HERMITAGE Academy’s top academic performers have been rewarded at the school’s annual senior prize-giving – but they weren’t the only ones who came in for praise.

The ceremony was held virtually – as was the case in 2020 – as a Covid precaution, but all the major award recipients gathered at the school afterwards for a photo session to mark their special moment.

Addressing pupils, staff, parents and carers in a ceremony which was streamed live online, the school’s acting head teacher, Douglas Morgan, praised all those who had contributed to helping and supporting the whole school community during the pandemic.

Mr Morgan succeeded Robert Williamson at the start of 2021, and his first two months in post were spent with the school building, like all others in Scotland, closed due to Covid.

In his first address as part of the school’s annual ceremony, Mr Morgan congratulated all the award winners and paid tribute to the way parents, staff and pupils have supported each other.

He said: “Today we celebrate the achievements of our young people and we also recognise everyone who has supported them throughout the year.

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“Whether it was during remote learning, blended learning, the phased return of senior phase classes or when we were delighted to return to the building full time, our staff have never stopped giving of their very best for our young people and for that I, and I am sure our school community is extremely grateful.

“It has also never been more important that I acknowledge the support given by our parents and carers this year.

“Juggling working from home and aiding your young person’s learning is something that many of us experienced this year. We, as a school, know how hard you worked to support us – so thank you for this.

“A special mention to the members of our parent council who have worked tirelessly to support our school community. We thank you for your unwavering support, especially in the most challenging of times.

“As well as the chance to celebrate success, this year has also brought tragic loss to our community. I could not have been prouder of the way our young people, families, staff and partners came together to support each other as one community.

“We will ensure that our love and care of our young people continues to be there for them in the weeks and months to come.

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“I would like to congratulate all our award winners this evening. Not only do we celebrate your success with you and your families today, but you also represent many other young people who you have shared classes with this year, both online and in person.”

Mr Morgan also paid tribute to art teacher Lesley Milloy and English teacher Carol McElroy, who retired from the school in June after 35 years and 37 years respectively.

He also appealed to parents to get involved in extra-curricular activities in the school as day-to-day life gradually returns to normal.

He added: “Both will be sorely missed by their respective departments and colleagues across the school and will be fondly remembered by current and former pupils alike.

“We thank them for everything they have done for the school and wish both members of staff a wonderful retirement.

“As a school, we look forward to clubs and wider achievement opportunities returning to school life and in support of this, I would appeal for keen and enthusiastic parents and carers watching to get involved with our parent and teacher association, who do amazing work to support these activities.”

(All photos by David Unsworth)