School Sports Are Back!
‘School sports- where lessons of life are still being learned, and where athletes still compete for the love of the game and their teammates’ – Michael Powers. As a student whose school days have been majorly impacted by sports, I can confirm that this statement is incredibly accurate.
It is widely believed that sports are an extracurricular activity, I disagree. Without training and matches, I would have had a very different secondary school experience. Believe it or not, sports aren’t just an excuse to get out of classes for a day, although missing math’s for a match is something I would never say no to! From just one match day, a student learns responsibility, as it is up to us to mind ourselves while outside school grounds, and it is also on us to recover from any work we may have missed. This requires maturity, responsibility, and commitment; all things we learn from sports.
I play camogie with our school, something that was sorely missed last year due to Covid and the lockdowns. There’s nothing quite like getting a bus with the team to wherever we were playing that day, the craic is always ninety on those busses, although the drivers probably don’t enjoy the sound of thirty girls singing all the way to Mallow and back! And you can’t forget the traditional pit stop at Supermac’s after matches. I don’t think we ever realised it at the time, but we are making memories together that we will cherish forever.
I am now in my final year at St. Caimin’s and believe me when I say I nearly screamed with excitement when I heard we were allowed to start training again. I truly missed rushing out of class at the end of the day to get changed into gear and be out on the field on time for training, especially when the punishment for lateness is laps of the field! I really am looking forward to having camogie be a part of my Leaving Cert year and making more unforgettable memories with my teammates.
Schools are a microcosm of society and all its ups and downs. While the victories and joys of life are a regular part of school so too are the heartaches and exclusions that we know to be part of the world stage. Racism and bullying are two of these heartaches. One of our students spoke about her experiences in relation to this:
“I never really experienced much racism in primary school, I was close with my classmates and my mixed-race heritage never seemed an issue. I don’t look very different to everyone else. But I made the mistake in first year of telling people where my mum was from. People started playing music from that country when I was around and started talking in a made-up language intended to sound like my mum. When I got mad about any of these things, I was called soft and that I should stop being so defensive.
I just brushed off everything that happened to me, but some people can’t do that. They shouldn’t have to do that. Ok, we are only teenagers, but we should know better”.
And so, we realised that we have some work to do in this area, diversity and acceptance need to be promoted and prioritised. We have set up a Team called ‘Diverse Voices’ which has upwards of 90 members across all year groups. Some of its members have put together their thoughts on why they joined this group and what they are hoping to achieve.
Diversity around the World, and in Caimin’s!
Diversity is being recognised more and more in as the cornerstone of civilisation. However, even when we think of diversity, often the integration of race comes rushing to mind, which is a huge aspect of diversity, however diversity also represents so very much more. What we are trying to achieve through our new platform ‘Diverse Voices’ is this diversity though our English literature studies. We want to hear the voices of neurodivergent poets, read authors at both ends of the age spectrum, study lyrics composed by those with disabilities, echo the experiences of LGBT+ voices through their writing, integrate the illustrations of immigrants into our studies, and the list goes on and on. Essentially, we wish to gain the perspectives of those in different intersectional communities than ourselves. We want to diversify our curriculum.
To comprehend the importance of diversity, I believe we must first understand that it has been suppressed all throughout history and remains to be opposed in some areas to this very day. For example, in Qatar, where immigrants make up an impressive 90% of the population, they are degraded, dehumanised, and left defenceless every day. The disparity between Qatar natives and immigrants in relation to wealth, social status, lifestyle, and job prosperity is disturbing. Whilst immigrants are employed in huge numbers, they’re pay checks reflect quite the opposite. The Guardian reported this year that over 6,500 migrant workers have died whilst building facilities to hold the 2022 Olympic Games since Qatar was announced as the venue. It is figures like this that force us to wonder why an organisation such as the Olympic Games, which is supposed to bring people of all ethnicities and nationalities together in utmost sportsmanship, results in the untimely death of thousands of migrants.
