On the 7th of February 2017, the Year 14 demonstrated an array of talents in a charity fundraiser to raise money for the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice. With both raffle and entry tickets selling like hot cakes, it promised to be a night to remember.
Hosted by the dynamic duo of Kieran Will and Matthew Patton, the night opened with a theatrical extravaganza from Cabaret, sung by Mrs Payne accompanied with a troupe of backing dancers - namely Adam Parkinson, Callum Ferran, Chris Small, Chris Goldthorpe and Dan Beattie. After this wonderful opening, it was clear that this would be a night to remember.
Next up was David Torrens, who unveiled a series of hilariously accurate celebrity impressions. From Keith Lemon to Bear Grylls, from Paddy McGuinness to Chris Eubank, from Liam Neeson to David Attenborough, and more, David made everyone laugh with his self-written I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here skit.
Following him was Mrs Shaw and Mr Dickson, who stunned the room with a powerful duet in the vein of a classic opera.
After that, Cal Ritchie and Luke Ritchie sang and played She’s Electric by Oasis, which was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.
The next act was the Top Team act, which included Charlie Blair, Paddy Eves, Bertie Parkinson, Reece Simpson and Matthew Agnew, who performed some of Queen’s greatest hits through the medium of interpretative dance and white vests. This provoked a strong reaction in the audience, largely of shock and disgust.
Following this spectacle was a speech by the President of the Hospice, Paul Clarke, who spoke passionately about the work of the hospice and how grateful he was for our contribution.
A short interval allowed everyone to stock up on tea, coffee, juice, biscuits and popcorn, leaving them well refreshed and ready to be entertained by the second act.
On Tuesday 28th March, the Abaana New Life Choir came into school to spend the day with us. They spent time in lessons, played musical instruments in Music and took part in games organised by the Uganda 2015 team. They also came into the Atrium at lunchtime and sang a few songs for the boys.
CHARITY REPORT 2016/17
Never before has the Year 14 Charity Committee been faced with such a difficult year than the 2016/17 academic year. With the loss of two of our own boys, Peter Clarke (Year 14) and Josh Martin (Year 12), as well as the sudden loss of Mrs Claire Greenaway, the Charity Committee decided to focus on and help the fantastic work that is performed by many of our local Northern Irish Cancer Charities.
The year was kick-started with a Coffee Morning for the staff and a bun sale for the boys in the Atrium. Raising £483.08 in aid of MacMillan Cancer, the morning was enjoyed by staff and pupils alike and the buns were gone within ten minutes! The first non-uniform day of the year was in aid of Alastair Bull, a Year 10 pupil, to help support him through his rehabilitation from a spinal stroke that left him paralysed after a family holiday that summer. Collectively, we raised over £1,800 to help Alistair with his treatment.
Next was our annual Children In Need Festivities which, thankfully, did not entail leg waxing for the Year 14. We did not manage escape lightly, however, as the Year 8 and 9 pupils were able to throw wet sponges at their mentors in the courtyard. The uniform theme for this years Children In Need was ‘Spot-tacular’ and it was a joy to see all the Year 8 - 13 pupils who got behind the cause and swapped one item of their uniform for a spotty item of clothing. The Year 14s enjoyed their annual dressing up day and a competition for best costume was awarded that morning. There were some unnerving characters walking around the school that day including Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, Laurel and Hardy and the Teletubbies. The day was thoroughly enjoyed by all and we raised £1,705.81. This was not our final total however, as Lloyds Bank matched our donation to Children In Need because we as a school had been supporting the charity for so long. Therefore, our final total was £3,411.62 to help children and young adults across the UK be supported by BBC Children In Need. December and the Christmas period saw a variety of charity events in the school including the Action Cancer Christmas Card Sale, the Annual BGS Carol Service (in aid this year of Action Cancer and Abaana), the Christmas Jumper Non-Uniform Day supporting the work of Abaana in Coo-Rom Bangor Grammar School and a few of our BGS pupils taking part in the Abaana ‘Sleep-Out’ at the McKee Clock in Bangor.
'The soul of Poland is indestructible… she will rise again like a rock, which may for a spell be submerged by a tidal wave, but which remains a rock.'
