Gryphon 22/23

Principal's Introduction

The commencement of the 2022/23 Academic Year was full of changes and challenges for us all in Bangor Grammar School. The return to normality after the years of lock-down learning, face masks and social distancing has been welcomed and to see the school operating in our own unique way has been encouraging for all.

It has been fantastic to see the extra-curricular programme of the school back in full swing and boys engaging with their fellow peers and staff in the way we are used to in BGS. The year started with a very fitting remembrance of Mr Stephen Connolly (Principal 2001 – 2013). Mr Connolly was instrumental in building the ethos of Bangor Grammar School and during his time as Principal, brought the school from College Avenue to our current site. Mr Connolly was a great orator and public speaker who always wanted the best for his pupils and to whom we own so much in Bangor Grammar School.

Something that I was not expecting to do as Acting Principal, (nor is there any training for) was the announcement of the Queen’s death to the school community on September 9th. Her Majesty had died the previous afternoon and the need to mark this historic event in school was apparent to all. What I was not expecting was the spontaneous mass fainting that took place during this assembly - with over 17 pupils passing out during the minute of silence. A minute that had to be cut short in order to deal with those who had ‘hit the decks’.

Prize Day is always a highlight of the school year, and this year was no exception, with the acknowledgment of the hard work and determination shown by our young men in their exams and extra-curricular involvement. As always it was encouraging to see those boys returning to the school and hear of their plans for their future.

The Act of Remembrance service held in November is always one of the most poignant services of the school year as we remembered those that gave their lives for our freedom. Once again, the school orchestra enhanced the event as we gathered in the act of remembrance.

It was wonderful to see the return of the Senior Drama Society, which had not staged a full school play since 'The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui' in 2019. This year we experienced a haunting production of Charles Dickens' seasonal favourite, ‘A Christmas Carol’. It was a truly immersive experience, and our boys performed to an exceptionally high standard. Their ability, both in terms of acting and musicality, changed the Assembly Hall into a visually sumptuous Victorian environment and created a time of reflection about Christmas and others.

This year the Carol Service was brought back into the school to allow for more parents and friends to attend. The event was truly special, and the atmosphere put everyone in the Christmas mood. During the event we realised that despite all the planning in moving the event from the church to the school we had missed out on one vital element – The Vicar! At least it allowed me to get some steps in as I made the long walk back up and down the hall to ‘ad lib’ some of the parts of the service normally carried out by the clergy.

In January we were able to host our P7 Open Night and it was amazing to see the crowds back in the building with an estimated 1700 people attending the event. Despite the long queue to get in which was past the roundabout and halfway down the avenue, a warm welcome awaited all our visitors. Our boys showcased the school and were a credit to us with their interactions and energy.

Prior to half term, the school hosted The Careers Fair; with employers and Universities from the UK and Ireland in attendance. Once again, our doors were open to parents, pupils and other schools to afford them the opportunity to think about their futures and engage in meaningful conversations with industry professionals.

The return to a normal working environment brings back some of the fun to school life, and the joint disco for Year 8 with Glenlola Collegiate was indeed a resounding success for Year 8 pupils. It was fascinating to see the new methods of courtship, whereby all you have to do is hold up your phone with your 'snapcode' and await people to connect with you. Gone are the days of trembling boys asking for a number.

Finally, it is with anticipation and pride that the school will be renaming The Assembly Hall as The Connolly Hall at our Spring Concert event on Thursday 30 March. This will be a fitting tribute to Mr Stephen Connolly who brought us into this new school and whose heart and soul established the culture that we find today.

Stephen Connolly 1952-2022

At the start of the year, as I took on the role of Acting Principal, I was humbled and challenged as I heard the reflections on Mr Connolly and can only hope, in some small way, to follow in his footsteps. His kindness, concern and dedication to the school was apparent to all and it is only right that we mark his passing with a lasting legacy. Floreat Bangoria!

Mr Stephen Gilmore (Acting Principal)



Speech Day

Acting Principal's Report

Ladies and Gentlemen, esteemed guest, fellow Principals, Governors, and pupils, Welcome to the prize distribution for the academic year 2021-22.

In preparing for this speech today I felt it wise to look back at some of the previous Principal Speeches, but unfortunately, in doing so, it brought home to me the time that has passed between now and our last Speech Day. Who would have thought that the celebration of performance in September 2019 would be the last one until today? Obviously, the impact of Covid on all our lives has been a reality; however here in school, work continued, processes adapted, and pupils continued to learn.

As we all know, schools are ever-changing places and it is difficult to keep track of when and where things can sometimes happen, especially during the Covid pandemic. In the last three years a number of staff have left and moved on to other places; some with career changes, others for promotion, and others embarked on the joys of retirement. During the last academic year, we have seen staff from many facets of school life move on.