This is just one of many examples of how diversity, equality, and integration is suppressed in our world today. We must stand up and realise that change starts with every single one of us. To change our practices, we must change our understanding, and that is why we must not only gain the perspectives of diverse voices but also promote those voices.
If we carry anything through our life regarding Diverse Voices, let it be this:
“Diversity is having a seat at the table,
Inclusion is having a voice, and,
Belonging is having that voice be heard.” – Liz Fosslien
It is humanity’s duty to ensure that every person belongs.
Why it is Important to Have Diversity in Schools
Maya Angelou once said, “In diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” Throughout history, and even today, this statement has proven to be true. In the country where I come from, India, the grace and might of diversity is an everyday sight.
In Ireland, education is one of the major social institutions of society, with almost 1 million people involved annually in educational programmes from early childhood to later adulthood. While many may immediately think of race when speaking about diversity, there are numerous aspects involved, especially in classrooms such as religion, gender, sexuality, economic background and many more.
A study in the journal ‘Child Development’ illustrated that children feel safer in schools when they are educated in a diverse setting. Studies also show that students work better in a diverse environment. Therefore, diversity directly impacts students’ performance. It gathers a wide range of sources of knowledge and ideas, enhancing creativity and allowing students to view a situation from multiple perspectives.
However, it isn’t enough to have students from varying backgrounds in your school. The atmosphere of the institution should have the means to let diversity flourish. In terms of allowing diversity to thrive in schools, we still have a long way to go.
Hopefully, conversations like this (and blogs like this) are a step in the right direction.
Studying a diverse selection of poets and writers in English class is another step. If you would like to suggest a short film, article, poem, novel or story to the English department, just send a message to Ms Maguire on Teams. The English department are very keen to hear students’ recommendations.
We asked a few TY’s their opinions on this:
“I think we are lucky to have students of varying nationalities within the school body. It allows for an opportunity to understand and experience other cultures, languages and cuisine from an individual who has known these things their whole lives”.
“They could teach some words and we can start to learn their language. We can try their food. It can be fun to have a friend from a different culture. They invite you to celebrate their festivals and learn more about their country”.
“Going to St. Caimin’s brings a lot of people from different races and sexuality. We want them to be as comfortable as possible in this environment. It is very enjoyable to see an incredible amount of diversity”.
Covid has taken so much, but what has it given us?
Covid has taken so much, but what has it given us?
By Carlo (LC1)
On the 29th of February 2020 Ireland was met with a predicament that would change the course of history. The nCov 2019 had spread to the Emerald isle.
In St. Caimin’s Community School, I was part of a particular Transition Year group that was studying Micro-Biology under the guidance of Ms. Fallon. As alarming as the situation may be, all kept a level head and continued with our daily lives. Unbeknown to me was a period of isolation, innovation, and perseverance. My pre-assessment of the lockdown was fairly positive, I saw it as a way to expand my knowledge and experience non-scholastically. On March 12, 2020, schools in Ireland had shut down, in response to rising infection rates. By this time, the terror of Covid 19 had been fully realised.
The effects of Covid 19 are vast and diverse. A devastating disease that claimed millions of lives, a warning prompted by mother nature herself. To those who live, she whispers the value of life and those who passed were granted rest. Humans tend to believe strongly in individuality, but they cannot deny the norms of society. As the weeks pass, I confess to losing both my individuality and society, I realised how fragile I was. Life was like a book with recurring pages. I refused to accept this reality and decided to forge my own. I started researching facts from articles, newspapers, and videos on how to cope with a global pandemic. I resolved to come out of this alive and with new skills to prepare me for a world that was volatile and in distress.
I produced modified journal entries which had ‘to do’ lists that are unstructured to match the uncertainty and monotony of daily life in the pandemic. I put into practice the way of meditation and gratitude; both were aspects shown to me in school. I maintained a tight schedule that starts early in the morning and concludes moderately into the night. I recognised the importance and power of a good night sleep. And lastly, I had more than enough time for myself and for my family. I was able to support my friends abroad and vice versa.
