(Please note that this event has been switched to the Big Schoolroom at 10.30am on Thursday 25th, since Sixth, Fifth and Fourth Formers will also be attending).

The Parents’ Association is delighted to announce that we have arranged an informative presentation for our parents which will take place next Thursday, 25 January 2018 at 10.30am in the Big Schoolroom. Our guest speaker will be Professor Donal O’Shea, HSE Clinical Lead for Obesity.

Professor O’Shea is a consultant endocrinologist and physician based in St. Vincent’s University Hospital and St. Columcille’s Hospital. Qualified from University College Dublin in 1989, he moved to Hammersmith Hospital in London and was awarded a Wellcome Trust Training Fellowship to study how the brain controls appetite. Since 1999, he has been the lead clinician for a hospital-based multi-disciplinary obesity service that includes bariatric surgery.  In recent years he chaired the health impact assessment group on the potential benefits and harms of a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks and co-chairs the Royal College of Physicians Policy Group on Obesity. He is a regular commentator on the importance of preventing overweight and obesity, advocating for changes in how nutrient poor, energy dense food is promoted and marketed to children and young people as well as the need to re-engineer regular physical activity into everyday life.

As Clinical Lead for Obesity, Professor O’Shea works with the HSE Healthy Eating Active Living Policy Programme. A key focus of the role is the development and integration of evidence based models of care that strengthen prevention, early intervention, treatment for overweight and obesity across primary care and acute services for both children and adults.

The talk will be followed by a Question and Answer session and then our regular Coffee Morning will take place in the Lower Argyle, giving parents the opportunity to chat and catch up before collecting their children for the Exodus weekend.

We are very pleased to have been able to secure Professor O’Shea as a speaker and really hope to see a good crowd there to listen to what he has to say. We are confident it will be an extremely informative event.

Janine Jamieson, Chairperson of the Parents’ Association.

This year’s Staff and Pupils’ concert on the evening of Sunday 21st January featured slightly fewer performers than previously, thanks to the ‘bug’ which had depleted numbers in the school. But it was a real tonic for the spirits, with ten performances of high-quality musicianship. Mrs Malone-Brady in her introduction pointed out that duets featured strongly this year, and that playing with someone else was a great way to learn, while having fun in the process.

However, solos started and ended the concert. The first was from Sixth Former Hector Wright, who sang the perennial South Pacific favourite “Some Enchanted Evening”, followed by singing teacher Edel Shannon’s version of “Till there was you” from The Music Man. Her confidence and expressiveness were a good example of the value of pupils learning from their teachers how to perform for an audience. Two pupils followed: Charlotte Klingmann (IV) played Danzi’s Variations on Mozart’s “La ci darem la mano” with lovely consistency of tone, and Aurora Higgins Jennings (III) accompanied herself singing ‘Wishing You Were Here” from The Phantom of the Opera with a great sense of mood.

Then the duets took over, starting with Edel Shannon and another singing teacher, Anna Brady, who delivered the popular “Flower Duet” by Delibes with aplomb. The Transition Year group had been hit by illness, but Alan Grundy on the guitar accompanied Charlotte Klingmann, Josepha Westphalen and Sakhile Khumalo (with a particularly pleasing light voice leading the line) for “Horse with No Name”. Mrs Malone-Brady then explained piano duets, and with Anna Brady gave familial performances of Schubert’s “Serenade” and a Hungarian dance by Brahms. The final duets featured Alan Grundy (by far our longest-serving music teacher) with Ann Murnaghan in a guitar/’cello combination, including a ‘world premiere’ performance of Alan’s own lively piece named after a Homer Simpson quotation: “This is not my fault. It was like that when I got here”.

The finale was provided by Anna Brady, with an hilarious performance of Adelaide’s aria from Jonathan Dove’s 2006 opera The Enchanted Pig (“I want shine! I want bling!”) – an excellent way to polish off another highly enjoyable concert.

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).

This week in the College pupils and staff are participating in our annual Bullying Awareness Week with this year’s theme being “All Different, All Equal“. The series of events celebrating our differences kicked off on Wednesday morning with an assembly led by the pupils. Some staff shared why they are different – Mr. Finn revealing that he cannot burp and Ms Maybury finally admitting in public that she cannot drink tea from a cup without a white centre!

Other events planned over the next week include:

  • A library display of books on bullying and diversity (shown above)
  • A poetry competition is being held (winners are now published on our English Department website)
  • There are a series of talks for all pupils – from Mark Robinson (TCD) & Monica Rowe (ISPCC)
  • There are a series of short films with discussion around the topic of bullying
  • An art project.
  • A special SPHE programme.
  • A special chapel programme.
  • A music concert from Simon James (postponed due to the recent storm).

