FORM PRIZES: congratulations to the following, who have been awarded prizes based on their academic work this year:-

SIXTH: Helen Crampton, Georgia Keegan-Wignall, Harry Oke-Osanyintolu, JiWoo Park, Caspar Schulenburg, David White.

FIFTH: Camila Garcia Herrera, Oda Michel, Poppy O’Malley, Eliza Somerville, Tania Stokes.

FOURTH: Imogen Casey, Sinéad Cleary, Gioia Dönhoff, Oscar Yan.

THIRD: Tom Casey, Iona Chavasse, Emma Hinde, Avi Johnston, Marcus O’Connor.

SECOND: Kate Higgins, Emily McCarthy, Cian Slyne, Elys Walker.

FIRST: Elizabeth Hart, Rachel Shaw, Beatrice Somerville, Lorne Walsh.

Form V pupil Megan Bulbulia reports on her recent experience of the ‘Phil Speaks’ debating competition.

When I put my name forward to go to the ‘Phil Speaks’ debating competition in Trinity, I was very nervous about what was to come. What would the motions be? Would I even understand the motions? Would I get lost in the maze that is Trinity College Dublin? And perhaps most importantly, would there really be free pizza there!?

Thankfully I only got lost once and there was pizza ordered in bulk both days! As for the motions, more random than Harry Oke-Osanyintolu had warned us. Our first motion was  “This House Believes that the media has a responsibility to show the full horrors of war.” Katherine Kelly and I had 15 minutes to prepare our five-minute speeches. To say that this was stressful would be an understatement, the 15 minutes flew by and before we knew it we were strongly opposing the motion. It was an interesting and engaging the debate in which we placed 3rd. Not bad we thought, against a strong proposition.

The next motion was “This House regrets the American Dream.” This proved difficult to propose, as the debate became centralised on the concept of whether hard work equals reward, a central idea in our society and of course the educational system.
We emerged from this debate in 4th place but with increasing knowledge of debating strategies and approaches which would prove useful.

After a filling lunch of Apache pizza, we were given our third and final motion of the day. “This House Would delete all social media.” Katherine and I were proposing this motion, we used our gained knowledge of how to coherently structure a debate, forming it almost like a mathematical equation, proving points x and y, to our advantage. This round was a closed round, which means we don’t know where we placed, but our tactics were proving effective and became procedure in our two next debates.

The next morning we registered again, with a slight change to the teams. Katherine and I stayed together while Shannon Dent paired with Dmytro Kasianenko in place of Oda Michel who unfortunately wasn’t feeling well. The motion was announced and Katherine and I had 15 minutes to scurry off to the School of Histories and Humanities Arts Building, (this was when we got lost.) We were proposing the motion that “This House Regrets art that glorifies gaining material wealth”. With Dmytro and Shannon on our tea,m we gave the opposition a united Columba’s front! It was an interesting debate, focused around the excessive wealth of popular musicians and online influencers, each team managed to work an Ariana Grande reference into their speech as part of the ‘Goofball Challenge.’

Our fifth and final debate was “This House Believes that occupying vacant buildings in protest of widespread homelessness is a legitimate political act.” For our last debat,e Katherine and I used all of our gained knowledge from the four previous debates into a strategical and tactical argument. We both spoke for the full five minutes and we felt like we had strongly and convincingly proposed our last motion. Unfortunately, we didn’t earn a place in the Quarter Finals but what we definitely earned was a sense of achievement and a wider knowledge of how to structure and deliver a clear-cut speech within a debate. We also met secondary school pupils from all over the country, and we had an opportunity to explore Trinity also! I would definitely recommend The Phil Speaks Debating Competition to anyone and it was a very enjoyable experience.

The Warden has written an article on fee-paying schools for the Sunday Independent ‘School League Tables’ supplement. Here is what he wrote:

Parents love a school league table, particularly when it shows their child’s school in a good light. However, I am rather confused by the way the school league tables in Ireland are currently devised by a media eager to draw comparisons. Schools that send all their leavers to Irish universities get 100% (or even higher by an anomaly that I don’t understand), while schools such as ourselves, that think it is a good thing to encourage leavers to look around at universities in the UK, Europe and the USA, end up in 500th place, because, although every leaver goes on to third level education, only a third of them stay in Ireland, despite two thirds being from the island. Since when has having a narrow world view been a mark of excellence, particularly in a country with such a huge diaspora?

