Last week the Senior Rugby Squad travelled north to take on Methody College in two friendly fixtures. The First XV took on Methody 3rds and they were well matched, although St. Columba’s probably felt that it was a game they should have won. Tries from Aifo Ebeleghe and Hector Wright (one conversion from Callum Pery Knox Gore) weren’t enough as the home sided edged out the game. The Second XV took on Methody 4ths and sadly lost heavily. The full squad then went onto to Ravelhill to see Ulster edge out a narrow victory against Exeter Chiefs in the European Rugby Champions Cup – our boys kicking off ‘The Fields’ in a fitting tribute to Anthony Foley.

On the same day the JCT took on Clongowes J3’s in a friendly game at home. Despite their best efforts, a couple of individual tries from the visitors’ star player saw victory to the boys in purple and white. SCC scored a couple of good tries through Thady Mckeever and Andrew Pollock (Thady converting one) but the game ended 27-12 to Clongowes Wood. Many thanks to the Warden, Mr. Mark Boobbyer for refereeing the game.

The Leps welcomed Belevdere College’s U14 C’s to Kilmashogue Lane but they couldn’t prevent the day’s unfortunate trend and they too lost 29-7, with Daniel Swift scoring a good try, which was converted by Patrick Hare. But the Ducks saved the day when also taking on Belvedere’s U13 E’s. In a game of four quarters, where Belvo fielded two teams, SCC won handsomely scoring a plethora of tries in the process. The game ended 40-8 with two tries from Jurre Khumalo, Jack Hayes, Tom Larke and Denis Cully. Henry Johnson added three conversions and Cully adding another two.

The Ducks and Leps combined (The Lucks) on Monday last as we welcomed a touring side from Taverham Hall School, Norwich. It was a cracking game and St. Columba’s scored four great tries through Jack Hayes, Ollie Townsend, Julio Perez and Tom Larke, all converted by Henry Johnson, but eventually lost on a scoreline of 42-28 to the visitors.

Then on Wednesday last our Senior Development side travelled to Kings Hospital to take on their Transition Year team. Sadly it was another loss of St. Columba’s, in a difficult week over for all our sides, with KH winning 31-14. St. Columba’s tries came through Henry Carroll and Callum Pery Knox Gore with Callum’s boot adding another 4 points.

So, as we head into our half term break for a well earned rest we can reflect on a busy fixture period for all sides. Despite the recent losses all teams have shown great promise and can be encouraged going into the business end of the season, particularly with cup campaigns around the corner.

Many thanks for the coaches, teachers and referees for all their work on the pitch so far this term.

Mr Paul Cron leads the appeal for Team Hope and he writes:

“Every year we support the Christmas Shoebox Appeal run by Team Hope. Last year we sent 231 gift filled shoeboxes to needy children in Africa and parts of Eastern Europe. Over the half term we would greatly appreciate if you could please make up a few boxes or collect some fillers for the boxes and bring them back to school after the break. All completed boxes or fillers can be brought to the collection point in Gwynn.

5 simple steps to follow:

1. Get a shoebox, wrap the box and lid separately with Christmas paper (we have already wrapped 150 boxes, so if if this is too much hassle fill one of our boxes)

2. Decide to whom you want to give your gift (boy or girl) and what age: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14.

3. Fill the box- Use our 4 W’s as a guide (Wash, Write, Wear, Wow – more details below)

4. Close the box with an elastic band – please don’t seal with tape as the contents of each box have to be checked to comply with regulations.
Please include the €4 for transport in your leaflet envelope either on top of the gifts or taped to the inside of the lid.

The 4 W’s
What can I put in my box?
Please put in a selection of small gifts from the options below: (but out of respect for the children we ask that all items be new, or as good as new)

TO WRITE – Items for school – like a pen, pencil, copy book, paper, colouring book, felt pens, sharpener, eraser, solar calculator.

TO WASH – Some hygiene items – toothbrush and toothpaste, soap (wrapped please), facecloth, hairbrush, comb.

TO WEAR – Small clothing items – a hat, scarf, gloves, socks or underwear

WOW ! – A treat – sunglasses, game, small Irish gift, a photo of yourself, sweets (must be in date for 6 months on), make up, a small musical instrument, toys like a doll, a car, cuddly toy, skipping rope, yo-yo, a finger puppet.

