We find ourselves in a unique time as we isolate ourselves from as much social interaction as possible in order to stop the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus. This has brought on fears, worries and anxieties we never knew we had but it has also highlighted the heart, kindness, compassion and resourcefulness we knew we had but had kind of forgotten about! Some of our LC1s have been reflecting on all this.
Amelia sums up our initial reaction:
As we all know, on early Thursday Leo Varadkar announced that all schools in the Republic of Ireland will be closing due to the Coronavirus. I've never seen the people in my school so happy in my whole entire life, all you could hear is people screaming out of excitement and plastic bags all over the school corridors for the books to bring home, that day really felt like the last day of school.
Although we do have school off, I don't think I like the whole idea of the lockdown. Our town doesn't feel the same since. I think you could now describe it as a ‘ghost town’. Nearly everything but the shops is closed, and you can't even hang out with your friends and the worst thing is that nobody knows for how long all of this will last.
Cliona points out that even the luck of the Irish couldn’t stop this:
Living in Ireland we have always been quite secluded from the horrors of the world around us. Close enough that we here about them, but lucky that they never involve us. We get sight of bad weather and the country goes mental, schools shut, bread goes missing, Lidl stores get mowed down by a tractor! But for the last twenty or so years we have lived in peace, a shaded generation from suffering.
I think that’s why when I heard about the corona virus it didn’t really faze me. “Sure, it could never reach Ireland!” Messing about buying hand sanitizers and the jokes when someone coughed in class. “It's only a joke, I do feel bad for China though” When Italy begin to shut down their borders with thousands of cases and kids returned home from their ski trips. “Hardly? Wouldn’t be possible, we couldn’t have this virus here”!
But nevertheless, here we are, exactly three weeks later, as I write this article for you, the other students and teachers who are at home on our computers. I defiantly didn't think it would come to this. To be honest last week I was still in denial, why should we shut down the country even though we have less than 50 cases? What I've come to realize though this lockdown isn't about stopping the virus it's about slowing it down, minimalizing the affected.
Krzysztof is learning about himself and the opportunities this is bringing:
The one thing that I noticed as time went on, I have become more conscience of the food I eat and what I drink. I try to eat all my food and not waste anything. I also try regulating how much I drink from the stored drinks.
I really find the aspect of internet classes interesting because this is completely new for me, probably for everyone. I like the aspect how I can lay out my day and divide up the workload. It made me feel a lot more responsible for completing my homework and more satisfied. I get a feeling like I am in college because I am completely in control of my learning.
But is is still scary, as Lauren points out:
Over the past few days the virus has escalated quickly, and it is beginning to become quite worrying now. Each day we have teachers sending us more and more work, which I find daunting, personally It would be easier to be present in a classroom to learn. It was announced that all bars, pubs and restaurants are to close immediately. I find it quite scary but to be honest I’m surprised that it’s taken the government so long to act. I feel like the next beneficial step in containing this virus would be to lock down the airports. If anything, this has made me realise that here in Ireland we are quite lucky if you compare us to any of the other countries such as Italy and Spain.
Ciara points out some of the unique highs and lows of this lockdown:
As an overthinker I am well prepared, I went to the shops and stocked up on pasta and rice and of course sweets to keep me going during lockdown. Although I haven't been on lock down for long, I'm already bored out of my mind, so bored that I played monopoly for 6 hours yesterday I also picked up a new hobby which is origami, it's a great stress reliever and also passes the time.
What's affecting me the most is not being able to see my friends or play sports all my trainings and matches have been cancelled which makes me angry because my Gaelic football season has just started and I had a really important match coming up which I can't play, it's all just really annoying.
Sarah places the whole thing into a wider context:
As a sixteen-year-old I had never experienced a pandemic in my life. Ebola never felt real as it never got close enough to home, as selfish as it sounds. In fact, the closest I felt to Ebola was while singing along to Bandaid’s “Do they know it’s Christmas”? Which of course didn’t show me any kind of reality into the disease itself. I was too young to remember SARS or anything that came before that.
Due to this the novel coronavirus began to scare me, the jokes started to make me cringe and the news began to feel like something out of a movie, “Forty new cases! 2 new deaths”. It all is starting to feel like the end of the world.
