EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES AND ACHIEVEMENTS
The school has a well-deserved reputation for extra-curricular activities and offers an extensive programme which embraces sporting, musical, dramatic, cultural, spiritual and recreational pursuits. This programme is an important part of the life and work of Ballymena Academy and contributes to the all-round development of the young people.
Reached Quarter-Final of Senior Schools’ Cup Competition.
Runners-up in Derry and Antrim League.
2nd A XI
U.14 A XI
Runners-up Derry and Antrim League.
Runners-up Derry and Antrim League
Reached Semi-Final of Junior Schools’ Cup Competition (lost on penalty strokes)
Other teams with regular fixtures were 2nd B XI, 3rd XI, 4th XI, U14 B XI, U13A XI, U13B XI, U12A XI, U12B XI and U12C XI.
Two girls gained Representative Honours – one was selected to play on the Ulster U.16B team, and the other played on the Ulster and Irish U.16 teams.
Teams competed in NEBSSA Year 9 District and Ulster Competitions.
Pupils competed in the Ulster Championships with great success. A pupil was placed 3rd in the Intermediate Girls 300m, and another was crowned Junior Champion in both the 300m and the Long Jump and later was placed 2nd in these events in the Irish Championships.
Two pupils attained Representative Honours as part of the Ulster U.17 Inter-Provincial Team and U16 and U19 Celtic Games Team and also represented Northern Ireland at the UK Schools’ Games.
Cross-Country The following places were attained:-
NEBSSA Cross-Country Events 1st place Year 8 Girls
2nd place Year 9 Girls
3rd place Year 10 Girls
1st place Year 11 Girls
3rd place Year 11 Girls
Year 11 Girls’ Team won 1st place overall
Ulster Championships 3rd place in Mini Girls’ race
3rd place in Inter Girls’ Team race – qualified for Irish Championships
Irish Championships Inter Girls’ Team (8th place)
An Academy pupil won an U.14 Team Gold medal in the Northern Ireland and Ulster Championships. She also had success in the McConnell Shield, winning the U.14 Girls’ race. In the Northern Ireland and Ulster U.13 Girls’ Championships she was 3rd in the individual standings and won a Team Gold as a member of the Co. Antrim Team, for which she was awarded Representative Honours.
A pupil won the 2011 Irish U16 Close Championships, the U.15 Trophy at Irish Women’s Close Championships and finished 3rd in the 2011 European U18 Championships. She gained Representative Honours as a member of the Ulster Girls’ Inter-Provincials Team, Irish U18 Team and Irish U16 Team.
Years 8, 9 and 10 competed in the Ballymena League
The Intermediate Team was placed 4th in the Ulster Schools’ Showjumping Championships. An Academy pupil won her class in the RDS Horse Show in Dublin for the 2nd consecutive year.
Further success can be recorded in various Irish Pony Society Championship Shows where a pupil won 1st place in a number of classes. Most notably she won the Royal International Horse Show Qualifiers for Intermediate Show Hunter and Working Hunter classes and qualified for the Royal International Championships at Hickstead for Showing and Jumping. She also became Supreme Champion at the All-Ireland IPS Summer Championships and qualified to compete in the Horse of the Year Show to be held at the NEC in Birmingham in October.
Runners-up: Ulster Schools’ U.15 Girls’ Cup Competition
Ulster Schools’ U.15 Boys’ Cup Competition
A pupil was Runner-up in the U.19 Girls’ Individual Championships and another was placed 3rd in the U.16 Girls’ Individual Championships.
Senior, Intermediate, Junior and Year 8 Tennis teams all competed in the Ulster Schools’ League and Cup Competitions and the Intermediate team won the Ulster Schools’ Cup by defeating Strathearn in the Final.
1st XV won the Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield, beating Bangor G.S. 35 – 7 at Ravenhill, and the Ulster Schools’ 7-a-side Competition held at Campbell College.
The 2nd XV were defeated in the Semi-Final of the 2nd XV Cup Competition by Methodist College, Belfast.
The 3rd XV were defeated in the Quarter-Final of their Plate Competition by Campbell College.
The 4th XV were defeated in the first round of the 3rd XV Cup Competition.
The Medallion XV were defeated in the Quarter Final of the Shield Competition by R.B.A.I. They were runners-up in the Plate Final, losing 25 – 12 to Methodist College, Belfast.
The U.14 XV reached the Semi-Final of the O’Kane Tournament Competition.