Stayed tuned to Twitter, Facebook and the news page for updates on our Bullying Awareness Week events.

A large crowd of 120 people gathered at the College Chapel yesterday evening for a guided tour of the College – our contribution to the nationwide series of events to mark Culture Night 2017. On a beautiful, crisp autumn evening our Sub-Warden, Julian Girdham, led an extremely interesting tour of the campus’s many beautiful and architecturally significant buildings. The tour began at the William Butterfield designed College Chapel, where Julian outlined when, where and why the College took residence at its current site. The tour then moved onto Chapel Square (to admire the view) then to the Big School Room (or BSR) where Julian spoke of the fire than nearly destroyed the College (but for “an act of God”) in the late 19th century. The tour then moved through the main thoroughfare of the College, passing the library (designed by John Somerville-Large), towards the modernist Robin Walker-designed Science Building. This building was refurbished only last year and the visitors were extremely impressed with the bright, modern and unique laboratories. The tour then moved back to the main College building, Hollypark House – a Georgian building dating from the late 18th century – where the tour concluded to generous applause for the guide.

It was a wonderful evening and we were delighted to welcome so many guests, most of whom were visiting the College for the first time. Some of these first time visitors had extremely interesting links to the College’s history while one couple were visiting from Mexico. Many thanks to all who contributed to a wonderful evening and especially to the organiser and tour guide Mr. Julian Girdham.

Below are some photos from the event from our Flickr page.

We are holding our annual major Open Day this year on Saturday 30th September, from 10am to 1pm. All prospective pupils and their parents are welcome to attend without further invitation: just drive into the College and you will be looked after. Senior pupils will take tours around the campus, and you will be able to see our major facilities, including the Chapel, Dining Hall, Big Schoolroom, Library, Science Block and much more.

Staff and current parents will be available to answer queries in the reception area (the Lower Argyle).

If you have any questions about our Open Day, please contact our Admissions Officer, Amanda Morris, by email, or by phoning 01-490 6791.

St. Columba’s College, being a seven day boarding school, organises a wide range of Saturday evening and Sunday events for their boarders (and indeed day pupils) and last weekend was no exception. On Saturday the College welcomed Old Columbans who left the College in 1997, for their 20 year reunion. It was great to see so many familiar faces back in the College. On the games field the Senior Boys Development Rugby XV took on Wesley’s equivalent, in their first game of the season. All members of the squad played during the fixture but, alas, the visiting Wesley side took the win 29-20, after two tries apiece from Max Hopkins & Hector Wright. Later that evening classical guitarist Pat Coldrick performed an excellent concert for pupils and staff in the Big School Room (BSR). It was a wonderful event, with the BSR’s excellent acoustics making Pat’s music sound wonderful.

On Sunday morning a small but dedicated group of Transition Year pupils joined Mr. O’Shaughnessy and Mr. Coldrick for an early morning walk to the Hell Fire Club – an infamous ruin at the top of Moutpelier Hill in the Dublin Mountains. Normally walkers are treated to a stunning view of Dublin City but, unfortunately, early morning fog ruined the view but did add to the eery feeling in one of Dublin’s most famous haunted houses. Later that afternoon over twenty Transition Year pupils (pictured above) joined Ms. Hennessy for the annual ‘An Taisce Clean Coasts‘ beach clean, on sunny Seapoint Strand in South Dublin. The pupils picked up and recorded the litter on the beach while enjoying the mid-day sun.

Many thanks to all the pupils and staff who contributed to a great weekend of activities. For some more photographs of the weekend’s activities visit the College’s Facebook page.

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.

Last Friday, September 8th 2017, saw the inaugural All-Ireland Senior Prefect Leadership Conference at St Columba’s. The College welcomed forty three pupils from fourteen schools across Ireland, both the north and south.  This is a first in Ireland. The response from attendees was tremendous. By the end of the day a network of senior prefects across Ireland had been set up and there were requests for a follow up conference at some point during the year. “The Unreasonables”, a group of inspirational young men and women from the UK with a passion for entrepreneurial leadership, facilitated the day.

We were also joined by Rosy Temple, an Old Columban and former St. Columba’s College Senior Prefect (now Irish Sales Manager for Rebel Kitchen) challenged the attendees to be their own person and to step outside of the box. Pupils were encouraged in their understanding of themselves and what holds them back, in personal branding – how the world views you as opposed to how you want to be viewed – and in public speaking – all essential skills for quality in leadership. We look forward to the year ahead and all that these empowered young people have to offer in their schools.

On Thursday 1st June in the Big Schoolroom, Old Columban Alex Panayotou will talk to all V, IV, II, I and Primary (those in exam Forms are welcome too).

