UPDATE, APRIL 30th: the event is now SOLD OUT. There is a waiting list here.

Over the weekend we released details of a stellar line-up of presenters for our researchED event on Saturday 5th October. This is the organisation’s first-ever event in Dublin, in a year which sees it represented in the UK, Dubai, the USA, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, South Africa and Chile. It’s truly an international phenomenon now. Check out the researchED website for more, and see our own event page here.

So far the following are coming: Keep an eye on the event page, and our own, as well as @researchEDDub on Twitter, for more announcements and a link to tickets when they go on sale.

Neil Almond@Mr_AlmondED, Inner city London primary teacher.
Tom Bennett, @tombennett71, Founder researchED & Behaviour advisor to @educationgovuk
Fred Boss@fboss, NCCA Education Officer, Founder & Moderator of #edchatie
Pedro de Bruyckere  | @thebandb | Educational scientist, teacher & researcher, Author of The Ingredients for Great Teaching.
David Didau, @DavidDidau, education writer and speaker, Author of Making Kids Cleverer: A manifesto for closing the advantage gap.
Eva Hartell, @EvaHartell, Researcher, Haninge municipality Sweden, & KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Carl Hendrick, @C_Hendrick, Head of Learning and Research, Wellington College, Berkshire.
Humphrey Jones@humphreyjones, Head of Biology, St Columba’s College, Dublin.
Peter Lydon@peter_lydon, Wesley College, Dublin; President of Association of Geography Teachers of Ireland.
Ann Marcus-Quinn@A_MQ, Lecturer in Technical Communication and Instructional Design, University of Limerick.
James McCoy@DrTJEckleburg25, Vice-Principal, Markethill High School, Co Armagh.
Jennifer McMahon@JennytalksPsych, Lecturer in educational psychology & inclusive education, University of Limerick
Conor Murphy@conorsmurf, Skibberreen Community School, Cork.
Mary Myatt@MaryMyatt,  Education adviser, speaker and writer (The Curriculum: Gallimaufry to coherence; High Challenge, Low Threat)
Mirjam Neelen@MirjamN, Learning Advisor Manager, Dublin. https://3starlearningexperiences.wordpress.com/
Sandrine Pac-Kenny, @sandrinepk, Post-Primary Languages Initiative, Wexford.
Alex Quigley | @HuntingEnglish | Senior Associate at the Education Endowment Foundation. Author of Closing the Vocabulary Gap.
Tom Sherrington@teacherhead, Consultant, Author of The Learning Rainforest: Great Teaching in Real Classrooms.
Victoria Simms@DrVicSimms, Reader & Research Director, Psychology, Ulster University
Mary Singleton, Head of Science and Director of Studies, St Columba’s College, Dublin.
Claire Stoneman@stoneman_claireDeputy of Academy, Erdington Academy; organiser #rEDBrum

Arts Week 2019 kicked off with a morning of fun and magic tricks for Form I pupils. Magician, Jack Wise, kept them highly entertained, but also taught them a thing or two about how some of the tricks work. In teaching them, however, it became clear just what skill is involved in being able to perform convincingly.

Tuesday switched up a gear with Eunan McDonald training about 150 primary school children, from seven different schools, to perform in fabulous concert in our chapel in the afternoon. Parents of many of the primary school children came to watch and were treated to our own choirs singing as well. It is a wonderful way of encouraging singing, but also of showcasing the wonderful choral tradition at St. Columba’s. It was great to hear both St. Columba’s and the visiting primary schools singing a song from New Zealand – a tribute after recent events there.

Depending on which pupils you spoke to, there would be all sorts of different highlights from the rest of the week.

Transition Year pupils art pupils had the opportunity of visiting the Finnegans Woke Exhibition which centred around artwork as a symbol of civil resistance and the struggle for a better future. Sveva Ciofana writes on her experience here.