The U.13 XV were runners-up in the NEBSSA 15-a-side Tournament held at Cambridge House.
The U.12 XV reached the Final of the Coleraine Tournament, losing to Willow Park. They won the NEBSSA Tournament held at Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt.
Other teams with regular fixtures were the Medallion B XV, U14 B XV, U13 A XV
and U13 B XV.
Representative Honours were gained by four pupils who played for Ulster Schools’ U18XV or U19XV and one pupil was also an Irish Schools Trialist.
Teams competed in NEBSSA, Year 9, District and Ulster Championships.
In the Ulster Championships a pupil was placed 3rd in Junior Boys’ Long Jump and the school came 2nd in Minor Boys’ Relay.
In the Irish Championships a pupil was placed 3rd in Junior Boys’ Long Jump.
The Year 9 Boys’ Team won the District Section of the Year 9 Competition.
The School was pleased to accept the assistance of Ballymena Cricket Club in the running of cricket this year.
The 1st XI enjoyed a reasonably successful season. In the Schools’ Cup, wins over Down High School and R.B.A.I. II took the team as far as the quarter-finals, where Sullivan Upper proved too strong. In its Saturday League programme, three wins and one defeat helped the School to claim the runners-up spot in its section of Division Two.
The 2nd XI and Under-15 XI struggled to fulfil fixtures, but hope for the future lies in the emergence of a number of excellent junior cricketers – the result of intensive coaching with the Under-14, Under-13 and Under-12 XIs, which all enjoyed productive seasons, culminating in the Under-12 XI winning the Inter-Schools 6-a-side Tournament at Eaton Park.
In the NEBSSA Cross-Country Year 8 Boys’ race a pupil gained second place.
The Junior Boys’ Golf Team competed in the Ulster Schools’ Junior Championship held at Greenacres Golf Club. The boys played solidly and posted a very impressive net score of 117 points to win the event outright and a pupil won the prize for the best individual score with 36 points.
The Junior Boys were entered in the Ulster Schools’ Winter League played in September/October, 2011.
Representative Honours were awarded to a pupil for membership of the Irish U.16 Team -v- England and the Irish Duke of York Young Champions Trophy Team. In addition to representative success he also won the 2011 Irish Boys’ Close Championship at Ardee Golf Club.
The school played ‘friendly’ matches at U.16, U.17 and U.18 levels. This year all teams have been entered into local League Competitions.
Pupils represented the school this year in the Ulster Minor Schools’, Ulster Grammar and Secondary Schools’ Competitions, qualifying for the Finals in 50m Breaststroke and 50m Freestyle and attaining personal bests in a range of heats.
The Music Department has seen another full and eventful year. The broad and busy extra-curricular programme sees an array of junior and senior ensembles meeting every day of the week under the direction of the school’s own departmental staff and various specialist tutors. Rehearsals and private lessons for hundreds of pupils swung into action at the beginning of September as the Music machine, which is Ballymena Academy Music Department, moved into gear!
Junior and Senior Choirs, Chamber Choir, Junior and Senior Wind Bands, Junior and Senior Strings, Junior and Senior Percussion ensembles, Senior Orchestra, Jazz Band and Brass ensemble all contribute to the vibrant mix of music in our school and continue to showcase the talents of our pupils and represent our school in such a delightful and positive manner. Small ensembles spring up as senior pupils take the initiative and form groups born out of their own interests and skills and every year sees new talent and combinations emerge.
The first performances of the year were from Junior and Senior Choirs on Prize Day, each fittingly contributing to the uplifting nature of the day; the Junior Choir through their rendition of Howard Goodall’s arrangement of ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’, and the Seniors in their performance of Rutter’s ‘All things Bright and Beautiful’.
It is always felt that the year is well and truly underway with preparations for the Christmas season, and this year again saw a very successful Primary Schools’ Concert in December where primary school pupils were enthralled by the Percussion Ensemble’s dexterity and the musical variety, including festive toe-tappers, seen and heard from the Senior Strings, Senior Wind Band and Chamber Choir.
However, in the words of Rosetti’s famous carol, as December progressed we found ourselves truly gripped ‘in the bleak mid-winter….snow had fallen, snow on snow…..!’ Rehearsals were cancelled; external instrumental exams abandoned and scheduled performances in the community forgone. Despite the disruption, treacherous conditions and the shadow of cancellation right up to the last minute, a packed congregation joined in truly seasonal warmth of spirit at St. Patrick’s church, as choirs and musicians heralded the Saviour’s birth and savoured welcome refreshments in the hall afterwards.
