The Sixth Form
As some of our students prepare to leave Down High for pastures new, they reflected on their time here and agreed to share their thoughts and memories.
Conor Leonard (Head Boy 2009-10)
Seven years is a long time, but it has passed so quickly, punctuated by stand-out events such as the Year 8 trip to Cultra, debates in History and Politics, and my participation in the Saphara Project in India in 2009. Down High School has been great fun. I have particularly enjoyed History, Politics and English, all of which I currently study at A-Level.
As a member of the senior school, I was presented with so many opportunities. I traveled to India last summer with a charity, Saphara, and the whole experience was life changing. Teaching and working alongside the children was a memory I shall cherish for life. As Head Boy this year, I have been kept busy but every aspect of my year has been fantastic and invaluable.
The extra-curricular activities that I have been part of helped make the school day all the more enjoyable. The Current Affairs Society was a great way to meet, question and on occasions challenge politicians and journalists. The Debating Society proved to be a good way to vent one’s frustration in a constructive manner, and the School Council is an excellent way of ensuring the pupils are listened to as contributors to the school. Down High’s cooperation with other schools has enabled me to be part of a cross-community and cross-border History project which I found fascinating.
I am grateful to the school for presenting me with so many great opportunities, all of which I have seized and will never forget.
Amy Geddes (Head Girl 2009-10)
As I approach my final days at Down High, it has hit me how much the school really means to me. It feels like only yesterday that I walked through the front doors for the first time and since then, time has flown by. The experiences I have had will stay with me for a lifetime; the Saturday morning hockey matches, the school concerts or the numerous class trips.
Everybody’s interests have always been catered for in the wide range of extra-curricular activities and it is the feeling of involvement that makes Down High such a great school. In my time at Down High I enjoyed taking part in many sports such as athletics, cricket and especially hockey.
The friendly atmosphere in the classrooms and corridors is created by the trusting and respectful relationships between the teachers and pupils. It is only now as I look back over the last seven years that I realise how important these relationships are in the success of the school, both academically and in an extra-curricular sense.
Down High has prepared me well for life after school and even though I am looking forward to what lies ahead of me, I know I will greatly miss being a part of the school community.
Anna Ferguson (Deputy Head Girl 2009-10)
For the past 14 years I have been travelling through the gateway belonging to Down High School ready for a new day of learning. I have loved every moment of being a student here and I can’t believe my time is nearly at an end.
The thing that is special about Down High is the sense of friendship and belonging. With so many clubs, school trips and societies to join there is something for everyone to get involved in. I will never forget zooming down the ski slopes in Italy, trudging tirelessly through the Mourne Mountains on my Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition or representing the school in both hockey and cricket. However, this year I have really enjoyed the service scheme where Sixth Formers can help out and give something back to the school. By assisting in the library, performing dissections for Year 10s in biology or getting stuck into glitter or play-dough with the heart-warming P3s, I have felt a great sense of pride in being a pupil at Down High School.
People who do not always get the credit they deserve are the teachers. Each has such a strong passion for their subject and the ability to engage pupils and encourage them to reach their highest potential. Without them I would not have achieved my grades at both GCSE and AS level or have developed such an interest in my subjects.
In the last few weeks at Down High School I am really appreciating what my time here has meant to me. From arriving in P1 to leaving as a sixth former I have developed both academically and personally. I will leave with life-long friends in pupils and teachers and some wonderful memories.
Down High has never failed to produce memorable moments for me and as I journeyed through the years the teachers have been inspirational and my classmates amazing. I am certain when I say that I have made friends for life.
David McBriar (Deputy Head Boy 2009-10)
Coming from a small rural school I began my first few days at Down High with trepidation. However the warm atmosphere of the school and the friendly welcome from my form teacher each morning soon gave me that feeling of security which I needed and now, seven years on, I can reflect on what an amazing journey it has been.
The opportunities that have been afforded to me throughout my time here have been fantastic; from being part of a team which travelled to England to take part in a technology competition to learning to play the piano. It was exciting to participate in the regional heat for the Irish Physics Olympiad and compete in the UK Maths challenge several times; all enjoyable and enriching experiences which added a further dimension to school life.
The most striking aspect of the school for me is the passion which the teachers have for their subjects and the enthusiasm with which they impart their knowledge. The high academic success, which is a hallmark of the school, is in no small measure due to their dedication. Through good relationships, support and encouragement they create an environment where pupils can enjoy challenges, develop their intellect and reach out towards their goals.
Now, it is almost time to move on. Down High has helped to make me the person that I am. It fosters in its pupils a deep rooted respect for themselves, for their teachers and for the wider world. I will always be proud to call myself a “Dunumian”; its influence on my life has been so profound and for this I shall always be grateful.
Floreat Dunum – May Down Flourish
David McMorran (Deputy Head Boy 2009-10)
Looking back on my time at Down High, there are certainly many fond memories to choose from. The water sports trip to Spain, The Duke of Edinburgh Silver and Gold Award expeditions, the Cork Exchange and the Senior Rugby Tour to Canada are but a few of the wonderful opportunities I availed of as a member of the school. The music department in Down High is an enthusiastic and vibrant community of teachers and pupils who truly enjoy bringing beautiful music to people’s ears, and I am genuinely proud to have been part of that for the past seven years. Extracurricular activities are virtually boundless at Down High, so it’s easy to find something for you.
I think one of the fundamental qualities of an educator is enthusiasm for their subject, and Down High’s teachers are certainly not lacking! Working towards A-levels this year I felt wholly supported by every one of teachers, all of whom are always eager to help. This strong team of staff, along with the dedication and commitment from pupils, is definitely part of the reason for the school’s academic success.
But now that my time at Down High is nearly over, I know without a doubt what I will miss the most. The people of Down High, pupils and staff alike, have been like a family for the past seven years to me. Leaving the familiarity of those corridors will be sad, but saying goodbye to the people I have grown up with and who have helped shape my life will be painful. I believe that is testament to the character of those you meet at Down High. I’ve felt welcome from day one.
I will miss my school, but I’m ready to move on now. Down High has prepared me well for the big world out there. It was a fantastic seven years, and I’ll remember them fondly. I am truly proud to have been a Dunumian.
Lauren Asfour (Deputy Head Girl 2009-10)
Seven years on, and I’m just as happy in the school as I was when I started. Like any competitive person, when I was placed in Rathkeltair House, red became my new favourite colour. Down High has given me the opportunity to grow as a person, helping me identify my strengths and giving me a direction for my future. It’s crazy to think that seven years on, people I didn’t know and hadn’t met have grown to become my closest friends. Being part of a school that has created mutual respect between teachers and pupils is really something special. Feeling part of a family and belonging in a community is the very essence of Down High and I feel a great sense of devotion to the school.
Upper Sixth in particular has been an action packed year, made all the easier by the school’s pastoral support network. Some highlights of the year have been the World Challenge Cat Walk, hiking in the beautiful Lake District with Gold Duke of Edinburgh group, the Class of 2010 Formal and of course, the memorable and humorous discussions in common room (obviously on our leisure periods!).
I have been lucky to be involved in so many aspects of school – Hockey, Duke of Ed, Choir, Young Enterprise, the Magazine Committee and the School Council. I thoroughly recommend to any pupil to seize the many opportunities that school offers and throw yourself into every chance that comes along. The school has offered me so much, and it has been a privilege being Deputy Head Girl, both assisting one of my best friends in her position as Head Girl and by working alongside some of my most cherished friends. Floreat Dunum and May Down truly flourish!