Please don’t put in …
Food (apart from sweets), chocolate, medicines of any kind,  war related items, large clothing items, anything breakable, any liquids that could spill or freeze, sharp items, scary things or books with words.

A child will receive the appropriate shoebox.

Thank you for your continued support.”

This year we are making our St Columba’s College Christmas cards available for purchase.

There are three different images to choose from and each pack contains five cards of the same image. To view the cards click here.  The cost is €7.50 per pack or €20 for three packs.  Postage, if required, will be extra.

Cards will be on sale at various functions and events at the College from now until the end of term and will be available to purchase at the Parents’ Association AGM which will take place in Blackburn classroom on Friday, 28th October, at 10am, prior to the Parent/Teacher meeting at 11am.

Alternatively, if you wish to place an order, please contact Alice Luce directly by phone on +353 86 367 0374 or by email to stating your name, postal address, which image you would like, and the number of packs required.

On Sunday evening Forms P and I were the first up on stage with ‘Bed and Breakfast’. A weird collection of guests come and go, causing consternation to the host and hostess. The Form II play was an adaptation of the well-known children’s spooky character The Gruffalo. All participants played their part to the full, giving great enjoyment to all. Congratulations to Mr Patterson and Mr O’Shaughnessy (Form P and I) and Mr Jones and Ms Harrahill (Form II) as directors, to Sasha Konopleva who helped with the make-up and to the pupils themselves who showed great promise. Well done to all.

Check out the photo album here.

Form P and I:James Noble, Avi Johnston, Edna Johnston, Alexander Hinde, Emma Hinde, Nikolai Foster, Guy Fitzgibbon, Caleb Owen.

Form II: Éile Ní Chianáin, Oliver Townshend, Alannah Hassett, Ailbhe Matthews, Charlotte Moffitt, Aurora Higgins, Imogen Casey, Diego Casasus.

Last week was Bullying Awareness Week and I was impressed by the seriousness with which everyone contributed to a thought-provoking and stimulating week. My experience of St. Columba’s is that this is a very caring and kind community and I am convinced that there is no culture of bullying here at the school. However any principal would be naïve if he or she claims that they are running a school with no bullying at all and I am careful never to claim such. Any school, anywhere, is always at risk from an unwanted and potentially damaging episode of bullying, because wherever there are people living and working together tensions can arise, words can be said and emotions can boil over. Surely it is better to talk about these things out in the open that to pretend that they don’t exist. That is why I was pleased with last week, as there was a mature engagement from the whole community, both staff and pupils.

A school should not be judged on whether issues of bullying arise but on how they are dealt with when they do. Unless something hugely sinister has happened bullying can generally be dealt with by honest confrontation and conversation. Young people rarely set out to bully others but are sometimes drawn in to unkind behaviour by an insecure desire to be popular. In most cases they are surprised and horrified by the possibility that they have been bullying others and, when they are asked to look at their behaviour honestly, are open to correction and usually to apology. The strength of a boarding school is that it teaches young people to live together in close proximity with others, many of whom may not be their first choice of friends. In that environment one has to learn to get along with all sorts of characters, to be patient with people whom you may find irritating and to appreciate diversity and difference. That mirrors life itself, because, let’s face it, we all have to learn to live and work alongside people whom we may not choose as our friends. The sooner we learn to deal with it the better.

In 23 years in boarding schools, and running a boys’ house for eleven years, I have seen, time and time again, disparate groups of individuals become very close knit friends because they learned to appreciate and enjoy each other’s different gifts: the rugby player learns from the academic; the musician learns from the actor; the naturally loud character learns from the quiet one. The fact is though – and this must always be remembered – that living together and creating a safe place where young people can thrive and grow takes hard work and may involve some setbacks. But it is worth it.

Mark Boobbyer

The rugby pitches in St. Columba’s have been seening a lot of action lately, with boys from every Form in competitive action. The extended Senior Rugby squads have been very busy over the past week with the Seconds playing three games in a week, against a CUS Transition Year team, Wesley TY’s and a Terenure Social team. The Firsts were also in action against Mount Temple, who have been struggling in the league above SCC.

