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Prize-giving ceremony highlights achievements of students who excelled despite post-pandemic challenges


By Garry McCartney

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Junior Dux Georgia Browne (left) and Senior Dux Amy McGhee. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Junior Dux Georgia Browne (left) and Senior Dux Amy McGhee. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

FORRES Academy’s head teacher praised the entire school community during her speech at the annual prize-giving ceremony before the summer break-up.

Jan Sinclair and guest speaker, former maths teacher and Moray Council leader, George Alexander, were joined by an audience at the first in-person event at the assembly hall for three years.

Mrs Sinclair said: “This is the fourth prize-giving speech I have delivered, yet only the second one on this stage delivering in person. The past two years we have had virtual events – despite the conditions we still celebrated the amazing achievements of our young people.

“While there has been a full school year with no national lockdowns, the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic led to this year being more challenging than the previous two. Pupils and staff had to live with face coverings, split break and lunch times and the inability to gather for assemblies and events. Not being able to have parents in the building was extremely difficult.”

The absence rate of pupils and staff up until the Easter break had a huge impact on the school. Around Christmas, it meant partial closures, however, SQA exams were to go ahead so senior pupils carried on with preparation.

Mrs Sinclair added: “We cannot underestimate the impact that this year had, but not just in relation to the pandemic. Twice last July and again in November, we suffered extreme flooding in the school building with significant disruption to learning and teaching.”

Since March, contractors have been working on water pipes and the heating system as the old system will not survive for another year. Contractors are also upgrading the electrical system over the school holidays.

“Yet despite the challenges, one thing has been consistent,” said Mrs Sinclair, “resilience: the determination and strength of relationships of pupils and staff, parents and the wider community.

“The young people have once again dealt with the challenges of this year in a way that they should be so very proud of.”

After listing the many activities and achievements of the school community over the last year, Mrs Sinclair saved her praise for the prizewinners until last.

She said: “Your awards are well deserved and I give every one of you my congratulations.”

The Sunbeam Shield is awarded to a young person with barriers to learning who displays perseverance and a determination to succeed. This year, the accolade went to the late Caitlin Dustan, an S4 year pupil with additional support needs who sadly passed away from epilepsy in May.

Mrs Sinclair said: “Despite Caitlin having barriers to her learning, she loved coming to school and was known by everyone for her infectious smile, positive, cheery attitude and her love of learning. We feel a huge loss without her.

“We have kept in regular contact with Caitlin’s family and I am delighted they have been able to join us here this evening.

“The prizewinners are decided on just after Easter and it had already been decided before Caitlin’s sudden death that she would be awarded this prize. This will be the last time this trophy is awarded and instead we will be issuing a new shield, The Caitlin Dustan Award.”

Pupil Ebony Bedford performed River Flows in You by Yiruma before Mr Alexander gave his speech.

He said: “Always be willing to have a go, dare to move out of your comfort zone and never forget that there is no such thing as a silly question. Discipline yourselves to get up, get out and get on. Learn how to interact, in a positive way, with our fellow human beings. Work hard and give your best and you will be a valued member of the workforce and the community.”

The fourth-year prizes were then awarded before Rotary Club of Forres Young Musician of the Year Edward Clark performed Largo from Sonata in G Minor by Henry Eccles.

School prizes followed, then the cups and trophies: the German Consulate Prize for excellence in Modern Languages went to Kornelia Urbanska; the Nicolson Award for a first year who demonstrates talent in creative writing was given to Phoebe Dennis; the MacIver Prize for a second-year pupil demonstrating talent in creative writing was won by Abbi Taylor-Dewick; and the Michael Dufficy Trophy acknowledging the creative writing skills of a third-year student was presented to Scarlett Britain.

Dan Taylor-Dewick also accepted the Alan Grieve Memorial Award for Excellence in Science.

Finally, Mrs Sinclair named the S4 and senior duxes for the year.

She said: “The S4 dux is a student who has hit a higher estimated attainment than submitted to SQA for National 5 exams. The senior dux is the same – for someone with the highest estimated attainment for National 6 or Higher exams.

Both girls showed extreme dedication throughout the year and are well deserved winners.”

Georgia Browne (15) received the George Pirie Award as S4 dux for her academic excellence.

She said: “I’m very happy – I didn’t expect it but I did try extra hard this year!

“Over the last few years we’ve had to deal with the upsets of Covid, including substitute teacher cover and exams being tweaked for social distancing.

“My advice to my fellow students for the coming year is to try really hard to do your best.”

The title of Forres Academy Senior Dux 2021-22 was won by Amy McGhee (17).

She said: “I’m still in shock but really proud.

