GRYPHON Autumn/wInter 2015/16

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.

Photography: Curtis Irvine, Year 14

Our guest of honour at the Senior Prize Day was Dr Andrew Massey, an old boy of the school. An acclaimed athlete during his years in Bangor Grammar, combined with a deep love of science, complemented each other perfectly, culminating in his current position as Chief Sports Physician at Liverpool Football Club. Dr Massey's speech was witty and engaging, and the personal insights into his distinguished career alone were enough to inspire the pupils and staff alike. The remarks of the Head Boy, Luke McWatters, shed some light into Dr Massey's time at school and gently drew attention to some of his more embarrassing moments.

At the Junior Prize Day we welcomed back Mark Hagen, a member of the class of 2013. We learnt of his band, In An Instant, and their successful first few years in the music industry. Mark's talent became clear to us all, when he performed one of his original songs live for staff and pupils. Speech Day has no doubt encouraged many and inspired others to take hold of every possible opportunity within the school and strive to achieve their best in all they do.

-Curtis Irvine, Year 14

Year 8 Ballykinlar Trip

As part of the BGS community, Year 8 pupils enjoyed a week of team-building exercises in Ballykinlar Barracks, helping them get to know each other and cement friendships. The pupils I talked to spoke very highly of the experience, citing the laser tag and 'Zorbing' as particular highlights. Pupils also tackled an inflatable obstacle course, spent a night sleeping under the stars and were given an opportunity to try out archery and shooting with BB pellets. The pupils competed in team games such as 'tug of war' and participated in problem solving tasks, which tested their physical and mental capabilities. While they were tested, it was a fun and beneficial week for the Year 8 pupils. Getting to know new people is one of the most daunting things about switching from primary school to secondary education. This week of excitement and challenges undoubtedly relieved some of these stresses.

-Matthew Bradley, Year 14

Remembrance Service

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.

Photography: Tony Heron, Year 14

Wreaths were laid by Mr Ian Henderson, Christopher Kent, Mr George Lowden and Adam Thompson. This was followed by a minute's silence, observed at the same time across the UK, with the trumpet being played by Adam Steele. After the performance of Abide With Me by the concert band, the service was brought to an end by a benediction given by the Reverend Stanfield. As the guests left the hall, the rest of the congregation remained in reflection as Highland Cathedral was performed by the band, with Glen Baxter on bagpipes. With our school being so proud of its rich history, the remembrance service will always be an important and treasured event. It allows us to remember those who stepped up and protected our values in the face of great danger and it is our duty as Grammarians to honour them.

-Tony Heron, Year 14


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.

Photography: Tony Heron, Year 14

Dark, extremely physical, immensely exhausting and thrilling, Bangor Grammar School took their portrayal of Macbeth to the MAC’s stage on Wednesday 4th November. Performing as the final act of the evening, following two other thirty minute performances of Julius Caesar and The Comedy of Errors, the audience were treated to a very different interpretation of Shakespeare's classic tale of witchcraft, murder and ambition. As the audience retook their seats following a brief interval, they were greeted with the forboding presence of six foot tall witches and soldiers, brandishing seven foot battle staffs. Combined with the earthquake-like boom of a bass drum, this evoked a gloriously violent battle scene, leaving the audience wondering what lunch time rugby matches must look like on a day-to-day basis.

Charlie Blair took the lead role of Macbeth, accompanied by his partner-in-crime, Joel Mawhinney. With the ominous presence of a huge ensemble always lurking in the darkness, the play created the impression of deep unease. Not only was the play challenging in the sense of condensing the story into 30 minutes, but with all actors on stage at all times, the focus and choreography of the ensemble on stage had to be second to none.

With barbarous battle scenes giving way to emotionally charged soliloquies, Macbeth really was a treat to take part in, and received an amazingly positive response. Giving BGS the chance to work in a professional theatre raised the standards of everyone involved, and gave the actors a desire to match their performance in the school itself, a challenge that was truly accepted and achieved. Only three words were uttered after each performance,

"All hail Macbeth."

-Joel Mawhinney and Ruairi Lawther, Year 14

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.

Whereas Macbeth featured a more contemporary depiction of Shakespeare's tale, The Taming of the Shrew aimed to recreate the atmosphere of the 16th Century Globe theatre, thankfully without the bartering, fighting and bitingly cold air. Featuring limited lighting and a minimalist set, the play was performed in traditional Shakespearean costume and, as in Shakespeare's day, all the female parts were played by 'boy players'. The play also featured live music in the form of fanfares, ably performed by Joel Mawhinney and Adam Steele. The play was performed in a declamatory (loud and exaggerated) style on a thrust stage in the centre of the atrium, to replicate the open stage in the Globe theatre. This style of performance was well received by the sold-out audiences on both the Wednesday and Thursday night. The Taming of the Shrew was a hilarious and entertaining watch for all.

