Study periods provide valuable time for extra study in a supervised silent environment. Some schools include study periods in the weekly timetable. Others, like Mercy College, do not as study periods arise during normal school time.
It is evident from elsewhere in this newsletter that a wide variety of extra curricular activities is provided as an integral part of the educational programme. Many of these activities take place outside class time but many occur during the day, e.g. theatre visits, feis entries, field trips, outward bound trips lenten penitential services, visits to art galleries, forensic laboratory, museums, career exhibitions etc. Teachers accompany pupils on these visits and leave work for their classes which are supervised in their absence by other teachers.
Many new courses for the Junior and Leaving Certificate have been introduced by the Department of Education in recent years and this will continue into the future. Teachers need training in these courses and the Department of Education provides this training during school hours. The teachers involved leave work for these classes which are supervised by other teachers.
The Department of Education Junior and Leaving Certificate practical and oral examinations take place during school hours at this time of year. While practical cookery examinations and practical music examinations are in progress, the usual time-tabled cookery and music classes cannot be held as the specialist rooms are in use for examinations. Again teachers assign work to these pupils who avail of supervised study.
Small groups of teachers need to meet occasionally to co-ordinate courses in all subjects. Pupils study assigned work during these planning meetings.
Policy meetings between parents and teachers working on such areas as relationships and sexuality education also lead to some study periods for pupils.
The Department of Education does not provide substitute teachers for short term illness or for teachers who are bereaved. Classes of such teachers are supervised by other teachers.
Some study periods are inevitable therefore, throughout the school year. Excellent use is generally made of the time involved. The silent study conditions provide valuable experience of examination conditions. In busy homes it is often difficult to find periods of uninterrupted silence for concentrated study. Study periods in school help to meet this need.
TRANSITION YEAR WORK EXPERIENCE
March 23rd - April 3rd sees 44 Transition Year students participating in their second work experience placement. Aim of this programme is to introduce students to the world of work and possible career opportunities that are available. Presently the girls are sampling many areas of working life from schools, shops, restaurants to Met Eireann and North West Radio, Donegal! The girls usually enjoy the challenge of new places and faces.
HOME-SCHOOL-COMMUNITY LIAISON SCHEME
Since this is the 7th year of the Home-School-Community Liaison scheme in Mercy College, it was decided that it was time to work on a policy document outlining the principles, aims and objectives of the scheme. To this end a group of parents and teachers worked together with the H.S.C.L co-ordinator to put a draft policy together.
The process of working out and deciding what should be in the draft policy turned out to be most enjoyable and interesting, with teachers and parents learning a great deal from and about each others' points of view. Everyone worked very hard and gave generously of their time and energy so we were pleased with the final outcome of our efforts. This draft policy has to be discussed and hopefully accepted by the teaching staff, the Parents Association and the Board of Management before it becomes official policy. At that point copies of the policy will be made available to the general parent body.
A suggestion made by the policy group was to hold a coffee morning in the main school hall for parents and teachers. The aim of this is to encourage parents and teachers to meet on an informal and social level and to raise money to support the school's efforts on behalf of the Telethon sports day. The coffee morning will be held on Tuesday April 7th at 11.00 a.m. Everyone is welcome. Charge £1. All proceeds to Telethon.
This term has been a very busy and successful time for the music department at Mercy College. On March 6th, both Senior and Junior choirs participated in the Interschools Choral Festival at Wesley College, Dundrum. Although the Junior choir did not retain the Epworth Cup which they won at the Festival last year, they gave an excellent performance of Rutter's For the beauty of the Earth. The Senior Choir received a special certificate of commendation for their wonderful performance of Dia do Bheatha, a traditional Irish melody. A Choir from first year took part in the prestigious Feis Ceoil on March 24th and received very high marks and lovely compliments for their performance. All the students involved put in a great deal of time and effort preparing for the competitions and are wonderful ambassadors for the school both as performers and because of their exemplary behaviour. Well done to all who participated in these competitions!