As for isolation? As an extrovert the thought of not being able to see my friends for the next few weeks or go to school is extremely painful. I like to keep myself busy and I’m beginning to think the three books I’ve already read and sixteen hours I’ve put into my ukulele won’t be enough to keep me occupied.
To look on the brightside: thankfully I’m born in a generation where social media is at my fingertips so as I write this essay, I’m listening to 6 of my friends chat about everything and everything while we tip away at our work. So, it’s almost as if we never left school at all, except this time there’s no teacher to tell us to be quiet.
Jack talks about his worries for the future and the response of our government:
Is it just me or does all this feel fake, like we are in a zombie apocalypse movie of some sort? Not allowed to leave the house. Food shortage. I don't know it all just seems fake. Something like this will probably never happen again. People are losing jobs. The thing I’m most scared about is that there is going to be a global recession after this pandemic disappears. Huge amounts of people are going to lose their jobs. It is going to take years to repair the damage caused by the covid-19 virus both health wise and financial wise.
Being totally honest though it is very angering being stuck inside the house all the time. One thing I have noticed is that the streets are empty the roads are empty. Everything is empty. If were all being honest it has surprised me how well the Irish government has handled this situation. They have been very professional, and I think if this pandemic happened before the general election, I do think Fine Gael would win by a land slide. Through this whole process Fine Gael have kept the Irish population calm by telling them exactly what's going on. I know it has kept my family and I calm.
Liam points out that isolation is not a new burden:
So many of our great heroes have faced isolation for reasons other than a simple virus. It has only been three days and I already know the meaning of life and unlocked inner peace and clarity, so what else is there to do? Take another nap, take another Buzzfeed quiz to see “What my taste in pasta says about me?”. I have researched a lot about how to stop myself from going insane from my mind-numbing boredom and honestly, I haven't seen anything that has been very helpful. Nelson Mandela said when he was in isolation for twenty-seven years that he stayed sane was the community that was formed in the prison itself and the sense of unity that the prisoners formed, but alas I only have my family to talk to and I have already grown tired of talking to them, so that didn’t work. I then remembered the story of how Jesus stayed in the desert for forty days and stayed sane through prayer, but unfortunately, I am an atheist, so I don’t have any motivation to do that. When Elaphaba had Dorothy trapped in ‘The Wizard of Oz”, she dreamt of her family and in the end, I believe there is a message to be taken from Dorothy, she was able to get rid of her problem simply with just water. So why can't we do the same but just add some soap to the mix. I fear that I may have resigned to my fate of being trapped in my house for another two weeks, held captive by a microorganism that can be killed with hand sanitizer.
Ailíse Roche (LC2)
March 12th 2020 will forever be remembered as the day nobody was quite sure what to do or how to feel. Were students meant to be ecstatic at the thought of two weeks off school? Were parents meant to be more scared at the possibility of their children contracting COVID-19, or the thought of them being at home all day, every day for seventeen days? Was everyone meant to run home or bulk buy their groceries, hug their loved ones and prepare for an apocalypse? To be quite honest, nobody still really knows. We’re all trying to determine what the right level of panic is.
In all this uncertainty, there is one thing for sure, the outcome of COVID-19 here in Ireland and worldwide is determined by the actions we take now, both as individuals and as a wider society. This virus is spread by us – by coughing, by sneezing, by touching our faces. It is ineffective unless we somehow allow it into our bodies. Therefore, we have the power to stop it. We have the power to protect both ourselves and those around us who are most vulnerable. We have the power to prevent what happened and the likes of China and Italy from occurring on our Emerald Isle.
However, we also have the power to let it take over. Anxiety is spreading more rapidly than the virus itself and the panic is causing people to forget all the things we can do to help ourselves. There is no denying that COVID-19 is here, and without a known vaccine or cure, the resulting number of infections may quickly overwhelm hospitals and healthcare systems. But by ‘flattening the curve’ and preventing an exponential growth in cases, we can prevent this and cause the current death rate of 7% to drop. We must listen to the experts and heed their advice in order to slow down the infection. Forget hugs and handshakes, a simple salute is the way to go. Work from home and continue your learning online. Wash your hands in hot soapy water for a least 20 seconds (the ‘Happy Birthday’ is optional). Avoid social gatherings and limit contact with others. And most importantly, stay calm and don’t panic. These measures have proven to be effective; social distancing has caused cases to decline substantially in China and can help us to reduce cases here and spread them out over a longer period of time so that our healthcare system can cope. As our Tanáiste put it, ‘in order to pull together as a country, we are asking Irish people to stay apart’.