“Getting used to a normal full-time year at school was difficult, especially proper exams.

“My advice to younger students is to choose subjects you enjoy and do your best... you might achieve things you didn’t expect like me being made school dux!”

Mrs Sinclair finished: “The prizewinners – indeed all of our senior students – have made us proud.

“We are celebrating them but every one of our students has coped in tough times. If only there were awards for all of them – and their parents!”

The S4 prize winners for 2021-22 were:

Lauren Anderson Attainment in N5 German

Rachel Ballingall Effort and Application in N5 Mathematics and N5 Physics

Darcy Barnett Effort and Application in N5 RMPS

Ariane Barrere Effort and Application in N5 French. Attainment in N5 Music

Ashton Bayliss Attainment in N4 Chemistry

Jaiden Blackwell Attainment in N4 Art and Design

Ebony Bedford Effort and Application in N5 Biology. Attainment in N5 Art and Design and N5 German

Michael Bishenden Attainment in N5 Computing

Georgia Browne Attainment in N5 Biology, N5 Engineering Science, N5 English, N5 Mathematics and N5 Physics

Billy Buchanan Attainment in N4 French

Ryan Curran Effort and Application in N4 Geography

Olivia Dawson Attainment in N5 English, N5 Mathematics, N5 Biology, N5 Chemistry and N5 History

Aaron Donnelly Effort and Application in N5 Drama

Caitlyn Dustan Effort and Application in N4 Modern Studies

Gwyn Edwards Effort and Application in N5 Art and Design

Ben Ellwood Attainment in N5 Chemistry

Alana Franklin Effort and Application in N5 History and N5 Modern Studies

Cody Fraser Effort and Application in N5 Music and N5 Sport and Recreation. Attainment in N4 Geography

Nico Giscombe Effort and Application in N4 Art and Design

Amy Gordon Effort and Application in N4 French

Gillies Grant Attainment in N5 Geography and N5 History

Luke Hall Attainment in N5 Sport and Recreation

Aidan Hunter Effort and Application in N4 Practical Cookery and N4 Physics. Attainment in N5 Practical Woodwork

James Inglis Attainment in N4 Chemistry

Sarah James Attainment in N4 Mathematics

Zac Judd Effort and Application in N5 PE. Attainment in N5 Drama

Sarah Kelly Effort and Application in N4 History

Grace Liddle Effort and Application in N5 Modern Studies. Attainment in N5 Administration and IT and N5 RMPS

Hannah Long-Melton Effort and Application in N4 Computing, N4 Chemistry, and N4 History

Lewis Mackenzie Attainment in N5 French, N5 PE, N5 Physics and N5 Geography

Jazmin McAfee Effort and Application in N4 English. Attainment in N5 Drama and

Josh McDonald Attainment in N4 Biology

Finlay McGhee Attainment in N5 Graphic Communication

Erin McIntosh Effort and Application in N4 Practical Cookery

Benjamin Middlemiss Attainment in N5 Sport and Recreation

Jade Moat Attainment in N4 Practical Cookery

Sean Munro Attainment in N4 Engineering Science

Chloe Murray Attainment in N4 Drama

Abigail O’Brien Effort and Application in N5 French. Attainment in N5 Modern Studies

Lauren Olivant Attainment in N4 History

Madeleine Partington Attainment in N4 Biology and N5 Art and Design,

Matthew Rawding Attainment in N4 English

Peter Richards Effort and Application in N5 English

Kenya Ros Effort and Application in N5 Practical Woodwork

Louanna Savu Effort and Application in N5 Chemistry. Attainment in N4 Mathematics

Serena Scott Attainment in N5 History

Aaron Simpson Effort and Application in N5 Geography. Attainment in N5 French

Chloe Simpson Effort and Application in N4 Art and Design

David Simmons Effort and Application in N5 Chemistry. Attainment in N5 Graphic Communication

Jack Souter Effort and Application in N5 German. Attainment in N5 Administration and IT

Isaac Swanson Effort and Application in N5 Mathematics, N5 Sport and Recreation and N5 Geography

Ann-Marie Taylor Effort and Application for N4 Mathematics

Derren Taylor Effort and Application in N4 Biology, N4 Drama and N4 English. Attainment in N4 Music

Daniel Terris Effort and Application in N5 Engineering Science

Emily Thomas Attainment in N4 German

Harry Thomas Effort and Application in N5 History

Brodie Topp Effort and Application in N4 Physics

McKenzie Trueman Effort and Application in N4 Physics

Ella Wallace Effort and Application in N5 Art and Design and N5 Graphic Communication

Matthew Young Effort and Application in N4 Engineering Science and N4 Music



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