When Dromore High School takes up residence in its planned new home it will do so without long-serving principal John Wilkinson.
In a move reminiscent of former Dromore Central Head, Jim Cochrane, who bowed out as things finally got moving on the primary school’s long-sought replacement, Mr Wilkinson announced his imminent retirement on Friday, having first advised school governors he would hand over to his successor at the end of February next year.
Mr Wilkinson, who, in tandem with his recently successful campaign for the introduction of post-16 education, has long led the charge towards securing a new home for Dromore High, assembled the entire school staff on Friday morning to announce his planned departure, mindful throughout that he wanted the focus to stay on the school.
There remained much to be done in his last six months at the school, he said, and there was no danger of his foot coming off the pedal.
“People have been very gracious in their comments since I made the announcement,” he said.
“It’s a strange feeling, because I have been associated with the school for some 40 years now and to leave a place like this, a place you have essentially lived your life through, is hard.”
A sitting member of both the Southern Education and Library Board and Council for the Curriculum, Exams and Assessment, Mr Wilkinson means to see out his term with each and has plans, post-retirement, to contiue with other commitments within education, not least at the recently under-threat Dundonald High School, were he has been assisting since February this year.
“I hope not to leave the field of education altogether,” he said. “There are other things I would hope to continue with.”
Nor has the Dromore High veteran ruled out the prospect of more good news, prior to his retirement, in respect of the planned replacement school, which narrowly missed out on the last funding round but is believed to be in a strong position ahead of the next.
“Personally,” he said, “I would hope the school gets a positive outcome to the proposed newbuild; that would be delightful for both the school and the community.”