed up to take part in a sponsored sleep-out with Abaana for 48 hours. We were only allowed a sleeping bag, a cardboard box and layers of clothing. Nothing else. The idea behind this was to get a sense of what living on the streets is like in order to raise awareness and money to enable more kids in Uganda to be rescued off the streets. We had a truly fantastic weekend with so many people and local cafés donating very generously in order to provide us with our meals. I’m not sure that 'enjoyable' is the word but I certainly felt it was worthwhile and found it hugely interesting.
As a team, we have so far raised around £2656, excluding personal sponsorship, which is testament to the hugely generous people of Bangor. Seeing so much money raised has made this all worthwhile and I can’t wait to get involved next year.
EDITOR: Mr D Cunningham, SUB-EDITOR: Matthew Bradley, PHOTOGRAPHY: Curtis Irvine, Tony Heron, Thomas Haddock, CONTENT WRITERS: Karl Craig, Toby Hawthorne, Ruairi Lawther, Joel Mawhinney, Jack McClements, Connor McKee, Christopher Murphy, Cameron Robinson