After months of diligent preparation, the joint Bangor Grammar School and Glenlola Collegiate NI Children’s Hospice fundraiser took place on Thursday night at Bangor Elim Church. Organised by the Year 14 of both schools, it promised to be a night of celebration and fun, all in memory of their friends Josh Martin and Megan Ogle who both sadly passed away after battling with cancer.
The event was well attended; as hundreds of friends, loved ones and many more came to show their support. The event began poignantly with an ensemble from both schools singing ‘Lean on Me’, a clear display of the friendships that hold the year groups together. Indeed, music was a central theme of the evening, with Lauren Clarke of Glenlola following up the joint choir with a solo performance of song, beautifully commanding the auditorium. Then came the ‘Rhythm Rats’, an ensemble of Bangor Grammar pupils and one of their teachers, combining musical skill with their instruments and a broadway-like stage presence from their vocalist Euan Watson.
It was then the turn of the Glenlola Staff choir, who gave the Grammar boys a close run for best choir of the night. This was followed up with another Bangor Grammar School act, with ‘The Drama Boys’ changing the tone after a series of musical performances. The boys produced a Laurel and Hardy-esque slapstick performance, a comical display of calamities which caused much laughter amongst the audience. The first half of the show concluded with a special appearance from the renowned local mentalist and BGS old boy, Joel Mawhinney. He certainly succeeded in baffling the audience, with tricks involving both students and teachers alike. His final reveal left the crowd speechless, as their gasps heralded the beginning of the interval.
Abaana New Life Choir
The Abaana New Life Choir were in school performing on 5th March as part of their History Maker tour. Mr O’Reilly and the BGS Jazz band got us off to a fantastic start playing three numbers before the choir took to the stage. Their smiles, energy and enthusiasm was incredible and very infectious and it wasn’t long before they had the audience clapping along during the songs. The choir performances were interspersed with videos showing the difference that Abaana and child sponsorship has made to so many children’s lives, including Isaac, one of the choir members. Isaac ran away from home and lived on the streets selling plastic bottles until he got the chance, through child sponsorship, to move into the Abaana New Life Homes. He is now happy, healthy and attending school.
mTech Academy Trip
Ten pupils from Year 10 were given the opportunity to see the future of technology in Barcelona in February 2019. The trip with mTech Academy was a wild experience that I would have regretted missing and am glad I went on. While the first day was almost 24 hours of travel the next two days more than made up for it. Soon after we arrived we went to see Camp Nou, the home stadium of FC Barcelona.
The second day was almost entirely spent at YoMo, the youth section of MWC (Mobile World Congress), which did provide entertainment and insight into industries like chips building, it gave an idea of what we might see at MWC.
The third day was spent at MWC, and that was easily the highlight of the trip. So much to do, so much to see, so many companies ranging from smaller businesses up to huge companies like Huawei and Microsoft. Even after a full day there we had only barely seen two of the ten halls. Whilst the trip home was exhausting, we were all sad to be leaving. It was a fantastic experience and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
Reece Simmonite, Y10
On Tuesday 26th March, seventy Year 10 students from Bangor Grammar, St Columbanus and Bangor Academy met for their second leg of the ‘Shared Education: Learning for Life and Work’ project.
This second session involved mixed groups of the students participating in a range of outdoor activities at Colin Glen Forest Park. Boys and girls from all three schools were dangling at heights on the SkyTrek, testing their mettle as they leapt from the ‘Leap of Faith’ and putting their brains together to solve a series of team challenges.
The school’s annual sponsored walk took place on Monday 18th March 2019. All year groups took part in the event. Nearly 900 boys and staff met at Bangor First Presbyterian Church and made their way down to the Marina and then onwards to Crawfordsburn Country Park via the coastal route. We were once again lucky with the weather and managed to avoid the rain showers.
A group of year 10 and 11 boys along with Mrs Henry and Mr Gilmore spent five glorious days in beautiful Salamanca at the start of June. On arrival we were met by our host families which was certainly a shock to the system as it was immediate Spanish with no reprieve. Despite the initial trepidation, we quickly became accustomed to our new family and eventually got to grips with what they were saying! That evening, we met up again as a group for a tour of the city.
Eco Schools Taskmaster Challenge
This was an inter-house competition to clean up our school environment, both inside and outside.