Nobody really knows what the next move is. Is the closure of schools, colleges and childcare facilities enough? Will it be longer than two weeks? Will the whole country go into lockdown? As a Leaving Cert student I know and feel the panic that people are experiencing. I know the stress and uncertainty surrounding orals, projects and even the exams themselves. I know the pressure we are feeling without our teachers’ presence, only communicating with them through a computer screen. But I also know that everyone is in the same boat. We can continue working just as hard at home, now more than ever with all the online resources and communication tools that we have at our disposal. We can protect ourselves and those around us from this virus while also remaining focussed on our studies, work or any other priorities that we have. We can act against this virus, but we must act now.
Seachtain na Gaeilge!
Thosaigh Seachtain na Gaeilge ar an gcéad lá de Mhárta agus i bPobalscoil an Chaimín Naofa bhí neart imeachtaí ann. Cuireadh fógra trí mhéan na Gaeilge suas ar fud na scoile. Bhí seisiún ceoil ag an ngrúpa traidisiúnta ag am sosa. Bhaineamar go léir taitneamh agus sult as. Ghlac mé féin agus roinnt de na múinteoirí páirt ann freisin. Ocáid an-spraíúil ab ea í.
Tá tréan-iarrachtaí ar bun chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn ar fud na scoile. Mar gheall air sin beidh roinnt scoláireachtaí don Ghaeltacht ar fáil. Is smaoineamh iontach é mar cuidíonn sé le dalta snas a chur ar a gcuid Gaeilge.Ina theannta sin, tugtar seans don dalta freastal ar an nGaeltacht agus cúrsa Gaeilge a dhéanamh. Caithfidh an dalta agallamh a dhéanamh. Rinne mé an agallamh an bhliain seo caite agus bhuaigh mé an scoláireacht. B’fhiú go mór é, dar liom. D’fhoglaim mé alán Gaeilge agus bhí an-chraic againn ag an ám céanna. “Cleachtadh a dhéanann máistreacht” mar a deir an seanfhocal, agus tá súil agam go n-eireoidh go breá leis na daltaí sin.
Tá Seachtain eile fágtha agus beidh níos mó imeachtaí eagraithe. Ar ndóigh, bíonn tráth na gceist ann gach lá. Tá go leor duaiseanna ar fáil. Tá fáilte roimh gach duine páirt a ghlacadh iontu. Beidh ceolchoirm ar siúl ar an Luan 16 Márta – Bígí linn!
Bígí ag faire amach!
Slán libh, Méabh
Trip to Hamlet
Rebecca Quinn (Leaving Cert English)
On the 13th of January 2020, Leaving Cert students went to see the production of Hamlet in the Lime Tree Theatre performed by “Cyclone Rep”. It was a great production and we found it very helpful for revising the play. I had forgotten about a few things that happened in the play so I found this very good to recap it all.
During the production the actors frequently stopped in between scenes and asked questions to get the audience thinking about certain aspects of the play, such as whether Hamlet was actually mad or if it was all just an ‘antic disposition’. I found this really useful. I also liked how they stopped in between and engaged with the audience, allowing us to ask them questions and get their opinions on the various aspects of the play. By doing this we got to hear a few different perspectives which I can now include when writing about Hamlet.
Overall I enjoyed the play and I think it was worth going to see as I had forgotten a lot of the play and it went back over it all. I would definitely recommend going to see a “Cyclone Rep” production to all Leaving Cert students as I think it would be very beneficial and useful for the exam.
It’s Your Choice!
Viktorija Belasika (Student Council)
On the 22nd of January 2020, Leaving Certificate students from St. Caimin’s Community School attended the ‘It’s you Choice’ presentation part of the Soteria Operation in Glór. This was presented by members of An Garda Síochána as well as Patrick O’Connor and Brian Hogan, who shared their stories and experiences.
Session 1- It’s Your Choice!
