The raw emotions of A level students from dramatically different backgrounds were the same on Thursday morning as they made plans to move their lives forward.
Almost intoxicated with the elation around Belfast Boys’ Model on the Ballysillan Road, principal Alan Logan said: “These are boys who came in at 11 years having not gained places in grammar schools – and this year we had 70 boys doing A levels.
“All of them got at least two A levels,” he added. “All of our grades (73 per cent) were A* to C.”
Explaining the atmosphere in the school, Mr Logan said: “There were so many tears shed of happiness and pride.
“Some of the boys I was talking to are going to university but some had to persuade their parents it was the right way for them to go.
“Other boys are going into employment or going into apprenticeships. A day like this makes me feel I made the right career choice. The pride I feel in these boys and in the staff is immense. Days like this make it all worthwhile. This is the big payback.”
Full of future plans and dreams, pupils at the secondary school told the News Letter at 11am they “had not yet told their parents their results”.
Jordan Thompson said he “wanted it (the results) to be a big surprise”.
The 18-year-old, who studied ICT and media studies and achieved an A* and A, said he was going to Queen’s in Belfast.
“I want to see them to tell them,” he added.
“I will be the fourth person in my family to go to university.”
Fellow student Kyle Bell, who achieved the results he needed to study computer studies at Queen’s University, said: “I haven’t told my parents yet.
“They will be happy with the results. I will be the first person from my family to go to university.”
Meanwhile, across town, at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, principal Janet Williamson said she was “very pleased with the A level results”.
“I am as nervous as they are the day before the results,” she said. “The majority of boys will go to university. It is down to a mix of hard work from them and good teaching.”
Student Ted Mackey from Moira – who achieved two A* and two As – now plans to read music at Cambridge. While he was not sure what he hoped to do after his primary degree, “I just know that I want to study music because it is my passion and I want to learn more about it and indulge in it for three more years”.
Former deputy head boy, Thomas Magowan, who achieved two A* and 2 As, said he was planning on taking a year out “to travel and find out what I want to do”.
And Thomas Donaldson from Belfast, who achieved three A* and one A, said he had a university place offer from Imperial College which will start in October. He said he will take a science degree “incorporating everything I enjoy”.