Gemma Montgomery left the Art department as a technician to work for Child Evangelism Fellowship as an illustrator. Alexander Weir left the Technology Department to continue with his studies. Alastair Ogilby, after teaching Languages throughout the pandemic, has left to commence working for the NI Civil Service. Zainab Oyekunle left the Classroom Assistant team and has returned to her studies at Queens University Belfast. Jonny Baker has left the facilities team and is now self-employed. After nine years, Angela Webster decided to move on as a Classroom Assistant and is now working with young people in Barnardo’s. Similarly, after nine years working as Rugby Coach and Physics Technician, Colin Hunter has gone to work with IRFU in their youth programme. Following a Career break, Rachel Douglas has decided to leave the MFL department and continue with her own translation business and we wish her every success in her new venture at this time. Sharon Cordner, the Principal’s PA, after 17 years has now joined her husband in running the family business, Windmill Guitars, and I know that she will appreciate the mention, for any of our budding musicians to visit their wonderful shop on Bangor High Street. W We miss her involvement and attention to detail along with her flair for making things happen. And finally, Gwen Kerr, from our Catering team has decided to embark upon retirement after 28 years of service and we wish her a long and happy retirement. Gwen always greeted every boy and staff member with a smile. She could be relied upon to ensure that we were all fed but I am sure she is delighted to not have to scan any more fingerprints.

As you will also know, Mrs Huddleson is currently on a career break, which has led to me standing before you this afternoon. On a personal note, I wish to thank the Governors for this opportunity, and to the staff for their support thus far.

This change has also led to several additional promotions, including Mrs Lynsey McDermott taking on the role of Acting Vice Principal in charge of Pastoral Care and Mr Jonathan Todd in the role of Acting Vice Principal in charge of Curriculum. Mr Stephen Robinson continues to be a vital member of the Senior Leadership Team as Assistant Principal and we are joined by Mrs Sharon Boyce as Administration, HR and Operations Executive. I would like to thank them all for their dedication and hard work.

The reshuffle within Senior Leadership has also led to number of additional opportunities for others to progress within the school for this academic year. Mr Gavin Nicholl and Mrs Claire McGilton have been appointed in a shadow capacity to SLT, with responsibility for a curricular and pastoral School Improvement Project. Mr Walker has been appointed as Acting Head of Mathematics, Mrs McGilton as Acting PD Co-ordinator, Mr Moreland and Mrs Williamson as Acting Heads of Year.

Mrs Stephanie Sterrett has been appointed to the careers team as Oxbridge co-ordinator, Mr David Hinds as permanent Head of Year, Mr Chris Hart as Shared Education Co-ordinator, Mr David Kennedy as Teacher in charge of Cricket, Mrs Sarah Crawford as part-time Head of Year 14 alongside Mr Myles Christie. Finally, Mrs Martine Bateman has joined the Administration Team with responsibility for the Library.

We also welcome a number of new individuals to the staff this term. Matthew Armstrong Sanchez to Technology & PE; Jessica Wedick to Home Economics & Food Technology; Niamh Hendron to Drama & English; Molly Hayes to Business Studies & ICT; Kathryn Orr to Mathematics & RE; Jessica Childs to Modern and Foreign Languages.

Nicola Palairet, Zita McClean and Maeve Lord have joined as Classroom Assistants. Gemma McNally and Alison Smith joined as members the Catering team.

In terms of pupil achievements, this year has seen our highest performing cohort. At A2, 77.7% of pupils achieved A*-C with 95.5% achieving A*-E.

At AS, 81.4% achieved A-C, with 92.2% achieving A-E.

Throughout the time of Covid, extra-curricular activities suffered the most with a delay in the return to the normal school programme. However, last September it was reported to Governors that we had managed to recommence the programme with Badminton, Rugby, Hockey, CCF, Chamber Choir & Choir, Training Orchestra, Jazz & Concert Band, Junior & Senior Debating, Junior Art Club, Table Tennis, STEM, Crest, Chess, Law Society & Scripture Union.

In Swimming, the BGS Swim Team (Alex Newman, Callum Slagter, Austin Williams and Ben Riddell) won the Intermediate Schools Cup for the 4x50m relay. Ben, the Team Captain, is a super role model for our school and was a tremendous mentor for our juniors, particularly the year 8 boys in their first competition.

In Football, Joshua Ritchie was selected to represent Northern Ireland in U15 National Squad for games against Chelsea FC and Southampton FC in February 2022.

In Boxing, Blake Carson, Harrison Lowry, David Roberts and Tom Robinson were all medal winners for Abbey Boxing Club in their weight classes at the County Antrim Novice Threes tournament in Belfast.

In Rugby, Ben Gibson (Year 14) was selected to represent the U18 IRFU Schools Team.

Patrick Davis won the youth Leadership Rotary Competition displaying immense knowledge and character when interviewed on Europe, leadership, community and environmental issues and the future of the European Union.

Rhys Allsop, Luke Nickell and Adil Mohamed have made it through selection from over 100 Scouts to be part of the 36 young people in NI within the UK Contingent heading to the 25th World Scout Jamboree in South Korea in August 2023.

