In the middle of August a party of 22 pupils from Year 12 and 13 History classes in Limavady High School visited Belgium to witness commemorations for the centennial of the outbreak of World War I.
The group visited St.Symphion cemetery near Mons on 23rd August, the anniversary of the first battle of the war, the Battle of Mons. Students and staff alike recalled what a moving experience it was to visit the graves of the first soldiers to die in the war, 100 years ago exactly to the day. Head of the History department, Mr George Dallas, said, “This was, without doubt, the most worthwhile school trip I have organised. The visit provided first-hand experience of what is studied in class and really brought History to life.”
Pupils also laid poppy crosses on graves of their choice and will research the chosen soldiers on their return to school.
Visits were also made to the centre of Mons where, on parade, were military dressed in the uniform of the day. Other trips included Ypres, where a wreath was laid at the Menin gate ceremony, and to Tyne Cot cemetery, the largest British cemetery in Belgium.
Lee McDonald, a Year 13 pupil, explained the visit to the Flanders Field Museum, “Inside there were multiple Interactive sections allowing us to find out information about different battles as well as hundreds of artefacts such as weapons and kit used by both British and German armies. This allowed us to imagine the living conditions and challenges of war.” His classmate, Leah Hamilton, continued, “The cemetery visits were most emotional as you could see just how many lives were lost, many of whom were as young as eighteen. There were many graves with no names, instead simply saying,” Unknown to God.”
On a lighter note the group, based in Brussels, toured highlights of the city as well as visiting the beautiful medieval cities of Ghent and Bruges.
Thursday 21st August may have been a day of inclement weather but at Limavady High School as pupils arrived to receive their long awaited GCSE results spirits were very high as results have improved for the second year in a row. The school has quite justifiably a real sense of pride as both pupils and staff alike celebrate what has been a great overall achievement at GCSE level.
“This year we can celebrate as we have achieved our best set of results to date” said school Principal Mr Shane Laverty. “ We have put in place a rigorous plan involving continuous monitoring, evaluation and review of pupil progress. We have also introduced new subjects to the curriculum which are more geared to the career pathways of our pupils. All of this, along with the hard work and dedication of our staff and the diligence and improved sense of self worth which we try to encourage in our pupils has helped to bring these results about.”
Mr Laverty said, “the number of pupils who have achieved 5 grades or more at A*-C has improved significantly over the past two years – an improvement of 23% - with 80% of entries now achieving at that level. This is well above the Northern Ireland average for similar schools”.
Mr Laverty went on,”There has also been a significant increase over the same two year period of 48% in the number of pupils who have achieved 5 Grades A*-C including English and Maths with the figure now standing at 40% - again above the Northern Ireland average. Results in English and Maths have continued to improve as the school introduces further strategies to improve outcomes in these two essential areas”.
“It is our aim to continue to build on the fine reputation which the school has in the community and to improve our results year on year. We are about building relationships and helping our young people to improve their self esteem. Our pupils will be the backbone of the community in future years and it is vital that they become confident adults who can contribute to the local economy and society in general”, he said.
Mr Laverty went on, “ The parents and in particular the staff of the school deserve so much credit as they strive to improve self esteem amongst our pupils. It is my aim to help create a “happy school” where learning takes place”.
Mr Laverty would advise any pupils from the school or any other school who wish to enrol at Limavady High to further their post 16 education to contact the school on 028 77762526.