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On Saturday last the annual Sports Day took place. The College was awash with colour and, thankfully, sunshine as the boys and girls competed in a range of events from traditional track and field to tug of war (and everything in between). In the end, it was the Blue Team that triumphed!

That evening our annual Sports Dinner took place in the Dining Hall, celebrating the sporting achievements of individual pupils and their collective teams. The assembled pupils, staff and coaches were treated to an extraordinary speech from our guest Old Columban Alex Panayotou; Alex is an ultra-endurance athlete whose story is awe-inspiring.

College ‘Colours’ are awarded to those who are deemed exceptional in every way in their sport: ability, attitude, commitment on and off the playing field, consistency, reliability, character and courage. This year ‘Colours’ were awarded to Avouka Assebian (Athletics), Georg Mueller-Methling (Hockey) and Orla Conlon Batey, Helen Crampton, Anna Laurenceau and Valeria McQuillen (all Hockey). Congratulations to them.

The following were appointment captains of their respective sports for the next academic year:

  • Athletics (Boys) – Leo Moreau
  • Athletics (Girls) – Avouka Assebian
  • Basketball (Boys) – Pedro Grimalt
  • Basketball (Girls) – Calina Sacolax
  • Cricket (Boys) – Daniel Swift (Vice Capt Thaddy McKeever)
  • Cricket (Girls) – Eile ni Chianain
  • Cross Country – Shannon Dent
  • Hockey (Boys) – Alexis Haarman
  • Hockey (Girls) – Sophia Cole (Vice Capt Megan Bulbulia)
  • Rugby – Thaddy McKeever (Vice Philip Shekeleton)

Below is a collection of photos from the day’s activities, courtesy of Rev Owen.

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.

Shannon Dent reports on the final round of the senior debate, which took place last week.

The idea of completely getting rid of religion over time seems like an impossible task with a lot of issues at hand. It is a very difficult motion to lean to one particular side. There are pros and cons to each, and listening to this debate was a very intriguing experience and well done to all of those to took part in it.

The debate was between our two finalists, Glen and Hollypark. Glen supported the motion while Hollypark debated against it. William Zitzmann was the very first speaker. He talked about the general issues that have been caused by religion. He didn’t just mention events of the past but also mentioned acts of violence because of religion today! He even played with the thought that Jesus was actually anti religion. William gave a introduction to what Glen believed the motion meant. Their main idea concentrated on how religion and faith are two very different things. The first speaker from Hollypark was next and that was Georgia Keegan Wignall. Georgia gave a very articulate speech about how religion was part of human rights, and how we should be able to decide to follow religion or not. She talked about how religion actually brings people together and helps people deal with the very scary concept of death. Georgia, just like William, gave us the main idea for Hollyparks argument.

Ji Woo Park was next as the second speaker for Glen. He gave eloquent and understandable argument that definitely drew everyone in. He further explained the main argument for Glen; religion and faith are two different things and he gave us some differences between the two. Ji Woo even quoted the Bible and showed us how there are many examples of immoral ideas, such as misogyny. He said that people can be faithful and not have to follow all the rules of religion. He also went on to talk about the vast differences of the world back then and the world now. The second speaker for Hollypark was Catherine Butt. She opened up her speech by asking the audience to imagine what life would be like without religion. She even acknowledged the problems religion has caused but how they didn’t necessarily have to be linked back to religion as these people are extremists. Another very valid point that Catherine brought us was the one of charities and how most of them have been built up by religion. She said “Religion teaches the art of giving and this is not just christianity”.

In Glen’s closing argument, given by Harry Oke, they wrapped up and reiterated some of Glen’s strongest points. He brought the debate back to him and showed us a personal view on it all. He talked about faith and religion once again and he even related back to Catherine’s point of charities and he said that charities would continue as they are built by faith, not just religion and the church. He finished off by saying “A person can be good without religion them to be”. Then Alexandra Murray Donaldson wrapped up by talking about how some people need religion to have a good life. It is comforting and a tradition. She also said that people cannot be restricted from religion, they should be able to follow religion if that’s what they want. She finished off by saying “Religion is part of a person’s family and soul. How would it even be possible to get rid of it”.

In conclusion, the debate was summarized by Mr. McCarthy, one of the judges. He announced the winners, Glen, and the best speaker, Ji Woo Park. He gave a bit of his opinion on the verdict as well as some comments to all the speakers. Thank you to our judges (Mr McCarthy, Ms Morley and Mr Brett), the audience members and to all of those who took part. Finally a big thank you to Ms Duggan for co-ordinating the debate throughout the year.

Tadhg Rane O Cianain reports on last weekend’s Junior Debate final.