Both the Junior & Senior Badminton teams won their respective League Finals at the Ulster Schools’ Badminton Finals in March. Both teams defeated sides from RBAI in their finals. In addition, the Minor team were runners up in the cup competition, narrowly beaten by a very strong Royal & Prior side from Raphoe, Co Donegal.

The U14 Hockey Team won the Ferris Cup with a 1-0 score against Banbridge Academy. Josh Donnelly scored the winning goal and The 1XI team won the Burney Plate - decided by run ins following a 1-1 draw with Methodist College Belfast at the full-time whistle.

In April, Bangor Grammar competed in the John Waring Trophy as the winner of the Ferris Cup this year. We were invited along with Banbridge Academy who were runners-up. Ultimately it was Wesley who lifted the trophy, but the difference between the teams was marginal and we can take great encouragement from how we competed with the best teams in Ireland and only fell short by the smallest of margins.

The U19 Table Tennis Team won the Ulster Schools Championship, beating RBAI and Monaghan B 6-0 in the group stage, Monaghan A in the semi-finals 5-3 and Portadown 5-2 in the final.

In April the team came home from Dublin as Irish U19 Table Tennis Champions. Congratulations to James Skelton, Max Skelton, Joel Smith, Ross Fulton, Owen Stranaghan and Jamie Lyall.

Further to the above, James Skelton (Year 14) was selected to represent N.I. In the Commonwealth Games.

Ashton Greer in Year 13 won a Gold medal in the Under 18 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu NoGi competition and a Bronze medal in the Under 18 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi competition at the All Ireland Grappling Championships in April.

Oliver Hall in Year 9 was the winner of the Under 14 Boys Singles T500 tennis tournament at Hilden over the Easter period.

In Athletics, the following boys won medals at the Schools’ District Athletics competition: Seb Holley (2nd in 800m), Rory Fulton (3rd in Discus), Jamie Moffatt (3rd in 100m), Andrew Brown (2nd in Pole Vault) with a number of other pupils also qualifying for the Ulster Schools’ Athletics.

And finally in Sailing, Daniel Palmer in Year 11 was been selected for the Irish Laser Squad to represent Ireland at the European Championships in Poland and Portugal.

Once again, the Charity Committee of Bangor Grammar School was active although a little hampered by the Covid climate. This resulted in the pupil body raising £3,041.50 for Children in Need, through the annual Year 14 Fancy Dress and whole school non-uniform day.

One good thing that Covid did allow for was that the Belfast Marathon happened twice during this academic year, and this resulted in a total of £2,400 raised for The NI Children’s Hospice.

The Combined Cadet Force continues to grow within the school, with more than 300 cadets involved from both BGS and Glenlola Collegiate. Once again, the CCF were instrumental in our Act of Remembrance and this year, through the organisation of Mr Robinson, we were all able to participate virtually in this poignant and important ceremony.

As the Chairman has already alluded to in his opening remarks, it would be remiss of me not to mention the sad news of the recent passing of Mr Stephen Connolly former Principal of Bangor Grammar School between 2001-2013. At the commencement of the school year, the staff, who remembered him fondly, spoke of their dealings and interactions with a man who was genuine, loyal, committed, humorous and trustworthy. It was a delight to hear the stories of one who made a difference in so many lives. At this occasion, I referred to the fact that the week prior to us returning to school, our catering manager, Mrs Ruth McNally, received an order of BGS-crested napkins that had been ordered by Mr Connolly for the new school. The order never arrived - for almost 10 years. But the morning that we remembered him, part of his legacy, his desire for the pride in Bangor Grammar School was present. The words of scripture came before me on this occasion, in John 4 v 37 it says, ‘One soweth, and another reapeth.’

May we all sow into the life of Bangor Grammar School, knowing that the harvest may take time - but will be fruitful. Each of us makes a difference to one another, just as Mr Connolly’s legacy lives on within this school.

Year 8 Ardnavalley Trip

Macmillan Coffee Morning

On Friday 30th September, the staff participated in our annual charity coffee morning, in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. The final confirmed total was over £400. This was the biggest total that we have ever raised for Macmiillan. The charity does amazing work and this total will help support those that need it.

Year 13 Teambuilding Trip

On Friday 9th September 2022 we took 107 Year 13 pupils to Lorne Activity Centre. This was a day that pupils could spend enjoying some activities such as abseiling, archery, bushcraft, teambuilding games and climbing wall. We arrived in pouring rain but thankfully the sun started shining as we began the activities, and it was a fantastic sunny day!

The boys were in great form and seemed to enjoy the day, with lots of banter and stepping outside some people's comfort zones. Some even abseiled, overcoming their fear of heights. This was a lovely way to start Key Stage 5 and one that we would love to repeat on a yearly basis.

Business Studies

Teacher Spotlight

Tell us a little about yourself.