Sir Winston Churchill’s quotation sums up Poland quite aptly. A country, scarred with political divide multiple times but able to rebuild and prosper by its continuous advancement. This trip enabled me to see Poland in a completely different light. I did not know much about the country, but nothing matched the experience of going there and experiencing the sights. It also made me realise on how little we know about this extraordinary country.
Our tour began on a dark February night at 1:00am, as we set off on our journey to Dublin Airport. This set the theme of not getting enough sleep on the trip… partly due to the hours of travel. After reaching Dublin Airport, we embarked on the plane and flew to Gdansk. We lost no time and decided to head straight to the Lenin Shipyards and the Solidarity Museum. We learnt about the Solidarity Movement which swept and revolutionised Poland; becoming the first trade union not to be run by communists, but led by the Polish President at the time, Lech Walesa. It is an incredible reminder of the power of people determined to be free. We also visited Westerplatte where the first bullets of WWII were fired.
We then visited the ‘Wolf’s Lair’, Hitler’s war-time base. After a hearty rendition of the School Song at Hitler’s Bunker, we left for the Polish capital – Warsaw. Here, we explored the Uprising Museum, absorbing the fascinating history of the Polish Resistance and the lengths they went to bring an end to the tyranny of Nazism in their beloved country. After a quick tour of the beautiful Old City, we left for the ancient capital – Krakow.
When we arrived at Krakow, we took a trip to Aushwitz-Birkenhau which was one of the most chilling experiences I have ever encountered. The scale of the mass genocide of innocent people was truly heart-breaking. We then took a tour around Krakow city. The houses and infrastructure were strikingly picturesque, having survived World War II largely unscathed. Finally, we had a tour around the Wielczka Salt Mines.
This marked the end of our tour and we left for Krakow Airport, for the flight back to Dublin. Poland was an eye-opening tour and spending it with my fellow schoolmates and teachers made it even better. Whilst touring around this amazing country, we picked up on the great sense of patriotism and national pride that the Polish feel for their country. We experienced a resilient country which has had to rebuild itself time and again. It is definitely saddening that many people nowadays fail to realise how important and how incredible Poland actually is. I feel fortunate and am grateful to all the teachers, especially Mr Wolfenden, who made this trip possible - allowing forty schoolboys to experience a trip of a lifetime around this beautiful country.
-Aqeel Mohamed, Year 11
GERMAN EXCHANGE TRIP TO LACHENDORF
In the final week of the summer term, twelve boys and two members of staff, Mr Nicholl and Mrs Nicholl, took part in the annual German Exchange with the Immanuel-Kant Gymansium in Lachendorf, Northern Germany. The BGS boys enjoyed a fascinating week experiencing life in Germany first hand through living with host families and attending school classes with their German exchange partners.
On Wednesday 8th of March, the annual Junior Drama competition took place in the Assembly Hall, as the four houses battled it out in a night filled with fun and laughter. The theme for the performances this year was based around 'Grimm's Fairy Tales', which saw the Year 8 and Year 9 pupils perform their unusual version of a well known fairy tale, devised by the Year 13 Drama pupils.
School House went first and set a high standard for the evening as they gave their performance of 'Hansel and Gretel'. Due to one of the actors being sick, one of the Year 13 directors had to take on the role of Hansel for the evening. They performed extremely well and Ben Campbell was awarded the Best Actor Award for School House.
Just after School House had finished, Dufferin House came onto the stage and performed their interpretation of 'Cinderella'. It had comedy throughout, similar to all the performances, and was very entertaining to watch. A surprising moment in the evening came whenever Michael Lennox (the Director of Boogaloo, Graham and our esteemed guest judge for the night) issued not one, but three best actor awards for Dufferin House, they were Stellios Basakaropoulous, Oliver Greenway and Adam Purce.
The penultimate act was Ward House, who performed their version of 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'. Snow White, wearing a fetching red wig, captivated each audience member of the packed-out hall. The performance was very funny and a vast array of talents were shown on stage. The Best Actor award was given to Philip Acheson.
The Navy section is similar to the Army as we also complete several activities that help us improve our teamwork and leadership skills. On a regular basis, we are taught different skills that are used throughout the navy, such as learning different knots, basic first aid and all the signs and signals you would encounter at sea.
