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Developing the Whole Child

2024 Dominican Award Students

Going for Gold- Our 2024 Dominican Award Students Awarded Their Gold Medals at Special Ceremony.

It is in giving that we receive” Saint Francis of Assissi




The Dominican Award is a Social Justice award which was established in our school in 2022. It is a voluntary award which encourages the participates to take part in charity work, social justice events and faith -based activities both in school and in our local communities.

The award is open to all year 13 pupils, it runs over 16 months, in which time pupils must complete 20 activities at part of school life, 10 activities within their own individual communities plus a reflective concluding presentation which then will be looked over by the board of governors and senior staff in order to be presented with their gold medal at the end of the process in recognition of their achievements.

At this week’s Dominican Award Medal ceremony Mr Lynch, Dominican Principal, spoke of his great pride and pleasure in being able to see our first 22 Gold Award students complete their Dominican Award. He told pupils and parents at today’s special ceremony that they embody all that is best about Dominican College Portstewart and how they show the importance for pupils to develop all of their potential. In every way they represent our school ethos in action.


Mr Lynch explained that when he became Dominican Principal two year ago that he approached position of leading the school with one key question- what is special about DCP. The answer he suggested was the ethos of the school which he defined as: assisting each pupil achieve their full potential; realising the intrinsic uniqueness of each and every pupil and empowering pupils as young adults to grow in confidence and to make well-informed decisions.

Mr Lynch described Dominican as being, “Like an extended family and a community which offers its pupils a lifelong membership” and he described his immense pride at seeing today’s pupils’ Dominican journey culminating in their Dominican Award medals – the evidence that the ethos of the school continues to live and thrive in the school in 2024. Mr Lynch continued:


“The Dominican Award is an important part of our quest for ongoing school improvement and it is grounded in our Dominican Values of the search for truth and justice; the physical, spiritual, emotional and academic development of all pupils. I am personally very proud to stand here today as the Principal of this school- particularly in the presence of Sr. Lucina who was instrumental in employing me as a young teacher forty years ago. At the time, Sr Lucina told me I was joining a special family community and, when we first envisaged this award her influence and guidance was at the back of our minds. Two years ago I sat with our Chair of Governors, Mr Michael Fleming and mapped our vision for this award. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Michael and the governors for their support in translating that vision into today’s reality. I am also delighted that this year’s 22 Dominican Award pupils will be followed by next year’s 39 Lower Sixth pupils who will hopefully receive their awards in the summer of 2025. I am delighted to see that the Dominican Awards and our quest for social justice will go from strength to strength in the years to come”.


Mr Lynch concluded by thanking Mrs Willighan and Mrs Dallat for leading, inspiring and co-ordinating the work of the Dominican Award pupils and to the RE Department. He also thanked out U6 parents for all their support and work over the past 7 years and he concluded by thanking and congratulating our 22 Award winners encouraging them to follow the example of St. Catherine of Siena and “to be who you are meant to be and you will set the world on fire”.


Our Dominican Award Co- Ordinator Mrs Danielle Willighan invited pupils to present their reflections on their award before welcoming today’s special guest, Sr Lucina Montague to present the awards to this year’s recipients.


Mrs Willighan explained how the Dominican Award students had to “earn” a series of 20 credits for work in school including work in liturgies, mentoring junior pupils and assisting with recycling initiatives. A further 10 credits are awarded for a wide range of social justice initiatives beyond the school including working in local primary schools, visiting local nursing homes and work in charity fundraising. A final 10 credits are awarded based on an individual presentation and reflection by each student involving the senior management team of the school.


Mrs Willighan described how taking part in the Dominican Award required pupils to, “Work with enormous dedication and organisation always seeking to do what is right. The two years’ work enabled pupils to translate the DCP ethos of faith, hope and love into action and to set yourself apart as a true Dominican. It is highly appropriate that we are celebrating these pupils on the week of the feast day of St Catherine of Siena who continues to inspire us to light up the world around us. It is also lovely today that we are able to celebrate the musical talents of one of our award winners Anna Bradley in the form of her beautiful song “Colours” as well as the fabulous footwork of our Irish dancers Emma Park and Amelia McCaughern.”


Today’s special guest, Sr Lucina, spoke of her great joy at being able to make the journey to be with our Dominican pupils, parents and staff.


Sr. Lucina first arrived in Portstewart as a young Home Economics teacher in 1962 before returning as Dominican Principal from 1974 to 1986. Until recently Sr. Lucina has been a valued member of the Dominican Board of Governors and was delighted to be invited back to her home from home today to acknowledge and celebrate the work of the Dominican Award students. In recognition of all her inspirational work within our Dominican family, Sr. Lucina herself was also awarded an honorary Gold Award.


Speaking to the Dominican Award pupils Sr. Lucina drew on the words of St Irenaeus that “The Glory of God is man fully alive. As young Dominican women and men you can truly be said to be fully alive.”


Sr. Lucina continued by describing the origins of the Dominican order at a time of religious turmoil and despair in Europe, “At the start of the C13th our founder, St Dominic, found himself in an inn in Toulouse where he convinced the innkeeper of the essential goodness of everyone. Over a long night’s discussion Dominic held a conversation, he listened to the alternative viewpoint and thought carefully about what the other man had to say. Dominican Award students of 2024 – you have also seen turmoil in your world but you have also seen the big picture. I am not sure of the exact scientific meaning of the word equilibrium but for me it is about finding a balance, not rushing to judgement and having the ability to make wise judgements. St. Dominic celebrated the wonder of being human, of loving and being loved and I am delighted to be present here today with you as this first wave of Dominican Award students”.


Very well done to this year’s award winners and best wishes to the L6 pupils who are currently working hard on achieving their award and all the future Dominican students who will follow in their footsteps.