A first for this year was the opportunity for Transition Years and Form VI to learn new dance moves as brother and sister, Luise and Ferdinand von Waitz from Germany, taught the pupils how to jive German style with Friesenrock! Thursday night the BSR was rocking as about 50 pupils crammed in to give it a go, finishing with an informal competition for best German couple, best mixed (German and non-German) couple and best complete beginners. Congratulations to all involved! Thursday also saw the art room being taken over by print making with a fabulous teacher Debora Ando. Again, a pupil report will follow shortly.

The Guest Artist Exhibition went ahead on a stunningly sunny evening this year. Those here last year will remember we had to cancel because of the snow. We were treated to a wonderful evening with work displayed by Sarah Langham (landscapes) and William Nathans (portraits). Sarah combines painting with amazing craft skills too and, as well as her landscapes, she displayed beautiful handbags made from old kilm rugs, tweed and recycled leather. Both artists inspired us all in completely different ways, Sarah as a self-taught painter and William describing his passion for passing on what he has learned by talking through each of the works exhibited. These events for parents and friends of the Columban community are great opportunities to meet and mingle as well as to learn something new.

What a treat we had on Friday night as nineteen juniors and seniors shared the poems they had written during the workshops on Thursday and Friday. Our thanks to poet Dave Lordan whose mission is to inspire young people in the art of story-telling and performance poetry. The starting point for them all was rooted in Ancient Greece and the work of Homer. The quality of the poems written and performed was outstanding. All work was completely original and as Dave impressed upon us, it had not existed the previous day. Another pupil report will follow shortly.

Form IV and V music pupils spent Friday making and recording music using iPads. “Simply Music” introduce students to the new and emerging software used in the music industry.

Old Columban, Conrad Frankel, a painter of national and international repute, arrived on Saturday and spent the afternoon taking in all the work that had been produced for the Art Prize Competition. This year saw a new format with students being given a brief and entering the prize competition; all pieces were exhibited in the BSR. On Saturday night Conrad addressed the whole school in BSR and all listened attentively as Conrad took us through the influences that inspired his own work and then a look at his own previous and current painting. We had a great back and forth with plenty of questions from pupils before the prizes were presented. The winners of this year’s Art Prizes were: Junior Art Prize – Emma Hinde, Junior Craft Prize – Isabel Warnock, Photography Prize – Verlaine Bolger, Senior Craft Prize – Tania Stokes and the Senior Art Prize – Jeanne Levesque (her winning painting featured above).

Jonathan Browner, principal of North Wicklow Educate Together School and previous Head of Music at Sandford Park School, had the daunting task of judging our Music Prize entrants. We had a fabulous line-up of singers and a wide range of instrumentalists, from the violin to trumpet to accordion and drums. Jonathan’s feedback was appreciated by us all as he described why he had chosen each of the six winners and those who also were also given a special mention. The winners of this year’s Music Prizes were Alexandra Murray-Donaldson, Alex Russell, André Stokes, Toby Green, Harry Oke-Osanyintolu and Songyon Oh.

A big thanks to all those involved in making Arts Week such a success. Below is an album of photographs from the various events that took place.

One of the things that I have mentioned from time to time in my blog is my desire to impart into the Columban DNA an ethos of service, as opposed to an attitude of entitlement. I know I have written about this before, but someone said to me recently, ‘I am not sure that people know what you mean when you talk about service.’ In other words, it sounds good but it is in danger of being meaningless without some clarification.

Let me start by looking at entitlement, because the positive will make more sense in the light of the negative. Now I am not saying that I think our pupils here at St. Columba’s feel entitled, but it is a charge that is sometimes levelled at children from private schools in general. Whether or not this is true is irrelevant because it is still out there and maybe, sometimes, there is some truth in it. In the UK it is an accusation that is sometimes made against those from certain schools and backgrounds who seem to think that the world owes them a living, that they should get into the best universities and have the best of everything, simply because of their background and their education. It causes people to look down on others who are not from the ‘right school’ or do the right kind of work or wear the right kind of clothes. Now I obviously don’t think that there is anything wrong with having a fantastic education, but I do object if it instils arrogance. A great education is not about a string of top grades but about the development of character. It has been said, rightly, that ‘education is what you have left when you have forgotten everything you were taught.’ In other words it is about who you are, not what is on your CV.