Last year here at St. Columba’s College we averaged 484 points per candidate at Leaving Cert, with a non-selective intake, a result that would probably put us at the top of the tree, or very close to it, if there were a league table based on these results. However, you may be surprised to know that I am delighted that there are no such tables here in Ireland. I have seen the disingenuousness and the shenanigans wrought by league tables in the UK. When a school’s reputation is based on its GCSE or A Level results, as is the case with the government league tables  over there, inevitably schools start to manipulate their exam entries accordingly. If an academically weaker child gets through their vigorous screening process, rather than deciding to do the best for that child, they create barriers for entry into the senior school, saying, for instance, that unless a pupil gets 8 A*’s or A’s at GCSE then he or she cannot continue in the school, or perhaps that unless the GCSE is an A* then the pupil may not continue with that subject to A Level. The child is only valued if he or she can contribute to the school’s awesome academic reputation. If not they are expendable. An exception might be made for a particularly good loose forward, of course, or a first violin.

There is much worse than this. Pupils going into their final year will be told to drop their weak subjects or advised that, if they refuse or ‘do not heed the school’s advice,’ they will be required to enter for the exams privately, so that the results will not appear in the official statistics of that school. It gets worse still. Some schools with international operations will enter their weak candidates through the international centre, thus ensuring that only those who are going to get the top grades are counted in the results that people see. I have even heard of a situation where a school created another school as a separate legal entity, so that weak candidates could be entered through that means, through a school that existed only on paper! It’s possibly not illegal but it is certainly immoral! My own belief is that once a child has entered a school, that school has the obligation to see that child through and do the best for them, regardless of their ability, rather than considering them surplus to requirements if they do not ‘add value.’

Maybe in Ireland some of these excesses would be avoided, since schools are by definition non-selective, but you can see where the introduction of Leaving Cert league tables could lead and I don’t think anyone here wants to run the risk of creating a league table monster such as exists in the UK. So up here on the hill we’ll just have to continue to grit our teeth each year when the current league table is published, until someone comes up with a moremeaningful way of judging schools in the overall context of the education they provide and the future opportunities they offer their alumni, both in Ireland and further afield.

Irish private schools are becoming an increasingly attractive option to many overseas parents, especially if they are looking for boarding. Being the only English speaking country in the EU after March 29thmay have benefits. Coming from the UK I am dismayed at the ever-increasing expense of a private education there and I cannot help feeling that the costs are out of control, as schools compete to build more and more state of the art facilities. Most private schools in the UK were founded to assist the sons (usually) of merchants or clergymen to get an education, but now that a full boarding education can cost £40,000 (45,000+ euros) a year, and even day fees are often upwards of £20,000, most hard-working professional parents can no longer afford to send their children privately, even if both are earning a decent salary.

Private education in Ireland is considerably less dear than it is in the UK and, while I do not deny that the cost is still a stretch, it is at least within range of more people. I therefore see private schools in Ireland as less exclusive and elitist than in the UK, especially since schools cannot screen pupils academically before offering places. We may be relatively expensive here at St. Columba’s, as journalists are often quick to point out, but we are still less than half the cost of the equivalent in the UK, while offering, I think, an equally good product.

Heads of private schools here may be reluctant to defend their schools because they have a perception that they are not popular in the public imagination.Indeed, when I moved here I was told to keep my head down and not court publicity, since ‘it is best to fly under the radar’. I don’t really subscribe to that approach because I believe very strongly in the service that we offer and which is offered by the excellent private sector as a whole. There will always be naysayers but there is certainly nothing to be ashamed of and plenty of which private schools can be very proud.

 

 

 

The Art Department has issued the themes for this year’s Art Craft & Photography Prizes, for both Junior and Senior pupils. The themes for this year’s prizes are JOURNEY and IDENTITY and a wide range of styles and techniques are welcome. This year’s competition will be judged by artist and Old Columban Conrad Frankel who will also speak on the night of the prize giving. One of his paintings is shown above.

