Phil Speaks

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.

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Transition Year Pupils Attend ECO Conference

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.
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Geoscience Week

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.

CanSat 2018

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.

 

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Development Office Launch

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).

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Exhibition of Junior Certificate Art 2017

Abigail O Brien, Transition Year, reports on the upcoming Art Exhibition of the work produced for the Junior Certificate 2017

Last year 23 pupils in 3rd Form completed the Junior Certificate Art Project. Each of us had to put together a number of finished art pieces. The  themes we worked on ranged from sharks to space travel. However, a major part of the project also required that we show our preparatory sketches and brainstorming, alongside explanations of our individual thought processes.

The course is pretty straightforward – we had to make a 3D construction or sculpture, a painting or graphic design, and an optional third craft piece (calligraphy, puppetry, batique, a lino cut, and a host of other things). The challenge came in trying to complete all of this work in the time frame and to a standard which was strong enough.

A big part of the project was to show how our ideas developed over time. The big difference between this project and sitting a one hour portrait exam is that your ideas have a lot more time to evolve and grow. Despite drawing inspiration from a common theme throughout the three pieces, many of us were surprised at how varied the results were. In addition to the project we had to do a drawing exam.  We had a model sit for us  while we drew them and we also had to choose an object from a set list to draw. We were given an hour for both.

All of us worked well over the year and were all happy with our results. I think it was a very good experience and an opportunity to express our ideas.

This coming Sunday December 10th, there will be an opportunity to view our work as it will be displayed in the BSR for all to see after the evening Carol Service. We hope that you can make it!

Here are a small selection of pieces on display.

Portrait paining by Abigail O’Brien

Poster design by Andrew Kim

Batique craft by Sophia Cole

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Science Week at St. Columba’s

This week at St. Columba’s there are a range of events to mark national ‘Science Week‘. Every day this week our beloved ‘Daily Notice’ will feature a science fact to engage the brain and encourage our pupils and staff to #StopAndAsk (which everyone is encouraged to do on social media). Our library has an excellent display on the best science books, both fiction and non-fiction, within the 15,000 volumes on the shelves. The pupils can take part in a Science Photo Competition or Science Joke Competition (a live mic for the best jokes is scheduled for Friday). Every year group will have a Science Kahoot Challenge at lunch time and Transition Year will have a science themed movie night. There are also a series of art in science projects in all labs and some lunchtime demos, including live dissections in the biology lab.

Please follow the events on the College’s social media platforms – Twitter & Facebook – and #StopAndAsk. (The video below was created especially for Science Week 2017 to kick start the #StopAndAsk initiative).

Senior Debating Team News

Form V pupil Harry Oke writes this update on Senior Debating in the College

It is great to know debating and public speaking has become something greatly valued in St Columba’s. So far this term we have been involved in our own in-house Debating Competition, the Oxford Schools Debating Competition, the European Youth Parliament and the Concern Debates.  The first round of the Senior House Debating Competition began September 30th with the motion, “This house would ban users of performance enhancing drugs for life”. The line-up was Glen against Hollypark, Tibradden & Beresford against Stackallan and Iona versus Gwynn. Glen, Stackallan and Iona were victorious but who knows what the future will holds for all houses in round two of the debates in the second half of the Michaelmas term.

The 2017-18 Concern Debates have also begun and St Columba’s put forward a team led by Jack Stokes. Unfortunately, we were not able to carry the motion “To end hunger, the world must embrace GMOs” against a formidable team from Tallaght Community School. The most important thing from all these debates irrespective of winning or losing is what you learn and gain from the experience. Debating informs us about things that are happening in our world. It affirms or challenges our original beliefs and encourages us to question everything. Debating makes us use what makes us different from all other animals, our minds. I deeply encourage anyone to give debating and public speaking a try because it is worth it. It makes us act instead of being observers and it makes us assertive. It makes us independent and there is nothing better than being your own person!

Junior Debating Team

Public speaking and debating are important part of the College’s extracurricular programme. Below, Form III pupil Phoebe Grennell gives an account of the progress of our Junior Debating Team over the past month.

Last month the Junior Debating Team attended a debating workshop in Belvedere College. The pupils who took part were Emma Hinde, Raphaella Ihuma, Charlotte Moffitt, Maybelle Rainey, Ailbhe Matthews, Éile Ní Chíchnáin and myself, Phoebe Grennell.

When we arrived at Belvedere College, we were warmly welcomed and were taken to a large lecture hall where we met up with some debating teams from other schools. Many of us, myself included, had never debated before. The aim of the workshop was to introduce us to debating and to give us some introductory skills and tips.

A kind lady introduced herself and confidently started speaking to us about debating. She gave us some good tips and advice on how to write speeches and to deliver them. We learned that the objective of a debate is to prove how the principles and practicalities of your side of the motion is true. We were given some tips.