I have been teaching MFL for five years since completing my PGCE in 2018. I am originally from Ballyclare and spent seven very happy years at Ballyclare High School. I went on to study French & Spanish at Queen’s University and lived in Amiens, France, and Madrid, Spain before coming back to qualify as a teacher. Outside of work, I dedicate many hours to playing, coaching or talking about hockey. I currently captain my local club team. In my free time, I love quizzing, rollerblading and all things Taylor Swift and Harry Potter. As a keen musician, I’m partial to a bit of karaoke and I spend much of my disposable income on concert tickets. I use school holidays to travel as much as possible and, as a big animal enthusiast, I have a bucket list of exotic animal encounters to complete within my lifetime. My favourite animals, at the moment, are sloths, pugs, and British Shorthair cats and my best animal encounter to date is probably seeing wild Orangutans in Sumatra.

Have you always wanted to be a teacher?

I had always considered being a teacher, but I was more focused on being a popstar or a vet in the early days. It was my amazing experience of language-learning at high school that really solidified teaching MFL as my future career plan, as well as time spent teaching abroad during and after university. If I were to do anything else, I reckon I’d enjoy being an Events’ Planner or opening a hostel at the coast.

What is your most embarrassing memory from school?

My time at school: Someone tried to throw an apple into the bin, and it hit me so hard on the head that I fell into the bin.

How tidy is your desk?

It’s certainly not tidy, but it’s not a total mess. I make an effort not to clutter it with boring piles of paper, instead prioritising the space for my cardboard Taylor Swift, talking parrot, snake plant and the various mugs I have on the go.

Which actor would you cast in the movie of your life?

If there was a movie about my life and I wasn’t cast in it, I would be devastated! If I had to pick someone to play me though, and assuming it would have to be someone ginger, I would pick Amy Adams. I feel that Paul Rudd captures my spirit better though.

Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

I met Kit Harrington and Rose Leslie when I was a stand-in for Ygritte in an episode of ‘Game of Thrones.’ I hadn’t watched the show at the time though (and still haven’t!) so unfortunately the encounter was entirely wasted on me. Personally, my favourite famous-person encounter was with Marcus Mumford in HMV.

What has been the highlight of your time so far in BGS?

I find the atmosphere in school very positive and sociable. Break-time and lunchtime chats with colleagues really keep me energised and motivated throughout the day. The boys take the time to thank you on the way out of your classroom which is refreshing, and a credit to their characters. The bacon butties in the morning are also a massive plus for me and I’m sure the canteen staff are sick of the sight of me already!

What is the most inspiring piece of advice you can think of?

Treat others as you would want to be treated. It’s very basic but ultimately resolves a lot of social dilemmas.

Combined Cadet Force

The APCA took part in their Skill At Arms training & the first live firing weekend over the weekend of the 2-4th December. We have found some very good shooters within Year 12, which may see the start of a good shooting team for next year.

CCF Recruit Weekend

School Formal

Horticulture CLub

Year 9 students proudly display the fruits of their Halloween harvest.

Netflix/Cinemagic Event

On Thursday 13th October, Years 11 & 12 Moving Image Arts students were invited by Cinemagic to the Belfast Odyssey, to attend a star-studded premiere of the Netflix movie, 'The School for Good and Evil', directed by Paul Feig (Ghostbusters/Bridesmaids).

The boys thoroughly enjoyed having their pictures taken on the red carpet, next to the celebrities in attendance. After the screening, our students had the opportunity to ask the director some questions about the movie industry. One of our more confident young men even approached Mr Feig and gave him his contact details, lest he requires any assistance in his next cinematic project. As of now, he is still awaiting a response - but fortune favours the bold.

Remembrance Day

Teacher Spotlight

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Miss Hendron. My subject is drama and sometimes English. I am from Belfast. I studied performing arts (HND) at SERC, then went on to do a degree in Drama at Ulster University, Magee. After this I went onto do my PGCE in Secondary Drama at Liverpool Hope University.

Have you always wanted to be a teacher?

Yes, I have always wanted to be a teacher. I like the thought of inspiring the next generation and also telling people what to do.

What is your most embarrassing memory from school?

My friend used to have horrendous nose bleeds. I went to help her during one of these nose bleeds and ended up fainting. In the end she had to help me.

How tidy is your desk?

It is usually tidy, but when it's not tidy everything has its place, and I will know where it is amongst the chaos.

Which actor would you cast in the movie of your life?

Danny DeVito

Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

Cat Deeley and Patrick Kielty. We had dinner together last week.

What has been the highlight of your time so far in BGS?

Getting to co-direct the school show! It was a great success, after blood, sweat and long hours of after-school rehearsals.

What is the most inspiring piece of advice you can think of?

'The question isn’t who is going to let me, it’s who is going to stop me.'

Children in Need

Children In Need took place on Friday 18th November. The Years 8 – 13 took part in a Non Uniform Day. As always, Year 14 dressed up for their annual Fancy Dress Competition and the Year 14 Charity Committee volunteered to take part in a sponsored leg wax. The trainees from SERC bravely offered to help out and a painful but fun time was had by all.

We were thrilled to raise £2566 and want to thank everyone for their kind donations and sponsorship.

