Lauren announced a Pramerica Top 20 Finalist for the 2020 Spirit of Community Awards


Lauren Gaynor, from Co. Tyrone has been recognised as one of 20 exceptional young people from across Ireland, who have been chosen as some of the country’s most outstanding youth volunteers, working to make a positive impact on their local communities.

A Sixth-Year student at Loreto Grammar School, Lauren has been involved in volunteering from a young age and has organised and participated in fundraising activities regularly such as, bag packing, baking and serving at coffee mornings.  She was chosen by her school to participate in an exchange programme and subsequently volunteered in a Washington Soup Kitchen. The Soup Kitchen was established to help feed and provide shelter for the homeless people in the city.

Lauren also had the opportunity to visit Cambodia on a four week expedition and took part in numerous projects such as designing concrete cylinders for the local drainage system, helping to  build a damn which allows the locals to transport food over the river and planting banana trees for the poorest family in the local village. Lauren also donated some of her own money to buy the local people she was helping with food and livestock which was instrumental in creating an income for families.

Both trips were an eye opening and life changing experience for Lauren.  Lauren used these events not only to fundraise but to raise awareness of the plight of those in need.

The top 20 local students were revealed as Pramerica announced its top 20 finalists for the 2020 Spirit of Community Awards, the only all-Ireland youth initiative of its kind that rewards post-primary students for their exemplary acts of volunteerism.

Passionate about a range of topics including homelessness, mental health, disabled rights, climate change, animal cruelty plus many more, the 20 finalists will gather for this year’s awards which will take place at Titanic, Belfast on Tuesday 31st March. Each finalist will receive an impressive €500 to donate to their preferred charity and are in the running to win a once in a lifetime trip across the globe to Washington, D.C.

The programme, which is run in partnership with the National Association of Principals & Deputy Principals (NAPD) and the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI), is one of Ireland’s largest youth recognition programmes, this year’s awards received a remarkable 250 applications from across Ireland.

Naomi Hegarty, vice president, Risk Management, Pramerica Systems Ireland is overwhelmed with the selfless work being carried out by young people across Ireland.

“Year upon year I continue to be humbled by the incredible volunteer work carried out by young people in towns and villages across Ireland. The 20 finalists selected as part of this year’s awards programme are proudly taking a stand for what they believe in and actively empowering others to do the same. Our awards programme celebrates these passionate and dedicated young people and aims to give them the recognition and voice they truly deserve.

 “At Pramerica we are committed to supporting youth volunteers and understand that even the smallest of contributions can make a big difference to those who are in need and vulnerable. In sacrificing their spare time to give back to their community, these young people are showing that they genuinely care, and we want to make sure that their selfless good deeds don’t go unnoticed. We cannot wait to welcome all of the chosen finalists to the awards ceremony in Titanic, Belfast on 31st March of this year.

The 20 Pramerica Spirit of Community finalists are:

  • Lidia Ballocchi, Sixth Year, Assumption Grammar School, Co. Down
  • Sasha Barrett-Ferris, Sixth Year, Sullivan Upper School, Co. Down
  • Gavin Bennett, Third Year, Ard Scoil Chiarain Naofa, Co. Offaly
  • Jemma Campbell Sixth Year, Our Lady and St Patrick’s College, Co. Antrim
  • Rebecca Colley, Sixth Year, Castleknock Community College, Co. Dublin
  • Jessica Collins, Fourth Year, Skibbereen Community School, Co. Cork
  • Keira Culleton, Third year, Loreto College, Co. Derry
  • Jamie Duffy, Sixth Year, Beech Hill College, Co. Monaghan
  • Lauren Gaynor, Sixth Year, Loreto Grammar School, Co. Tyrone
  • Charlotte Gallagher, First Year, Our Lady’s School, Co. Dublin
  • Liadh Hanley, Sixth Year, St. Angela’s College, Co. Cork
  • Rebecca Irvine, Sixth Year, Carrickfergus Grammar School, Co. Antrim
  • Grainne McGlynn, Fourth Year, Rosses Community School, Co. Donegal
  • Julie Reddan, Sixth Year, Borrisokane Community College, Co. Tipperary
  • Jake Redmond, Sixth Year, Larkin Community, Co. Dublin
  • Aurora Riddiough, Fifth year, Ballycastle High School, Co. Antrim
  • Sophia Shally, Third Year, St Louis Community School, Co. Mayo
  • Aaron Smith, Sixth Year, St Louise’s Comprehensive College, Co. Antrim
  • Emma Smyth, Sixth Year, St Louis Grammar School, Co. Antrim
  • Teagan Stanley, Fifth Year, Newtown School, Co. Waterford

For further information, contact Caroline Murphy or Susan Jackson at AIKEN on 02890663000 or / or Harold Banks, Pramerica, 973-216-4833 (U.S.) or


