Dr.Margaret Flaherty and Dr. Guaduneth Chico from Waterlands Peatlands Project gave an excellent presentation and workshop to our TY and 5th year agricultural science students on our peatlands blanket bogs, basin bogs and fens. Students had the opportunity to look at bogland habitats and flora and fauna of bogs and how important bogs are to our climate and sustainability.
TY’s had their Christmas outing to Dundrum yesterday. The group went ice skating, followed by some free time for shopping. A well deserved treat for the group following a very busy term in which they each have done great work in the school and their communities.
Well done to the Amber Flag for organising the Odd Shoe Day Fundraiser for SVP today. €65 was collected which will be added to our grand total tomorrow for SVP – Society of St. Vincent de Paul Ireland Well done to first prize winners the ‘Slipper Gang’ and second prize went to Fabien Drozdz. Thanks to everyone who got involved today. #ballinamore #leitrim #amberflag
TYs are currently completing a course ‘Creating a Dementia Inclusive Generation’ in their Religion class with Ms Maxwell to learn more and gain a better understanding about Alzheimer’s & Dementia. As part of their module, they organised a Christmas Jumper Day fundraiser today for The Alzheimer Society of Ireland and raised a total of €411. Well done everyone
Students from BCS were out and about again today in the local community. Our TY’s and various musicians, singers and dancers from all years in the school visited Ballinamore Nursing Unit to perform some traditional song and dance as well as some christmas carols for the residents. Thanks to Fionnuala Maxwell and Brian Mostyn who performed with the TYs as a follow up to the workshop completed earlier this term on weaving traditional mummers masks from straw.
Our TY stiudents attended the celebratory evening following the successful completion of the cross border schools project. Click this link for details on the project published in the Leitrim Observer.
Below is a copy of the speech delivered by Mr Geoghegan on the night:
It was a privilege for us at Ballinamore CS to be involved in this project. For both the staff and students involved, it proved to be a real highlight of the year. I can honestly say that personally, I have learned a lot from the journey, and I know that the same can be said for each of our students.
The project ran for the duration of the academic year last year, with our TY students visiting ERGS 4 times and ERGS students and staff visiting our site 4 times, in addition to 2 educational trips – one to Belfast and one to Dublin. Throughout the programme, our facilitator Anne Donnelly adopted a student-led approach, with the students being given freedom and autonomy to guide the direction of the project. I really enjoyed watching the students collaborate, challenge each other, and develop maturity over the course of the year, ultimately leading to some really meaningful learning about values, diversity, conflict and peace.
Riain and Niamh have already spoken about their experiences of the project, so I would just like to outline a few of my own personal highlights from the year.
I remember clearly in the second workshop in Ballinamore last October, our students gave the ERGS students a comprehensive tour of their town here in Ballinamore. As an educator, it was a pleasure to watch our students grow in confidence and maturity as they explored and presented the sights and symbols of their local town to their friends from ERGS. Showing their locality to students from Enniskillen encouraged students to look at their community in a new light, with the result that they are much better informed about its history and diversity. This activity was a key driver in encouraging our students to become more actively involved in their local community. Many of our TY students went on to take part in a community involvement programme, involving visits to the local nursing home and volunteering as stewards at the local park run.
The tours of each other’s localities proved a great way to challenge preconceptions. On the Ballinamore tour, I remember one ERGS student was surprised to find a Church of Ireland here in Ballinamore. Unfortunately, we found the door to the church was locked, and remained so, even after the student in question tried to use what he called his ‘protestant powers’ to open it!!
Throughout the year, I noticed a transformation in some of our students. From having been shy and tentative in the initial meetings, many of our students gained the confidence to express and question their own values and beliefs and have respectful conversations about the different values and beliefs of other students in the group. I witnessed genuine friendships develop between students from Ballinamore and Enniskillen, some of which, I hope, will stand the test of time.
Attending workshops in a school from another jurisdiction and tradition was an eye-opening experience for us. My students were inspired by the history and tradition on display at ERGS, which is not so evident in our new school. How wonderful it was to walk in the footsteps Wilde and Beckett. Nevertheless, and despite these differences, our students were struck by just how similar life is in both schools.
For us, another highlight was the massively informative trip to Belfast, a city with which I and most of our students were very unfamiliar. It was truly eye-opening and allowed us to gain some level of understanding into the lived experience of people living in areas where divisions continue. I think it’s
fair to say that our students had felt quite removed from these divisions, but the trip to Belfast gave them a real insight into the ongoing issues as well as some real hope for the future. The testimonials from speakers on that day were particularly powerful and I can distinctly remember the total silence that fell on the group as former members of paramilitary organisations spoke from personal experience about the heartache they had caused and of their total regret. You could hear a pin drop and I know that the message delivered that day – not to repeat their mistakes – will stay with my students for a very long time.
On a lighter note, for me personally, it was great to meet teachers from ERGS and discuss the issues affecting education in Northern Ireland, many of which are the same as for us in Ballinamore. It was great to be welcomed so openly into ERGS and we had plenty of laughs throughout the year.
Finally, I would like to thank programme manager, Michael Mullin, Ballinamore Area Community Chair, Mairín Martin and workshop facilitator, Ann Donnelly, who have delivered a transformative experience for everyone involved. We are all very proud to have been part of Better Together – Níos Fearr Le Chéile. It has been an excellent experience for our students, and our school community has benefitted hugely.
Mr Duignan and Ms Simpson took the TYs to Encirc Glass bottle factory in Derrylin today. They had a tour of the plant and got to see the glass making process and learn about the factories move towards sustainability, using 60-70% recycled glass in their bottles, moving from diesel to gas fuel and an emissions free process by 2030 by using hydrogen as a fuel. They also found out about apprenticeships and graduate schemes run by encirc. A brilliant day and thanks to Ms Parke for organising the trip.