Click here for full details of the brief, with useful tips for entrants.

Emma Hinde, Form III, reports on a very successful Book Week 2018.

There were loads of things to do during book week this year. The week featured two chapel talks in which Kate Higgins and James Park spoke about their favourite books and Mr Swift sang a song about his bookcase. The author talk was probably my highlight: Richie Conroy told us about his career as a screenwriter (he wrote the animated movie “Two by Two” and the TV series “Fran: Assistant manager”, along with many more). He also wrote a book called “An Jailtacht” which is in the library. It’s aboout a teenage girl called Emily who goes to the Gaeltacht.
There was also lots going on in the library. The “shelfies” were photos of teacher’s bookshelves and we had to match the teacher to the shelf. I only managed to get one. We could also estimate the amount of books in the library, and design a cover for our favourite book. There was also an official book week bookmark, designed by Tania Stokes.
The first book club meeting of the year took place during lunchtime and we talked about which book we would be reading for the term. Lots were suggested and eventually Geraldine McCaughren’s Where the World Ends was chosen. The next meeting will take place in the library on Monday, 10 December at 1.20 pm.
First, second and third years had Book Speed Dating in the BSR. This is where we talked for two minutes about a book to the person sitting opposite us and then swapped. It was interesting to see what other people were reading. I kept changing the book I was talking about, but settled on one called ‘The Lost Gate’ by Orson Scott Card. It’s part of a trilogy.
The library was open at break and lunchtime, which was so successful that it was decided it would remain open at lunchtimes for the rest of the term.
I loved book week, and hope that others enjoyed it as much as I did.

On Tuesday twenty Transition Year pupils visited Microsoft Ireland’s newest building, One Microsoft Place, to explore their ‘Dreamspace’ – a wonderful space for young people to learn more about technology. On arrival, the pupils were given a tour of the amazing award winning building, where some of the highlights include the yoga cube, the wellness centre, the amazing “mountain” stairs, the roof garden and the LED waterfall. After the tour they settled into the amazing Dreamspace – a vibrant learning environment – discussing Microsoft’s contribution to technology in their lives before exploring their latest innovations in assisted technology for those with disabilities. The learned about the skills needed to thrive in STEM careers, with a focus on development of soft skills. Then their first challenge – a team building / problem solving task – the Marble Track. With a few assorted household items, each team had to create a track for a marble to travel before settling within a small square of graph paper. There were no rules except that is couldn’t be pushed and had to stop on the graph paper. Each team took a different approach (there was some astounding creativity on show) but all ended successfully completing the task (one team broke the record). But then it was on to the main task – a brief introduction to coding via the Mirco:bit software and hardware. The pupils learned about the basics of coding before programming their own devices, using Microsoft surface tablets, to play a game of rock, paper, scissors. Later they learned how to send messages from one device to another.

The pupils thoroughly enjoyed their experience and, no doubt, stoked their interest in STEM and coding (incidentally this week is European Code Week). We would like to thank Microsoft and their Dreamspace team for a most enjoyable, wonderful learning experience.

Last weekend saw the first round of House Debates on Saturday evening, both Junior & Senior, and the Transition Year House Speech competition on Sunday night – always a lively affair.

Shannon Dent reports on the Senior Debate:

The topic discussed in the first round was Voluntourism and if it should be banned or not. Some of the major key points that were brought up in the debates were the negative after effects of voluntourism and how it can be detrimental to a small disadvantaged community. As well as how voluntourism can have a positive effect on both the voluntourist and the people receiving the help by being able to provide an experience for both sides. This topic is a bit difficult to discuss because it can go either way. It brings up many questions such as: Do people receiving the help from voluntourism get used to it and do not try to improve their well being? What happens to the people after the voluntourists are gone? Are buildings created by voluntourists of good quality? Why would it be wrong to volunteer while on your vacation? Is it really helping? Do people benefit from it? The subject is different for every case but the debaters on the night did a very good job supporting their argument. Debating in the Cadogan, with a very thought provoking debate there was a combination of Beresford and Tibradden proposing against Gwynn. Speakers for Tibradden and Beresford: Caoimhe Cleary, Georg Mueller-Methling and Noah Leach. Speakers for Gwynn: Toby Green, Killian Morrel and Alexander Casado. Debating in the Lower Argyle, a very strong and interesting debate between Iona and Glen took place. Speakers for Iona: Amy Cosgrove, Éile Ní Chianain and Sinead Cleary. Speakers for Glen: James Park, Dmytro Kasianenko and William Zitzmann. Finally debating in the BSR, with a very engaging debate was Hollypark proposing against Stackallan. Speakers for Hollypark: Georgia Wignall, Alexandra Murray and Sofia Leach. The winners were Gwynn, Glen and Stackallan.