To be serious about climate change one needs to give up meat. This was the motion of the final of the Junior Debate this year, held in the BSR last Saturday night . On the proposing side, there was Calvin She, Form I, who started his team off with a good speech showing that his work was well researched, giving many statistics and facts. Next from the proposing Emma Hinde, Form III, delivered her speech with a nifty use of pie charts to back up her argument while also putting the opposition on the spot with a couple good point of orders. Form III pupil Caroline Hagar projected her speech across the hall with great ease and confidence giving many good examples backing the already well-delivered speech, she also contributed strong replies on a couple tricky queries from the audience. Last but not least Alex Hinde from Form II rounded up his teams work, which is a hard job, but Alex managed with ease much like his sister. On the opposing team, Donald Thompson, Form III, started his team off with many good points about eating habits affecting climate change and how we can help climate change by buying from local organic farmers instead of big companies. Ben Patterson then delivered his verdict giving good examples on the argument and altogether laying down a good case. Next Christopher Atkins, another Form I pupil, gave his speech with ease bringing many interesting points onto the floor having experience from previous debates. Finally, for the opposing team, Daniel Murray, also Form I, who throughout the debate had viciously questioned the opposition backing them into a corner where they struggled to answer, attacked and dismantled the opposition’s argument with ease and with a great choice of words. In the end the proposing team reigned victorious through confident well delivered speaking and great choice of evidence. The best speaker was awarded to both Daniel Murray and Caroline Hagar, who both performed amazingly. All in all it was a great intense debate with a great topic and I am counting down the days until the next one.

Amy Cosgrove, Form V, reports on her experience of the recent trip to South Africa.

On October 26th, eighteen Form IV and V pupils started on a 28 hour journey from the door of St Columba’s College, Dublin to the door of Tiger Kloof, in the north of South Africa. And while, after 28 hours, it seemed like it wasn’t going to be worth it, little did we know the extraordinary trip that lay ahead of us.

We had been travelling in a combie (minibus) with no air conditioning for nearly 6 hours and had not yet reached Tiger Kloof when our first ‘experience’ of South Africa took place. Windows down, wind in our hair, Katherine watching Riverdale, living the dream really. When all of a sudden a man reached in through the window, grabbed the phone out of Katherine’s hand and made a run for it. And that was when we realised we were in South Africa.

On Sunday we had a tour of the school and attended a church service which was definitely nothing like Sunday Morning chapel. It was lively and their hymns were much better than our Jubilate. We got to see the hostels (dorms) and the girls danced and sang spontaneously all in perfect rhythm and harmony. It’s safe to say, we are not as musical as we thought. We quickly learned how kind and energetic the Tigers are.

On Monday we got the privilege to work alongside an inspiring woman named Maggie, who has been running a soup kitchen for 40 years now. While preparing the food and playing with the kids was all fun and games, going into the township itself to serve the food was something else entirely. It was striking to see how they lived in what were basically tin cans. This was the first of the striking moments that were to come. The drive back from Maggie’s was what shocked me the most. On the left of the road was a township and on the right of the road were houses. Houses just the same as you would see in Dublin. That was the talk of the combie for the drive back, nobody could get their head around why there was such a contrast with only a road separating it.

On Tuesday we visited Thusanang Disabled Centre in the township of Huhudi, which was definitely what pushed everybody out of their comfort zones. The ages ranged from 5-50 years and you could immediately see how underfunded it was. When you did the math on the grants they receive, it equated to less than €1 a day. It was truly heartbreaking to see these mentally / physically disabled people not get the treatments they need, some of whom didn’t need to be there. It was just the best option in a bad situation.

Working in The Hem soup kitchen, which is ran by Tiger Kloof, really opened our eyes and mind to the world that we don’t experience. Watching these children smiling and running to get their food not only warmed our hearts but showed us how we take things for granted and that we are so fortunate to have 3 meals on our table every day.

Later on we visited a lion farm and it was truly mesmerizing to be able to get so close to these beautiful animals with just a fence between us. Having lions in a farm was in fact safer for them, to keep them from poachers, but unfortunately this fence that was between us meant they had been bred in captivity. We also visited another farm in Vryburg where we got to gallop around at sunset in South Africa, living the dream once again. But where the sun shines, there’s always a shadow. The family who owned the farm were lovely, welcoming people but after asking a few questions we got answers that we wouldn’t usually hear. They had different views and mindsets to all of us and it helped us understand why there is such a contrast on either side of the road sometimes. The aftermath of apartheid is still very much visible in the South Africa today.

Our trip to Tiger Kloof was an extraordinary, mind blowing and a once in a lifetime experience. To be able to work in the soup kitchens and go into the townships had a massive impact on our views and education. It was a privilege to meet such inspiring people and the Tigers and Maggie are only naming a few. It was a trip that won’t be forgotten by any of us.

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.

Well done again to our Sailing Team who competed at last weekend’s All Ireland Schools Sailing Event in Sutton. Alas, neither crew finished among the medals but they competed valiantly. After a successful first day, bad luck followed them on the second. One of the boats, crewed by brother Denis and Max Cully, capsized while the other boat, with Katherine Kelly & Jack O’Hora onboard, broke a mast when colliding with one of the safety boats. These unfortunate series of events scuppered their chances but they still managed to finish a respectable 13th out of 18 schools competing.

The College’s top sailor, Transition Year pupil Tim Norwood, unfortunately didn’t compete at the schools event this year as he was attending the Irish Sailing Association’s Helmsman’s Championship in Dun Laoghaire. Tim has had an extremely successful summer of sailing, winning at the RS Feva Eastern Championships in May and the RS Feva Inland Championships in July and, most recently, the RS Feva Southern Championships in Baltimore. He finished third at the RS Feva National Championships and fourth at the European RS Feva Championships, sailing the only Irish boat at the UK hosted event. He is currently ranked the number one RS Feva sailor in Ireland – a fantastic achievement.

Sailing is becoming an increasingly popular sport amongst our pupils and hopefully we will see further success for our pupils in the coming years – watch this space!

Tom Norwood, on the right, competing for Ireland earlier this summer.

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.