DPS photo collage of primary 7

Hollywood style farewell to Primary 7

We continue with the CSSC series of news stories on schools while they operate in varied and exceptional circumstances.  This week we hear from Mr David Thompson, Principal, Dungannon Primary School. 

In March 2020, the primary school journey of many pupils ended abruptly as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, the staff of Dungannon Primary School ensured each pupil received the best learning experience and have worked tirelessly to guarantee every child has had numerous opportunities to achieve and to celebrate success. They believed it would have been wrong not to acknowledge the huge and fantastic contribution each Primary 7 leaver made to the life of Dungannon Primary School. Especially since their current cohort of pupils is so diverse with each individual bringing something unique and special.

Mr Thompson and his staff therefore wanted to thank each child for their positivity, enthusiasm, dedication, commitment and sense of fun.

In previous years, families and friends would have been invited to the school assembly hall in late June to celebrate together and congratulate pupils when they received individual awards. Due to current restrictions and social distancing guidelines, this was not possible but this did not hinder the desire to achieve the latter.

On Friday 12 June 2020, Primary 7 leavers and their families joined the school staff and governors of Dungannon Primary School for an online ‘Zoom’ meeting. This featured a welcome from the school Principal, Mr David Thompson, who along with the Primary 7 teachers, Miss Wilson and Mr Willis, set the tone for the evening in formal attire.

After a brief catch up between pupils and staff, who had been separated for three months, the Dungannon Primary School Graduation video premiered on YouTube for everyone to enjoy viaZoom. This facilitated the opportunity to celebrate together and enjoy the reactions of the children.  Pupils relished the praise, encouragement and well-wishes given to them for the significant contribution they had made during their seven years of education at Dungannon Primary School.

The investigative work of Mr Thompson, alongside Primary 7 teachers paid off as they successfully recruited an array of Northern Ireland ‘stars’ to join them for awards ceremony. These famous faces, included several Dungannon natives who have had major successes, excelling in the world of TV, theatre, music, sport, journalism and politics.

The following personalities virtually presented a Primary 7 Leavers’ Award: Darren Clarke (Golfer), Lady Mary Peters (Olympic Legend), Niall McGinn (NI Footballer), Pete Snodden (Cool FM Host), Peter Nelson (Former Ulster and Current Canada Rugby Squad Member), Claire McCollum (Songs of Praise Presenter), Stephen Watson (BBC Sports Presenter), Mark Simpson (BBC Correspondent), Ryan Tubridy (RTE ‘The Late Show’ Host), Fra Fee (West End and Broadway Actor), Judith Hill (UTV Correspondent), Koulla Yiasouma (Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People), Rt Rev Andrew Forster (Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe), Rory Best (Former Ulster and Ireland Rugby Captain) and Arlene Foster (First Minister).

The final video encompassed these presentations with an array of other surprises for the pupils. This included messages from their teachers, past and present, a ‘throwback’ photo-story of their future career aspirations and a ‘tie’ relay skit where each pupil articulated their favourite memories of Dungannon Primary School. There was also a display of pupils’ ‘word-art’ uploaded to Google Classroom which included a summary of how they felt they have developed socially, emotionally and academically during their primary education.

The creative use of ‘green screen’, special effects and meticulous editing was offered by Mr Jim McKeown, at Rusty Productions, who has worked alongside staff and pupils at Dungannon Primary School to lead musical productions such as ‘The Lion King’ which was stopped in its tracks as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Enjoy this amazing final tribute to the Primary 7 classes of Dungannon Primary School.