Teacher Spotlight

My name is Miss Hayes, I currently teach Business Studies and Digital Technology here at Bangor Grammar School. I studied Business and Enterprise with Education at Stranmillis University College and graduated in 2020. I grew up in Belfast and I also lived in the Netherlands as part of a year abroad at university.

Have you always wanted to be a teacher?

Yes, I have always been interested in teaching from a young age. With a lot of teachers in my family it felt right for me, and I was inspired by my own teachers in school to apply to Stranmillis.

What is your most embarrassing memory from school?

In Year 13 I went on my school ski trip to Italy and on the second day I fell on the green slope, sliced my leg with the ski and spent the remainder of my trip in hospital with my French teacher - I never lived that fall down!

How tidy is your desk?

I would describe my desk as organised chaos. The clutter makes me feel more comfortable when I am working so it doesn't bother me - luckily the Business Studies classroom doesn't have an organised desk (shoutout to Mr. Sinclair) so I feel right at home!

Which actor would you cast in the movie of your life?

Miss Hendron - the most dramatic person I know

Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

I met Selena Gomez when she came to Belfast for the EMA's in 2011. I waited outside the Odessey Arena for hours in the rain... Our quick interaction was the highlight of my year.

What has been the highlight of your time so far in BGS?

I have loved my time so far at BGS but my highlight would have to be the carol service and the school play - it was great to see the amazing talents of the pupils on display.

What is the most inspiring piece of advice you can think of?

'Be where your feet are.' – Tom Coughlin



The Senior Drama Society was unable to stage a full production in 2020, for the first time in the school's recent history. The pandemic prevented theatre everywhere from taking place; audiences and actors lost the opportunity to experience the magic of performing for a live audience.

In 2021, following the changing advice, the society met once again to allow actors to work on short scenes in small groups, and to perform again for a small audience. It was an uncertain time for all of us, but it felt good to be able to perform again, albeit in a socially-distanced fashion. To say we were nervous would be an understatement.

In 2022 however, with the return to apparent normality, the Senior Drama Society was rehearsing again - and in December, our adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol ran for three nights in the assembly hall to appreciative audiences.

As in productions of old, we assembled a large cast of girls and boys from Years 9 to 14, rehearsing in the evening from September to December.

This large cast, combined with the many short scenes, entrances and exits, made this an especially complex piece to work on.

Special mention must be made of Ben Watson's Scrooge, who held the whole production together, remaining focused and engaging throughout the 92 minutes he was on stage. This is a huge undertaking for an eighteen-year-old actor. Alex Shaw, as young Scrooge, was also especially strong, and the moments where the two Scrooges interacted were very impactful.

The Drama department is very proud of all those who took part. Each actor created a vividly memorable interpretation of these well-known characters, that contributed to the overall success of the production.

It is important that we appreciate the importance of live performance. The sense of personal and collective achievement, and the strengthening of relationships among all involved, cannot be overstated. It's good to be back.

Mrs K Payne

I had the pleasure to co-direct the amazing BGS school show, A Christmas Carol, alongside Mrs Payne and Mr Cunningham. The best part of the show was watching it all come together. one rehearsal at a time.

Taking smaller groups and working on individual scenes was a long process but when they were added together, it was very rewarding. It was exciting being able to adapt such a well-known story and stamp our own BGS style onto it. I enjoyed working with boys I do not teach and getting to know them.

What have I learned? A lot. I have learned that it takes a lot of time and a lot of effort for the final performance to come together.

What was difficult? Apart from staying after school, keeping the boys motivated certainly. Some of the boys, having never been involved in the organised chaos of a full production, became very demotivated. However, as the various parts of the play came together, and they could see the bigger picture, demotivation turned to excitement.

Ms N Hendron

Junior Drama

Clifton Christmas Party

On 14th December, our senior boys took part in the annual Clifton Special School Christmas Party.

Tom Campbell was Santa, Rhys Carrol as Rudolph and Charlie Gilmour was a giant penguin. Jamie Rooney, Dylan McKim, and Kyle Hind were on the microphones. Kieran O’Halloran took care of the Powerpoint and music. Peter Allen was of course our technical expert, twisting numerous dials and pressing many random buttons all at the right time.

We had a total of 17 boys from Years 13 & 14 helping out this year and they were all an absolute credit to the school.

Mr F Gilmour

Tell us a little about yourself.

I teach Religious Studies and Maths and live in Ballymena. I love to keep busy and get involved in different things where I can. Travelling is at the top of my priority list - I dream of a road trip through the United States. I am involved in different church and youth organisations outside of school as well as the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. So for me, sticking on a pair of walking boots and climbing a mountain is the best feeling in the world!

Have you always wanted to be a teacher?

Since Year 8, I wanted to be a teacher, specifically a Language teacher (French and German). That was the plan until I reached Sixth Form, when my A-Level choices were not what I expected. At AS-Level I studied French, German, Maths and Religious Studies, intending to drop Religious Studies at the end of Year 13. To make a long story short, I continued Maths, French and RE at A-Level, still hoping to teach RE and French but I was accepted into Stranmillis University College where I studied Post-Primary RE with Subsidiary Maths and I haven’t looked back since.

