The Junior Prize Distribution, generously sponsored by the PTA, is a warmly-anticipated event in the school calendar. Although a relatively new concept compared to its big brother which celebrates GCSE and A level success, the Junior Event has already developed its own distinctive character. Central to this character is the celebration of the success of our own former pupils as each year the school community has welcomed back a member of the Wallace family.
2019 saw Mrs Sara McCracken (Sara Stuart) step up to the microphone to tell of her inspirational post-Wallace life. In her early working life she found an enjoyable career in the advertising industry but family life meant a change in focus. Sara was expecting twins; they made their arrival at 29 weeks! Even more dramatically they were soon registered severely sight impaired due to a rare genetic condition. From this personal crisis came what has become Sara’s passion, the charity Angel Eyes which supports around 500 families annually. The capacity audience listened attentively as Sara outlined the charity’s work and its goal to support at “every pressure point of a child’s life.” Some fascinating statistics and their implications were explored as how many of us would understand the practical difficulties in bonding with your own child when 80% of all information is taken in by our eyes? The charity, which employs four staff members, runs eleven clubs around Northern Ireland and is committed to helping parents understand sight loss and to helping children achieve their potential. Two outstanding areas of recent development in the charity’s work mirror these aims as a virtual reality sight loss simulator provides remarkable insights into the experience of the visually impaired whilst a new qualification for Classroom Assistants, accredited by the University of Ulster, will provide the opportunity for rigorous training in supporting young, visually impaired learners.
Speaking of her Wallace days Sara said she had suffered from “imposter syndrome” and was forever indebted to her former Head of Year ( Mr Eric Green) who gave her the life-changing advice “ The only thing standing between success and you, Sara, is you.”
Earlier in the evening Principal Mrs Deborah O’Hare had given a comprehensive “state of the union” address celebrating the many successes of younger pupils in 2018/19. Referencing department after department she painted a vivid picture both of the variety of opportunities open to junior pupils and the remarkable levels of success achieved in many competitions. In her closing remarks she quoted the words of Ghandi:
“ Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values and keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”
The delightful musical interludes were provided by Year 11 students Rachel Armstrong( Film Noir by Cornick piano) and violinist Genevieve Hamilton ( Black Eyes) the latter seeming an especially appropriate title!
Speaking after the event Senior Teacher Mr Reid said: “This is always a very positive evening as we celebrate outstanding achievement and significant improvement. I’d like to thank our speaker for a very inspirational address and all the staff who help to make this event run smoothly. Special thanks to my right hand woman, Miss Linda Coughlan.”
Last modified: September 25, 2019