Loreto Camps Cambodia Parent Information Session

Loreto Grammar SL Cambodia Trek

Mandarin Chinese Speaking

HSBC Mandarin Speaking Competition

The HSBC Mandarin Speaking Competition is run by the British Council, is open to UK, Channel Island and Isle of Man secondary schools and is for non-native speakers of Mandarin Chinese. We are super proud of our Year 13 pupil, Ailis Keyes, who was the first ever participant in the advanced category of the Northern Irish heat, which took place on 20/11/2019.  Her Mandarin teacher, Zhang Xiaojing and SWC’s Mandarin Coordinator Linda Beatty, accompanied her to the event.  Ailis unfortunately didn’t make it through to the national final on this occasion, but it was an amazing achievement and a fantastic experience regardless.  Ailis agrees that participation in the competition at this high level has increased her motivation for learning the language, has developed her vocabulary and indeed improved her pronunciation.  Through her experience, Ailis has been inspired to discover even more about Chinese culture.

Latest News on Shared Education

Our most recent Shared Education project commenced on Thursday 9th January 2020.  The Christian Brothers Grammar School and Arvalee School invited our pupils to participate in a three-day Sports Leadership Event. The aim is to develop their organisational, communication and team working skills as future Sports Leaders, culminating in an ‘Inclusive Games Event’ involving KS3 pupils from all six schools.

Shared Education aims to bring pupils together from local schools of both traditions, with representation from the controlled, maintained and voluntary school sectors.  The six schools involved are Arvalee School & Resource Centre, Christian Brothers Grammar School, Loreto Grammar School, Omagh Academy Grammar School, Omagh High School and Sacred Heart College.

CCEA ‘Top Achiever’ Awards


CCEA Celebrating Success Awards 2019

A prestigious awards ceremony was held on Tuesday 17th December in the Titanic Centre, Belfast, to celebrate the outstanding achievements of first place students in CCEA’s GCSE and GCE examinations.  Amongst the recipients were two pupils from Loreto, Aine and Maria.

Aine achieved first place in Northern Ireland in A’ Level Health & Social Care.  She is pictured (below) at the awards ceremony alongside our principal, Mrs O’Hanlon, her very proud teacher, Mrs McElroy and a CCEA representative.  Aine is currently studying at St. Mary’s University College Belfast.

Also recognised on the evening was our Year 13 pupil, Maria who achieved first place in Digital Technology Programming at GCSE.  Maria is pictured (below) with CCEA Education Manager, Michael McEnery.  She is currently studying at A’ Level here in the school.

We are delighted with the success of these two girls and all of our pupils who contributed to the outstanding results achieved this year.

December Newsletter

2019 – December

Post 16 December Newsletter

Post 16 December Newsletter

Debating Matters!

Debating Matters…
The Loreto Debating Group was formed in September this year by Mrs McGirr, who has a long-standing interest in debating stemming for her own involvement in a debating society at school some years ago…!  She has experienced many long-term benefits from having participated in debating as a school-girl and is keen that the pupils at Loreto also have the opportunity to try it out.  Put simply – debating matters because ideas matter. Debating is a skill that fosters intellectual curiosity, encourages rigorous research and creates an environment which encourages deeper levels of knowledge and understanding about political, social and cultural issues.  It also develops high-level communication skills, building confidence to speak in public and developing the art of persuasive writing and speaking.  These skills are prized by universities and employers.
The ‘Concern’ debating competition, in which the debating team are currently participating, is organised by the charity ‘Concern’ and is a well-established all-island debating competition, running for over 30 years.  The girls compete in teams of four speakers in each debate, on rotation, and are supported by the other members of the debating team, as researchers.  The motions for debate are set by Concern and explore issues relating to development education, poverty, environment and security, and foster active citizenship principles.  The preparation for the debates is carried out at after-school meetings, and also at home by the girls involved.  There is usually a flurry of emails coming up to debate nights!
Since September, the girls have participated in two workshops – one on debating generally and the other on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – and in two ‘away’ debates and one ‘home’ debate, against St Patrick’s College, Maghera, Finn Valley College, Stranorlar, St Columba’s College, Stranorlar, respectively.  The debates take place in the evening time; we have really enjoyed the ‘craic’ on the bus to the ‘away’ debates and it has been a lovely opportunity for the girls to meet pupils in other schools.  Our dedicated core members are drawn from year 11-13: Beth Johnston, Ella Duffy, Saoirse Armstrong, Niamh Curran, Niamh Cullinan, Eimear McElduff, Eadaoin McKiernan, Cora McCabe and Orla Browne.  Our next debate will be held at ‘home’ against Thornhill College, Derry on Wednesday 4th December at 7pm.  Please feel free to join us in the Assembly Hall – ‘volunteering does more harm than good’ is a controversial motion that is sure to get you thinking.

