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