Graduation time for Academy pupils

The S3 Columba 1400 group participants with depute head Alec Scott.
The S3 Columba 1400 group participants with depute head Alec Scott.

Girvan Academy held a celebration last month in recognition of the work done by 13 S3 pupils on the Columba programme over the last year.

A graduation ceremony was held at the school on Friday 30 May to give teachers, parents and local councillors the opportunity to celebrate their achievements and hear about the work they carried out.

The thirteen pupils at the academy spent a year on the Columba 1400 leadership in action programme.

The programme is designed to teach youngsters the values of leadership and taking responsibility for their actions as well as helping them develop new skills that they can use in everyday life and hopefully in the future when they are looking to gain employment in the future.

As part of the programme, the 13 youngsters spent a week on the Isle of Skye at the Columba centre in Staffin.

Pupils commented how the scenic landscape and picturesque hillsides on the isle made it an amazing week, where they also completed team building tasks such as walking up the old man of Storr and also taking part in a search and rescue task.

It was easy to see and hear from the group’s presentations and videos how much the week had taught them. A lot of the group weren’t friends before the trip but bonded on the island and many have become friends for lives.

Through the fun video diaries shown to the audience, an insight was given into some of the lighter moments of the trip but also the self reflection upon a trip in which they had grown up on. Many of the pupils were emotional on the final night at the centre, but were ready to take their values back down to Girvan.

And that is exactly what they did over the course of the programme as they got involved in a number of activities inside and outside the school.

Participants helped in the interviews for the house captains for S6 which were done in both a speed dating and panel approach manner and the pupils said they could empathise with the pupils going into an interview situation like that.

They also organised a books for Africa appeal which was inspired by a former pupil heading out to Uganda. They set up a book for Africa box in the library where pupils could donate their books to the cause.

Others took part in a so called ‘bounceback day’ where they worked with the first years in the school where they developed their co-operation skills with other pupils in the skills using the confidence they had gained on the Columba group. The S1 pupils were put into groups which represented different values and they helped create different dances, songs and posters.

Girvan Academy joined pupils from other schools including Carrick Academy in Ayr to join in with fellow participants in the Columba 1400 Programme. Different activties such as being a paparazzi interviewing group and being part of a samba band dance group were undertaken to again show how pupils confidence developed.

And lastly, members of the group took part in a Values Day in the school where they taught fellow pupils about values such as responsibility, trust, ambition and respect.

At the end of the ceremony, all pupils were given a certificate and a plaque from the Columba representatives.

Head teacher Allan Rattray said that he hadn’t been sure about a group as young as S3 taking part but he has clearly seen the benefits of what the programme taught them and he hopes to be back next year celebrating another group’s wonderful achievements on the programme.

He also thanked Depute Head Alec Scott for his involvement with the pupils and the programme throughout the year and the pupils also presented Mr Scott with a box of chocolates to thank him.