Unfortunately the Seconds lost both games against CUS (59-14 to the visitors with two good tries form Joel Taylor and George Guinness, converted well by Henry Carroll) and Wesley (26-12 to Wesley – tries from Rupert Murphy and George Guinness, again converted by Henry Carroll who had a good game overall). While the results were disappointing the performances were very encouraging and they were quitely confident going into their game yesterday against a Terenure social team. They performed well and were thoroughly deserving of their 31-8 win. Henry Carroll continued his good form with two tries and three conversions while Gabriel Ejase Tobrise, Adam Murphy and Marc – Philipp Eichorn also passed the try line. Many of the Seconds squad have just taken up rugby so the signs are very good.

The Senior First XV were also in action yesterday against Mount Temple, a team in the league above them, but who have struggled. It was a good chance for SCC to assess their own standard as the cup approaches and it proved a good exercise. Some individuals excelled, particularly Max Hopkins and Callum Pery Knox Gore. Callum scored all of SCC’s points (two tries and their conversions) as his team won 14-7. Saying that, there were a lot of unforced handling errors and missed opportunities which the coaching team will be eager to address. The Senior Squad travels to Northern Ireland this Saturday to play a game against Methody College and will also take in Ulster’s Champions Cup game against the Exeter Chiefs in Ravenhill.

In the Junior Forms, our Form I boys (The Ducks) were also in action in the past week, playing in a 10 aside round robin competition at our near neighbours De la Salle Churchtown. SCC were represented by two teams and each won one game and lost one game. Tom Larke, Henry Johnson, Jack Hayes, Marcus O’Connor and Pavlo Shvalov were among the try scorers in a very useful exercise. Their game yesterday, against East Glendalough School, was unfortunately cancelled but they can look forward to an epic fixture against arch (Duck) rivals Headfort on Thursday next! Our youngest players are showing great promise.

The Leps (Form II boys) were also kept busy lately two, with three games in recent weeks. First up were Blackrock U14 E’s last Saturday but arguable Ireland’s best rugby school were too strong for us. Mikhail Sukachev scored a good try, which was converted by Patrick Hare, but that was SCC’s only score with the game finishing 33-7 to the visitors.

On Wednesday last the Leps visited Castleknock College U14 D’s. It was a very high scoring game with SCC scoring four tries through Sergio Hampshire, William Torkington, Titien Lauron and Julio Perez Cervera. Unfortunately they lost 43-26 (despite being 26-12 ahead at half time) but they were always going to struggle with some of their better 2nd years playing with the J’s against EGS at the same time. They played their second game in 24 hours yesterday against St. Mary’s C’s, with some of the JCT subs participating. It was a super game and St. Columba’s were deserved winners 19-12, with tries coming from Daniel Swift (also two conversions), Javier Ledo San Nicolas and (try machine) Mikhail Sukachev.

The Junior Squad have been going extremely well in their league so far, winning one and drawing the other. On Wednesday last they faced East Glendalough School in the league but unfortunately lost on a scoreline of 40-24 to the visitors. St. Columba’s came out of the blocks at the start of the game putting real pressure on the visitors when in possession. They scored first, through Killian Morrell in his first start of the season, off a well worked move from the back of a scrum. Sam Lawrence, at number 8, picked the ball at the back of a scrum, fed Killian who stepped the last defender for a dream start for SCC.

EGS came back but St. Columba’s scored again in the corner from Mikhail Sukhachev in his JCT debut (his Leps form being rewarded). But EGS came back and levelled the game at 12-12 after 20 minutes. Then SCC lost their shape and began to throw the ball around in our own half too much and gave away some silly penalties. They also started falling off tackles and dropping the ball in mid field and EGS built momentum and reaped the rewards scoring four unanswered tries in a significanr purple patch. But SCC came back well towards the end of the game and scored two more tries to get a bonus point through Jose Fominaya and Sam Lawrence (conversions by Thady McKeever and Marcus Russell). Sakhile Khumalo again put in a great performance with some big aggressive carriers and tackles.

Finally, a big thank you to all the referees in the recent games, especially Mr. Stevenson, Mr. Cron, Mr. Swift, Pat Tipper and Mike Elliot Murray.