The first presentation was on the topic of drugs and addiction and how it affects your mental health and your whole life. It started with Garda Margaret Leahy talking to us about a day in the life of a guard and how you can never predict what will happen to you on that day. One day you might be put on paperwork duty and the next you are investigating a fatal accident. She told us a story of a young man who she encountered on a call who was trying to commit suicide and was very adamant about it - but they managed to get him help. We were very happy to hear that the young man was alive and that he was in fact the next speaker, Patrick O’Connor. He told us about his battle with a gambling addiction, drug addiction and struggle with mental health. These things led him to try and commit suicide, but fortunately he has turned his life around.
Session 2 – Say NO!
This talk was led by Detective Inspector Kieran Ruane, who spoke and showed us a video on internet safety and internet extortion. This is part of a campaign against sexual coercion and extortion of children. Their plan is to help educate people on the dangers of the internet and that you are always in charge of your own information and privacy so say NO!
Session 3 - Use your brain not your fist
Sergeant Kelvin Courtney talked to us about assaults and the consequences they cause for you and other people. He told us the story about a young man who was part of an unprovoked assault which led to him dying because he hit his head on a curb during a night out. The young men that assaulted him did not go out to kill someone, but because of this random fatal assault they are now charged with manslaughter which has affected their whole lives, from jobs to travel to family.
Session 4 - Reaction is always your choice!
The final take was given by Brian Hogan, who told us his story about how an unprovoked assault led to him needing to be resuscitated, have part of his skull taken out and be put into a come because of a brain hematoma. This was acquired from one punch from a stranger. Three months later, when he woke up, he found out that he had lost his vision and mobility as well.
Ennis Garda Station = 065 – 6848100
Pieta House = 1800 247 247
Samaritans 24-hour helpline = 116 123
This experience was very enlightening and interesting as it talked about topics not regularly talked about or brought up. I would definitely recommend students and teachers to attend talks like this because they are very informative and much more effective than just a PowerPoint presentation. You get to listen to people who have actually gone through these struggles and experiences. Through their stories we learn, listen and feel more. An Garda Síochána are organising a project that would bring these topics and talks to schools and I believe as a senior student who has been to this presentation, that this project should be brought in – not only to our school but also every school. I believe many students would benefit from this experience.
Eye on the Prize - A reflection on the 2019/20 Boys U19 Soccer
Since the start of the 2019/20 school year, so far, our U19 season has been filled with positives. We have played 5 matches, remaining undefeated, drawing only once and winning the other four. This is mainly due to our change in attitude and comradery on, and off the field in comparison to previous years.
Before we played any matches, our coaches Mr O’Halloran and Mr Nolan brought in a past pupil Andy Russell, who has experience coaching women at League of Ireland level. He sat down with us before a ball was kicked to discuss our aims and goals, but more importantly the strengths and weaknesses of the team and showed us how to improve them. This included slideshows and handouts of how to play as a team and what it means to play for one. We as players also input our ideas during these sessions, and it was great to see coaches and teammates coming together to try and make improvements to our team.
On previous occasions, we struggled to see games out to the end, and this showed at the start of the season following a shaky 3-2 victory over Newport after going up 3-0, and a 3-3 draw with Newcastle West after being the better of the two sides for the majority of the game.
We have since had a 5-0 win against Pallaskenry and 7-1 win over Intermediate college Killorglin, but the one that stood out most to us was our 4-2 win over competition contenders, St. Clements College. We got a red card in that match, and to see out the game away from home, against such strong opposition shows how far we have come as a team, not only with our skillset, but also with our mindset, and how far we can go before the end of the year.
SVP Reaches Out!
On the 19th of November 2019 our S.V.P group went to Mary Immaculate Church, near the airport, and we served all of the elderly tea, coffee, buns, biscuits, brownies and apple tart.
I was the 1 out of 4 first years that went to the coffee morning. It was my first time and I really enjoyed it because it’s good to serve the community and it’s also a very generous deed.
So at nine o' clock we went to the church in Shannon. It was during mass time, so we spent nearly all of mass preparing the church entrance for the elderly people to come in. This took us about 30 minutes, but we were very pleased with our display in the end.
When the mass was over, nearly everyone came to our stands where we served hot drinks, buns, brownies, apple tart and biscuits. The elderly people really liked what we did, and they thanked us at the end. They were delighted with all the goodies but also the chats they had with all of us. This made me feel extra happy for serving all these people and I hope I can do it again.