While I did lose my school schedule, I was able to create a flexible replacement that may work for my whole life. My Dad always told me, ‘You gain some, you lose some’, this helped me accept the fact that the reason I did not feel like I was before is because I was a completely different person pre-pandemic. I gained a broader perspective of life and the ability to control mine at my own pace. My musical skills have improved during the pandemic, it expanded not only in playing but in creating and producing music through a digital audio workstation.
As of March 15, 2021, we are given the opportunity and responsibility of returning to normalcy. We walk around the halls of our school in the presence of our teachers and friends, mindful that the threat of Covid 19 has not ended. As well as delighted by the hope that everything will be alright. Upon my return to school, I feel very anxious for we not only have to deal with the original Covid 19 but also the B117 variant that is rampant in the UK and is spreading in Ireland. In the words of Dr Gerald Barry, Assistant Professor of Virology in UCD
“Up to 90% of cases now are being caused by the UK variant and that is naturally going to have an impact on cases and inevitably deaths as well because it is harder to suppress the UK variant.”
But the world demands us to keep moving forward, to heal and to overcome. All of this can be made possible by individual efforts that result into collective success.
As Christmas 2020 approaches; our students have been reflecting on what this year has taught them, what they’ll miss this festive season but also what they’re looking forward to:
Dennis in LC2 has a very interesting take on it all:
As we steadily trudge towards the much-anticipated day of Christmas, I can’t help but smile while looking over my shoulder at all that has been left behind us.
That might not be your initial reaction, but I get it. Lots of plans have been shattered, your day to day life has been drastically changed and a lot of us will not be able to see our whole family at the dinner table at the end of December, but allow yourself to be convinced that not all is so grim.
With a vaccine rolling out in Britain and America, restrictions relaxing for a short time and everyone doing their part to stay healthy, Covid 19 will quickly grow more and more manageable.
And while already chock full of negative events, the year has had many great ones, with time to experience a few more before it ends. For starters, on the 21st for an hour after sunset, you will get a once in 400 years opportunity to see the Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter as they will merge into one ridiculously bright spot on the western sky.
But even for how exciting that can be, I don’t think it can compare to how “exciting” the former half of the year was. The virus took the whole world by storm in what seemed like overnight. When it looked like it couldn’t get any worse, it did. The country looked like it was on the verge of an economic collapse and yet, we pulled through, YOU pulled through.
From the sudden change we learned to not take for granted what we have, from the restraints we learned responsibility and from having gone through the first chunk of the school year already, we learned to live with it all casually. We really have gone through a lot, haven’t we? That’s why I smile, and why I think you should too. Merry Covians!
Fellow LC2 student Rebecca talks about the highs and lows of 2020:
I'm a Leaving Cert student and I am going to talk about what I think this Christmas will be like, also known as “Covid Christmas”.
The last few months have wrecked peoples' heads and I can imagine that this Christmas will be the usual Christmas stress with a little bit more stress added on because of Covid, i.e., who can come for dinner, due to restrictions, limiting contacts two weeks before where grandparents are going to be present.
A lot of people have properly learned a lot of new skills during Covid, but the main thing would be hand hygiene and how the virus spread.
There are a lot of things to look forward to after Christmas, like the new year, the leaving cert, how the vaccine will be rolled out and many more things, but there will also be a lot we have miss, the family and friends that died and were not able say goodbye to, hugs when we meet old friends.
The hardest thing for me this year was not being able to meet my friends whenever I wanted, another was trying to concentrate on studies while we had to do the online schooling, and don’t get me started on broadband!
There’s nothing easy about covid, but there is a lot of positive things like people walking or cycling more and there were less accidents on the road. People got to learn more about what was in their neighbourhood and got talking to their neighbours while out walking. So, in some way covid brought out the community spirit.
I am glad about some changes that the government put in place like having to wear a mask in public. I think this was great as less people are getting the flu this year and though they are annoying I hope this change stays in place. Another big change that happened because of covid is the way the school functions. In our school there is a one-way system downstairs and there is only one way to go upstairs and one way to get downstairs. We have base classrooms, where the teacher moves instead of 30 students making the halls less busy.
