“Hi. I’m James Bell, a 17-year old student currently studying AS Levels in St Patrick’s Grammar School, Downpatrick. I’ve just spent a week with Down News on work experience.
“I enjoy studying a range of subjects – Art, English Literature, Politics and French. Each one offers something different. When I want to do is escape from the 0ften dreary essay writing of other subjects. I can really relax in art. I consider it a hobby more than a subject so it’s a nice break from study.
“Writing has never really proved a problem for me either, as from as far back as I can remember I have always had a natural flair for English. In later years I became more interested in deeper analysis of reading so English Literature was a natural choice. The decision to study French was a wise one I think as employers nowadays recognize the skill of communicating in another language very highly.
“All of my subjects will help on my career path, without any specific limitations as to what career I choose to pursue. I have recently completed my AS Levels and can’t wait to get my results with the whole summer then at my disposal.
“I have begun to use my time off sensibly, helping out at the local online newspaper Down News. This experience will certainly be a great benefit to my UCAS form which is vital for a university placement. Especially with today’s economic climate placements have become much more scarce.
“Working with a newspaper is extremely relevant to the career path I aim to pursue which will probably be very media based, ranging from newspapers to film and television. Recently I have taken part in interviews, photo shoots and even the actual putting together of articles online.
“It seems that the idea of an internet newspaper is an exciting and novel way to transmit the news and I was impressed at how Down News is doing and the number of hits it is getting on the website and on Facebook.
“One of my great passions is music and recently I got a band together in the past few months to follow my interests in music. I really enjoy getting up there on stage and performing. It’s a great buzz. The band is made up of my cousin and a few school mates… Jack Dougherty, Phélim McAleenan, Aaron Smith and Aidan Fallon.
“We started the band to enter a school competition, ‘Stars in yer Eyes’. We put a lot of work in and it paid off, acquiring a respectful second place, much better than we expected. The feeling of being on stage is hard to describe. The nerves beforehand cease to exist and a rush of confidence and ecstasy takes over in such a natural way. During the summer we plan to take our role as a band more seriously and we’re in need of a new band name. As of now we’re called ‘When Pigs Fly‘. http://wpf.maddonkey.co.uk/info.php
“Hopefully towards the end of summer or the beginning of a new school term we can consider gigging, but personally I’d rather concentrate on perfecting our sound. Being in a band demands leadership qualities from the front man so I can’t always be their best friend and sometimes you have to make decisions for the wellbeing of the band.
“There is no particular genre I want us to focus on yet, just experiment with a range of music and find out what we feel most comfortable with and have fun! Already we’ve experimented with covers of ELO, The All American Rejects, Stereophonics, The Fratellis and The Kooks.
“We practice as often as we can in a humble garage in Ardglass but we aim to make practice more frequent. There is plenty of competition and talent in our local area to compete with so we need a measured approach. Maybe one day we’ll get up the rock ladder.
“I am also a member of the newly established Youth Twinning Organisation. The Partnership was established to advance good relations and promote peace and reconciliation through social, cultural, educational and economic links and exchanges for the benefit of the citizens of Downpatrick and the citizens of the European town within this twinning partnership network.
“I was elected Vice President of the Youth Council and after only a few meetings we’ve already organised a trip to Poland this August. Visiting other countries will be extremely beneficial to me later in life.
“Not only gaining experience travelling, but my social and confidence skills will improve a great deal. Travelling increases knowledge, and widens our perspective on life. We gain new experiences and increase our resourcefulness. My work in Down News for example has already proved this travelling across the district.
“I’ve also been involved with the Magnus Barelegs Association, who were a group of Irish re-enactors and living history specialists. I often took part in the re-enacting myself, especially when the annual Magnus Barelegs Festival which was full of Viking-themed activities in Delamont Park, Killyleagh.
“This summer I’m volunteering in Castle Ward as further work experience and to broaden my vision of life, and then I’ll continue my education in my last year of Grammar School. I’ve a busy few years ahead of me. But I’m not yet sure if I’ll go to university or take the vocational route.”