After the coffee morning was over, we cleaned up the church and we went back to school and back to class. I felt very happy and proud of myself that I got to help the community through helping old people and it’s very kind to help the elderly, I hope I can do it again in the future.
Viktorija Belasika and Aoife Deegan (Student Council)
Members of the student council attended a workshop facilitated by GOSHH on the 15th of November 2019.
GOSHH stands for Gender, Orientation, Sexual Health and HIV. They are based in Limerick city and work in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary. They focus on the promotion of equality and wellbeing for all, with a positive and respectful approach to sexual orientation and gender diversity.
The workshop explored orientation and meanings e.g. gay, lesbian, bi, etc. Participants took part in walking debates to delve into beliefs and attitudes e.g. if they agree or disagree that two boys holding hands in Shannon feel safe and you can always tell who is gay.
The workshop also involved watching a video on Drag Queen, Panti Bliss (a gay rights activist) which explored oppression, being embarrassed about ‘gayness’, being beaten and imprisoned in different counties and Homophobia.
The workshop was very informative and has given a lot of food for thought for the student council in supporting members of the LGBTQ+ community in St. Caimin’s Community School.
Fiachra McInerney (Student Council)
Our school’s Student Council received an invitation from Lorna Walsh, on behalf of Le Chéile, a voluntary organisation focused with implementing Restorative Justice in schools. But what exactly is Restorative Justice?
Le Chéile is focused with mentoring young children and teenagers to use their words respectfully to solve conflict that may occur between peers and even adults to build a positive relationship and resolve any difficulties should they arrive.
We did some ice-breaker activities, circle time and learned a step by step programme to deal with conflict effectively while remaining empathetic and respectful.
The talk was attended by Fiachra McInerney (LC2), Viktorija Belasika (LC2), Jakub Markievickz (LC2) Rob Hanton (TY) and accompanied by Mr. O’Beirne. Those of us in attendance were also given booklets and information packs to share with all members of the student council as being respectful to other’s opinions and being able to voice your opinion in a safe environment is a vital part of being involved in the Student Council.
A Whole New World
By Maddy Horan (1st year)
On our first day of school everyone arrived feeling both nervous and excited. We were all eager to make new friends and meet people from different places. We were split into classes of thirty, each class had a few of the transition year students (TYs) amongst them, acting as mentors. It was a great relief to have students attending the school to whom we could ask all our questions. We were taken on a tour of the school by the TYs and some of us began to figure out where everything is.
To help us make friends and to help with the transition into secondary school, we all went surfing in Lahinch. This was organised for the third week of September. No one was disappointed when we got to miss out on a full day of school, and we were allowed wear our own clothes which everyone was very happy about. We were divided into two groups so when the one group was surfing, the other could play hurling, soccer, rugby, and hang out on the beach. It was a great way to relax and spend time with my new friends and I would highly recommend the trip to any first years coming in next year.
Overall, Caimin’s has been great so far and we have been given many opportunities to do great things. Personally, I think the teachers and older students have been very nice and very patient considering how annoying we can be. The only thing I can suggest for first years next year is don’t be nervous just relax and you should get on well.
Goodbye Junior Cert
By Oisin Breen (LC1)
The Junior Cert for me was a great experience, in all aspects. Throughout the three years, I learned a lot about all the subjects I did and a bit of common sense and more manners! All the teachers are very nice to everyone, as long as you give them the respect they deserve for having to put up with us. They gave us all the help we needed to prepare for our exams and some even stayed back after school to help students. This was above and beyond the call of duty.
In Caimin’s there are a lot of activities to get a break from the constant work and to have a bit of fun. Some of those activities are the drama club, sport and all the trips we go on. There are also days where first years can go into the sports hall at lunch to play soccer or badminton. There is so much to get involved in and one of the most beneficial things to get involved in is the SVP. All involved help organise collections to give support to those in need. Sport is good in Caimin’s especially in soccer for girls and boys.
The Junior Cert has prepared me for the Leaving Cert by giving me some experience in exams and studying. I am in TY so I can't yet fully see the difference between junior cert and leaving cert, but I have heard from a few of my friends that it is a change but not in too much of a bad way. This is down to the good foundation we have from our first three year!
So I think that the junior cert has been very good and a bit of craic! If I was to give any advice to someone it would be: the exams seem a lot scarier before you do them but they are actually grand, as long as you do a bit of work for them.