The Senior Rugby Team took a break from non-contact training last week to take on the ‘Jerusalema Dance Challenge’, made famous recently by the Springboks. They were choreographed by Mr. Havenga. Great work boys #StaySafe

Our annual Bullying Awareness Week is underway with a wide range of activities taking place. With Covid-19 restrictions, the scope is slightly narrower than usual but there is still a varied programme on offer for all pupils, and indeed the wider community.

The Pupils’ Council gave a short video assembly on Monday morning to kick start the week, the theme of which is “we’re all in this together“. The programme includes an art/photography project (details below), a modified chapel service, movie night for Transition Year pupils (The Social Dilemma, the highly-rated new documentary on Netflix on the dangers of social media) and drama workshops (Form I girls will have a workshop with Hero Starts with Her). On Thursday morning, all pupils will have a dedicated workshop on bullying, tailored to each year group, and on Friday all pupils will be asked to wear a College jersey (from any sport) to show that we all belong to one team and are united not divided. All pupils will further explore the topic of bullying in SPHE lessons this week, but also in other subjects by individual teachers.

Art/Photography Project

Many thanks to those who sent a photo of their hand or drawing of a hand. Below are some of the received entries … many thanks again!

Following the recent elections, the following pupils have been appointed as representatives of their respective Forms for the Pupils’ Council 2o20 / 2021. Congratulations to each of them and we look forward to seeing them help lead the pupil body in the year to come.

Form I – Stella Borrowdale & Felix Jellet

Form II – Lily Moore & Elliot Warnock

Form III – Vivian Tuite & Christopher Atkins

Form IV – Isabel Warnock & Nikolai Foster

Form V – Poppy Gleeson & Hugo Dunlop

Form VI – Sveva Ciofani & Carl Schierstadt

 

We have been deeply saddened this week at the untimely passing of Tobias Onyeka-Patrick, Old Columban, who left the College the summer before last.

Tobias ended his lengthy struggle with illness on Thursday and he is fondly remembered by all his friends here, by those who lived with him in Glen House, those who taught him and those who trained and played with him on College teams. Gentle manners, a ready smile and a wonderful warmth of personality were all hallmarks of this unique young man.

Tobias joined his younger brother Edward in the College in September 2017 in Form V; he is pictured that month. In both years as a pupil he represented the 1st XV in rugby. He served as a House Captain in Glen in VI Form where he was popular and well-liked by all. Tobias was a creative person with a talent for music, particularly as a hip-hop vocalist.

Unfortunately illness prevented him from sitting his Leaving Certificate in 2019. All through the 18 months of his illness we were bowled over by his fortitude, grace, courage and a dignified bearing that was almost saintly to behold. The impression he made has been enormous. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the family at this difficult time, especially his brother Michael in Form III.

Ronan Swift, Housemaster of Glen.

 

UPDATE:

On the evening of Wednesday 14th October a small group of pupils and staff met in the Chapel, properly distanced, to remember Tobias. This was recorded for others to listen to, especially his family and Old Columban friends, who cannot currently come into the College. Listen to it below.

In COVID-19 times can we still look at the bright side of life? Thoughts by Marc Kaptein, Parent and Medical Director, Pfizer the Netherlands

Dear fellow parents of SCC students, the last couple of months have been a rollercoaster for all of us; children had to leave school in March, parents had to adapt quickly to that reality, children were attending classes remotely, SCC staff had to adjust to online teaching and prepare for the return of students in September. Now that our children have returned to school we need to accept that, despite all measures, staff or students may be infected with COVID-19(if even the president of the USA gets it…) and quarantines are warranted by the Irish authorities. My daughter Julia who, after a “close contact”, tested negative to our relief, is quarantined until October 8th. Despite this quarantine situation I want to quote the lovely German couple that accommodated her; “without this situation we would have never met!” So, always look at the bright side of life!

That’s great, but how and when can we return to pre-COVID normality, you may ask. Basically, there are three scenario’s possible. Firstly, the virus can no longer be contained, a large majority of world citizens will get contaminated, many will get seriously ill and millions die. The end result will be that group immunity is achieved and the virus slowly fades out. This scenario, while I’m writing it down, is not only scary but also unacceptable to me.