A lot of things happened in 2020, it shows us that we can’t take things for granted like our friends and family. We can’t worry about the big things as they were always going to happened, only concentrate on the small things in life and cherish the times you spent with your friends and family.
Second Year Cean is hopeful about the new year and urges us all to keep up the good work:
As we end our first term, we have learned a lot, especially the changes that we have had to cope with during the recent Pandemic.
We have learned the importance of safety for us individually and the people around us, with us doing our bit by wearing masks and social distancing when necessary.
In my opinion, I am looking forward to getting a break from school. I am also looking forward to moving into the New Year. But I am mainly looking forward to spending time with my family on Christmas, opening presents and eating the delicious Christmas Dinner.
But on the other hand, I’ll miss being able to go to other friends’ houses on Christmas to spend time with them. I’ll miss being able to travel to visit my family.
Over the past few months, what I have found hard was not being able to go outside with friends, not being able to communicate with friends properly in school because of masks. I missed being able to play sports for the school as well. I found it hard to concentrate in class because of the masks.
But what I found easy was not having lockers because you don’t need much time and aren’t rushing to put everything in your locker. Getting used to the one-way system was easy to adjust to.
Despite all the changes that we have had to deal with, an advantage of being back to school is that I can still see my friends and enjoy it like I used to before the Pandemic. Hopefully next year we can overcome this current Pandemic that has affected everyone’s life as we do our part to prevent spreading the virus.
“It’s the little Things”
Brent, 1st Year
A Magical Place Filled with Peace,
Always Giving You Embrace,
And Keeping You at Ease.
The Bright Golden Sun glowing through the glass window, with a cold draft flowing across the house,
So tranquil and quiet not sound to be heard, not even a squeak from a tiny mouse.
The light breeze can be heard brushing against the coarse sand and the exotic trees,
The salty smell of the vast and deep sea stretched and reached across the sunny beach all the way to the bustling dock.
Sitting on my warm bed with an electric fan blowing on my face, cooling the temperature to a comfortable degree.
My heaven on earth, my haven filled with the people I love,
This place makes you feel light, like you’re flying on the wings of a dove.
Opening a cooler and taking out an icy cola, and cracking it open
It fizzes and pops and gives a nice odour that overpowers the smell of the salty sea.
Peeking out the window to see palm trees waving their big thick leaves eccentrically,
Large seagulls squawking at anything they see.
The sun slowly descended over the calm, quiet beach in the horizon.
The small noises all added up to create a bumbling and alive ambience constantly over the seemingly isolated yet populated little beach house neighbourhood.
Every gust of wind whispered a unique lullaby that sent a soothing chill that put you into a tiny trance.
In the distance, if you listened closely enough, you could hear a bell being rang in a slow but steady pace caused by the wind blowing past it.
Waves crashed against each other while they danced with the tide.
A thin layer of nice and cool mist descended and shrouded the area, creeping into every nook and cranny. The sun marked the end of the day by hiding away from view.
Small shops and bakeries closed, and the employees went back to their casual lives.
The eerie yet reassuring quietness deafened the area. As I curled up in my bed, lying flat on my face I thought to myself, "Yes, this is my most favourite place”.
I’m not LGBT, I’m just me!
An anonymous LC2 student
School can be a very scary place, especially if you are in any way an ‘outcast’ or ‘different’. It just makes things 10 times harder. Personally I am too scared to, as people would call it, “come out” which annoys me, as a straight person doesn’t have to do that but anyway I feel that my experience in school has been difficult as I’ve had to hide who I really am and can’t express myself fully as I’m too scared of how people will judge me based on who I’m attracted to.
It’s not fun keeping this in; it’s really overwhelming and in my opinion the bullying and homophobia needs to be stopped as many people including myself are too scared of what would happen or be said to them if they came out. Many times I have heard homophobic slurs in the corridor and even friends of mine who wouldn’t know about me have come across homophobic to others and have made comments which even though weren’t aimed at me have still upset me but also made me angry as I don’t see what’s so wrong about the situation, We are all normal we are all attracted to people that’s life, the gender doesn’t matter as long as you’re happy!