To finalize, this first round of debates was a great way to start a new year of debating. Congratulations to the winning houses and to all the speakers involved. Thank you to Mr Brett, Ms Lynch and Ms Morely for being the adjudicators of the evening. Well done to Amy Cograve, Jiwoo Park, San Lawrence and Toby Greene who awarded “best speakers” for the first round. Also a quick reminder that for the next round, electronic devices will not be allowed while debating, handwritten notes are accepted. Once you have your debaters for the next round we ask you to email them to Ms Duggan as soon as possible. Good luck on the next few rounds and do try to get involved!

Thea Walsh, Form III, reports on the Junior Debates:

My debating team consisted of Sophie Webb, Rachel Mungavin, Henry Johnson, Christopher Atkins and myself, Thea Walsh. We were proposing the motion ”This House Believes that Fast Food Should be Banned’. The opposition team was Emma Hinde, Akin Babajide, Miles Bubulia and Wolfgang Romanowski. There were some thoughtful and provocative speeches  presented on the night and also some very intelligent points of order, which put each speaker on the spot. A special well done to Christopher Atkins, new to the school in September, who was the only first former debating on the night. As there is growing interest in debating, Miss Dugan and I are floating the idea of a junior house debating competition to mirror the one taking place between the senior houses. At the end of the night, after questions from the floor, the winners were announced. The team proposing the motion won. Rachel Mungavin won the accolade of best speaker. A special thank you Miss Morley for adjudicating and Miss Duggan for making all of this possible.

Ms Duggan facilitating the Junior Debate.

It was a fantastic night overall and a great start to the year’s public speaking events. However, much like Dublin buses, you wait weeks for one public speaking event and the second one follows soon after. On Sunday, ten inspired Transition Year pupils spoke passionately on a wide range of subjects – from gun control & dyslexia to religion & the Leaving Cert – but it was Raphaela Ihuoma who emerged victorious. Iona were named the House winners. Well done to all on providing interesting, entertaining and thoughtful speeches.

A hearty congratulations to the Leaving Certificate Class of 2018 on their record breaking average points score of 483. This, we are confident in saying despite the lack of national statistics, places St. Columba’s as one of the top performing schools in the country. 7% of our pupils achieved over 600 points, with one candidate attaining 6H1’s and therefore the maximum points score of 625. A phenomenal 48% of our pupils achieved over 500 points, 81% achieved over 400 points and, finally, 97% of our pupils achieved over 300 points. On the grades obtained across all candidates 17% of all exams sat were awarded H1’s, 41% either a H1 or a H2 and 61% either a H1, H2 or H3 – which is extraordinary. A considerable 85% of all exams were sat at Higher Level.

Our pupils worked extremely hard over the past two years, and in particular in the final term, and we are delighted to celebrate their achievements today. We celebrate every pupils’ results – from the pupil obtaining the maximum score to the pupil who struggled throughout but obtained their target, however modest. Of course, although it should seem obvious, the results obtained in these exams are not a true measure of a pupil’s life in school. Pupils are not remembered for their CAO points total but for their contributions to St. Columba’s on the stage, sports-field or in the classroom, for their attitude, work ethic, personality, humour and talents, of which this cohort had many.

We now wish each and every pupil success in their next big adventure, be that university, a gap year or another path entirely. Congratulations once again – we are all extremely proud of you!

Last night in the Big Schoolroom Mr McCarthy wrapped up this year’s Transition Year Programme, speaking to the pupils about their successes and progress throughout the year. He thanked all the TY staff team, and in particular Mr Noel Coldrick, who contributes a huge amount to the Year annually, and who is retiring from the College.

