Kate gave this address on 14th January 2017 at our Open Day.
My name is Kate, and I have been in Integrated education from the age of four. Some of the big benefits for me of coming to Shimna are: being able to learn about other religions and cultures from my peers and teachers whilst still continuing with my own beliefs, being able to work at my own pace in subjects and being able to push myself to achieve my best without feeling stressed or overwhelmed. My favourite subjects are history and English and I will be making my GCSE choices later this term, and I appreciate that Shimna gives me the chance to choose from the full range of academic subjects. I want to have every opportunity open to me when I choose my course and university when I am in 6th form. I will be choosing from all the sciences, maths and further maths, history, geography, business, technology, art, music, drama, ICT, moving image arts, PE, English, English literature and my choice of languages. I chose to study French and German, whilst some of my other friends opted for Spanish and Irish. I am proud to say that our school was the first school in Northern Ireland to have students achieve their GCSE in Sign Language.
I am following in the footsteps of my brother, who is now an A level student in Shimna. He wanted to study for an additional GCSE in year 12, and was very happy that our school accommodated him. He is now successfully following his career plan studying politics, history and biology at A level.
I love history and English but I also enjoy many sports. I have been a member of Newcastle Junior Athletics Club since I was eight, and train in Shimna every Monday evening. Because we are an Integrated school, it has been a wonderful opportunity to play a wide range of new sports. I play football, netball, hockey, rugby and gaelic for Shimna, and love every minute of it. Next month I will get to try a new sport, when I will go skiing with the school in Italy. I have also had the opportunity to represent Shimna at the Down schools athletic competitions as well as numerous cross country races.
I am pleased that I have been able to contribute to the Integrated ethos of Shimna through our two special assemblies each year, which everyone attends, one on Remembrance Day and one on St Patrick’s Day and have taken an active part in both. I love Irish dancing and have danced with the McCartney School for many years. I and other Shimna Irish dancers perform along with our traditional musicians for the St. Patrick’s Day assembly. I also take part in the Shimna presence at the Cenotaph in Newcastle to mark Remembrance Sunday. Each year, we lay a wreath at the Cenotaph, as well as organising our own Remembrance Day assembly.
Another very special Integration project I was able to take part in was an iPad sharing project with our neighbours, the Glen Fold. Over a number of weeks, I and my class visted the Fold residents to help them learn how to make the most out of their iPads, which in many cases had been given to them as a present from grandchildren. The project led to a collaboration between our class and the residents of the Fold, where we designed a range of T shirts and had them printed. The project ended up with icecream from Lick, and a lovely presentation ceremony. The following year, I had the opportunity to speak publically about our project at a gathering of all the participating schools and Folds from around Northern Ireland. It was a great occasion to catch up with our friends from the Glen Fold. However, our project also forged long lasting links with the Fold, which have included our students helping to remodel the Fold gardens, making a video of residents in their nineties demonstrating keep fit and our choir visiting to sing carols.
I am very proud to be a student of Shimna Integrated College, both because of the many things I have gained, but also because it inspires me to contribute and make Integration real in my own life.