Entitlement says, ‘what can other people do for me,’ or ‘why am I not appreciated as much as I deserve?’ It is the attitude of an American President who says, ‘I did not receive the appreciation I deserved for the John McCain funeral,’ as if somehow acting decently deserves a special mention. It says, ‘it doesn’t matter if I leave a mess because someone is paid to clear up after me.’ It says ‘there is no point in trying to do the right thing if no one is going to notice and thank me for it.’ It is unattractive and makes other people feel like second class citizens.

The spirit of service is very different. It says, ‘what can I do to make the life of other people better,’ or ‘how can I help other people to cope with the stresses and strains of life. How can I help them bear their burdens and their worries?’ It means one serves because it is the right thing to do, not because it gets one noticed. Service is not just about helping old ladies across the road, but rather an attitude to life. One of the great prayers in chapel says that we should ‘labour and ask for no reward, save that of knowing that we do Your will.’ Doing the right thing is its own reward. Character, as they say, is how you behave when no one is watching.

That is what I mean by ‘service,’ but because it is an impossible thing to measure it is also very difficult to instil. We do need to talk about it, but perhaps it is caught rather than taught. Our children here don’t have time to get involved in numerous service projects, although there is perhaps room for more, particularly in the ‘Transition Year.’ I hope, however, that they are developing an attitude that means they look out for those around them in their immediate community, while also taking a keen interest in the wider world. They should hurt when they see people being gunned down in New Zealand or trapped in floods in Mozambique. They should figure out how they can live a more sustainable lifestyle, rather than leaving it to others to make the changes needed to protect the future of the planet.

That might all sounds a bit woolly, but actually it is the most important thing our children can learn.

Arts Week 2019 takes place from March 25th to 31st and kicks off with a little bit of magic for Form I!  Jack Wise (pictured) is a  Dublin based magician, who has performed at festivals worldwide, and he will be teaching our Form I pupils a few tricks of the trade. This will be followed on Tuesday with the Primary Schools Choral Day.  This year it will be attended by seven schools and over one hundred and fifty children. Eunan McDonald will be working with our massed choir culminating in a performance at 3.00pm in the chapel.

On Wednesday all Form III will spend part of their morning in the Art Department with Ms Cullen and Mr Horgan.  In the afternoon Form IV Art pupils will have a trip out to the exhibition, Finnegans Woke at the South Dublin Arts Centre in Tallaght. In the evening there will be a screening of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ for all Form IV, but those in Forms V and VI can also sign up for the event.

Thursday is a particularly busy day. Dave Lordan, writer, poet and performer will be working with aspiring poets (Thursday and Friday mornings) from Form I to Form IV preparing them for the Poetry Slam event on Friday evening where they will perform to an audience from the same Forms.

“Dave Lordan is a multi-genre writer, performer, editor, and educator. He has been described as Ireland’s most vital and courageous poet, and a performer of electrifying intensity. He provides a portal to the inspirational power of the spoken and written word, and is currently one of Ireland’s leading educators in creative writing.”

For Form IV and V art students, Debora Ando will be running a print studio workshop on Thursday. Debora Ando is a Brazilian artist, originally from Sao Paulo but currently based in Dublin. Since 2013 she is a part-time lecturer in the Print Department at the National College of Art and Design as well as part of the Visitor Engagement Team at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.  She has exhibited both nationally and internationally. In the afternoon there will be a chance for all Form VI pupils to let their hair down, after their mock exams, by trying out their dancing skills! Luise and Ferdinand von Waitz will be running a Friesenrock Dance Workshop and Competition.  Many of our German students know all about Friesenrock, but this is a chance for the rest of the year group to learn a bit more about rock n’ roll too! That evening, we will be hosting the official opening of our Guest Artist Exhibition.  We are grateful to Sarah Langham, Irish Landscape artist, and William Nathans, Portrait Painter, for loaning us so many of their wonderful paintings.  Do come along and meet the artists themselves as they talk about their work.

