The College welcomed former student Shelley Brownlee, who is a barrister in London, as Guest of Honour.
Shelley’s speech began memorably with the opening lines of a poem from Portadown born poet Paul Muldoon “Why Brownlee left and where he went is a mystery even now”, setting the context for her life story from Portadwon College to her role as a London barrister.
Having shared how teachers Mr Moore, Miss Gibb and Miss Curry had been inspirational, Shelley encouraged her young audience to “be an authentic version of yourself”, to have empathy and to hold on their accent.
Both the Chairman of the Board of Governors Mr Peter Aiken and the acting Principal Mr Peter Richardson paid sincere tribute to our former Principal Mr Harper. “Mr Harper was a man who had one approach to education: student centred,” said Mr Richardson. “Whether it be in school assemblies, engaging with students on a one to one basis or supporting the extra-curricular life of the College, he always sought to encourage, uplift and inspire. In all of his dealings with students, staff and parents he was generous with his time, and his ready smile and warm welcome always helped to set one at ease. Mr Harper not only led the College with distinction but played a lead role in promoting the Dickson Plan.”
During the ceremony a new prize in honour of the former principal, The Harper Memorial Award for the Highest Mark Awarded in Chemistry, was presented by Ms Catherine Beattie to Matthew Vennard, who is currently studying medicine at Cambridge.
The Principal’s Prize for Outstanding Achievement was awarded to last year’s head girl Joanna Kerr, who amongst other notable achievements, addressed the House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on her Good Friday visit to Stormont.