The second scenario hinges on significant scientific progress of the treatment of COVID-19 patients above and beyond the current options; virus inhibitors, immune system modulating medication and blood thinners. This would allow for the virus to go around the world population without the devastating effect and reach the much desired group immunity. Unfortunately new drugs, that would make this scenario a realistic option, won’t be available before the end of 2021 (if ever) and health care systems may collapse under the massive patient demand.

The third and most likely scenario in my opinion, is a safe and effective vaccine or, even better, vaccines. This, I guess, is also a good moment for my disclaimer; I am working for Pfizer, so my knowledge is specific to the vaccine we’re developing. Please understand that my view is coloured by the information I have access to. Working in the pharmaceutical sector I am convinced the first corona vaccine may be approved just before or after New Year. However, may I remind you, I always look at the bright side of life!

A question I often get is; how did you guys get your vaccine developed so quickly -and- can we be sure that it is rigorously tested and safe? I will try to answer those questions by pointing out a few key factors that have helped in achieving the almost impossible.

Firstly, the vaccine Pfizer/BioNTech has developed is a so-called mRNA vaccine. The key difference with other vaccine technologies is that the “vector” which is the vehicle that gets the “pay load” (Corona spike protein or genetic mRNA code for that spike protein) into the cell is a fully synthetic, non-pathogenic nano particle, not an inactivated virus. Because we don’t need to produce these “vehicle” viruses in mammalian cell cultures in large bio reactors (which is a tricky and time consuming process) in massive quantities we’ve been able to produce candidate vaccines for testing months quicker. Secondly, we’ve chosen to do multiple steps in parallel. For instance, we’ve combined phase II and III clinical trials and we’ve started manufacturing of the vaccine before we’ve been granted approval. This saves years in development and manufacturing time. Although these decisions increase the financial risks (in case of failure) it does not affect  patients safety or rigorousness of our clinical trial program. Thirdly, governments worked alongside with us to accelerate approval processes. Both EMA and FDA have decided on so-called “rolling reviews” which means that they will review data when available rather than waiting for us to submit a full dossier. This saves up to 9 months compared to regular approval processes without affecting the objectivity or rigor of the process.

My personal experience over the last couple of months has been that impossible things were done in days and little miracles in weeks. Unlikely partnerships were forged and friendships started. This also holds true for SCC,  we can only overcome this extremely challenging period together. With my own eyes I’ve seen the extraordinary amount of work that Mark Boobbyer and the COVID team have put in to prepare and find solutions for each and every unique students  problem or situation. Without COVID-19  I would’ve never been in close contact with the COVID team at school. So I stand with my motto; always look at the bright side of life! I hope you do too!

Marc Kaptein,

Medical Director

Pfizer the Netherlands

Dear Parents

Welcome to our first newsletter of the new academic year 2020/2021.

On behalf of all the parents, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the Warden, the Matron and all her team, and all members of staff, including ground staff, for the way in which they have quickly adapted and are adapting to the new educational environment at SCC. The past few months, have been , without doubt, difficult and trying for both management, parents, and student alike and we appreciate how the staff have worked tirelessly over the summer under the restricted guidelines to ensure that SCC opened its doors in September despite all the challenging Covid-19 protocols that had to be put in place.

On behalf of the P.A. Committee, can we ask parents to try to ensure that we and our children respect the HSE and school guidelines, especially during Exodus and mid-term breaks, so that students, staff and all their families remain safe for the foreseeable future.

The HSE Website is linked below.

www.hse.ie

It is important too, to thank those parents who are housing children during exodus and half term for those children who are unable to return home, and to thank those that have contributed and continue to contribute their time, advice and expertise in answering questions for parents living here and abroad.

