Tears of joy, pride and reflection were shed as The Wensleydale School’s community came together last Thursday to celebrate and recognise all that had been achieved over the last academic year.
The awards celebrated effort, achievement and, through the endowed awards and trophies, talent and personal accomplishment.
Given that the students received some of the best results in the school’s history in the summer exams – the night was one to remember.
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Julia Polley, headteacher, said that the students received some of the best results in the school’s history in the summer exams, making the night was one to remember.
“While academically there is so much we can be proud of, our awards are more than just handing out exam certificates. Our students are an incredible group of young people. They are talented, respectful and give a huge amount back to their community.
“I think it is important that we not only recognise their efforts in the exams, but also celebrate who they are as individuals.”
Among the many awards, Shane Hobley won the John Rising Citizen of the Year Award for establishing the school’s cadet programme.
Amy Weatherald, whose ambition it is to come back to the school as headteacher, was recognised for her community service after “working tirelessly to support charities”.
Rhys Swift and Grace Craig-Crawford were both praised for being “fantastic students” as their resilience and motivation was commended when they respectively collected trophies for Endeavour and Achievement in the face of Adversity.
A particularly poignant moment was the presentation of the inaugural Kath Barker Memorial Trophy.
Mrs Barker was an inspirational music teacher who tragically passed away last year.
She gave a huge amount of time to the school’s musicians to nurture and encourage their talents. The award, in her honour, was presented to one of the school’s most gifted vocalists, Rosie Allenby.
Mrs Barker’s husband, Rev Dr David Barker, said that he hoped the award would be a “joyful memory” of all that his wife stood for.
He added: “There were three things that got Kath up and out of bed in the morning. The first was coffee, the second was music and thirdly, and most importantly, was her desire to make a difference to the lives of young people.”
Mrs Polley added: “As a school, the 2016/17 academic year was one of our most successful. Ofsted praised the work that we do, our results outperformed the national average, more and more students want to come to our school and our young people have collected a number of accolades and awards.”
“In schools you rarely get the opportunity to stop and reflect. That is why events like this are so important.”
The night’s keynote address came from local author and former student, Hannah Russell. She spoke warmly about her time at the school, and had advice for the students as they prepare for their futures.
“I think looking back, my time at The Wensleydale School was one of the best of my life; it’s where I formed lifelong friendships, had a few tears and tantrums and learnt new skills – some of which I didn’t even realise until I left.
“It’s the place where I probably discovered my love for what I’m doing now. I think the school helped shaped me in to the person I am today.
“Handing out the awards to students was lovely…it just showed that everyone faces challenges, no matter how big or small, and you face them throughout your life but overcoming those challenges is what makes them meaningful.”
Hannah is also supporting the school’s new sixth form offer, which commences in September, to help shape the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders.
For more information visit www.wensleydale.n-yorks.sch.uk.