What is your most embarrassing memory from school?

In Year 9, I was sitting in English and started to feel a shortness of breath, so my teacher sent me around to the nurse’s office. I started to feel panicked and my feet and hands began to tense up. Another teacher, who saw me, helped me to sit at the bottom of the stairs so I wouldn’t faint. The dizziness started to disappear, and I was able to take deep breaths but my feet felt tensed up. All the while, there were about four teachers standing looking down at me as well as the school nurse asking me a million questions. I couldn’t manage to walk, so the nurse brought up the wheelchair. I had to be lifted into the chair and then be pushed around the whole school in a wheelchair during senior lunch. I remember feeling all eyes watching me - I was mortified! As a 12-year-old girl, I never thought I’d face coming to school the next day – so I didn’t and came back two days after.

How tidy is your desk?

I have claimed a little corner in the Maths Resource Room as my own, and I would be lying if I didn’t say I was proud of the file holders I have set up for each year group I teach. At the start and end of each day, my desk is perfectly tidy and sitting exactly how I want. When I’m moving around a lot of rooms and changing what books I need, it can become a little messier, sometimes more than I care to admit. Even if it may look untidy to others, I always can locate what I need, whenever I need it.

Which actor would you cast in the movie of your life?

If I was to cast an actor according to looks it would be Ellie Kemper because her hair resembles mine, but if I was to pick an actor based only on my preference, I would have to cast Lily James – I’m a big Mamma Mia fan!

Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

Whilst I was on a trip to London, I met the infamous Anton Du Beke. I was walking around the streets behind St. James’ Palace when I saw him go into one of the shops and my eyes lit up like fireworks. I was beyond excited! As he came out of the shop, he ‘glided’ across the streets and I sprinted after him to ask for a photo. I met the King of the Ballroom - and this was en route to meeting Prince Edward - all on the same day!

What has been the highlight of your time so far in BGS?

The first thing I always say when anyone asks me about school is how good the staff are. Since the very first day, everyone has been so friendly and I can honestly say they are a big part of what makes the school such a pleasure to teach in. I have found the staff room and the Maths Resource Room to be little hubs of activity in the morning as well as at break and lunchtime. Being able to work in two subject departments, with teachers who never fail to lend a hand when you need one, is just one of the highlights of BGS.

What is the most inspiring piece of advice you can think of?

'Don’t let anything steal your joy' – a piece of advice I heard when I started my GCSEs. Whether, as a staff member, teacher, or pupil in school, at work, or simply in everyday life, we come across days that are not quite what we signed up for and our agenda has not gone to plan. Whatever has happened, don’t let those moments steal your joy from what you love doing or from the feel-good moments that make you smile. However small it may be, each day has positives - so find them and don’t let others steal your joy!


Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in South Africa and moved to England when I was 16, where I completed my education. I am very interested in all sports, especially running, rugby and tennis. I also enjoy music, films, and trying out new wines.

Have you always wanted to be a teacher?

No. Initially, I wanted to pursue a career in finance. I only decided on teaching when I was 30 years of age.

What is your most embarrassing memory from school?

Honestly, I don't have any.

How tidy is your desk?

My desk is rather messy during term time because of too much paper work. It is not suitable for hot-desking!

Which actor would you cast in the movie of your life? Bradley Cooper. He is a very versatile actor. I particularly liked watching him star in the Hangover movies, Silver Linings Playbook and the remake of A Star is Born.

Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

Roger Federer at Wimbledon.

What has been the highlight of your time so far in BGS?

Launching the GCSE Politics course.

What is the most inspiring piece of advice you can think of?

In a famous interview, the South African golfer Gary Player said, "the harder I practise, the luckier I get". Essentially, he was saying if you work hard you will see results. I think this is good advice for everyone.

Open Day

Holocaust Memorial Day

In preparation of Holocaust Memorial Day, BGS hosted a talk for our local schools by Eva Kugler, a holocaust survivor. Six Co Down schools came together to hear Ms Kugler's story and to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. The international day on 27 January remembers the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi persecution of other groups and during more recent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Speaking to school children in Bangor about the Holocaust, Ms Kugler said she feels a responsibility to share her story.

"I think about the little girl. I always assume it's a girl, whose visa I took because I was never supposed to be saved," she said.

"I feel grateful and somewhat guilty. For having survived."

Ms Kugler's and her siblings were eventually reunited with their parents in 1946 but like many Jewish families who survived, life was never the same again.

"I never really had childhood at all because I didn't have any kind of a normal life. I was saved by a miracle," she said.

Business Studies

In January, Year 13 Business Studies pupils at BGS took part in the annual Food and Drink Masterclass with Young Enterprise.

The boys found out a little of the background and the recent success stories from the NI food and drink and hospitality sectors. They saw examples and case studies of different career paths.

The main part of the process was the creation of a new food / drink product, which had to be in partnership with one of our most successful local brands: Moy Park, Genesis Crafty, Tayto, Dale Farm and Mash Direct.