  1. Keep speeches to a minimum, no more than four minutes long.
  2. Never read your speech, engage with your audience with eye contact.
  3. The speech should present a cohesive case containing three main points of information (POIs).
  4. Each POI needs the same amount of time.
  5. Analyse and research each POI before the debate. This will involve asking why the points are relevant and then answering this question. This will help address counter arguments.
  6. Use persuasive language.
  7. Give lots of examples but no personal antidotes.
  8. Use structure when flagging points (a) say what you are going to say (2) say it (3) say what you’ve said.
  9. Use structure when flagging points – say what you are going to say, say it and then say what you’ve said.
  10. Remain objective and calm

This workshop was interesting and we learned a lot. For anyone getting involved for the first time, debating helps improve confidence in public speaking as well as being a good way to keep us up to date with current events and form opinions about them. Our first debate followed two weeks later in UCD where we were able to show what we learnt from the workshop and were able to use these tips in our debates. The topic for our next debate is ‘Why there should be a sugar tax’. It has been a good experience so far and I look forward to using these skills in the future.

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Junior Certificate & JCSA Results 2017

Congratulations to all our pupils who received their Junior Certificate results on Wednesday. The overall results were excellent, including a set of straight A’s from one of our pupils. In all, 84% of all examination papers were taken at Higher Level with just under 20% of all exam results an A at Higher Level. 50% of all grades were either an A or B at Higher Level with a total of 72% of all papers sat achieving an A, B or C at Higher Level – tremendous results.

This was also the first year the JCSA (the successor to the Junior Certificate) was examined, albeit only in one subject so far, English. The grading is completely different to the Junior Certificate, and so cannot be compared. 88% of our candidates took the exam at Higher Level, and 89% of them achieved one of the three highest grades, ‘Distinction’, ‘Higher Merit’ and ‘Merit’. They also undertook (as all pupils will eventually do) Classroom-Based Assessments (CBAs) in oral presentations and a writing portfolio, and the results of these will be presented on the Student Profile of Achievement. Other subjects, starting here with Science and Irish, are now moving onto this system, with the dual-system ending by 2022.

The pupils celebrated their success with a full class trip to Causey Farm in Co. Meath, where they got to trudge through the mud, milk cows, bake traditional Irish soda bread, had a céilí (an Irish dancing session) and much more.

See some photos from the trip below.

Leaving Certificate Results 2017

Congratulations to our candidates who received their Leaving Certificate results yesterday. They achieved an average points score of 444 per candidate across all subjects. This year the grading system has changed completely, which makes comparisons with previous years impossible, but this is certainly a most pleasing result.

As with last year, two pupils gained the maximum 625 points. 82% of papers were taken at Higher Level, with 16% of all papers at all levels being H1s, and half of all papers at all levels being H1, H2 or H3.

Well done to all, and of course to their teachers too. We wish our leavers the very best in their third level applications and in the years ahead.

CanSat Team Win Silver in Bremen

Congratulations to the St. Columba’s College CANSAT team who took home second place at the European finals in Bremen in July. After winning gold in the Irish finals back in May, the team travelled to Germany full of confidence, despite this being St. Columba’s first time entering the competition. It soon became clear that the competition was fierce, with the Transition Year pupils from St. Columba’s easily the youngest competitors. That did not deter them, however, and despite a parachute failure on their launch they took home the silver medal. Congratulations to all the team and their teacher Ms Hennessey. They did the College proud.

To find out more about their excellent work, throughout the year, watch this video here or visit their website to check on their work here.  They have also created a YouTube channel with a number of videos giving an overview of the project. The more likes on the videos the better!

Transition Year English Evening

On Tuesday last we held the 24th annual TY English Evening in the Big Schoolroom. The guest speaker this time was Professor Colin Graham, Head of the English Department at Maynooth University.

Eight pieces from the recent Work Portfolio were read out by their writers: Ross Magill (his first Primary school); David White (the nature of ‘failure’); Lucy Maher (‘A Picky Eater’); Toby Green (Blanche Dubois’s diary); Anna Bofferding (Donald Trump and World War III); Andre Stokes (a poem called ‘Young Musician’); Casper v d Schuelenberg (‘The Oldest Person I Know’ – the Holocaust survivor Marko Feingold); William Zitzmann (‘Thought Bubbles’, assisted by Grace Goulding).

Professor Graham commented with great attentiveness and sympathy on these pieces, saying how much he was impressed by the writing on display. Each piece had made him think of another writer. He stressed the vital importance of a multiplicity of voices in today’s world, and how important it was that young people lead this way (in many ways his own generation has failed them).  He quoted from Sam Riviere’s controversial book of poems Kim Kardashian’s Wedding.

Finally, the Premier Awards were announced after this year’s course: Ross Magill, Helen Crampton, Harry Oke-Osanyintolu, Catherine Butt, Caspar von der Schülenburg, Julius Reblin, JiWoo Park, William Zitzmann, Toby Green, Isabelle Townshend, Sophia von Wedel, Nicole Birlain Zeigler.

 

TY prize presentation evening

The final presentation evening of the TY year was held last night in the BSR. Mr McCarthy gave a review of the year and commended all on their positive attitude and considerable achievements. All told it was an extremely productive and enjoyable year.