From my point of view, the students are not educated enough about the LGBT community. The teachers need to help here and take time to talk about the history of it and the modern-day issues being faced. If more people are informed about the LGBT community, it will become more normalised and more people will feel safe and more comfortable in who they are and will be able to express themselves truly rather than having to hide it.
I myself haven’t went to a Group meeting which the school provides but having that option to go there and feel normal in who you are is excellent. It’s just, from my point of view, I’m too scared to go there, I don’t want to be judged and I don’t want to be seen as different and I know I’m not the only one out there feeling that way but if the teachers start to properly educate themselves and students the fear of people judging you will be eased.
I am very lucky to have close friends who support me and who I am able to talk to and not many people have that so I really encourage you to be brave and attend a LGBT meeting, don’t hide who you are, you are normal and there is absolutely nothing wrong with how you feel.
For me this year is a stressful year with the Leaving Cert but I decided to speak up and talk to a very supportive teacher, I am able to be myself when speaking with her and I can get things out that I wouldn’t be able to say around many people and its making school a lot easier for me as it takes a weight off my shoulder. I am so grateful to have that option of speaking with a teacher who understands what I’m going through.
I really encourage the other teachers to help out, normalise people being part of the LGBT community and educate the students and encourage people to be themselves, hiding makes things a lot harder all though it seems easier, it can really effect your mental health keeping all that in. it’s 2020 we need change, this year has been tough enough let’s make it easier for those who are struggling and hiding who they are!
Follow the Leader
On Friday 18th of September, a group of LC1’s, led by Mr. Ahern, held an activity day for the new first years. The day included a variety of games, obstacle courses and quizzes outside the school. They were split into groups and guided by the LC1 mentors to each station.
I, myself, quite enjoyed the day as a mentor. Guiding the first years around gave me a sense of responsibility, which I could appreciate greatly. Life can sometimes get frustrating as a teenager, as many people still see you as child and tend to focus on your lack of experience in the world. So, being given a role of leadership, even for just a day, can help young people such as myself, understand that our teachers really do give us a lot more respect than we give them credit for.
As well as that, I even learned many new skills in regards my people skills, especially patience. If I’m being honest, I must commend my teachers. How they spend all day doing what they do, five times a week, and still manage to not throw us all out the window, I will never know. All I do know is that it must take great skill and great patience, and I can respect that.
From my understanding, the first years really enjoyed the time out of class to get some exercise and have some much-needed fun. Being a first year and starting at a new school can be quite daunting, well, it was when I was starting out, so I think the activity day did them the world of good.
It’s important that the first years get to experience the fun side of school and I am glad that I played a part in helping them do so. Activity days such as the one they participated in, allow them to make some happy memories that they can associate with school and their classmates. It’s hard enough trying to make new friends, never mind trying to do it with a mask on, from two meters away. I believe I witnessed the start of many new friendships, all thanks to the activity day.
With all the terrible things happening this year due to covid-19, and the appalling difference to our school lives due to the virus, everyone can easily get bogged down focusing on the negative and forget to have fun. I think the activity day reminded the first years that despite all the awful things happening all around us, new bonds can still be formed, new foundations are being laid and we all continue to learn and adapt.
First Years Sports Day
About a week ago our class was disrupted by Mr Keane coming to tell us that on that Friday a sports day would be held for all first years! I was put on the blue team with most of my friends. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself!
That Friday afternoon we walked out to the fields outside the school building. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, the sun was shining and there was a small breeze. There were about fifteen people in each group which made social distancing easy.
I thought that the games were great and suitable for everyone! I myself am not a super athletic person but these were fun and not too difficult. My favourite game would have to be the game where you got on your hands and knees and pushed the soccer ball with your head and got it into a hoop on the ground.
Each group had two mentors showing us how to do each game. All the mentors were very nice and would repeat instructions if needed, they were all very encouraging!
This sports day was a great ice breaker. It got everyone talking to people they may not have talked to at lunch or after school. I felt a lot closer to the people in my class than before. We couldn’t help but clap each other on and encourage one another. I did notice that people were talking more to each other afterwards, I know I was, I made two new friends!