A very successful rugby season at BGS was rounded off with a few notable events. The first XV played in the final of the subsidiary shield against a very strong Sullivan team. They played some fantastic rugby and showed grit and determination throughout the match but unfortunately could not bring the silverware home and lost 29-12. The Ulster schools 7 a side competition was held at Campbell College the following week and the boys, although tired from the final participated with gusto and enthusiasm and managed to make the quarter finals of the senior cup. Finally, the year 8 rugby squad ended off their season with a mini tour to Enniskillen. They took in the sights of Fermanagh with a trip to the Marble Arch caves followed by matches against Enniskillen Royal Grammar School and Omagh Academy. We are now in the throes of preparing for the tour to South Africa and the boys as well as their coaches are very excited and are looking forward to the trip.
The 1st XI produced another silverware winning season, with their Burney Plate final success a fitting way to conclude the season.
The 2018/19 season began well with qualification for the Irish Schools hockey tournament secured by the start of October. The McCullough Cup campaign also began well with wins against Grosvenor, RBAI, and Regent. We lost to group toppers Friends, but a poor performance in a must win game against Methody cost us a semi-final spot.
The 1st XI qualified again for the Irish Schools which was played in Belfast just before the October Half Term. We produced some great hockey and pushed eventual finalists Banbridge all the way in our opening game, losing by the closest of margins. Then against a much favoured Wesley College, we conceded with the last hit of the game to deny us a well-earned point. 2 further good performances followed, but progress to the semi-final was no longer possible
Further wins against Cookstown, Campbell and notably McCullough and Burney Cup winners, Wallace High School, ended the term on a high.
January and early February delivered some inconsistent performances. This climaxed in a heavy defeat to an outstanding Wallace side in the first round of the Burney Cup. As the Plate competition began we started to regain our level of focus and confidence. Excellent performances against Cookstown and Friends saw BGS advance to the Plate Final against Royal and Prior, Raphoe. In a nervy performance we started poorly and were fortunate to go in at half time only 1-0 down. A fantastic 2nd half performance saw us draw level and dominate territory, but a winning goal couldn’t be found. After a scoreless period of extra time the match was decided on run ins. In a tense conclusion Bangor Grammar held their nerve to retain the Burney Plate.
The 2nds have had a fair season to date. They did not get out of their group in the Prior Shield but they have shown real signs of improvement as this young squad begins to develop. They have been drawn away to Friends in the Dowdall Cup.
In the Junior school the Under 15s remain the weakest of the squads but continue to surprise us with some pleasing improvements being made. They have a tough draw away to Wallace in the Richardson Cup.
The Under 14s are a competitive team and can go toe to toe with all of the big hockey schools out there. They have defeated Grosvenor already in the 1st round of the Cup but have been drawn away to Banbridge (who are arguably the best side in the province at this age group) in the next round.
Similarly, the 13s are a very keen and competitive squad and they are progressing well under Miss Morris’ tutelage. They have defeated Inst ‘B’ team and now face Inst ‘A’ in the next round of the Bannister Bowl.
Year 8 have slightly fewer numbers than last year. We have a lot of boys who have never played hockey before but I see potential in many of them.
District A Cross Country Championships
On the 30th of January, Bangor Grammar Schools Cross-Country team travelled to Billy Neil’s Playing Fields to take part in the District A Cross Country Championships. Known for being a challenging and very hilly course, Bangor Grammar School performed outstandingly well in what would be one of the most successful district cross-country championships for the school. In the Mini Section (Year 8) JJ Holley won Silver in the individual event, having led for the majority of the race until losing his shoe in the muddy conditions. Joshua Ritchie also performed very well finishing 14th and qualifying for the Ulster Schools Cross Country Championships. Overall the Mini Team finished 5th Overall. In the Minor (Year 9) event the team of Callum Slagter, Josh Bunting, Callum Duncan and Robbie Brown won Silver in the Team event with Callum Duncan qualifying in 9th in the individual race. The Junior (Year 10) Team consisting of Daniel Playfair, Nathan Semple, Ryan Lynas, Jack DeLargy, Nathan Belshaw and Felix Arran won Silver in the Team Event with every member of the team finishing in the top 35. Daniel Playfair and Nathan Semple qualified for the individual event. The Inter Team (Year 11+12) consisting of Jakob Swann, Mark Carberry, Rory Wood, Adam Skelly, Ben Jenkins and Lewis Mackinnon won Bronze in the team event. In the Senior Race both John Ewing and Cameron Jenkins qualified for the individual event. This was an excellent medal haul for the school with 19 Athletes qualifying for the Ulster Schools Cross Country Championships.
This year's Sports Day was held under a glorious blue sky, with perfect weather conditions at Bangor Sportsplex. As usual, there was an excellent turn out for all events and the behaviour of the boys was exemplary. Many thanks to all staff involved in manning events and ensuring the smooth running of this highlight of the school year.