A motivational speaker based in Spain and Greece, with an extraordinary story in extreme-long-distance running, Alex’s talk will be called “Dare to Dream – Dare to be You”.

Alex will based her talk on some of her own experiences, and focus on personal excellence, self-esteem, knowing yourself, accepting yourself, finding your passion and path, trusting yourself, empathy and team spirit, and emotional intelligence.

Alex left the College thirty years ago (she is in Dublin for her thirty-year reunion at the weekend, a close bond that has persisted over the decades), and has kept in close touch since. She knows the importance of  being part of such a community, and the fact that this is not the norm in most schools. The synergies and relationships that are created here are truly unique, and can help us all moving forward in our lives.

Alex also contributed a testimonial to our new prospectus:

“”St. Columba’s helped shape me into who I am today – my inner strength, my passion for sports, adventure, the arts, learning, and interpersonal relationships were nurtured through the unique curriculum, and helped enormously in the development of my career. My home away from home: the pupils and staff were my family.”

Check out her website, including videos, here.

Yesterday 15 candidates were confirmed at the Ascension Day service in Chapel on a gloriously sunny day by the Archbishop of Dublin, Most Reverend Michael Jackson, assisted by the Chaplain, Reverend Daniel Owen. Pictured, the group after the service.

We are holding our regular summer term Open Evening on Thursday 18th May, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, and all are welcome: places may be booked by contacting the Admissions Officer, Amanda Morris via the contact form or by emailing admissions@stcolumbas.ie.

Visitors are welcome at the Main House from 6.30pm. At 7pm there will be a short presentation by staff on the school, followed by 30-minute tours conducted by Junior pupils.

There is a tremendous variety of activities on show in our annual Arts Week, which this year runs from Monday 20th to the evening of Sunday 26th. See below for a day-by-day outline.

Monday 20th March

Look Up, Look Forward, Look Out with James Shone 8.30 am (pupils) and 7.00pm (for parents and friends) with James Shone. Venues: BSR in the morning and the Drawing Room in the evening

11.45am: Dancersize, Sports Hall, 11.45 am Form IV

1.20pm: everyone and anyone, including staff.

6.30pm  French Theatre for Schools, BSR, I/II/III.

 

Tuesday 21st March

10.30am : Instituto Cervantes trip for Form IV Spanish pupils.

3pm:  Primary Schools Choral Day concert, Chapel (P, I, II).

Emily Archer workshop, Art Centre, Second Form art pupils

6.30pm  (Drinks and Dinner);  8.oopm  Lecture (VI, V art pupils). Opening of Hector McDonnell exhibition, Whitehall & Lower Argyle.

7pm,  Flamenco Dance Workshop, BSR, Fourth Form.

 

Wednesday 22nd March

8.10am, Art and Social Conscience with Hector McDonnell, Chapel

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: Second Form Actiontrack drama workshops, BSR, during class-time.

Morning: Art Workshop with Hector McDonnell for Form V and VI, Art Centre

Lunchtime:  Speaker’s Corner, Chapel Square

8pm, Guitar Recital with Shane Hennessey, Chapel

 

Thursday 23rd March

Morning: Poetry Slam with Jasper Bark (pictured) (different times for P, I/IV), Library. [CANCELLED]

Morning: Photographic Workshop with Erin Quinn, Art Centre

VI and V art pupils to exhibitions of Caravaggio at NGI and Lucien Freud at IMMA.

8pm, ‘William Trevor Remembered’, BSR, with Joseph O’Connor and Julian Girdham – talks and readings. Reception in Whitehall for visitors afterwards.

 

Friday 24th March

Morning: Poetry Slam with Jasper Bark (different times for P, I/IV), Library. [CANCELLED]

7pm, Poetry Slam Competition Final, BSR (P to IV) and performance by Jasper Bark [CANCELLED]

 

Saturday 25th March

8.15pm, Art Prizes Evening  with Mick O’ Dea, president of the Royal Hibernian Academy, BSR.

 

Sunday 26th March

8pm: Music Recitals and Music Prizes Evening, BSR, with adjudicator Margaret O’Sullivan Farrell.

Activities that will be running through the week

WE ARE UNIQUE – drop into the Science Lab and create your unique handprint for display.

Fifth and Sixth Form  art pupils will reconstruct a figurative painting of their choice from their course work which will be photographed and displayed during the week.

The most distinguished Old Columban writer, William Trevor, died in November 2016, aged 88. The College will celebrate his achievements in an event during Arts Week which is open to all-comers. We are delighted that the novelist Joseph O’Connorwho is also the Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick, will read from and comment on Trevor’s work. There will also be a short talk by the Head of the English Department and Sub-Warden Julian Girdham on William Trevor’s connections with and writings about St Columba’s.