Outside activities are crucial to the development of our skills. This year, some Cadets were blindfolded while others had to guide them through an obstacle course to collect objects. This helped us to work on and improve our general awareness skillset such as listening. Often, we work in teams to complete a task, such as building a submarine using Lego without instructions. This really helps us with our teamwork and leadership skills.
Throughout the year there are many opportunities to go away and try new things. For example, there are regattas a few times a year for those that can sail and courses for those who want to learn to sail or scuba dive. We all look forward to see what the CCF has in store in our coming years at BGS.
-Aqeel Mohamed and Jack Fry, Year 11
90 Years of Debating in Bangor Grammar School
I recall clearly the moment I first encountered the old minute books of the Bangor Grammar School Debating Society. I was relatively new to teaching and an even more recent arrival to debating. A battered bell arrived in my classroom (the gavel, it seems, had disappeared long before) and then, a few days later, a pile of old leather bound books. I was intrigued. Choosing one at random, I flicked it open to reveal page after page of neat cursive script. The paper had yellowed with age and the binding was so fragile that I feared the book would come apart in my hands, but the words that leapt off the page were still fresh and vivid. The story they told was remarkable.
The minutes record that the first Bangor Grammar School debate was held on Saturday, 5th February, 1927, in G Room of the Crosby building, at 7.20pm. Mr A L Hawtin, the society’s founding president took the chair, and, from the tally of votes, it would appear that a crowd of 34 boys had gathered. The motion was ‘that in the opinion of this House, Wireless is a blessing to Mankind’. The boys had little experience in debating. We are told that the first speaker spoke about the use of wireless radios in hospitals and the home, but that ‘there was then a long silence’. Mr Hawtin was clearly moved by the speakers plight: the minutes record that ‘he asked some questions of the proposer to which he received some quite irrelevant answers.’ The debate, however, continued and the motion was carried by ten votes.
The standard of debating may have been dubious, but every school debate since has shared certain characteristics with the first. For a start, it is impossible not be struck by the boys’ sense of humour. It seems that at almost every meeting, motions of censure were brought against the officers of the society. These often involved some tongue-in-cheek criticism of the Honorary Secretary for his failure to post adequate notice of the debate. The early minutes also record frequent demands for the Honorary Treasurer to provide a financial report. As the Society’s funds seemed to consist only of a single halfpenny donated by the first Hon Treasurer, J G Pyper, providing such a report was never especially onerous. It is interesting to note that at a special Ten Year Anniversary Debate, the same J G Pyper, now an Old Boy, ‘inquired if the Hon Treas. had any knowledge of the halfpenny… The Hon. Treas. replied that some former Treasurer had made suitable use of it.’
The wit and humour of Grammarians has been remarkably consistent over the years. By way of example, I provide an extended quote from the minutes of a debate held on the 11th November 1988. By this time, Mr Hawtin had been replaced by the redoubtable Maurice McCord, who succeeded as President in 1966. The minutes begin as follows:
‘It was 3.39, Friday afternoon and there were 55 members packed into Room 148: either the President had lost his wallet or it was time for another weekly session of the School Debating Society. (For those interested, the wallet made one of its rare public appearances when it swerved to avoid the on-coming price of a round later that evening.)’
The humour was perhaps a little more irreverent with the passage of 60 years, but not by much.
The BGS Debating Society has always, however, been about a great deal more than humour. Over the decades, the minutes record debates about the legacy of one World War and onset of another, about the rise of Communism and its fall. As Northern Ireland entered its 30 year nightmare in 1968, the debates also began to touch on themes much closer to home. It is impossible in the space of a short article to provide detail on all of these, but I would like to refer to one remarkable debate, held in March 1938. It was the last of the term, a term in which the boys of BGS had debated everything from the ‘growth of jazz’, to the League of Nations, via the Partition of Ireland. Now they turned their attention to the future. The motion, unusually sombre for an end-of-term debate, was that ‘Life was not worth living.’ Speaking that night were four boys whose names appear frequently in the minutes of debates held in the late 1930s: F E Gault, G Fidler, H Bowman and W E Parkes. They didn’t know it, but on the night they spoke, German troops were already pouring across the Austrian frontier, moving the world a step closer to war. All four boys spoke with eloquence that evening, and I still read their words to my classes every year on Armistice Day. Fidler spoke for the motion: ‘In old age’, he argued, ‘we will look back and wish we had not lived’. Bowman agreed, speaking of a ‘continual question mark ahead of us’. ‘We do not know’, he argued, in words that were to prove painfully poignant, ‘what will happen next’. They were challenged, however, by Frank Gault. He argued forcefully that ‘a good and happy life was a life of service. It is a pleasure to help others and do our duty to mankind.’ Frank Gault died three years later, serving his country in the Royal Air Force.