Due to Covid; most, if not all of us didn’t have a last sports day at our primary schools which was very upsetting and disappointing, this really made up for that. This sports day was so enjoyable. It was one of those days when you wouldn’t care if you had mud on your knees or grass in your hair because you were just having loads of fun! We shared some great laughs as well!
I would like to thank all the teachers who put in so much effort to make this day happen, it was very well organised and truly a ball!
Return to school in a pandemic! (A reflection from a first year and a leaving cert)
A reflection from a first year and a Leaving Certificate Student
Nicole reflects on her return as Leaving Cert:
Personally, the return to school was extremely daunting and scary. I hadn't been with many people in the last 6 months and the thought of returning to a school with over 700 students was very stressful. When thinking of school all I could imagine were the students being like birds swarmed in one area, touching and being way too close but thankfully it's not like this at all.
My experience as an LC2 student in St.Caimin’s during these past few weeks has been very different to say the least. It's disappointing that this all had to happen right before my last year, but we have all been affected in many ways and I find it’s best not to dwell on it. In my five years of attending Caimin’s this year is incomparable to the rest. I felt like a first year again with all the changes to the school! Although I was worried to come back to school it was so great to see all the familiar faces again after so long.
The biggest change to my average day in school is the one-way system. It can be quite time consuming but makes for a lovely stroll to class. When returning to school I was very worried about having to wear a mask all day because I get very claustrophobic but surprisingly, I forget I’m even wearing one!
A major difference due to covid-19 is that we no longer have lockers. This is to reduce people congregating in front of them. Although I loved the little chats my friends and I would have at our lockers between class I love not having a locker! I was very concerned about how heavy my bag was going to be and wasn’t looking forward to lugging around a heavy bag all day, but I was stressing over nothing. I used to worry about what books I needed to bring home and now that feeling is completely gone. I really appreciate the fact that we have been greatly taken into consideration with all these changes and are not expected to carry around very heavy bags, full of books all day.
Another massive difference to my day is the changes in the time of our break and lunch time. All LC2 and LC1 students have lunch together to reduce the amount of people out at lunch at one time. It feels very odd to not have full corridors at lunch time, but I think this is a change that should stay even when Covid is finally gone! Having a quiet lunchtime is much nicer than when 700 students were roaming around at lunch.
My personal favourite change to school is that on PE days we get to wear our own clothes all day. This is such a treat because non-uniform days were very rare, but now we have one every week!
I feel a lot safer about the return to school than I had expected. Not only are there sanitizers at the door of every classroom but we also sanitize our desks after every class. I feel extremely comfortable knowing that there are plenty of precautions in place to keep us safe and I'm sure my fellow students would agree with me. From the precautions taken and the consideration of all the staff I am sure that this year is not going to be as bad as I was anticipating. We are all working together to keep our school as safe an environment as possible and it is greatly appreciated by all.
And from the other end of the scale; Ema in first year talks about her experiences:
When I first came to Caimin’s I felt super nervous and excited at the same time. Then when I got there all my fear went and I felt so comfortable!
There was a mentor guiding me to my class, 208. That was my base class. I saw all my friends and I made some new ones. I was excited to meet my friends from my primary school. We got into our class and my desk was beside the window.
Our break is at 11:15 - 11:30 and our lunch is at 12:35 - 1:20. The canteen food is divine and affordable. What I chose for the options were Business and Music. They have been easy and have been going great so far. The options you could pick from were Metalwork, Woodwork, Art, Home Economics and a lot more!
The subjects have been interesting, fun and the teachers have been very welcoming. I'm settling in very well, especially now I’m getting more familiar with the school. The school on the outside looks huge but once you know it, it's small!
It's been really and we even recently had a physical day. It was like sports day, that's what you would call it in primary. I'm loving my time here and getting a great education.
Well I hope you've enjoyed this. Thank You!
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.
We will not isolate our hearts, or our futures!
LC1 English Class
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.
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.
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.
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.