The school choirs are now preparing for the Department of Education choir exams, while the 3rd and 6th year music students are busy preparing for their practical exams.
Judith Gannon, a student from third year also took part in the Feis Ceoil in the under 14 solo piano competition. She gave a fine performance and gained very high marks. Well done, Judith!
MERCY COLLEGE PRESENTS A 4TH YEAR PRODUCTION OF "PHILADELPHIA HERE I COME" by Brian Friel
Brian Friel's "Philadelphia Here I Come" will be dramatically staged by the 4th years on the 28th and 29th May in aid of Cancer Research.
"Philadelphia Here I come" tells the story of Gareth O'Donnell who is fed up with the dreary life of Ballybeg, his uncommunicative father and his lack of opportunity in his life at home. Gareth has accepted his aunt's invitation to come to Philadelphia, and now on the eve of his departure he is not happy to be leaving Ballybeg.
Students are enthusiastically "throwing" themselves into the character's parts and working extremely hard for the "opening night". Not only are the students, the actors but they are also the stage directors, set designers, carpenters and painters. Developing an understanding of lighting, props and costumes has all been part of the course.
Please give your support to a very excellent cause and your school.
The month of March was a busy one for the Mercy Debating Society. On Thursday 12th, we held the final of our school debating league, kindly sponsored by the Board of Management and the Smurfit Group. Parents, teachers and students were treated to a lively debate and were particularly impressed by our maiden (1st year) speakers. The winners on the day were Bernadette Johnston (5th year), Louise Costello and Jennie Dunne both 1st Year). The runners up were Emma Patterson (5th year, Niamh Whyte and Karen Moore (both 1st year). Congratulations to all committee members on a job well done.
On Thursday 19th, our 5th year team: B. Johnston, S. Henvey, R. Duffy and E. Patterson competed in the Aer-Rianta/Junior Chamber Fingal Plate competition in Belvedere College. The girls were successful on the night and now advance to the semi-finals of this competition.
The A.G.M. of the Debating Society will be held after Easter. Newcomers would be very welcome. We also propose to hold a Soap Box competition and Charity Debate during April and May.
Congratulations to the winners of the Bank of Ireland essay writing:
Senior Section: 1. Sharon Henvey 2. Pham Hong Nhung
Junior Section: 1. Emma Hickey 2. Ellen Schiavone 3. Amy O'Donnell
BUDDING STOCK BROKERS - Ulster Bank/Irish Independent Student Investment Competition
Congratulations to all teams and individual entries whose share portfolio performed very well. Elaine Boyle of 5th year came 10th out of 14,000 entries.
INTO THE WEST
This year Room 35 took to the west of Ireland for their annual trip. After a 4 hour journey they arrived in Delphi Adventure Centre, on the Galway/Mayo border. Despite the tiring train journey everyone was able to muster up enough energy to go to the archery range and shoot bow and arrows. The activities of the four days includedsurfing, absailing, canoeing, hillwalking, wall climbing and power boat trips. After an exciting fun filled and exhausting trip everyone returned tired, happy and ready for a new week in school.
The Challenger Programme is a joint initiative started in 1996/97 by Nourished Partnership, The National College of Industrial Relations and the Home-School-Community Liaison teachers in the Priorswood and Darndale Primary schools. Its aim is to help students coming from those schools to second level to achieve their highest potential, by offering support through the programme to the students and to their parents. A steering committee made up of representative of the N.C.I.R., the Partnership, the H.S.C.L. teachers from all the participating schools (of which Mercy College is one) and the Challenger Parents, is responsible for the running of the programme.
Educational, cultural and social activities are organised for the students and there are plans afoot to start a supervised study centre in the Darndale/Priorswood area. It is also planned to have 3rd level students from the N.C.I.R. act as mentors to the Challenger children. The second level Challenger are actually going to visit N.C.I.R. on April 1st to see the college and to meet their mentors.
