Praise for community on landmark for rural school

Praise for community on landmark for rural school

15 November 2023

KILLINCHY Primary School has celebrated its 40th anniversary.

The school’s unique sense of belonging has been at its core since it opened in December 1984 and former pupils have met to recall their favourite anecdotes as part of the anniversary celebrations.

Following the closure and reorganisation of Ardmillan, Ballydrain, Ballymacashen, Killinchy and Lisbarnett primary schools on September 1, 1983, a new ultra-modern school was built and opened.

While the wheels of bureaucracy were slow-moving, Killinchy Primary School was officially opened 15 months later.

School principal, Mr Christopher Currie, said it’s been something of a rollercoaster over recent years which included two inspections, a global pandemic and a financial crisis.

“One thing that remains constant is the feeling of belonging which has become synonymous with Killinchy Primary School,” he said.

The primary school is a vibrant community with strong family links, dedicated staff and enthusiastic well-mannered children that have made the school what it is today.

And Mr Currie revealed that it was its caring ethos which prompted him and his wife Judith to send their first child there.

“There was never any question over where we would send James to school,” he said. “He’s now in P3 and loves every day at Killinchy – I cannot imagine my kids going anywhere else.”

The principal also paid tribute to the staff, parents and board of governors for their continued support.

“This school community will ensure that Killinchy Primary remains a beacon of hope for the next 40 years and beyond.”

Former principal, Mr Gary McCreery, was appointed as principal designate of the then new school in 1982 and was tasked in bringing the five schools that would make up Killinchy Primary together, while still running Ardmillan.

“I can honestly say that I enjoyed every day in Killinchy Primary,” said Mr McCreery.

“I am confident that Killinchy Primary will continue to excel and wish all concerned every success in the future.”

Current vice-principal, Miss Kerry Finlay’s experience at Killinchy Primary has come full circle as  she was a former student and now teaches in the same classroom where she sat as a P7 student. She is also teaching her former teacher’s grandchildren.

“So much has changed since then in terms of technology and the curriculum but the child, family and community-centred ethos of Killinchy Primary has stood the test of time,” she said.

“I’m fortunate to be one of the many people who have had lifelong links to the school; these personal connections make it a special place to work and learn for pupils and staff alike.”

Parents who also attended the school have sent their children to experience the same high-level education and nurturing environment.

Mrs Kathryn Leckey, who is now a senior teacher and a member of the first P1 class to enter the school gates, described being apart of the 40th anniversary as a “privilege”.

“I always adored writing and my most memorable piece was the typical, ‘What would you like to be when you grow up?’,” Mrs Leckey recalled.

“Sentence after sentence flowed about how I was going to be a teacher, nowhere else but at Killinchy Primary School. I never gave up on that ambition and I wouldn’t change it for the world. 

“My own daughters have had the same privilege, with one coming back at every opportunity and the second wishing she never has to leave. Once a pupil at Killinchy, always a pupil of Killinchy and I am so blessed by the opportunities the school has brought.” 

Another primary one student from the class of 1984, Mrs Linda Jackson, has been a Killinchy Primary School student for over 10 years.

“My love affair with Killinchy Primary School began 40 years ago when it first opened and I started there as a P1 child,” Linda explained.

“When I was 16 I decided that I wanted to work with children and returned to the school for my work experience and at 18, I began a childcare job in the Killinchy area and my links with the school remained.

“Although the school has grown considerably in numbers, it has managed to hang on to that small country feel,” said Linda. 

“Having two children myself who adore Killinchy Primary has allowed me to continue my love of this special place. The school has always been such a big part of my life.”

Killinchy Primary opens its doors on November 29 to prospective parents who are looking to enrol their children in a school where the inclusive atmosphere that has kept the school going for 40 is alive and well.