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.

 

Many congratulations to Ms Hennessy and her team of fourth formers on winning the regional CanSat competition in DIT Kevin St. yesterday. Those involved were James Park, William Zitzmann, Leonard Lopez ,Caroline Meincke, Harry Oke, Ted Johnson, Grigory Kryukov, Blas Calatayud, Teresa Clemente, Sinclair Jones , Alex Sigurvinsson, Jaime Segui, Marie Bleyl and Santiago Puelles. They have been working very hard over the past few months in preparation for the day.

Cansat in Europe is an initiative run by the European Space Agency (ESA). It is run across schools in Ireland and Europe and is aimed at second level pupils interested in space technology. Cansat is a simulation of a satellite, recording information integrated into a 330ml soft drinks can. The main challenge is to fit all the necessary electronic components – power system, sensors and radio communications needed in the can to record information and survive the conditions of a launch. The Cansat is then launched to an altitude of a few hundred metres by a rocket or dropped from a quadcopter, kite or balloon and its mission begins: to carry out a scientific experiment and land safely.

Their efforts were rewarded by winning the regional final and earning a place in the national finals which will be held in Cork on April 27th -28th .

 

Part of the project work involves education and outreach. To facilitate this the team have created a Website, blog, Facebook page and Twitter account (which was used on the day to chart progress in the competition).

You can follow their progress http://scc-cansat2017.weebly.com

Many congratulations to Ciara Gumsheimer who has been offered a place to read Economics at Downing College, Cambridge. Ciara sat an entrance exam and attended two interviews, before being accepted for one of the most competitive courses at Cambridge University.

Ciara Murray reviews last Saturday’s debating final.

Saturday nights riveting Senior House Debating final ended in victory for Gwynn’s Douglas Boyd-Crotty, Henry Carroll and Ivan Moffit. Hollypark is delighted to have made it to the final and, despite being understandably disappointed with our loss, recognise that Gwynn was deserving of their win. Unlike last year’s house singing competition, we are not claiming to have been “robbed”.

Douglas’ engaging, humorous and powerful speech earned him best speaker. His teammates Henry and Ivan gave similar deliveries, ruthless in their evaluation of Obama’s presidency and bold in their statements, such as that he was the ‘worst ever American president’. While this may be true, it’s no secret that Dr Banister has a soft spot for Russia, making it likely that Gwynn’s references to the improvement in American/Russian relations may have won them a few extra points?

The Hollypark team were equally as strong in their performance, questioning the reliability of Gwynn’s sources and quick to retort to points of order. As mentioned by the Hollypark team of Ciara Gumsheimer, Courtney McKee and Ciara Dempsey, unlike Obama, Trump has the advantage of becoming president during a period of economic growth. Being an American and a loyal supporter of Barack Obama, Courtney was particularly passionate in her opposition to the motion that ‘Donald Trump will introduce better policies than Barack Obama did’.

There was a clear divide in the audience, with evident loyalty from the girls and boys houses. Points of order were heated and when questions were taken from the floor junior pupils were keen to participate; there were even a few questions strategically planted in the audience! As Hollypark’s team was composed solely of sixth years, we would encourage younger students to take part in debating next year as it is a really enjoyable and beneficial experience. Mr Brett was critical of those who read directly from their scripts, pointing out that it is essential for debaters to engage with the audience; bear this in mind future debaters!

Monday, 5th December, Ms Duggan’s Transition Year History students took part in a project where we learned about an emblematic battle of the 1916 Rising, the Battle of Mount Street Bridge (http://mountstreet1916.ie), partially through using an augmented reality app.

The project is a collaboration between researchers at Maynooth University and Trinity College, the Humanities Virtual World Consortium  and the Andrew Mellon Foundation. The project team and collaborators include military historians, ballistic experts, architects, digital humanists, developers, and virtual heritage specialists, who have been investigating the site of the battle, to test both ‘canonical’ accounts of the engagement and new, rival hypotheses. The aim is for students to use the app that has been specifically developed to interrogate canonical accounts of the battle and test competing hypotheses.

Catherine Butt writes: We went to the Lower Argyle straight after Chapel. We were given an introductory talk by Professor Susan Schriebamnn and Dr Costas Papadapoulos. After they explained how the app worked we assembled into four groups, each of which were given an envelope (and a tablet with the app on it), with information on certain aspects of the battle. For example, my group was learning about the men that were fighting against the Irish rebels in the 1916 Easter Rising, the Sherwood Foresters.

We logged on, opened our envelopes and set to work. First, we had to scan a picture to find out what we were doing. Then, after watching the video, we had to use the sources given to us by the app to fill out a fact file on the type of men who took part in the battle. We then watched a video about how the men were recruited. Next we used primary sources given to us in the envelopes to find more facts about the men. In the envelope we were also given questions we had to answer and presenters cards. After we had finished finding out all the information, it was time for the groups to present their findings. There was a map at the top of the lower argyle and this aided us in our presentation. I liked this as it was nice to have a visual aid to help us to really see what happened. I really enjoyed this activity as I really love learning about Irish history. I love learning about my country and how far it has come in the last century. I also loved using mixed media to learn, it helped me to remember most of the information I encountered. I very much enjoyed being part of the development of this app and look forward to working with the team again.

Yesterday Tania Stokes from Third Form was presented with her third prize in the Junior section of the annual national Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. Her poem, Metaphorest, is below. Pictured, Tania and the other winners with the poet and adjudicator Noel Monaghan.

Many congratulations!

