Former Pupils Association Launch Event
The launch event of the newly formed Cookstown High School Former Pupils’ Association was held at the school on Friday 20 February.
The attendance surpassed original expectations; so much so that the venues for the evening had to be rearranged to accommodate everyone comfortably. Those in attendance included pupils from the late 1940s to the present day, several former members of teaching and non teaching staff including Dr Sam McGuiness, Headmaster from 1991 to 1997. Unfortunately due to illness Canon Wilfred Young who was Headmaster of the school from 1971-1991 and who is the Chairman of the Steering Committee of the FPA was unable to attend.
There was a great buzz in the study room of Coolnafranky House as old acquaintances and new friends swapped school stories during the drinks reception while musicians from among the present generation of pupils provided entertainment under the direction of the Head of Music Mrs Fiona Gormley. During this time former pupils had the opportunity to view several rooms in Coolnafranky house which have recently been refurbished for school and community use. The gathering was brought to order by former Vice Principal Mr Robert Stevenson ringing the old High School hand bell. He outlined the history of the bell, explaining how it had been an ARP Warden’s which previous Headmaster Mr W McNeill had salvaged at the end of the war. It was used to ring class changes in the old High School; however, when the school relocated to its new building in Coolnafranky Demesne in 1955 there were electric bells and so it was ‘retired’. It was last rung in 1974 in power cuts during the UWC strike.
With the drinks reception over guests made their way to the Morrison Building where Mr Richard Barnes welcomed them on behalf of the Former Pupil’s Association Steering Committee and chaired a brief discussion about the aims of the association and plans for future events. The current Headmaster, Mr Graham Montgomery then spoke about the history of the school, the extent of its current provision and the plans it has for the future. He expressed the hope that the FPA would become an established part of the life of the school and that through it former pupils would feel that they have a continuing part to play in the life of the school community.
The evening concluded with a three course meal in the school dining hall accompanied by more music from current pupils.
The committee declared itself “delighted” with the attendance, the atmosphere and the hospitality extended by the school. Other activities are planned by the FPA and all former pupils are encouraged to join up as soon as possible so that they can be kept informed of future events.