This year’s awards:
Margot Aleixandre: Spanish
Sam Lawrence: Biology
Shannon Dent: Physics
Sakhile Khumalo: Business
Calina Sacolax: Design
Charlotte Klingmann: Music, Chemistry, Economics
Tania Stokes: Art, Music, English, French, Latin
Eliza Somerville: Geography, Maths, Irish, Religion, Classical Studies

Congratulations also to:
Tania Stokes, winner of the Columban Award Scheme Cup.
Shannon Dent, winner of the Spirit of Transition Year Cup.

Last night, a very successful Transition Year Modern Languages Evening was held at Trinity College in Dublin, in which ten pupils gave talks and presentations in French and Spanish. Tania Stokes won The Alyn Stacey Cup for her presentation on Les Bandes Dessinées (you can view Tania’s presentation by clicking the link below). Joan Clivillé came second with his talk on the La Légion Etrangère. In third place, were Charlotte Klingmann & Calina Sacolax; their subject was La Música Latina.

All ten participants are to be commended for their efforts and high quality presentations. Mr Clarke’s set also made a very entertaining video on life at St Columba’s College. Tania was a clear winner because she had prepared her topic in depth, used her own words and was able to speak without excessive reference to her notes.

Special thanks go to Dr Alyn Stacey for allowing us to have use of the Swift Theatre as well as the three judges for giving up their evening to listen to our pupils.

Tania’s Presentation – Les Bandes Dessinées

 

Antonia Bullrich and Isabelle Townshend write short reviews on recent art gallery expeditions – the Grayson Perry exhibition at the RHA and the Emil Nolde exhibition at the National Gallery.

Last Thursday, the senior art pupils visited the RHA for the Grayson Perry exhibition. Grayson Perry is a British contemporary artist. He is known for his tapestries, vases and for cross-dressing. The exhibition is called The Vanity of Small Differences and it consists of six tapestries expressing modern life based on classical paintings. Perry is very interested in the emotional attachment we place on objects. The tapestries were hung up in a very spacious white room and each of the colors stood out individually. Each one told a story about the different social classes, and some harsh truths were depicted. As I walked around I realised each tapestry had small details that are hard to notice but they are exceptionally meaningful. When I gave each one of them a second look I noticed one or two new details I hadn’t noticed the first time around. Overall it was an amazing exhibition and we really enjoyed the day.

Last Thursday, the fifth and sixth form art pupils went to the Emil Nolde exhibition in the National Gallery of Ireland. Nolde was a German expressionist and at the time (1867-1956) which an attempt to creat a new style of painting. Nolde was so daring for his use of colours and topics that he painted. His paintings have a way of speaking to you in a way that I have never experienced before. For example in his self portrait of himself his piercing blue eyes feel like they are staring into your soul. The gallery was split into five sections ranging from paintings based on his homeland to when he went travelling. The most appealing section to me was called ‘conflict’ in which he painted his view on religious events which would have been really outrageous at the time. My favourite painting has to be Nolde’s interpretation of Adam and Eve, the use of colours and form of Adam and Eve is really interesting to look at. I would recommend this exhibition to anyone.

Jeanne Levesque reports on the recent Sculpture in the Garden Exhibition in the Warden’s Garden – an Arts Week event.

In October, the Form V art class went on a trip to The Botanic Gardens, to see the “Sculpture in Context Exhibition”. Our task after this trip was to create our own exhibition in the Warden’s Garden for Arts Week 2018. Each of us had to come up with our own unique idea and create a sculpture. We had to plan our sculptures carefully, and we had to think about what materials we could use to ensure our sculptures would survive outside in rain, wind (and snow!) so in other words, Irish weather! We all had to think carefully when choosing where to place our sculptures as we had to make sure they would be visible to the people walking past the exhibition. Our trip to The Botanic Garden gave us lots of inspiration for our sculptures. For this project, each of us had to make two development A2 sheets to show how we designed our sculptures from start to finish and what challenges we faced during the project. The human form was an inspiration for many of the works. Identity was another common theme. For my project I constructed three giant rabbit heads in geometric form to hang on the garden wall. We spent almost a term on this project. It was really fun and we learned new skills and techniques that will help our future artwork.