The Bangor Grammar School Debating Society continues to thrive. Today, we are the largest and most successful School Debating Society in Northern Ireland. We have won the Schools Cup on more occasions than any other school; indeed, the past academic year saw another triumph. Having won the Northern Ireland Schools Cup in 2016, our team (Jack Steen and Archie Arran) fought hard to reach the final and defend our title in 2017. They quickly established a reputation as a formidable team and made it to the final in April, where they opposed the motion that ‘This House would not worry if Stormont were not restored’. Jack and Archie deployed wit, aggression and intellectual prowess to defeat an extremely able BRA team, allowing us to retain the cup in our 90th year.
Today, boys continue to meet on Friday afternoons, now in Room U9, to argue, pontificate and debate. I am confident that Mr Hawtin, along with his successors, Maurice McCord, Rodney Jones and Philip Moore, not to mention their students, would not only approve but feel very much at home.
-Mr S J Wolfenden, Teacher in Charge
JUNIOR DEBATING SOCIETY
It is frightening how quickly this academic year has passed and I can scarcely believe that yet another debating ‘season’ is over. The junior debating society continues to attract pupils from across the junior school and motions still vary wildly from the serious to the relatively ludicrous. However, in appealing to teenagers, ludicrous can often be viewed as the norm. That being said, politics is still the key area up for discussion with the trust of our politicians, the ‘London’ of ‘Londonderry’ and the future of the Union all having faced intense scrutiny this year.
The standard of debating has been impressive all year and this high watermark was routinely displayed by several Year 10 pupils. The debating skills of pupils such as Conor Campbell, Thomas Noble, Oliver Rea, Benjamin Martin, Harry Gibson and Callum Beal have been of an exceptional standard throughout the year. I am in no doubt that some of these pupils will be gracing the floor at a future Northern Ireland Schools’ Debating final in the near future. Congratulations must also be extended to Crosby House, who have once again won the Junior House Competition in proposing the motion: ‘This House Believes that Northern Ireland Can Move on from the Legacy of the Troubles.’
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Joseph Krawkowski for his attentive minute taking over the last two years in his role of secretary. We now have debating minutes from the last three years and these will be preserved as we move from our current ragged book to something a little more robust.
It is never too late to start debating and I would encourage any junior pupil to call into one of the society’s debates to see how they operate. By going one step further, taking a small leap of faith and nominating oneself as a speaker, there is every chance an untapped skill will be found. To that end, I look forward to another year of debating with new speakers particularly welcome.
-Mr M Dickson, Teacher in Charge
As part of the Shared Education initiative, students from St Columbanus’ College, Bangor Academy and Bangor Grammar School have been working together for the past year towards becoming ‘Anti-Bullying Ambassadors’.
The program kicked off in September with students meeting up to undertake a day of training; discussing the origins of bullying and how best to prevent it. It also gave the students some very practical ideas on how to address bullying and negative behaviour. The ‘ambassadors’ from all three schools had lots of opportunities to work together in groups and see what their peers had to say about occurrences of bullying in their respective schools, before collaborating to devise useful strategies and activities they could take home with them.
It was encouraging to see so many enthusiastic individuals turn out each Wednesday to play table tennis. The club regularly had between 40-45 members, with all ability levels and age groups being represented each week.
These regular practice sessions have resulted in excellent progress being made by a large number of boys. Mr Ramsey and Ms Garland continued to assist with our weekly practice sessions and we would wish to thank them for their support throughout the year.