Lots of activities are taking place this week to raise awareness about issues surrounding bullying. A report will appear here in due course. Meanwhile, check out photos in our album here (being updated as the week progresses)

The Reverend B.W.N. Walsh Memorial Concert was held last night in the Chapel to mark the Walsh Fund for restoring the organ. It was a superb evening of high-class music-making, particularly by the ‘headline act’, the Old Columban Colm Carey.  Click here for some photographs.

The large audience was welcomed by the Sub-Warden, Julian Girdham, who thanked all subscribers to the Fund, including the Walsh family, who were well-represented. Then former Chaplain Michael Heaney gave a tribute to his predecessor ‘Bert’, a much-loved long-serving colleague, who as well as being Chaplain and a teacher of Religious Studies was a distinguished Head of the Irish Department.

Then the concert began. Currently Master of Music of the Chapels Royal, HM Tower of London, Colm Carey started his career on the organ as a teenager in our Chapel under David Milne and Chris Jenkins, and has gone on to an impressive performing and recording career. His complete mastery of the instrument was obvious from the opening piece, a spectacular delivery of Egil Hovland’s Toccata, ‘Now thank we all our God’.  Angela Hicks (soprano) sang exquisitely throughout the concert, including a stunningly controlled version of Schubert’s Litanei auf das Fest ‘Aller Seelen’ and the engaging love song ‘Sweeter than Roses’ by Purcell.

The choir, who in December travel to Amsterdam to perform in several venues, gave us Bach’s ‘Sheep May Safely Graze’, and Mozart’s beautiful ‘Laudate Dominum’ in support of Angela Hicks.

Colm Carey’s virtuosic skills were in evidence in a wonderfully varied programme, the rest of which included pieces by Locklair, Hakim and Karg-Elert, and a memorable Durufle ‘Veni Creator’, with plainsong intervals by Angela Hicks.

The concert concluded with the choir’s resounding rendition of George Hewson’s “Let us Now Praise Famous Men'”. The standing ovation for organist and soloist at the end was thoroughly deserved. It was a superb evening, and a deserved tribute to Reverend Walsh, and is now memorialised by a new brass plaque on the organ casing.

Refreshments and chat were enjoyed by all in the Big Schoolroom afterwards.

There is no doubt that St. Columba’s is an excellent school, but our uniqueness in the Irish landscape is both a strength and a weakness. St. Columba’s is the only mixed full boarding school in Ireland, north or south. Of course there are other schools that have boarding but it is usually as a minority of the school, or, in a few cases, boys only. It is also true that we have a significant number of day pupils, but they are members of boarding houses, who stay late, come in at weekends and are, in many ways, indistinguishable from the boarders. Our unique set up is a strength, which, combined with our outstanding academic performance, makes us a very attractive option.

However there are dangers too in being different from other Irish schools. Although we pride ourselves on the excellence of our pastoral care, how do we know that we are doing it as well as we can when there is no other similar school around against which to benchmark ourselves? Standards and expectations evolve and develop and what was considered best practice changes over the years. Therefore we need to make sure that we keep pace with the best in boarding elsewhere.

Similarly there is a danger in being at the top of the tree academically. There is always a possibility that complacency can creep in, that we start to believe that the way we do things is better than others and we cease to maintain a learning spirit in our staff and in the community as a whole. Personally I think we need to benchmark ourselves against the best schools around, even if those schools are not on this island. St. Columba’s should be looking to be a great world school and not just a great Irish school.

Last week I was at HMC, the annual conference for Heads of private schools in the UK and Ireland. We are one of only three HMC schools in the south of Ireland, there are eight in the north, while the vast majority are in England and Scotland. It was a stimulating time, but what is most valuable is the opportunity to talk to other heads and to form links or partnerships which will help us to learn from the very best over there. However there are good schools everywhere and I am also keen to establish links with schools in Europe and the USA, from whom we can learn.

My experience is that good schools believe in sharing good practice and do not want to keep things to themselves out of some sort of selfish parochialism. If one school has developed a new approach to teaching and learning or pastoral care or technology, then it tends to be the case that they are delighted to think that others are following where they have led. Certainly I would be more than happy to think that other schools are looking at us to see what we are doing and doing likewise. So I am going to be looking around myself to see what I can learn as well as sending staff out to visit schools at home and abroad, so that we can bring back to St. Columba’s the very best in what is going on elsewhere. No one has outlawed educational espionage and there is no shame in getting out there and stealing other people’s best ideas!