It was a nice change of pace after the recent pressure of the mock examinations and served as a window into an oft-overlooked industry, which is both thriving and right on our doorstep!

None of the students had thought about careers in hospitality or food beforehand, so maybe it will serve as an inspiration for the several budding entrepreneurs in the group!

For the record, Tayto flavours dominated the various group projects, with ideas ranging from vegan ice cream cake to flavoured oven chips!

The winning idea was Tayto Direct, with Tayto flavours added to cooked products such as chips and mash. My thanks as ever to Rebekah White of YENI for her expert delivery of the seminar.

Careers Fair

Our Careers and Universities Fair took place on Friday 10th February 2023. It was attended by BGS pupils in year 10 to 14 with the extended invite to Key Stage five pupils from schools in the North Down Learning partnership. The afternoon was very busy and informative for all who attended. Around forty businesses were in attendance. Representatives from over twenty-five UK and Ireland Universities travelled to be there as well as SERC and Belfast Metropolitan College.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I have been working as a teacher for nearly 12 years now. I am married and I have 2 young children. I was born and educated in Dublin, completing my degree in Culinary Arts at Dublin Institute of Technology. I then moved to England to study my PGCE in Food Technology.

Have you always wanted to be a teacher?

Absolutely not! I can recall in my first career meeting explicitly saying, “I am not sure what I would like to be when I am older, but I definitely do not want to be a teacher.” I had always dreamed of perhaps owning a bakery or coffee shop or running a B&B. However, life has a funny way of showing you that your perception of what a career is like is actually very different from reality. I love being a teacher and it is such a privilege to have the opportunity to positively influence so many futures by making learning fun. Building relationships and teaching important life skills is something that makes this job so worthwhile and a very rewarding career.

What is your most embarrassing memory from school?

School was a very embarrassing time for me, with almost too many stories to choose from. I have always been a ‘tripper’, particularly during formal public occasions such as collecting certificates and awards. I am fully qualified in both tripping upstairs and missing steps on the descent. There have also been many wardrobe malfunctions and interesting hairstyles,

How tidy is your desk?

Very tidy, I love organising things. I own a label maker, enough said.

Which actor would you cast in the movie of your life?

Tom Hanks. I think he is a great actor and enjoy everything he has been in. Not sure about our physical similarity but I reckon he would master the Irish accent!

Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

I worked in the Hospitality Suite at Wimbledon and various Golf tournaments over the years prior to being a teacher. I have met Ronnie Wood, Kate Winslet, Kylie Minogue, Tiger Woods…the list goes on.

What has been the highlight of your time so far in BGS?

The highlight for me so far was the first Award Ceremony celebrating the incredible talent of the pupils here at BGS. The opportunity to be in academic robes again, and also have full orchestra performing, was a unique experience and unlike any school I have previously worked in.

What is the most inspiring piece of advice you can think of?

'Do not let your happiness depend on something you may lose' - C.S. Lewis




The new crop of BGS Cricketers started pre-season practices in March and played their first game in April. The squad consisted of four experienced players and a majority who had never played in a competitive match before. The boys played with enthusiasm with some excellent performances. They won more matches than they lost. There was steady progression, but there is still much to work on. The boys need to improve their techniques, running between the wickets and fielding. More importantly they must recognise the need to encourage each other and remain positive when things don’t go their way.

Congratulations to Felix McMillan and Oliver Haslam, who both scored 50s. Felix, Oliver, and Charlie Hopkins also merged with the U13s in the 8 a side pairs tournament at Campbell College.

The team beat Campbell, RBAI and BRA to win the Smillie Cup. There was some very good cricket played and the boys really enjoyed playing this format in the lovely weather.

The success will really build confidence that they can win matches under pressure. There is great potential in this extended group of players. It is encouraging that so many of the boys play regularly for cricket clubs, which will really help fast track their development.

U18 Football

This was a successful season in many respects for a group of boys who gave their all on the field to play for the school. It was all the more enjoyable because of the success of the team in the competitions they competed in .

There were many outstanding performances from individuals and for the team as a whole. Particular attention should be paid to the Y14 players for whom this was their final season of football for the school - Adam Purce was Team Captain and led the team by example and was an inspirational player.

Also deserving of mention were the other senior players, who displayed an outstanding level of commitment to the team and set a great example to follow for the boys coming after them - Rhys Carroll, Jamie Rooney, Rory Paterson, Rhys Smith, Dan Larmour and Freddie Scott.

The U18 team achieved success this season in both the U18 Football Danske Bank Schools Cup and in the U18 Grammar School League

U18 Football Danske Bank Schools Cup

This year the team reached the Quarter Finals of the NI Schools Cup and were knocked out at this stage by Dungannon Integrated College. The setup in Dungannon is a Northern Ireland Football League football academy associated with the school and as such they train and play football at a high level as part of their coaching programme. Dungannon went on to be the convincing winners of the NI cup - to be knocked out by them was no disgrace for our team. Indeed, Ross Redman from the IFA said that it was a great achievement for our boys to reach to the Quarter Final stage of the cup.