As Winter eventually thawed into Spring the Chamber Choir were able to undertake a concert for pupils and staff at Loughan Special School where the children evidently enjoyed the singing and interaction.
Instrumental examinations resumed and saw pupils undertaking qualifications for Grade Certificates from Rockschool, Trinity Guildhall and ABRSM in both March and June.
The yearly highlight, though, was again the ‘sold-out’ annual school concert in The Braid Arts Centre, running over two nights in March. Staff, instrumental tutors, pupils, stage, lighting and sound crews all worked hard in putting together such a varied and entertaining programme that many audience members found it difficult to choose a favourite item; from tribal drummers to jazz ensembles, Baroque cantata to Coldplay, there was something for everyone. A Sixth Form pupil performed his own compositions ‘History Song’ and ‘Biology Song’, giving an added insight into the colourful nature of school life!
Congratulations must be given to two pupils who have both gained prestigious places in the Ulster Youth Orchestra.
The Drama Department organised several trips to various theatrical productions over the year. The department is always delighted to be able to support local theatre, but the outing to ‘The Crucible’, performed in the newly refurbished Lyric Theatre, was a veritable treat. It was a proud moment to be able to support some of our past pupils in QUB’s production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. However, possibly the most emotive performance attended last year came in the form of Replay Theatre Company’s production of ‘Citizen’ performed in the W.H. Mol Assembly Hall. It is inspiring for Drama students to see that a career in the theatre is a real possibility in Northern Ireland.
This year, Year 8 pupils went to see an entertaining and energetic production of ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’ in The Grand Opera House, Belfast. Also Year 10 pupils were in the audience for an innovative production of Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ at the Waterfront Hall staged by the premier Northern Irish theatre company, Bruiser. The Drama Department looks forward to making theatre trips annual events for Junior School.
The Academy Players performed the frenetic farce ‘Black Comedy’ by Peter Shaffer. It was a highly enjoyable experience and a triumph for all involved.
Several Achievement Awards for Drama were presented to Academy Players for acting and technical roles.
In the Autumn the 2011 Players presented William Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ in the W.H. Mol Assembly Hall.
Public Speaking: Junior
Two pupils participated in the Environmental Youth Speak Public Speaking Competition in March.
Public Speaking: Senior
Two teams of three pupils entered the Business and Professional Women’s Public Speaking Competition in November. An Academy pupil won the award of Best Expresser of Thanks.
Three girls were placed in the top 3 at the Soroptimist Public Speaking Competition in November.
At the annual Queenie McMullan Public Speaking Competition in April pupils were presented with awards for the Best Overall Speaker and Best Novice Speaker. Other pupils were highly commended by the adjudicators for their performances.
The Spirit of Enniskillen Trust “Together” Programme
Five Year 13 pupils joined with pupils from other Post-Primary Schools for a residential visit to the Share Centre, Lisnaskea. The programme concluded with a one-day conference entitled ‘Young People Shaping the Future’.
Three of the Academy students joined summer international teams facilitated by the Spirit of Enniskillen Programme, travelling to Berlin, Cyprus and Sweden. Each of these trips challenged the young people to develop their leadership skills and to investigate some of the conflict issues facing these countries.
Ballymena Learning Together
As part of the School Community Relations Programme, a class of Year 9 pupils from Ballymena Academy united with their counterparts from St. Patrick’s College and Dunclug College to tackle issues such as identity, conflict, resolution and community. The programme involved a series of workshops facilitated by the Y.M.C.A.
A group of Year 10 students attended a residential in Corrymeela organised by CRIS (Community Relations in Schools). Along with other pupils from the nine schools in Ballymena, they explored issues of conflict and the role of young people in providing leadership for the future of Northern Ireland.
In March, pupils from Year 10 enjoyed a fascinating and moving talk by Holocaust survivor, Zigi Shipper, organised by the Ballymena Inter-Ethnic Forum.
DUKE OF EDINBURGH AWARD SCHEME
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme in school continues to grow each year with more and more students enrolling.
104 pupils successfully completed the Bronze Award and were required to undertake a period of voluntary work in the local community, participate in some form of physical recreation, develop a skill and complete a challenging expedition.
Nine pupils completed the Gold Award. At Gold Award level students are required to complete the same sections as at Bronze level, but for a longer period of time. In addition to these areas, students must also complete a five-day residential programme.