All are welcome to attend this event, in the Big Schoolroom on Thursday 23rd March at 8pm, and to join us for a glass of wine afterwards. There is no charge for entry.

We are delighted to annouce details of St. Columba’s College’s second Mental Health Awareness Week, beginning next Monday February 13th 2017. We have a jam-packed programme of events, centred around the theme ‘Mind Your Mind’. Pupils and staff will get an opportunity to participate in a variety of activities including yoga, mindfulness, stress management workshops, sound baths (well worth a Google), movie nights (with a positive mental health message of course), a fun run and a phone free day. We also have some visiting speakers including Joseph Dixon from the Cycle Against Suicide – a fastastic chariable organisation who raise funds and awareness in the area of suicide prevention. The school will also participate in their #SchoolsGoOrange awareness day, where pupils and staff will be invited to wear orange instead of their normal school uniform.

We hope that our Mental Health Awareness Week will help everyone in the school community realise that it’s ok to not feel ok but to seek help when needed. Follow the College Twitter feed for photos and updates of the week’s events. To see the full programme of events click here.

The ‘Phil Speaks’ Debating Competition 20th /21st January

Harry Oke-Osanyintolu reports:

The Phil Speaks competition 2017 was nothing close to what we imagined; it was much better. We arrived at Trinity College, Dublin at around 9:00 am before the first round. We had to register our names and our school’s name and then came the hard part, we had to talk to other people or else we would stand out as being socially awkward individuals. This was easier for some of the members of the team because they knew some people but for me, it was harder than the debates. They announced the first topic which saved me from embarrassing myself in front of strangers which was ”  this house would abolish monarchism”. This was an unfamiliar topic to me but not for my better half, Jack Stokes who knew exactly what he was saying. There was a twist in this round because we had to go against our other team made up of Sophie Matthews and Marie-Pauline Bleyl. Both of them were capable opponents and lived up to expectation. I felt we debated this topic well by mentioning how monarchism led to patriotism and also mentioning aspects of monarchism that led to our present civilization. We mentioned the Oyo kingdom as a form of monarchism that brought music, art, architecture and other aspects of development into Nigeria and other countries in Africa.

Our opponents mentioned King Nero as a form of bad monarchism but we were able to use the fact that King Nero closed the Amphitheater for 10 years to ensure the safety of the people of Pompeii. We came second and our other team came third. This was a great first round outcome especially for our third team made up of Emily Devereux and Abraham Lozano who came out on top even though they thought they were supporting the motion while they were opposing it for the first minutes of the debate which I found outstanding.

The next round took it up a level, we were against people who were at our standard and the topic of “this house believes that  feminist icons such as Beyonce and Taylor Swift and others like them have contributed positively to the feminist movement”. The moment we saw this topic our jaws dropped and we knew we had to bring out our inner feminist to ensure our victory in supporting the motion. This was very difficult but  we used our fire and ice approach which was Jack would be calm and I would heat the place up by show of enthusiasm. We came second again but our other  teams both came fourth which was a surprise because they thought they performed  better.

As an event we were invited to, we felt it would be of a low standard but the truth is that it was far from it, We were served pizza which we all loved and also enjoyed spending time with different people who shared our love of debating. This concludes our first day.

We felt confident after our first day and our other teams were ready to rumble and our topic was that “this house believes that we should not trade with countries that have bad humanitarian records”  This was a closed debate therefore, we don’t get our results but we felt confident that our fire and ice approach worked its magic. The next round was an,other closed debate but the first  two debates on this day would dictate whether we earn a spot in the semi finals. after this round they served us nice warm crepes which were delicious and after this was the qualifying round. The topic was “this house would remove social media as a news source for younger people” We were in support of this motion but we felt we didn’t reach our fool potential but we kept our faith. We had our diner which was a burger and fries which was also great. After this was the moment we all had been waiting for, they announced the teams but when they said our college it sounded like they were saying something completely different but we did it but sadly only we made it, not our other teams. We knew that the level would be raised even higher. Our topic was that ” this house would ban politicians who don’t believe in climate change from seeking office”. We were against this and we tried our best to win it  but our best was not enough when we found out we didn’t make  the finals.

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!

Yesterday on Remembrance Sunday, the Chaplain, Rev Daniel Owen led the service broadcast from the RTE studios. The Chapel choir, directed by Mrs Malone Brady, played a major part singing Hewson’s ‘Let us now praise famous men’, Bach’s ‘Sheep may safely graze’ and Hutchings’ ‘We will remember them‘ plus several hymns. The service may be seen on RTE player here.