International Show-Jumping Sensation


We are immensely proud of Niamh, our champion Year 12 Show-Jumper, who has had phenomenal recent success in her sport.  In August she represented Ireland at the European Championships in Poland, where she and her teammates won team Gold. Niamh was the only girl on the team and she also finished 9th individually.  Following her top 10 finish at the Europeans, she was invited to compete at the Longines Masters show in Paris and the World Cup show in Lyon in December. She has also been selected to compete on the Irish team in Belgium later this month for the final of the Nations Cup Series, which Ireland are leading.  Niamh most recently returned from the National Championships in Mullingar,  where she won the u16 National Champion title.
Niamh’s mum thanked Loreto for all their support.  She offered a special word of thanks to the PE department who she said “continue to foster and encourage a love of sport and physical activity in all the young girls that they teach”.


Camps International – Cambodia Expedition 2019

Pushing their comfort zones to the outer limits, six of our students travelled to Cambodia in July 2019 to take part in a Camps International 4-week expedition. Casey Devlin, Bronagh Leonard, Zara McGrath and Lisa Denton, Year 13, along with Lauren Gaynor and Caitlin Houston, Year 12, were led by Dr Laura O’Dolan on this incredible trip. The girls formed part of a composite travelling group with three other schools from Northern Ireland and when on expedition, joined a wider range of teams from throughout Ireland and the UK. They engaged in a range of exciting initiatives to assist local communities through wildlife, environment and community projects. Some of the life changing projects that these amazing students threw their hearts and souls into were:

  • Making concrete rings to sink into the ground for the drainage chambers of toilets and wells for local villagers
  • Hand mixing tonnes of concrete to make giant water storage pots
  • Building/improving houses for families living in deplorable conditions
  • Helping local school children with their English lessons
  • Building a safety wall in a local school to combat flooding and soil erosion in the playground
  • Maintaining the village dam walls to ensure the water supply for local farmers’ fields
  • Starting work on a path for a local school so the students don’t have to walk through mud in the rainy season
  • Building chicken coops for local families so they can have a source of income and food
  • Planting banana trees at a local school to provide shade and fresh fruit for the students
  • Replanting Mahogany and Teak saplings to combat mass deforestation and illegal logging activities

Julie Lax (Schools Support Coordinator) from Camps International visited our school on Monday 9th of September to formally acknowledge the work of these students. She was full of praise for their endeavors and said, “Their work ethic and determination were an inspiration to everyone.  They helped make a huge, lasting and positive impact on the lives of many people in rural communities and worked tirelessly to help protect our embattled environment”.

Whilst in Cambodia the students learned about the Khmer Rouge regime by visiting the S21 Prison and the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh. They got to explore the wonders of Angkor Wat Temples and challenged themselves by completing the PADI Open Water Scuba course. They learned how to cook sticky bamboo rice, overcame the ‘shock’ of cold-water bucket showers, squat toilets and creepy crawlies and mastered the skill of hand washing their clothes and hanging them on a line to dry. Other highlights included receiving a water blessing from the local monks and watching and joining in with the traditional Aspara Dancers

Being co-located with many of the rural communities enabled the girls to fully immerse themselves in the local cultures. They saw first-hand the daily struggles some people experience in order to go about their normal lives and the limited options young people have to develop their education and career prospects.  The girls returned with a renewed and heightened sense of the opportunities available to them, thankful for their homes that have electricity and hot and cold running water; their school with all the modern technology and facilities, and their families who have supported them so far. The lessons these brave girls have learnt from their expedition will be carried in their hearts and minds, to be used and adapted throughout their lives.

The girls are extremely grateful to all who supported them in their fundraising events prior to departure. They also received much appreciated sponsorship from a number of businesses: Barry Curran Optometrist, First Trust Bank, Calvert Office Equipment, Woodvale Construction Company, Dessie Collins Electrical, Icon eBusiness, and Eugene Donnelly Painter and Decorator.  They would also like to acknowledge McCullagh’s Spar for street collection, B&M Bargains for bag-packing opportunities, Dr Kevin Moore / Order of Malta for providing the required First Aid Kit and Stamina Sports for sponsoring personalised expedition jerseys.





Important Information 

14/02/20: Year 10 Parent Teacher Meeting 9.15am
14/02/20: Year 9 Parent Teacher Meeting 1.15pm
Pupils should attend with their parents in full uniform.
There will be no timetabled classes on Friday 14th February 2020. Other year groups are not required to attend, unless invited to specific revision classes.
Mid-Term 17th / 18th February. School re-opens 19th February.
Year 12 Mocks 19th-25th February.