Last week was ‘Seachtain na Gaeilge’ – where pupils and staff celebrated of the Irish language and culture. Below is a short report, as Gaeilge ages as Béarla from our Head of Irish Alison Maybury.

Form II pupils after their bodhrán workshop.

SEACHTAIN NA GAEILGE

Cheiliúramar “Seachtain na Gaeilge” sa tseachtain roimh Lá Fhéile Pádraig. Seans a bhí ann do na daltaí a labhraíonn Gaeilge spórt agus spraoi a bheith acu trí mheán na teanga agus bhí deis ag daltaí eile taithí a bheith acu ar chultúr na hÉireann.

Eagraíodh imeachtaí éagsúla sna ranganna Gaeilge. Bhain daltaí an-taitneamh as a bheith ag cleachtadh damhsaí nua-aimseartha (mar is léir ón bhfíseán gearr de dhaltaí ón Idirbhliain ag foghlaim na ngluaiseachtaí don “Dreoilín”!) agus roinnt de na seandamhsaí freisin. Chan siad amhráin, arís idir shean- agus nua-aimseartha, agus chuaigh siad san iomaíocht a chéile le tráth na gceist. Bhailigh daltaí le chéile sa tob-Ghaeltacht ag am lóin i rith na seachtaine chomh maith le haghaidh comhrá agus spraoi. Chuir daltaí ón Idirbhliain isteach ar thráth na gceist Gaeilge agus tá siad ag súil le ticéid a bhuachan don fhéile ceoil “Groove” i dTeach Chill Ruaidhrí.

Bhí fuaim iontach treibheach le cloisteáil ar an Máirt nuair a d’fhoghlaim daltaí ón réamhrang, Bliain I, II agus V conas an bodhrán (uirlis thraidisiúnta) a sheinm le Robbie Walsh ó The Bodhrán Buzz. Ghlac Nyla Jamieson, Henry Carroll, Éile Ní Chianáin agus Poppy Somerville páirt i gCraobh Náisiúnta Tráth na gCeist Boird i mBaile Átha Cliath an lá céanna. Níor bhuaigh siad ach rinne siad éacht dul chomh fada sin sa chomórtas!

Sa séipéal ar an gCéadaoin, sheinn André Stokes fonn traidisiúnta ar an bhfidil agus chan Emily McCarthy “Siúil, a Rún”. Léigh Kate Higgins agus Cian Slyne na dánta “Sneachta” agus “Mise Raifteirí” agus chan Aurora Higgins-Jennings aistriúchán den amhrán “Your Song” le Elton John, á tionlacan féin ar an bpianó. Chan daltaí ón réamhrang agus Bliain I “Amhrán na gCupán”, le Jamie Green agus Tadhg Rane Ó Cianáin ag canadh na véarsaí. Rinne siad go léir éacht!

Bhí seans ag na daltaí sóisearacha a gcuid eolais (nó easpa eolais!) faoi Éirinn agus cultúr na hÉireann a thaispeáint i dtráth na gceist i Seomra Mór na Scoile oíche Dé Chéadaoin. Bhí an bua ag Harry Petch, Boris Shvalov, Poppy Gleeson agus Elena Diaz-Leanta Sanchez.

Bhaineamar go léir taitneamh as imeachtaí na seachtaine agus táimid ag tnúth le Seachtain na Gaeilge 2019 cheana féin!

SEACHTAIN NA GAEILGE/IRISH WEEK

We celebrated “Seachtain na Gaeilge” in the week before St Patrick’s Day. It was a chance for the pupils who speak Irish to have fun through the medium of the language and an opportunity for other pupils to experience Irish culture.

Various activities were organised in Irish classes. Pupils really enjoyed learning modern dances (obvious from the short video of pupils from Transition Year learning the moves to “The Wren”!) and some of the old dances too. They sang songs, again both old and modern and they competed against each other in quizzes. Pupils got together in the pop-up Gaeltacht (Irish speaking area) at lunch time during the week for conversation and fun. Pupils from Transition Year entered an Irish quiz and they hope to win tickets to the music festival “Groove” in Kilruddery House.