All of the Challenger parents agree to do a 20 week Parents in Education course, run by N.C.I.R. in Darndale and Priorswood, and for which they are formally presented with certification at a graduation ceremony in the N.C.I.R. Other courses are then on offer in their second level year of the programme, which are designed top give continued help to the parents in the support of their children through second level. As in the case of the students, cultural and social events also feature as an important part of the initiative. Parents have attended performances in the National Concert Hall and the Abbey Theatre and there was a very successful social evening at the end of the last academic year in the Coachman's Inn. Not to mention the wonderful evening had by all the parents who attended their graduation ceremony in the N.C.I.R. last term.
The whole idea behind the programme is to support a positive attitude to learning and education in the participating families and to help raise the expectation of the students with regard to further education after second level. N.C.I.R. have offered reduced point places to Challenger students and it is hoped that other third level institutions will offer similar support.
So far, the programme is running very well. The students really enjoy all the activities and are aware that expectations of their performance at school are high. The parents have benefited from the fun and mutual support at both the courses and social events and as a result they are very supportive of the schools' efforts on behalf of their children. As H.S.C.L. co-ordinator, I enjoy working with the parents on the steering committee, meeting them at the social/cultural events and also, this year, facilitating a 7 week course on "Pathways Through Second Level" for parents in Priorswood school. All the co-ordinators would agree that the friendships that have developed between co-ordinators and parents are an invaluable asset to the students and the teachers in the various participating schools, as the support from home is assured and should difficulties arise there is no barrier between home and school. In fact you could say that the adults in the child's life are truly working together in her interests. This is the real success of the Challenger Programme.
SERVICES OF RECONCILIATION
During the weeks of Lent, all year groups participated in services of reconciliation which were organised with the support of St. Brendan's Parish. The foyer has been host to a display built up around the themes of the services. This has reminded us all that Lent is a time for a change of heart and for new beginnings, a time to forgive and to let go of elements of the past which prevent us from growing. We are all looking forward to the summer term when the bulbs which were planted by the 1st year students, as a sign of that new life will brighten the courtyard garden.
We would like to compliment the students on the wholehearted way in which they participated. We are grateful to those who read and led prayers, but each student contributed in her own way to the atmosphere of these events. Our thanks also to Fr. Jimmy, our chaplain, for his work in connection with our Lenten celebrations and to the priests of St. Brendan's and surrounding parishes who made themselves available as confessors.
PRIMARY SCHOOL PROJECT - 4TH YEAR STUDENTS
In the weeks leading up to Easter, the 4th year students were regular visitors to Scoil Chaitriona Primary Schools where they worked with the 5th class pupils. Lots of preparation went in to make sure that the work done in the classes would be appropriate and well prepared.
The programme which focused on the fact that each person is unique and valuable and that it is important for all of us to be treated with respect. We concluded with a prayer service which was held in Mercy College.
Our mornings in the primary school came to be something to which the 4th year students really looked forward . If the expectation they got when they arrived in the classrooms is anything to judge by, the experience was just as enjoyable for the classes they visited. The programme offered 4th year s an opportunity to take on new responsibilities, which they did with great enthusiasm and flair.
We are grateful to the staff and the students of Scoil Chaitriona who made us welcome during our visits there. We look forward to continuing with the programme in future years.
As usual, the students have been making a great effort to support the charities adopted by the school for this year. Approximately 90 people - senior students and staff - took part in the Concern Fast which was held just before Christmas. Thanks to their work, we have been able to make a contribution of £855 to the work of Concern in the developing world. Congratulations to everybody who helped to make the fast such a success.
The Central Remedial Clinic have written to acknowledge the £50 raised by the Santa Bear appeal - well done 4th years.
Most recently, we have been able to send a contribution of £50 to the Irish Heart Foundation. The cuddly toy they asked us to raffle proved to be very popular with everybody!
First years are busy finding out about the Chernobyl Children's Project, which they intend to raise funds for in the near future.
And it's not over yet, we still have Telethon to look forward to in April, not to mention the 2nd years' sponsored walk for St Francis' Hospice which will be coming up in May.