The Under 19 Table tennis team were runners up in the Ulster Schools’ Cup Competition. The team of John Ewing, Kieran Will, Harry McCracken, Aqeel Mohamed, Adam Simmonite and Chris Goldthorpe battled their way through the rounds of the competition, surprising all by the quality of their play for such a young team. The Under 13 team also performed well on the day, being runners up in the plate competition. The team consisted of Max Skelton, Ross Fulton, Joel Smith, Matthew Thomas, Ryan Thompson and Ethan Mairs.
Three teams were entered for the Ulster schools league competition, U19, U14 and U12 age groups. The U 12 team of James Skelton, Max Skelton, Ross Fulton and Joel Smith defeated every other team in this competition.
Seven table tennis players were entered into the Ulster Schools’ Individual Table Tennis Championships. Elite players attended from all parts of Northern Ireland, Monaghan and Cavan. The entry being the highest since the competition started. Harry McCracken and Adam Simmonite both reached the quarter finals of the Under 14 age group, Joel Smith came third in the Under 12s. John Ewing, Ross Fulton and Max Skelton all played in the finals, coming second in Ulster in the Under 16, 14 and 12 age groups respectively and finally, James Skelton narrowly defeated his brother to win the Ulster Under 12 competition.
On Wednesday 1st March, Bangor Grammar 1st XV ventured into their final match in what has been a hard fought season. Playing against Regent House, at Pirrie Park, the rain held off and the pitches were in fine condition for a game of rugby. Both sides respected a minutes silence before the start of play in honour of Josh Martin. This touching tribute would surely push the BGS team to show their worth. The game had an even start with both sides eager to make their impression felt with some rough tackling and solid rucking in the centre of the pitch. Our forward pack did well to maintain composure in this area and ensured that the ball was easily played out the back line.
Good defensive work and a scrum turnover allowed Bangor to gain control of the game early on. Strong carries from Martin Withers and Thomas Boyd allowed BGS to make a push for a try. However, disciplined defence from Regent forced a turnover, giving them a penalty which fell short. This failed attempt kept the score at 0-0. Strong defence and solid attacking play allowed Bangor to post the first points on the scoreboard. Zach Kerr slotted the subsequent penalty between the posts to make the score 3-0 to BGS. Good play by Cameron Webb and a turnover by BGS allowed Zach Kerr to break the Regent line and score to the left of the posts, the following conversion unfortunately hit the posts making the score 8-0 to Bangor.
Regent made slow progress in Bangor’s half, but their hard work gave them an opportunity to score a try. However, great defensive work by Callum Ferran allowed Bangor to turn over the ball and clear their lines with a far-reaching kick by Aaron Sexton. Some effective attacking play by Regent made Bangor give away a penalty which slid between the posts to bring the score to 8-3. Bangor reacted tenaciously to the Regent penalty with bull-like carries being by a number of players, most notably Zach Kerr who beat 3 defenders with a barnstorming run. This attacking play was sustained for a number of minutes and resulted in Charlie Blair scoring a try beneath Regent’s post and the conversion was easily made by Zach Kerr, pushing the score to 15-3. This marked half time and BGS were dominating the game.
On Saturday 11th February, a cold chilly morning, the Medallion Squad made BGS history. This match was the first time since 1985 that a Medallion Squad from BGS reached the semi-finals of the Shield beating a strong INST line up to a narrow yet none the less, impressive victory of 14-12.
Beforehand the game began with a coin toss between the two Captains. INST won the toss and started the game off with a kick into Bangor territory. Both sides started the match with a ferocious intensity and the game was in INST’s favour after the first twenty minutes. The team went through a number of phases to have their number eight carry the ball over after some intense defending on the try line from the Bangor squad. The first try of the game was scored. INST converted the kick and the score was 7-0.
The interplay of exchange of possession dominated the later of the first half with INST taking advantage and ending the first half 12-0. There was much outrage among the INST fans as a try was scored but disallowed by the referee, which would have been crucial to winning the match. The Bangor squad still had the support of the fans with the chanting getting ever louder. The first half was witness to the excellent scrumming and high intensity of the group as well as some superb performances from a number of the team including Riley Westwood, Connor Lusty and Alistair McConnell who were a key players in the constant defence of the Bangor posts and carrying the ball forward towards victory, throughout the match.