A wonderfully tribal sound was to be heard on the Tuesday when pupils from Forms Primary, I, II and V learned how to play the bodhrán (a traditional instrument) with Robbie Walsh from The Bodhrán Buzz. Nyla Jamieson, Henry Carroll, Éile Ní Chianáin and Poppy Somerville took part in the National Table Quiz Final in Dublin the same day. They didn’t win but they did great to go so far in the competition!

In Chapel on Wednesday, André Stokes played a traditional air on the fiddle and Emily McCarthy sang “Siúil, a Rún”. Kate Higgins and Cian Slyne read the poems “Sneachta” and “Mise Raifteirí”. Aurora Higgins-Jennings sang a translation of “Your Song” by Elton John, , accompanying herself on the piano. Pupils from Forms Primary and I sang “The Cup Song” with Jamie Green and Tadhg Rane Ó Cianáin singing the verses. They all did really well.

There was a chance for junior pupils to show their knowledge (or lack of knowledge!) about Ireland and Irish culture in a quiz in the BSR on the Wednesday evening. Harry Petch, Boris Shvalov, Poppy Gleeson and Elena Diaz-Leanta Sanchez won.

We all enjoyed the week’s events and we are looking forwards to Seachtain na Gaeilge 2019 already!

Harry Oke, Form V, reports on the latest debating team competition – The PhilSpeaks at TCD.

The PhilSpeaks debating competition is a yearly debating competition organised by the Philosophical Society (The Phil) in Trinity College Dublin. This is the second year St. Columba’s has taken part in this competition, as debating becomes an increasingly strong part of our community. There were four teams of two in total that went for this event. And regardless of the fact that most people had not taken part in this form of debating, we were all willing to give it a shot. The teams were Toby Green and Georgia Keegan-Wignall, Caoimhe Cleary and Shannon Dent, Jakob Hasburg and James O’Connor and finally Jack Stokes and me, Harry Oke..

We were required to prepare a debate in fifteen minutes after we were told the motion without the aid of any sources except our minds. There were four sides, Opening Government, Opening Opposition, Closing Government and Closing Opposition. Jack and I found it relatively easier than the others as this is our second year but were still faced with the challenge of creating points that could win us the debate. Nevertheless, we all rose to the challenge and were able to work together and give well structured speeches.

Some of the topics were, “This house would ban homeschooling”, “This house would ban UFC” and “This house would force priests to report any violent or serious crimes they are told in Confession”. These were very different topics but I felt that we all complemented each other in our respective teams. Each person brought a different perspective to each argument, and produced an interesting and lively debate. Each side has to be original as you get no points for stating what a previous side has stated.
Unfortunately, none of our teams made it to the final, which was discouraging, but it was a fantastic weekend where we met a lot of wonderful people, created new experiences, fostered our deep passion for debating and overalls had an amazing time. I especially want to thank Ms. Duggan for all her hard work and this could have not been possible without her unwavering support.

On Tuesday January 23rd eight Transition Year pupils attended the 9th annual DLR ECO Conference in Dun Laoghaire Town Hall. The conference is run in conjunction with ECO-UNESCO and Stillorgan College of Further Education, and aims to influence young people to become stewards of change both in and outside of their school communities.  Upon arrival we were warmly welcomed by Mr. Dean Eaton who passionately explained the need for the sustainability and the awareness of the sensitivities of our environments in our world today. Our pupils actively engaged with other students present through activities such as the World Trade Game and Food Miles Workshop, they also attentively listened to talks from Rebecca Doyle of The Native Woodland Trust, Veronica Ryan of WECREATE and finally Ji Hynn Kim of ECO-UNESCO. The day was thoroughly enjoyed by all the pupils involved, and we return to St. Columba’s better prepared to become stewards of change without our community.

A number of our Transition Year pupils recently took part in a Trinity College Geoscience Week. Shannon Dent reports on a challenging but exciting week’s events.

