The Warden is sending a letter to Sixth Form, preparing for their Leaving Certificate. Here it is:

Dear 6th Formers

I hope this letter finds you in decent spirits. It is very hard to maintain morale at this time and I hope you are managing to stay positive.

Let me start by saying how much I and all the staff here miss you all at the moment. Yes, it is holiday time right now, but it has already been a while since you all left and the prospect of an extended break from school is really depressing. The school grounds can feel very peaceful in holiday time but it doesn’t feel like that right now…instead it just feels very empty.

I am sure that you are following the various pronouncements from the Irish government every day. As things stand there is a determination to proceed with the Leaving Certificate exams in June, but how realistic that is I don’t know. It may just be bravado, although one cannot rule out the possibility that in two months’ time the worst will be over and that conditions will allow you to come in each day for exams. There are arguments from some saying that it would be unfair to make you sit exams in the present environment, while there are others who say it would be unfair to deprive you of the opportunity to sit those exams. I don’t know who is right, but we have to be prepared for either eventuality.

What I can say with certainty is that the College will be here to support you fully through whatever happens. If exams need to be sat, then we will make sure that, if you live a long way away, or even abroad, and we are not allowed to accommodate you in school, the wider Columban community will help out in every way possible. We will do everything that we possibly can to ensure that you end up with the grades that you deserve and get into the courses at the universities on which you have set your hearts. I know how unsettling and stressful it must be for you, having to carry on with your revision, while being unsure as to whether the exams are actually going to take place or not.

This is Easter week and, although my biblical interpretation may be a bit contrived, it could be seen to mirror the current situation. On Palm Sunday Jesus rides into Jerusalem, acclaimed by the crowds, who hail him as the king. By Thursday he has been deserted by everyone and betrayed by a close friend and everything looks as dark as it can be. On Friday Jesus dies on the cross, his disciples flee and he is mocked and despised by passers-by. However, that is not the end of the story and on Sunday he rises from the dead, the culmination of the Christian story.

You may or may not be very religious but you will still agree it feels now like we are going through a very dark time. The excitement of the approaching summer term, with its sunny weather, sports day, prize-giving, graduation and emotional farewells to friends, has given way to a sense of betrayal and huge anti-climax. I imagine that that is how you feel. However, I do believe that we will get through it, as a College and as individuals. I can tell you now that, if we are not able to have a graduation ceremony in late May, we will still find an opportunity, when the time is right, to invite you all back to the College to celebrate your time here and to say goodbye in a fitting manner.

On Sunday we will be recording a short Easter service in chapel. Please do listen to it and join in where you can. In the meantime take care of yourselves and support each other in every way you can.

Best wishes,

The Warden.