On Friday Forms IV and V  Music pupils will be treated to a Melody Maker iPad Workshop combining their musical skills with today’s digital technology. In the evening Dave Lordan will be back to host the final of the Poetry Slam competition.  We hope to persuade him to perform some of his own work too!

Arts Week will conclude at the weekend with the final highlights.  Saturday evening we are fortunate to host, Old Columban painter Conrad Frankel, who will talk about his work and then adjudicate and present the Art PrizesThis is a whole school event and is also open to parents.

On Sunday evening the Music Prizes will be awarded to those who have put themselves forward to compete.  This is always a wonderful showcase of Columban musical talent and will be adjudicated this year by Jonathan Browner.  Jonathan is principal of North Wicklow Educate Together School.  He taught music for 25 years at Sandford Park but has also lectured at both Trinity College Dublin and the Royal Irish Academy of Music.  Again, this event is open to all pupils and parents.

For the full Arts Week Programme click here.

Dmytro Kasianenko, Form V, reports on his experience at the Model United Nations event in Wesley College last week.

As our team was registering for the Model United Nations, I, honestly speaking, didn’t expect much from it – just another debating competition. But, as it turned out, Model United Nations was one of the best experiences in my humble debating career. It happened at Wesley College on Friday and Saturday the 8thand 9th, about two weeks ago.

In regards to the structure of the debates, it was quite simple. First of all, each debating team was given a country to represent. In our case it was Canada. Secondly, each team member was assigned to a certain committee and was to represent the views of Canada on given topics. For example, I was in the political committee and one of the themes discussed was “Chinese neo-Colonialism in Angola”. Since all delegates in one committee had researched the topics beforehand, the argument for and against the motion was absorbing. Thirdly, each person in the committee had to use certain language structures, as for representing the country as a whole. For instance, we used the pronoun “we” instead of the pronoun “I”, or “delegate” instead of the pronoun “you”.

After committee work was finished, each team participated in the General assembly. In it, we had to debate all the clauses for the unseen resolution, which were written by all teams beforehand. At this stage of the MUN, we had to work as a team on the same problem. Interestingly, at the General Assembly, there was an ability to collaborate with other teams via passing notes from table to table. The note passing was done secretaries, who were walking around the room hastily.

Another thing worth mentioning was the organisation. All the organisation was led by Form VI pupils in Wesley College. They had put in place a lot of work to make that competition possible. It is somewhat like a tradition whereas many pupils as possible from Wesley participate in making the competition happen. They have set up a website, sent out the invitations to schools, decided upon the themes of the debate and even printed out the MUN newspaper. It was very enjoyable to participate and we felt welcomed since the age difference between all the people who participated in it wasn’t that big.

In general, it may initially seem like the UN style of debating is very rigid and disorganized. Although, it is the only known way to keep a respectful debate with many other countries. Nevertheless, even though this competition wasn’t particularly successful for us, in the next one we will know what to do better.

Finally, the big idea behind the competition is just to: have fun, make friends and debate along the way.

Here in St. Columba’s we are very passionate about ensuring that our school environment is sustained to a high standard. We are enacting procedures to apply for our second Green Flag as well as attempting to become a single-use plastic free campus with the help of a dynamic Green Committee.
Climate change is the single biggest issue facing this current generation and if it is not addressed it will continue to impact future generations. Members of the Green Committee, as well as IV Form pupils, want to enact change and have established an Instagram page called youthstrike4climate.ie to highlight the vital need to address climate change.
Those pupils are Imogen Casey, Maybelle Rainey, Ellen Homan, Aiyuni O’ Grady and Eile Ni Chianain. To date, the page has amassed almost five thousand followers and continues to grow. Please feel free to follow the page and support their attempts to enact change.

This year’s Guest Artist Exhibition will take place on Thursday 28th March 2019 @ 6:45pm in Whitehall (the main building). The exhibition features two completely different artists and is one of the main events of the College’s annual Arts Week.