-Thomas Haddock, Year 13 & Ruairi Lawther, Year 14

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!

Photography: Thomas Haddock, Year 13

Children in Need Day is always a highlight of our great school’s calendar and this time was no different. A huge thank you is in order for Mrs Will, the Charity Committee and everyone who donated. Our total at the end of the day was a staggering £1,657.12, something we are very proud of.

-Toby Hawthorne, Year 14

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.

Photography: Curtis Irvine, Year 14

In good old-fashioned BGS style, the rich fanfares and bellowing descants made for a brilliant congregational experience throughout the singing of the Carols, with the concert band playing like I’ve never heard before in my time at the school. Having performed in venues such as St Anne’s Cathedral throughout the last month, the Chamber Choir took on immensely prestigious pieces, such as the works of Eric Whitacre and Benjamin Britten. The silence after each choral performance can only be described as chilling. From this, to the haunting performance of Coventry Carol, the night was filled with beautiful contrast and finesse.

As this is my final year at Bangor Grammar School, I feel that the hard work from all of the boys, and the huge commitment from the music staff will be a real challenge to outdo in future years, but a challenge that will doubtless be risen to. In true Bangor Grammar style, the service ended with the school song, bringing together all new and old boys, and of course, an obligatory recital of Sleigh Ride, which set everyone off for a very merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.

Floreat Bangoria!

-Joel Mawhinney, Year 14

Abaana Sleepout

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.

Photography: Curtis Irvine, Year 14

Perhaps what I found most valuable about the sleep-out was what I learnt about myself. We too often judge those on the streets or even feel nervous about giving them some money or food, but this experience has given me a real heart to see homeless people loved and valued for what they are: human beings, deserving of food, shelter and warmth. I can honestly say that I will never look at a homeless person in the same way again and I hope that this passion pushes me to act and give generously to those who need it most.

Christmas means so many things to all of us but the word joy is especially poignant at this time of year. Unfortunately, This Christmas when we sit down to open our presents and eat our Christmas dinner, many across the world will struggle for anything to eat. This isn’t right, and Abaana have been running Challenge 48 for the past number of years in order to raise money to ensure more children have the opportunity at a new life and to be rescued from the streets.

-Curtis Irvine, Year 14

Inter-House Quiz

2015 will be a year of growth and prosperity for the house system, and if the level of competition on show at both House Quizzes was any indication, this may be the most enthusiastic year ever. Organised by the Year 14 Heads and Deputy Heads of House, the junior and senior House quizzes were held in the assembly hall on the 21st and 22nd of October. Hosted by the ever-enthusiastic Toby Hawthorne and Tony Heron, both quizzes had an atmosphere of palpable determination from all involved.

The junior quiz was won by School house, with Ward coming second, Crosby in third and Dufferin in a clearly disgruntled fourth. In the senior quiz, the tables were turned, with Dufferin coming first, Crosby in second, Ward in third and School in fourth. This meant that the overall house points were even, at five points each. Despite the lack of a clear overall winner, the House quizzes were a great experience for participants and audience members alike.

In other House Competition-related news, the four houses have set up Twitter accounts to share news about house events, congratulate victories and participate in competitive banter.

-Matthew Bradley, Year 14

Debating Society

The year started with a topical and controversial debate, entitled 'This House Believes Jeremy Corbyn Is A Threat To National Security'. The motions so far this year have been very controversial, leading to a series of fiercely fought and engaging debates. 'This House Believes BGS Should Place Greater Emphasis On Traditional Sports' was especially engaging; all speakers spoke with passion and energy, which demonstrated not only their debating prowess, but also their enthusiasm for sport. 'This House Would Shut Down Stormont' was another controversial debate, with both sides presenting their arguments with the conviction and intellectual wit that is synonymous with the Debating Society.

On the 20th November, the Senior Debating Society held its first parliamentary debate in over five years. While these were common in the early days of the society, this style had fallen out of favour and it was a joy to restore this style in what was an experimental move. The motion was proposed by Luke McWatters and then thrown open to the floor. The topic of whether 'This House Would Close Its Borders To Refugees' proved to be one that everyone was passionate about, and all that offered to speak did so with enthusiasm and assertiveness. The Society has since gone on to hold one other parliamentary-styled debate, and also a balloon debate, where four members of our school community went head-to-head as they campaigned to become the new First Minister of Northern Ireland.