U18 Grammar Schools League

Perhaps the most notable success for the team this year was winning the Grammar School League title, at the end of a successful campaign. The team only lost one match in the Grammar School League and that was a match when Mr Nesbitt gave Adam Purce and Rory Patterson permission to go and represent the school in the Ulster Schools Table Tennis championship. There was a chance that this would come back to haunt the team and the league campaign came down to the final match of the season against Campbell College. The winners of that match would lift the trophy; and so it came down to the final minute of the game when Josh Ritchie scored the winning goal for Bangor Grammar to take the title.

As coaches, Mr Nesbitt and Mr Hart, enjoyed working with a team of boys who are to be commended for their efforts and achievements in the 2022-23 season and their commitment to football in the school.

The 2022-23 season was both successful and historic for the team and football in Bangor Grammar School. In previous years football teams have reached the final stages of cups and competitions but it was great to go one stage further and bring home a trophy for the school. If I may take a little liberty with a phrase greatly associated with the school, my wish is that we will move forward from this, and that football would continue to flourish in Bangor Grammar.


Schools Cup

This year, 18 pupils from Bangor Grammar School entered the annual school’s cup competition, with 12 junior boys in the 12-14 age group, competing in a wide variety of events including the 100 Freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke, 100 fly and many relays. For many, it was their first-time swimming against other schools, with everyone positively representing BGS for their hard work and effort and many swimming personal bests. In the afternoon the 3 intermediate boys from the 15-16 entered the 200m medley relay, with Jake Lynas leading out on backstroke, Andrew Molyneaux on breaststroke, Rory Mooney on fly and Josh Newman finishing on freestyle, coming 5th overall.

After the relays there was the 400m freestyle, possibly one of the toughest Olympic events out there, with Ben Riddell and Alex Newman both achieving personal best - Alex dropping 3 seconds off his entry time and Ben also dropping 3 seconds off his entry time. After this there was the 100m backstroke, with Andrew Molyneaux, Jake Lynas and Alex Newman. Alex qualified for the finals in the 3rd session

After this, there was the 100m breaststroke with two of our senior swimmers from the 17-19 age group, Austin Williams who went 1:14:54 and Callum Slagter who went 1:09:08, gaining a place in the senior final. After this was the 100m freestyle where Jake, Callum and Ben swam. Jake took 2 seconds off his entry time, Callum earned a place in the final with a time of 56:64 and similarly, Ben with a time of 52:86. The next event was the 200 individual medley where Alex swam a time of 2:17:60 dropping a second off his entry time. Before the finals began the senior relays started with BGS entering a 4 x 50 medley and freestyle team. In the medley relay, Alex went out first on backstroke, Callum on breaststroke, Austin on butterfly, and Ben on freestyle, winning first place with a time of 1:53:00 then the freestyle relay, with the same team as the medley, they again won gold for the school with a time of 1:41:74, both races being won by a long shot. The final events for the night were the finals; with three of our swimmers earning a place in them.

Alex Newman managed to win gold in the intermediate final, with a time of 1:02:36 for the 100m backstroke. Callum achieved a time of 1:10:07 in the senior final, placing 7th overall, then in the 100m free Ben and Callum both racing in it, where Callum came 8th with a time of 56:36 and Ben placing 2nd with a time of 53:22.

After a long day the medals were presented to the winners. I am so proud to have the honour of being captain of this team and of how well everyone performed at the competition. The highlight for me was being selected to swim for Ulster along with Alex Newman at this year's Interpro competition in Dublin

Ben Riddell (Swim Captain), Y14

Swimming Special Olympics Event

This event took place in Bangor Aurora Leisure Complex on Friday 25th November and Saturday 26th November. It was a swimming event for people with additional needs and a precursor to the World Games next year in Berlin. It was inclusive of both male and female participants spanning across a wide age range.

We were honoured to represent Bangor Grammar as volunteers alongside a few other schools. Our role over the two days involved the practical element of timekeeping for the event, but also for the supportive element of being there for each participant. We were made to feel very welcome and appreciated from the moment we arrived. We were provided with food and refreshments throughout the day. We arrived early on both days to aid in preparations and were happy to help with anything that needed to be done at the end of the final day.

The experience was truly humbling for all of us as our courtesy, respect and words of encouragement gained the trust of the participants. For some it was motivating words and for others it was a simple high five. It was clear to see that effective support made such a difference to each participant and their families.

Although we made a difference to them, each individual made a difference and an impact on us. It truly made each of our days bright, fun-filled and enjoyable. It was amazing to be a part of and we would all be more than grateful to have an opportunity like this again.

Callum Slagter (Vice-Captain), Y13


Congratulations to the Y8 Badminton team of Liam Maloney, Alex Wiggins, Douglas Wiggins, Luke McLaughlin and Oliver Haslam who won a round-robin Badminton tournament, defeating teams from Ballyclare High School and RBAI, to secure a place in the Ulster Schools’ Finals in March. Well done to all involved.

Sports Day