Geoscience week was organised to engage students into geology and the importance of this science in our daily lives. I went to this event with two other students in Transition Year in St. Columba’s, Calina Sacolax and Sam Lawrence. Apart from us there were 12 other students from different schools that also showed an interest to science and geology. The activities ranged from lectures to museum visiting to a day on the beach analyzing rocks and entering a small cave. We had 3 lectures and the one I enjoyed the most was one focused on seismographs and looking at earthquakes. The museums were also great fun. I have always wanted to visit the Book of Kells and the Old Library, and I was able to do it! It was a beautiful library and the book itself was crafted so intricately that I can understand the reason for its popularity. We also visited that Natural History museum which is packed with exhibits. Among the museum category we visited an art and science exhibition. These were a lot of fun and there was one specific piece that caught my eye, which was a DIY science kit including its own microscope that was made entirely of materials you can buy at local stores. During the beach day my friend Sam and I were picking at a rock and a shard-like piece fell out. We looked at it and decided to build a sort of spear with it, which sounds dangerous but was actually just for gags. Later on Shane told us about the micas (which are the shin bits in rocks, more specifically in granite) you can find in that specific rock and the layers of age in the rocks. Overall Geoscience was a really enjoyable activity and I definitely do recommend it for all Transition Year students who are interested in looking at the world through a scientific and curious point of view.

After the College’s huge success in last year’s pan-european CanSat competition (St. Columba’s were crowned Irish champions and went onto place 2nd in Europe), a new crew of Transition Year pupils want to follow up on the success on ‘Canny Potter’ with their own satellite ‘Can Solo’. Form IV pupil Calina Sacolax reports from a recent CanSat workshop at Dublin Institute of Technology.

Some members of the 2017 CanSat team give some soldering advice to the 2018 hopefuls.

Last Thursday (December 7th 2017) the new Cansat team were invited to a workshop in Dublin Institute of Technology, Kevin St. Our successful Canny Potter also attended to speak and give advice to the future cansat teams. On arrival we were given a talk about teamwork and presentation skills and shown tips on how to improve our public speaking and how to make an interesting presentation. Soon after the talk last year’s winners ‘Canny Potter’ from St. Columba’s gave an interesting and informative presentation on their experiences in the European Competition back in June.

The team couldn’t stress enough the importance of teamwork and making plans. They told everyone to get the primary mission working and then to start adding the additional sensors that corresponded with the aims of the project. After their presentation they took questions. Canny Potter was a hit with all the schools and were practically treated like celebrities. Many people want to take a picture with the European runner-ups and asked for tips and ideas from their projects. They were glad to help, shared their experiences openly and meet everybody. Team ‘Can Solo’ know that the pressure is on them particularly after last years’ very successful project.

The team then participated in a soldering workshop. Nobody in ‘Can Solo’ really knew how to solder properly but with the help of the mentors our team learned pretty quickly. Practice makes perfect so we will continue to practise until we become masters at the art of soldering.

We are happy to have made such an educative and helpful trip and look forward to building our satellite in a can next term for the regional competition in March.

 

The launch of the College’s Development Office and 175th Anniversary Celebrations took place on Thursday evening in Whitehall, with details of the activities and projects which will commemorate the 175 years of excellence in education. The newly formed Development Office, headed up by Sonia Young, will focus on garnering philanthropic support for the College’s future growth. It will manage a series of funds including the Old Columban Society Bursary Fund (which provides financial assistance to sons and daughters of former pupils to attend the College), the College Bursary Fund (proving financial bursaries to pupils with no previous connection to the College), the Annual Fund (which will direct money to various capital projects within the College) and, finally, the 175th Anniversary Fund (which will support the College’s ambitious plans for 2018 – the new Social Hub, pictured below). For more information on the Development Office please visit the new dedicated webpage here.

The new Social Hub will be located in the Warden’s Garden (opposite the library) and will transform Whispering House into a vibrant social space for pupils.

In addition to the launch of the Development Office the College’s 175th Anniversary Microsite went live last night. The new site details the all the various events taking place during the year, more detailed plans and images of the Social Hub, 175th anniversary news, articles on the evolution of the College since its 150th anniversary and a detailed history of the College in the earlier years. The 175th Anniversary celebrations will centre around the June Bank Holiday weekend in 2018, traditionally the St. Columba’s Day celebrations, and will include a gala ball, invitational cricket & hockey fixtures, a family barbecue, a golf outing and much much more. Visit the microsite here (175.stcolumbas.ie).