If you have any questions going forward , please do post them on what’s app or message one of our P.A representatives  personally. If you are still not on the WhatsApp group and would like to be please email sarah.gleeson@icloud.com

PA reps for the coming year:

1st Year – Ciara Hassett

2nd Year – Jenny Pringle

3rd Year – Colette Cully

TY – Aine Carroll

5th Year – Sarah Gleeson

6th Year – Ciara Hassett

Overseas –  Irmela Hopkins

Unfortunately all coffee mornings are suspended at present but as soon as restrictions are eased to allow greater numbers at gatherings we’ll get going again and welcoming you for a catch up.

Gilly Goodbody is your contact for the Second Hand uniform shop. There is not an awful lot of stock left, but if any one is need of anything. Please contact her. 086 6077455

The current COVID-19 restrictions have meant the Transition Year Co-ordinator and her team have had to be more imaginative in their organisation of the year’s various activities. The Transition Year at St. Columba still places a strong focus on academic work but, like many other schools, there is a greater focus on community outreach, physical exertion, building a service culture, team building and extra-curricular activities. Catering for these activities is a challenge in the current climate, but not impossible.

We were delighted that our annual TY team building event at Causey Farm was still able to go ahead, with the Causey Farm team putting strong procedures in place to protect our pupils and staff. Elys Walker wrote a detail report on this last week which can be read here. Another great team building activity was the drone video where the Transition Year pupil paid tribute to the work of health workers across Ireland and Europe. It’s been viewed over 18,000 times on our Facebook page – click here to see it.

Another whole year event was a recent hike to Fairy Castle, the peak of the nearby mountain complex. Kate Higgins writes this report:

We left at 8:30 that morning and the mist was so heavy that it was difficult to see. We were lead by Mr. O’Shaughnessy, Miss.Lynch and Mme. DeFréin and left the College through the front gate. We turned left up Kilmashogue lane and walked up the surprisingly steep hill towards Ticknock. We were then on a forest trail and the trees looked eerie in the morning light with the heavy mist. It wasn’t too cold or windy when we were walking in the forest but once we got out into  the open to walk towards Fairy Castle it was freezing. The wind was  strong and the mist was still too thick to see very far. We came back down on a slightly different route over a path of rocks. Once we got back into the forestry we were sheltered from the wind again. We then made our way back to the college after a very fun and enjoyable walk on the mountain right at our doorstep. Many thanks to those who organised it and joined us. 

We were delighted to once again welcome John Lonergan, the former Governor of Mountjoy Prison, to speak with the Transition Year pupils recently about drugs, crime and his time in the prison. The pupils enjoyed John’s gentle tone in what was a wide-ranging talk. We thank him for his time.

Nikolai Foster reports on the recent series of litter clean-ups undertaken by the Transition Year pupils, who are taking part in the Gaisce challenge series.
As part of the community involvement for Gaisce, we went litter picking. We went down the back entrance and into Marlay Park. We litter-picked along the paths as well as in the bushes, where a lot of stuff is dumped. We continued out of Marlay and went along the road, finding crisp packets and beer cans along the way.”
We are grateful to the Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council for donating litter picking equipment to the TY.

Academic work continues but there is greater freedom to explore aspects of tradition subjects. Verlaine Bolger reports on an interesting activity in her Spanish lessons recently.

Today in TY Spanish class we made “chocolate con churros”. We decided to research Spanish recipes and make this popular Spanish dessert. We split up into three groups, as we had to socially distance. One group started by melting the chocolate in the simmering cream, the second group weighed the flour, butter and mixed this with water and an egg, while the third group were taking care of heating the pans and adding the oil etc…. We ended up with the dough and then piped it into the hot oil. It quickly took shape and the final result, deliciously freshly made sugary churros!! We dipped the churros into melted chocolate and everyone really liked them. The churros were a great success, everyone participated and had a great time! This was my first time making churros and I was very proud of my efforts“.

There have also been opportunities to try new subjects this year, including our new formal lessons in Mandarin.

In summary, it’s already been a busy time for the Transition Year pupils and we have been delighted with their efforts to engage with the various activities, despite the challenging environment. Well done!

Below is a photo album of all Transition Year events which will be updated as the year progresses.