The students and their families can be very proud of the efforts they make on behalf of those who have least in our world. The spirit of generosity is certainly alive and well in Coolock.
Now that the Leinster and Northside hockey league season is finished here is a brief report on how our teams performed: Our senior team did well in the Leinster League, being narrowly beaten in three matches, and with convincing wins in their other two matches. Unfortunately due to team changes we failed to make an impression in the Northside League. Well done girls - we look forward to seeing you all next season.
Our junior team had a reasonably good season. They were third in their section in Leinster League. Unfortunately due to illness and injuries they had to withdraw from Northside League. However the team is still training and hope to do well next year.
Due to the lack of numbers turning out we were unable to field a team to play in either the Leinster or Northside leagues. Hopefully with a renewed interest, and with more now turning out for practice, we will be able to field a team next season. We look forward to seeing a lot more new faces in September.
There was a great response from the first years this year and to date they have played very well. They were narrowly beaten in their Northside League matches. Like the other teams in school they are still working hard.
After Easter the school league starts and we hope that it will be an enjoyable tournament for all.
Many thanks to Mrs. Cahill, Mrs. Twomey, Ms. Carroll and Jennifer Ryan who have worked so hard with all the girls.
We had four teams competing in the SBAI Leinster Leagues this year. Senior, Cadette, Junior and Minor. Our seniors reached the Leinster final and lost to the eventual All Ireland Champions Colaiste Iosachan. Our cadettes reached the semi finals only to lost narrowly to Mount Temple in an exciting match. With most of these players still in school next year it should be an exciting year for Mercy.
Our first years improved as the season went on despite having a slow start due to the small numbers turning out every week. Great credit to Sinead Carolan, Janice Hoey and Niamh Ruane for their dedication.
The most improved team of the year was our Junior team who registered 5 wins and reached the semi finals of the Leinster league. This dedicated group of players will be a very good team in a couple of years.
Training is still continuing on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4.00 p.m. First years welcome and the Mercy College Basketball Camp will be on Friday June 26th to Monday June 29th. Form available from Mark Ingle.
Fifth year students attended two Open Days this month. In early March they travelled to the R.D.S. to attend the Post-Leaving Certificate Course (P.L.C.) Information Day. Admissions tutors from over twenty colleges were available to give information and advice to students.
On March 24th University College Dublin (U.C.D.) opened its doors to second level students. Fifth years viewed displays and attended information sessions offered by various faculties.
Five 5th year students spent a day at Dublin City University (D.C.U.) with an undergraduate. They attended lectures and viewed facilities. This was part of a student shadowing scheme initiated by the University.
Every summer many students from Mercy College head to various different Irish Colleges to improve their Irish. To help them with this, the Board of Management kindly put forward scholarship prizes every year. This year, many students from all years sat the scholarship exam and six students in the end were awarded these scholarship prizes. The winners were: Sharon Moran 5th year, Ciara McFarlane 5th year, Maire Barry 3rd year, Claire Moreau, Vivienne Bonney agus Natalie Bruen 2nd year. Comhghairdeas libh to leir!
At the beginning of March, Grace Courtney, Pamela Walsh, Martina Redmond, Lisa McDonald, Jesslyn Henry, Lisa Marie Doyle, Sarah Proctor, Roisin Duffy, Antoinette Keating and Barbara Kelly all set out on a task with Sr. Vera. They were all becoming Faith Friends for the second class girls in Scoil Chaitriona, who are all making their Holy Communion in May.
Before they actually became Faith Friends, they had to sit through a four week course so they sort of had an idea of how to go about it. Then on Sunday 22nd of march the girls met up with their groups of seven to eight year old children.
Now every week, for the next five weeks, the Faith Friends meet up with their groups and try to help the children prepare themselves for Holy Communion. It's not all religion though, the girls usually end up talking about the Spice Girls or Boyzone!!
Hopefully the girls will have them fully prepared for their First Holy Communion by the time May 23rd comes around. To thank the girls for their help a big party is being set up(non-alcoholic of course -Ahhhh).