William Nathans is a classically-trained portrait painter and will be exhibiting work ranging from portraits in oils to charcoal sketches.  He will be available to take commissions on the evening.  Sarah Langham is a current Columban parent and draws her inspiration from the Irish landscape.  Her work will be for sale at the exhibition. We are fortunate to be able to showcase these artists and both of them will speak about their work on the evening.

Tickets for the exhibition are €20, including drinks and canapes, and can be paid by cheque – made out to St. Columba’s College – or, alternatively, the amount can be placed on your school account. To book your place please fill out this online form here.

All enquiries should be sent by email to Cathy Boobbyer at cboobbyer@staff.stcolumbas.ie.

Trish Dunlop (parent to pupils in Forms V & III) reports on last weekend’s parents’ trip to Seville.

A group of parents and family emerged from the winter drear last weekend, ably led by the Warden, Cathy and Michael O’Shaughnessy, and burst into Summer. It seems we had all been checking the forecast anxiously, and the sun shone brightly for the Columban cohort.

We stayed at a wonderfully located hotel, always only a walk away from the best that Seville has to offer a visitor. Just as well, since most parents seemed to be brandishing state of the art step-counters and activity tracking devices which we would then compare and contrast at suitable junctures. How many flights was it up to the top of the bell tower?

It was a pleasure to meet members of the St. Columba’s wider community as we all gathered that evening, spirits were high and we embarked on a weekend of chat, laughter and learning about the joys that Andalusia had to offer.

In stunning sunshine, we walked through the winding streets of Seville as we visited the Moorish Palace and Gardens, the stunning Cathedral, up thirty-five ramps to the bell tower giving a wonderful view of the city. The sensual discovery continued relentlessly – the orange dotted trees and brightly coloured produce as we walked the streets, the wafting scents of lavender, orange blossom and jasmine, the mosaic decoration on sandy golden stone and all punctuated by delicious food and drinks (often with a distant strain of flamenco-style music). All the while the chat and laughter continued. The day was a lovely combination of guided and “free” exploration, at times coming together as a group and at other times opting to “do our own thing” which seemed to be just the right approach.

Sunday started with a robust breakfast before taking a bus ride to Cordoba. Cordoba was a true revelation – its grand history announced by the iconic “Roman Bridge” that greeted us as we disembarked. Set up to explore museums of art and history, we were again “free-ranging” on the hilly streets that sloped up away from the River Guadalquivir.

Most remarkable – in its mixed traditional styles – is the “Mosque” or “Cordoba Cathedral”. We found the visit very moving and had the benefit of a very passionate and dedicated guide. We learned about the layers and layers of Cordoba’s history which are carved into the fabric of the “mosque”, together with its continued dedication to its true purpose of sacred worship.

We returned to Seville on the bus, which gave us a much-needed opportunity to count our steps again. A quick turnaround and off out again to a lively last supper together. The Warden kept us on our toes with the tour quiz, with all teams securing excellent marks on our self-corrected answer sheets. Last late drinks at the hotel, before the reality set in: an early return to less sunny climes via Ryanair.

The beauty of Seville and Cordoba extended beyond the architecture, the sensual pleasures, and the history. Their beauty can also be found in how the cities are lived, everywhere its residents can be seen enjoying eating, shopping, strolling and spending time with each other. For a brief interlude, and thanks to the super efforts of Cathy Boobbyer, the Warden and Michael O’Shaughnessy, we parents and family members of the St. Columba’s community were part of the beating heart of Andalusia, and we are all the better for it.

Below is an album of photographs from the trip.

The latest edition of ‘The Submarine’, the pupil-edited and -written magazine, has now been published in school (in paper form) and in flippable form on the English site via Issuu (use the arrows to navigate, and click again for a close look).

In this edition, there are pieces by Avi Johnston (On Journalism), Vivian Tuite (A College Diary, on her first days at the school), Sveva Ciofani (The Earthquake in Italy that No-one Talks About), Sinead Cleary (Ted Bundy), Poppy Gleeson (The Jump), Calvin She (on sharks), Noah Leach (Analog), Thando Khumalo (Mortality), Wolfgang Romanowski (on the visit by Emma Brown of Barnardo’s), and art work by Edna Johnston, Avi Johnston, Estelle Yu, Denis Cully, Thea Walsh and Camila Garcia Herrera.

