The Pursuit of Excellence- Senior Prize Day 2023

Written by | News, Frontpage

Senior Prize Day is an exceptionally important event in our school calendar. On Prize Day we take great pride and delight in being able to award the excellent achievements of our senior students (Year 13 and Leavers 2023). We also get to mark the milestones and tremendous progress made in their journey at Wallace from Year 8 onwards.

Prize day, our annual celebration for senior students, commenced on Tuesday the 19th of December in the Assembly Hall of Wallace. It rewards the strenuous efforts and amazing triumphs of our young people. It highlights Wallace’s admiration for the dedication of our students to their studies and support from parents. Similar events take place throughout the academic year for those in the junior school and for sporting achievements. During these events, they have the opportunity to share in each other’s success and be recognised for their commitment by Wallace staff.

Prize Day

During Prize Day a whole host of certificates, prizes and trophies were distributed to commend the excellence of our students. Every student was recognised for their individual successes in the 2023 examination season. Specific congratulations and awards were handed out to those who achieved the highest grades in each subject.

Teachers, mentors, family members and students alike congregated to share the rewards of diligence and perseverance; and to recognise this important stage in our future generation’s life.

Tanya Matthews

The celebration was marked by the inspiring words of Miss Tanya Matthews, our guest speaker. Tanya is a past student from Wallace and was part of the Class of 2014.

Tanya is an accomplished IT professional with 9 years of experience.  She began her career as a developer at Kainos, completing a Computing Systems Degree part-time through their ‘Earn as You Learn’ Apprenticeship Scheme. She graduated from this prestigious and unique programme with First-Class Honours.

Her work has been recognised as the Highly Commended Young IT Professional in the Belfast Telegraph Awards (2021) and a One to Watch in the Future Finalist, as part of the Women in Business Awards (2022).

Tanya emphasised the importance of excellence to our students, one of Wallace’s CORE values, to enrich the future generations’ mindset with positivity and empowerment.

She commented:

“I want to talk to you about a journey that I have embarked on, a journey that started right here in this school hall and a journey that I only realised I was on when I stopped to reflect. This journey is the pursuit of excellence. Excellence is one of the school values, a value at my current job and one of my own personal values.”

She proceeded to describe both the struggles and highlights of her aspirational career path as a woman in S.T.E.M., a growth industry in Northern Ireland. A career in need of appreciation and increased representation. She empathised with the anxieties of choosing “the route less travelled”- further liberating Year 13 and 14 in their individual journeys.

Tanya stated her gratitude to her experience of Wallace’s support to pursue her passion and concluded:

“I encourage you to do the same. Explore, learn, and challenge yourselves. Success is not a destination, but a journey. It’s not always easy, but it’s always rewarding. You have the time and the potential to achieve your goals. Don’t let anything stop you.”

Whilst our guest speaker represents just one success in the pathways beyond Wallace. This tremendous occasion can act as a reminder, as well as being inspirational. With effort and dedication to yourself, your ultimate passion and goals are achievable.

Mrs O’Hare

Our principal, Mrs Deborah O’Hare, congratulated the students on each of their awards with a speech highlighting not just the attendees success, but the success of the entire Wallace community’s initiatives throughout the past year. She stood spectacularly proud of the expression of Wallace’s CORE values in Tanya’s speech.

Mrs O’Hare reflected:

“Our pupils show commitment to education and intellect. They seek out opportunities to progress in their journey of success. They value respect. Not only to their peers in their pathway, but to also expressing gratitude to the teachers and mentors who guide them through their academic career. Finally and above all, they have the ability to recognise their achievement. To take pride in the excellence they have exhibited in the challenges they have faced. We are exceptionally proud of their ability to soar despite the hardship the world has faced in the past few years.”

The day closed with a round of applause- each student left feeling both gracious and  happy that their hard work has been recognised and with their loved ones delighted to see the environment they thrive in. Congratulations to all who received their awards!

(By Ava Hanna, Year 13)

Last modified: January 19, 2024