‘Metaphorest’ by Tania Stokes

The springtime garden was in bloom,
Pansies and cosmos, tulips and roses,
Ivy clambering up the trellis.
Purples, pinks and whites and yellows
Surrounded me, as I sat on the deck.
The sunlight filtered through the eucalyptus
And I used to go to far-off places;
I could sometimes hear the sea.

One day, you floated here on the breeze,
Planting yourself into my life.
The garden was never quite the same
Once you began to spread,
Your brambles tangling, choking the competition.
Shadows fell over the house,
As you rose up to dominate it all,
Holding me in your thorny grasp.

You had taken over completely.

The wind changed, come Autumn
When you blossomed into something richer.
You finally brought forth your sweetness,
As ripe blackberries sprung up everywhere.
Each one was a memory full of flavour,
And as we shared them, I knew
That you had taken root in my heart.

Every year around this time in September the European Day of Languages is celebrated. It is an ideal occasion to raise the awareness of modern languages and the department has organised many different activities for all age groups. There are treasure hunts and quizzes, bake-offs and songs, menus and videos all highlighting the wide cultural variety contained in languages. Douglas Boyd Crotty won the sixth form quiz, Ms Smith’s TY group won the fourth form prize and Edna Johnston won the first form treasure hunt.

Congratulations to our Transition Year pupils who received their Junior Certificate results last week. We had 42 candidates who sat 335 papers. 87% of all papers were taken at higher level.

The breakdown of grades is as follows:

Grade A (Higher) 22%

Grade A or B (Higher) 53%

Grade A B or C (Higher) 81%

On average  our pupils achieved an impressive double the percentage of Higher Level A grades as the National average.

The afternoon and evening of the results were spent as Causey Farm. The activities – bread-making, bog-jumping and céilí dancing- were hugely enjoyed by all.

The Guidance Counsellor, Mr Humphrey Jones, has been busy collating information on the destinations and future plans of our most recent Form VI leavers. After their record breaking Leaving Certificate points average of 473 – most likely amongst the top results in the country – the vast majority of the sixty one strong cohort are taking up university places in Ireland, the UK, Europe, the US and across the world.

As per usual, a large proportion of our pupils have decided to take time away from formal education, with 24% of them choosing to go on a structured gap year. A considerable amount of time has been spent planning their year travelling and volunteering, with a wide range of destinations on view – from Africa, Asia, Europe, the US, Australia & New Zealand. The vast majority have included some volunteering work amongst their plans while others plan on learning a new language. Many have deferred courses until next September while others will reapply in 2017 with their excellent results. Interestingly, last year 30% of our leavers went on structured gap years and all, bar one, have taken up university places this September – in Ireland, the UK, Europe and the US. (In total, 94% of our 2015 leavers are currently in third level education, not the 34% recently publish in the Sunday Times league tables. Unfortunately, these “league tables” don’t include UK, European or US universities in their deeply flawed statistics – popular and shrewd choices for Columbans.)

Of this year’s leavers, 20% will take up university places in Ireland. Trinity College Dublin remains the most popular university in Ireland but we will have pupils at UCD, UCC, NUI Galway, DCU, DIT and elsewhere in 2016. 31% of our pupils have chosen a UK university to study in this year, an increase on last year, with many pupils obtaining places in some of the best universities in the UK (e.g. Imperial College London, University College London, University of Bristol & Loughborough). Again we see an increase in the number of pupils applying and obtaining places in European universities – 15%. The Netherlands continues to prove a popular destination for our leavers with six pupils taking up positions there, including three at the University of Maastricht. Many Dutch universities are ranked higher than Irish universities and offer flexible yet challenging degree programmes through English. Interestingly, three of the six pupils travelling to the Netherlands are Irish. There are also former pupils going to Spanish, Swiss and German universities in 2016. Three of our most recent leavers (5%) begin university courses in the US, including one at the University of Michigan. Another former pupil, from the 2015 cohort, also begins a course in a US university. Another of our leavers begins an engineering degree at the University of Hong Kong. The remaining 2% are beginning structured apprenticeship programmes in Germany and will look to apply to university in 2017 or 2018.

We are immensely proud of the achievements of our 2016 leavers and we know they have bright futures ahead of them. They have chosen destinations, at university or otherwise, that will provide significant challenges but equally significant rewards. Many have taken the difficult decision to expand their horizons and travel outside of Ireland to pursue their third level education. While this might mean their successes are misrepresented on the “league tables”, they have chosen excellent degree programmes in some of the best and best renowned universities in the UK, Europe and further afield. Those who have chosen to spend some time travelling, volunteering and experiencing different cultures will enter third level next year as more rounded and mature learners, ready for the challenges that face them. We wish them well and expect to see them back in the College in the coming years or at Old Columban Society events.

Many congratulations to our Leaving Certificate candidates, who this morning received their results, achieving a new College record of an average of 473 points (one more than last year’s record). Two pupils received the maximum 625 points.

Our annual summary of the past five years’ results is here.

These results results are outstanding.  The average points score per candidate across all papers taken at all levels is a most impressive 473 points.  This beats the previous record of 472 set last year.  Overall, only two subject papers – out of 448 – failed to be awarded a pass grade and this is a remarkable achievement.  It is also worth noting that 44% of all candidates achieved 500+ points, with 77% achieving 400+ points and 95% achieving 300+ points.  The range of scores achieved by our candidates this year was from 140 points up to the maximum of 625 points.

Very well done to all, and of course to their teachers. We wish our leavers the very best in their future academic and professional careers.