As with previous years the boarding department in September was buzzing with new students getting to know each other and getting to know the routine. At times it is difficult to get everyone motivated to take part in the evening activities with many wanting to spend their free time hanging around the dorms and playing computer games. With this in mind the boarding staff made a determined effort to make this year a bit different, and hopefully a bit more fun, by giving some of the annual events a revamp.
We kicked off our activity programme with Fright Night a few days before Halloween hoping to scare the junior boarders just a bit with a spooky tour around the Mall house where they encountered some truly terrifying sixth form who relished the opportunity to dress up and create a house of horror.
The first term then came to a close with the Christmas quiz which was a cacophony of party hats, icing sugar, cellotape and Christmas carols. Over a course of 10 rounds the students and staff teams battled it out to be the champions. Their challenges ranged from building a tower using balloons and tape to making a gingerbread house to answering general knowledge questions on a Christmas theme.
We decided to update the yearly Talent Show too this year and the students worked in their year groups, with the assistance of some 6th form directors to write and act in a scene for our movie. We gave each group a genre and a situation from boarding to explore and that was the height of our input. It is impossible to mention everyone by name who made the movie such a success and so we held an awards ceremony to congratulate them on their scene stealing performances. With the DVD available for sale, I am sure the boarders will be laughing about their exploits long after this year has ended.
In this glorious Summer term, spurred on by the weather, we held a traditional sports day with the old favourites like egg and spoon, three-legged and wheelbarrow races. The teams were picked by pulling names out of a hat and with their captain Sean McEntee the pink team were victorious.
Sports Day was preceded by a delicious BBQ, and many thanks are due to Ita, Caroline and Hilary. We concluded the evening with a treasure hunt around the school grounds with Mr Cardwell’s clues proving a bit too cryptic for some.
One of the most talked about activities this year was the aptly titled ‘Moonwalk’. Born out of our desire to be more community minded the students were asked to present a range of charities to support. After a vote the boarders decided to support the Northern Ireland Down’s Syndrome Association and they quickly set about raising sponsorship.
With almost £1000 raised and collected we gathered at 10.30pm for our moonlit walk around the Mall… Backwards! More than 40 of us took on the challenge and successfully completed 2 laps and although we raised some strange looks from the others on a late night stroll great fun was had by all.
This has been a busy year for us and while it takes some planning and a lot of time, the benefit to the pupils makes it worthwhile. I would like to thank all of the students whom I have relied on at some point to help out with organising these events.
A huge thank you to all the boarding staff who have put so much of themselves into boarding this year and especially to Mr Bell and Mr Cardwell who have been invaluable over the year.