RETURNING students raised the bar as they were presented with honours to recognise their success by a gold medal winning gymnast.
Former Year 11 pupils at Haughton Academy, Darlington, part of the Education Village Academy Trust, were praised at an award ceremony to reward effort and achievement by Commonwealth gold medallist and Olympic finalist Craig Heap.
The glittering ceremony, attended by parents, carers, teachers and governors, saw the returning GCSE pupils acknowledged for their accomplishments in a host of subject areas alongside awards for positive attitude, behaviour, resilience, determination, attendance, leadership, spirit, kindness and outstanding conduct.
Craig, who won 14 British championship titles, competed in five European and five World championships, retired from gymnastics in 2002 and now works as a commentator for BBC and Sky sport.
“Life isn’t easy, if it was we would all get grade 9s in our exams, we would all be Olympic athletes, we would all have great jobs and loads of money – but life isn’t like that,” he said.
“Life is about getting out there, seizing your chances, saying yes to opportunities and putting in the effort to succeed.
“I congratulate everyone here tonight for their efforts and urge them all to continue to be the best they can be, to dare to be different and seize each and every opportunity.”
High achievers of the evening were students Liberty Easton and Bethany Higgins who each celebrated a hat-trick of honours.
Liberty, 16, who collected awards for attainment in drama and effort in English literature and music, is currently studying biology, geography and geology at Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College.
“I was very surprised to win three awards,” said Bethany who hopes to become a petroleum geologist.
“I really enjoyed my time at Haughton Academy, especially the extra curricular activities like singing, music and sports leadership and its lovely to come back to have the chance to catch up with everybody.”
Bethany, 16, was presented with the Haughton Academy conduct award by academy governor Dr Leslie Fox alongside awards for attainment in English literature and effort in Spanish.
“Its lovely to be recognised at an award ceremony like this,” said Bethany, who is studying biology, maths and psychology at Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College.
“I tried to work really hard throughout my five years at Haughton Academy, always managing to reach my target grades, and I was really pleased with my GCSE results, especially my three grade 9s.”
Congratulating the students, academy principal Jonathan Lumb, who hosted the event alongside assistant principals Fiona Campbell and Steve Flynn, added: “Tonight is always one of the best nights of the year for Haughton Academy.
“Most of the students here this evening have been with us for over five years and it is wonderful to see them back here after producing such fantastic GCSE results in the summer.”