TY Subject Prize Winners

Geography and Business

Julius Reblin

Chemistry and Religion

Harry Oke

Spanish

Claire Schuijt

Physics

William Zitzmann

GCSE P.E.

Teresa Clemente

Music

Sophie von Wedel

Biology and Economics

Caspar von der Schulenburg

French, Maths and Latin

James Park

Building

Hanna Guelich

Art

Jeanne Levesque

History, English, Irish and Classical Studies

Catherine Butt

 

Columban Award Scheme

Winner: Catherine Butt

Spirit of Transition Year

Winners: Grace Goulding and Isabelle Townshend

TY Modern Languages evening

The sixth annual Transition Year Evening for Modern Languages was held on Tuesday evening in the BSR. Twelve pupils gave presentations in French and Spanish on subjects including La moda española, Le terrorisme en France, Le pain au chocolat, Le Gard, Angers, La Suisse romande, Le Mont Saint-Michel and l’Art Nouveau. There were also readings of poems in German, Japanese, Luxembourgish, Korean, Catalan, Russian, Yoruba and Irish. The night was capped off with an entertaining video from Mr Morris’s French set about life at St Columba’s.

Prizes were awarded as follows:
1st place: David White for Mon séjour en Normandie (winner of the Dr Alyn Stacey Cup)
We are extremely grateful to Dr Alyn Stacey and her team from TCD who adjudicated and provided such valuable feedback. The judges were extremely impressed by the depth of research and quality of language of all the presentations.

Victorious Cansat Team Prepare for Europe

The St. Columba’s College CanSat Crew, ably led by Ms. Hennessy, recently won the national final and will represent Ireland in the European final in Bremen, Germany, next June. The team update us on their preparations for the European final here. 

 CanSat is a simulation of a real satellite, integrated within the volume and shape of a soft drink can. The challenge for us was to fit all the major subsystems found in a satellite, such as power, sensors and a communication system, into this minimal volume. During the national competition our can was launched to an altitude of 400m by a rocket and our mission began –  to collect scientific data and achieve a safe landing.

This project has given us a unique opportunity to gain practical experience of a real space project. We designing the CanSat, selecting its missions, integrating the components, tested and calibrated our senors,  prepared for launch and then analysed the data. We them had to present our findings to the judges who were extremely impressed with our knowledge, application and most of all team work.

Following our success in the national competition we are now busy preparing for the European competition. ESA recently announced this year location and the team of 8 (William Zitzmann, Jiwoo Park, Caroline Meincke, Leonard Lopez, Harry Oke, Teresa Clemente, Ted Johnson and Blas Calatayud) will be travelling to the Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM), at the University of Bremen, Germany. The competition campaign will take place from 28 June until 2 July 2017 where we will be competing against 16 other teams from around Europe including – Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Romania, the Netherlands, Spain, Hungary, Switzerland and the UK.

While we wait for our new sensors and GPS module to arrive we are carrying out additional research and working hard on our Pre-Launch Report (PLR) which must be submitted to ESA in early June.

The European CanSat competition is only one of ESA’s initiatives to help young people increase their literacy and competence in STEM disciplines and inspire them to pursue a career in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. We are delighted to have made it this far and looking forward to representing Ireland in June.

CanSat Team

Form Prizes 2016-17

 FORM PRIZES 2016-17 (these are based on the results of College examinations so far this year).

Congratulations to:-

  • SIXTH FORM: Douglas Boyd Crotty, Ciara Gumsheimer, Juliane Hastedt, Courtney McKee, Rafael Mendes.
  • FIFTH FORM: Sasha Cole, Richard Gao, Friedrich Hastedt, Nyla Jamieson, Nathalie Verwijs.
  • FOURTH FORM: Catherine Butt, Harry Oke-Osanyintolu, Ji Woo Park, Julius Reblin, Casper von der Schulenburg.
  • THIRD FORM: Sam Lawrence, Eliza Somerville, Tania Stokes.
  • SECOND FORM: Diego Casasus Benitez, Éile Ní Chianáin, Aurora Higgins Jennings, Charlotte Moffitt.
  • FIRST FORM: Tom Casey, Emma Hinde, Caleb Swanepoel.
  • PRIMARY: Carl Krenski, Kaley Song.

 

Transition Year Academic Prize 2017

Congratulations to Catherine Butt, from Hollypark House, on winning the Transition Year Academic Prize last night. Catherine fought off stiff competition from four of her peers from Form IV, presenting her recent research on theories of personality psychology. As well as displaying a clear understanding of the topic, Catherine demonstrated her ability to apply her knowledge to various scenarios. She also dealt with the clever questions from the judge, Mr. Alan Cox of Templecarrig School in Greystones, and from the audience. It was a close decision with only 5 marks separated the five speakers in the scoring in the end.  Many thanks to the other speakers on the night too – Toby Green (Ireland’s mother & baby homes), James Park (artificial intelligence), Julius Reblin (autonomous cars & cashless society) and Grace Goulding (human trafficking). A final thank you to Mr. Cox for taking the time to attend and for providing excellent feedback to all the speakers.