The following have been elected to the Pupils’ Council for the coming year, after this morning’s elections:

VI: Ralph Sweetman-Sutton, Courtney McKee

V: Sean Cooper, Kitty Morris

IV: Toby Green, Isabelle Townsend

III: Daniel Ayoade, Calina Sacolax

II: Harry Petch, Charlotte Moffitt

I/P: Charlee Maher-Jones, Nikolai Foster

The first round of the House Debating competition took place last Saturday.
Senior House Debating Competition
Motion: This House believes in the death penalty
Glen’s Ji Woo Park, Harry Oke-Osanyintolu and Alexander Russell narrowly defeated Iona’s Mona Lamotte O’Carroll, Claire Schuijt and Elena Sirazetdinova.
Hollypark’s Courtney McKee, Anna Janssen and Aisha Burke came out on top over Stackallan’s Rupert Murphy, Henry Armstrong and Callum Pery Knox-Gore.
Gwynn’s Richard Gao, Henry Carroll and Ivan Moffitt  were successul against the combined forces of Tibradden’s & Beresford’s Adaeze Mbanefo, Rafael Mendes and Niklas Wehner.
Junior Debating 
In Junior Debating Charlotte Moffitt (Form II), Eile Ni Chainain (Form II), Emma Hinde (Form I ), Avi Johnston (Form I) Maybelle Rainey (From II) Maria Dergal Issa (Form II), Alannah Hassett (Form II) performed exceptionally well in front of a full house of their peers in Forms I, II and III.  Congratulations to all of those involved, there were some very passionate speakers and some very crisply delivered arguments.

Yesterday Tania Stokes from Third Form was presented with her third prize in the Junior section of the annual national Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. Her poem, Metaphorest, is below. Pictured, Tania and the other winners with the poet and adjudicator Noel Monaghan.

Many congratulations!

‘Metaphorest’ by Tania Stokes

The springtime garden was in bloom,
Pansies and cosmos, tulips and roses,
Ivy clambering up the trellis.
Purples, pinks and whites and yellows
Surrounded me, as I sat on the deck.
The sunlight filtered through the eucalyptus
And I used to go to far-off places;
I could sometimes hear the sea.

One day, you floated here on the breeze,
Planting yourself into my life.
The garden was never quite the same
Once you began to spread,
Your brambles tangling, choking the competition.
Shadows fell over the house,
As you rose up to dominate it all,
Holding me in your thorny grasp.

You had taken over completely.

The wind changed, come Autumn
When you blossomed into something richer.
You finally brought forth your sweetness,
As ripe blackberries sprung up everywhere.
Each one was a memory full of flavour,
And as we shared them, I knew
That you had taken root in my heart.

Great activity this past weekend! On Saturday we had our Open Day which was very well attended despite the inclement weather in the morning. That evening we had the first round of the house debating competition and last night there were the TY House Speeches, won by Anna Laureanceau. Early on Sunday morning a group of hikers, led by Mr O’Shaughnessy and Mr Coldrick, walked the small Sugar Loaf before chapel. On Sunday afternoon Mr Redmond and Mr Patterson took a select group clay-pigeon shooting in north Co.Dublin. Many thanks to all who organised and participated in these various events and helped to make them so successful.

At a full Matins service this morning, Mr Mark Boobbyer was formally installed as the 14th Warden of the College in a ceremony led by the Chairman of the Fellows, Mr Christopher Shiell. The Warden read out the formal statement agreeing to his appointment (though he has, of course, been properly in the job for some weeks now).

We were honoured by the presence of the Most Reverend Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, who is also Visitor of the College, who gave the sermon. This position of Visitor, which originated in the very early years of our history, is the most senior in the school, and is held by the incumbent Archbishop of Armagh.

After the service, the many Fellows and guests joined members of staff in Whitehall for tea and coffee.

Pictured, from left: the Chaplain, Reverend Daniel Owen; the Chairman of the Fellows; the Visitor; the Warden.

Welcome to all visitors to our Open Day this morning.

Here is the presentation showing in the Lower Argyle, should you wish to catch up on it later.