On Friday, 15th February, in support of the Schools Mental Health Awareness week, the Parents Association organised a parent walk in the hills above the school. An early morning start, on a gloriously sunny clear day, the parents were transported from the School car park up to the starting point of the walk. A local authority on the area joined the group giving an informative talk during the walk. There was also a viewing of a Cairn located just above the school car park. Following the walk, the parents retired back at school to enjoy a hot cup of tea and coffee in Whitehall. The Walks in the area above the school are superb. For Parents that are not familiar with the region or may enjoy the great outdoors , we encourage you to join us on our next one.

Pizza and movie night in Tibradden Junior Common Room. Housemaster, Scott Crombie recently sent us a photograph of the students enjoying their new sofa’s and 55inch television set which were donated by the Parents Association. An enjoyable new addition to the house. Beginning to look a lot like home. They’re the envy of the other houses.

Upcoming Events

Friday, 15th March is the final coffee morning for the Parents Association for this year. It would be wonderful if as many parents as possible would join the PA for tea/coffee and eats in the Drawing Room in Whitehall from 11h30 onwards.

Rev Owen will be holding a short prayer service in the Chapel at 11 o’clock before the coffee morning.

The 2nd Hand Uniform shop will be open from 11h45 to 12h45 for those parents wishing to purchase any 2 Hand items or cricket uniform.

The Wesley Interschools Music Festival took place over the weekend with St. Columba’s pupils competing in a wide range of events, both as soloists and in groups. The big success came on Friday night when the senior chamber choir, Sine Nomine, took home the William J Watson Cup for Best Four-Part Choir. Sakhile Khumalo came second while Songyon Oh was ‘Highly Commended’ in the Popular Song prize. In addition, Oscar Yan, Imogen Casey, André Stokes and Tania Stokes were all awarded ‘Highly Commended’ in their respective competitions.

 

 

Elizabeth Hart, Form I, reflects on her experience in this year’s Junior Play.

The Junior Play this year was called The Happy Journey by Thornton Wilder. Emily McCarthy, Kate Higgins, Cameron McKinley, Wolfgang Romanowski, Malachy Murphy and I were the actors. Emily played the part of the mum, Cameron as the dad, Malachy as the son Arthur, and I played the daughter, Caroline. Wolfgang was “the stage manager” and Kate was Beulah, my big sister. This play was about a family going on a trip to visit the older sister in a neighbouring state of the USA. Later we learn Beulah had given birth to a baby, but the baby had died soon after it was born.

The Happy Journey operates as a play within a play (almost), so we all pretended to be actors performing. At the start we pretended to be preparing for the play and Wolfgang was telling us all to get ready. The only props we had in the play were four chairs which were our ‘car’. The rest were imaginary so we talked to imaginary people, pointed at imaginary billboards and Cameron turned an imaginary steering wheel.

We had about 3 weeks to prepare for the play and, at the start, it felt kind of relaxed. As the days went on, it got more serious as we got our costumes and learned the script by heart. Near the night of performing it became tenser and the practices became a lot longer.

On Thursday a couple of people came to watch the dress rehearsal and it was the first real audience we had. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but we didn’t mess up our lines or any stage directions.

Friday came and we were all nervous. When people started to come in there was loads of noise and suddenly I got really nervous. When I walked out on stage my legs were shaking and it was more muscle memory than anything else that got me through to the end. It is a short play so it passed by very quickly. The actual performance only felt like 5 minutes!

Saturday night came and I wasn’t as nervous as before, but I wasn’t exactly relaxed. We went through the play and when I said my last line and ran off the stage it felt really good. When Emily and Kate came off, we went to the front of the stage, took our bow and we had finished the play completely.

Being in the play was a very good experience as it made me more confident in speaking in front of a crowd and was a bit of fun. Our thanks to Mr Swift and Mr Jameson for directing it.

Below are a series of photographs, taken by Rev Owen, from the performance.