The annual Prize Giving ceremony took place at Wilson's Hospital School on 29th September. The events started with a service in the school’s Chapel led Chaplain Ms Rothwell with the School Choir, directed by Ms Heslin, leading the music. There are lots more photos on the school's Facebook page.
The Prize Giving award ceremony took place in the Weafer Hall. It was lovely to see so many parents, friends and past pupils in the hall to celebrate with the school community. Mr. Finnegan was Master of Ceremonies introducing the various speakers. Mr Nigel Foley-Fisher, the Chair of the School Management Board warmly welcomed the guest speaker, the Dean of Waterford, Rev. Maria Jansson to Wilson’s Hospital School.
Principal, Mrs Niamh McShane made an interesting and lively speech. She explained that Prize Giving gives everyone in the Wilson’s community and family a chance to pause and recognise what is important – the lives and the development of each and every pupil in the school with all of their gifts and talents. Each pupil brings unique blessings to the community. “The school has been touched by the usual slow cyclical changes that happen in life,” she said. Everyone in the school has at some stage suffered loss and bereavement and she passed on condolences especially to the family of the late Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Donald Caird who was a great supporter of the school throughout his life and ministry.
She reminded everyone that as well as the sad times, there are also new starts and happier times. She paid tribute to Ms Bernadette Mulligan who recently retired from Wilson’s where she started teaching in 1979. She thanked her for her great personal care for all pupils and she wished her well in the next chapter of her life. She also bade farewell to Mrs Lesley-Ann Lockington who taught in the school for fifteen years and has moved with her family to Antrim. She thanked her for her work teaching RE in the school and said what a great role model she was for pupils. Mrs McShane went on to thank recently retired Dr and Mrs Sweeney for their commitment to the well being of the students in their care especially at the weekends in Wilson’s. She welcomed the new members of staff to the school including Ms Barry and Mrs Pratt (who have taken on full time teaching jobs) and Mr Kierans and Ms Cosgrave (who have also joined the teaching staff) and several new members of staff in the Boarding Houses. All of these people join the Wilson’s Hospital family and were warmly welcomed.
The Principal continued by expressing her thanks to the members of the various Boards in Wilson’s who give so generously of their time in a voluntary capacity. She thanked Ralph Tyrell and the Parents’ Council, Colin Draper and the Past Pupils’ Association for their support of the school. Without the office staff, gboarding house duty staff, catering staff, Matrons, groundsmen, caretakers and housekeeping staff Wilson’s would be lost and she expressed her appreciation to them all for their work. She particularly thanked Deputy Principal, Dr. Kathy Finnegan and Bursar, Mr Liam Coyle for their support and hard work and their willingness to go the extra mile for the school.
Mrs McShane reminded everyone that Andrew Wilson’s original vision for the school was to prepare young people for jobs in the wider world and she pointed out that Wilson’s is always adapting to the needs of its pupils, for example with the introduction of Technology as a subject at Junior level this year. While the prizes were demonstrative of all of the academic talent in the school, Mrs McShane wanted to also congratulate some of the other successes our pupils achieved. She outlines some of the academic events that the school was involved in from Maths and Science Weeks, to Modern Foreign Language events, Labhair Gaeilge 24 agus Seachtain na Gaeilge to name just a few. Pupils had the opportunity to take part in a number of educational tours. Kayla and Leah are both play soccer for Ireland this year and Sam Murphy continues to play cricket for Ireland; several of the sports teams reached finals in their competitions; pupils and staff put on a very good pantomime at Christmas and the Choir and Music Students won awards again this year in the Briary Gap Light Entertainment Competition and Nicole received an award in the Texaco schools art competition. The school was also involved in numerous fundraising projects for a wide range of charities.
The Prize Giving ceremony itself then got underway. Mr Finnegan was Master of Ceremonies for the occasion, helped by Mrs O’Brien. A wide range of academic prizes were presented by the guest speaker, Rev Maria Jansson, celebrating the many types of academic successes throughout the school community.
At the start of her speech, Rev Maria Jansson said that she was impressed by the hard slog and commitment that it takes to achieve academic prizes and that those pupils were to be congratulated and commended. She point out that in her job as a member of the clergy, as she prepares couples for their weddings, she always asks what the couples like best about each other and that academic success is not always one of the first characteristics mentioned. Other factors which are more difficult to measure are important successes in people’s lives. She outlined some situations in lives that people have experienced and that they have emerged from which have made them into the people they are today. Some have been through great suffering and shown huge courage in the face of adversity. Others are known for their honesty, which is not always easy. Some people put themselves second to looking after the needs of others. People who have lived through or with depression have showed real depth of character. Others have come to terms with their sexuality in an homophobic world and some people who have been struggling to find their path in life. The characteristics and strength required to get through these aspects of lives may not be seen by most people but are truly admirable and prize worthy. At this point she encouraged the pupils to ask what type of person they want to be at the end of their time in Wilson’s.
The Dean also said that when a person dies and their family and community draw close in their grief, the descriptions they use in love show the qualities that person. These are the prizes of personhood. She concluded by encouraging everyone to walk a life of integrity and truth – this is the ultimate prize.
Prize Giving 2017 ended with a number of special presentations. The Principal congratulated Mrs Margaret who has been working in Housekeeping in the school for over 25 years and Mrs Mary Kenny who has been in the Catering Department for 25 years. She made a presentation to Mr John Rogers who is a past pupil and who is on the Board of Management. Last year he was involved in the tractor restoration project with pupils in Transition Year and First Year. Pupils Ryan and Lydia made a presentation to the guest speaker Rev Jansson on behalf of the pupils.
Throughout the afternoon some of the pupils sang and played instruments including Edward, Michaella, Chinwe , Debbie , Laurence and Evan. The entertaining and enjoyable event concluded tea in the school dining room.