The two debating teams, comprising Luke McWatters and Curtis Irvine, alongside Charlie Blair and Archie Arran both achieved victory in the first round of the NI Schools Senior Debating Competition in two captivating debates held in the library. Not only should the hard work and intelligence of the speakers be applauded, but the number of BGS boys who attended to show their support was nothing short of astounding. We wish both teams the best in their future debates.

-Matthew Bradley, Year 14

Bar Mock Trial Competition

Under the tutelage of Mr McAuley and Miss Crossthwaite, a team of Bangor Grammar School pupils spent several months preparing for the Northern Ireland regional heats; honing their legal skills, memorising witness statements and sharpening their interrogation questions. On Saturday 28th November, the first round of the Bar National Mock Trial Competition took place; the BGS team assembled at the Royal Courts of Justice to compete against 15 other schools.

There were four barristers: Reece Simpson, Mitchell Davidson, Karl Craig and Matthew Bryson, supported by their witnesses: Cal Ritchie, Adam Parkinson, Sam Haley, Adam Steele, Charlie Blair, Andrew McClintock, Matthew Agnew and Joe McLarnon.

In the first trial, Karl Craig, Matthew Bryson, Cal Ritchie and Adam Parkinson prosecuted against an all-girl team from Coleraine High School and won with a verdict of ‘Guilty’, generating an initial positive competitive high that was to carry the team through the rest of the day.

The second trial was somewhat of a grudge match, with Karl Craig, Matthew Bryson, Matthew Agnew and Joe McLarnon defending against another all-girl team; this time from Aquinas Grammar School – the school that Mr McAuley used to teach at and had previously led to victory in the Bar National Mock Trial Competition. However, Bangor Grammar team won again, this time with a verdict of ‘Not Guilty’.

In the third trial, Reece Simpson, Mitchell Davidson, Sam Haley and Adam Steele defended against Ballyclare High School. Despite some confusion over a witness statement and the repeated reading of the last sentence of its third paragraph, they were able to win with a verdict of ‘Not Guilty’, making it a legal hat-trick (so to speak) for Bangor Grammar School.

However, the finalists for the NI regional heat are decided by a points system rather than by winning the trials, and the finalists were eventually announced to be Dalriada School and, somewhat controversially, Coleraine High School.

Although they were unable to secure the points necessary to get to the final of the NI regional heat, the Bangor Grammar School team was safely able to say that they had won all three trials and that, regardless of the outcome, the Bar National Mock Trial Competition was an excellent experience for all involved.

-Karl Craig, Year 13

National Poetry Day

Pupils and staff illuminated the library on Friday the 9th of October at the annual National Poetry Day, which was based upon the theme of 'Light'. Organised and hosted by the Head of English, Mr McAuley, the readings included The Light of Stars by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines by Dylan Thomas - both dealing with the beauty of light. Other poems, such as The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes and Invictus by William Ernest Henley provided an insight into how light can be found within the darkness.

Joel Mawhinney and Andrew Wilson of Year 14 provided a musical interlude in the form of an original song entitled Little Light, which captivated the audience and was received with plentiful applause. Matthew Bradley of Year 14 read Evening Star by Edgar Allan Poe, followed by Sam Haley, also of Year 14, who read A Hillside Thaw by Robert Frost. Without wishing to labour a metaphor, it was an enlightening and incandescent experience for all involved.

-Matthew Bradley, Year 14

Athletics Championships

BGS boys showed immense sporting prowess in the Ulster Athletics Championships in September. Connor McKee claimed victory in the Shot and Morgan Stewart came second place in the Senior Competition. Morgan and Connor achieved further victories, finishing second and third respectively in the 110m hurdles. Aaron Sexton triumphed in his 200m heat where he achieved first place, with his sprint technique being hailed as "close to the perfect model". Aaron was also crowned Ulster Champion at Junior Level, whilst Morgan and Connor won silver and bronze. All six athletes involved competed admirably.

BGS Sporting Success.

Sport within BGS continued to impress this month, following the success at the Ulster Athletics Multi Event Championships. November didn’t begin quite as hoped with the Medallion XV narrowly losing in a tough contest against Belfast Royal Academy, however the Medallions were soon back to winning, with a hard fought victory over Dromore, showing great resilience and character as a team to bounce back from their defeat. This good form continued as the Medallions finished the month strongly, recording a very impressive win away to Friends. The school also saw individual sporting successes from both Tom Mathieson of Year 12 and Harry Ellesmere of Year 11. Tom was chosen to represent the Under 16 Northern Irish football team against Norway and Harry was selected to play on the Irish Under 14 Tri Nation Tennis Team. We wish them both the best of luck and success in their respective events!

-Christopher Murphy, Year 13


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

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