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The current COVID-19 restrictions have meant the Transition Year Co-ordinator and her team have had to be more imaginative in their organisation of the year’s various activities. The Transition Year at St. Columba still places a strong focus on academic work but, like many other schools, there is a greater focus on community outreach, physical exertion, building a service culture, team building and extra-curricular activities. Catering for these activities is a challenge in the current climate, but not impossible.

We were delighted that our annual TY team building event at Causey Farm was still able to go ahead, with the Causey Farm team putting strong procedures in place to protect our pupils and staff. Elys Walker wrote a detail report on this last week which can be read here. Another great team building activity was the drone video where the Transition Year pupil paid tribute to the work of health workers across Ireland and Europe. It’s been viewed over 18,000 times on our Facebook page – click here to see it.

Another whole year event was a recent hike to Fairy Castle, the peak of the nearby mountain complex. Kate Higgins writes this report:

We left at 8:30 that morning and the mist was so heavy that it was difficult to see. We were lead by Mr. O’Shaughnessy, Miss.Lynch and Mme. DeFréin and left the College through the front gate. We turned left up Kilmashogue lane and walked up the surprisingly steep hill towards Ticknock. We were then on a forest trail and the trees looked eerie in the morning light with the heavy mist. It wasn’t too cold or windy when we were walking in the forest but once we got out into  the open to walk towards Fairy Castle it was freezing. The wind was  strong and the mist was still too thick to see very far. We came back down on a slightly different route over a path of rocks. Once we got back into the forestry we were sheltered from the wind again. We then made our way back to the college after a very fun and enjoyable walk on the mountain right at our doorstep. Many thanks to those who organised it and joined us. 

We were delighted to once again welcome John Lonergan, the former Governor of Mountjoy Prison, to speak with the Transition Year pupils recently about drugs, crime and his time in the prison. The pupils enjoyed John’s gentle tone in what was a wide-ranging talk. We thank him for his time.

Nikolai Foster reports on the recent series of litter clean-ups undertaken by the Transition Year pupils, who are taking part in the Gaisce challenge series.
As part of the community involvement for Gaisce, we went litter picking. We went down the back entrance and into Marlay Park. We litter-picked along the paths as well as in the bushes, where a lot of stuff is dumped. We continued out of Marlay and went along the road, finding crisp packets and beer cans along the way.”
We are grateful to the Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council for donating litter picking equipment to the TY.

Academic work continues but there is greater freedom to explore aspects of tradition subjects. Verlaine Bolger reports on an interesting activity in her Spanish lessons recently.

Today in TY Spanish class we made “chocolate con churros”. We decided to research Spanish recipes and make this popular Spanish dessert. We split up into three groups, as we had to socially distance. One group started by melting the chocolate in the simmering cream, the second group weighed the flour, butter and mixed this with water and an egg, while the third group were taking care of heating the pans and adding the oil etc…. We ended up with the dough and then piped it into the hot oil. It quickly took shape and the final result, deliciously freshly made sugary churros!! We dipped the churros into melted chocolate and everyone really liked them. The churros were a great success, everyone participated and had a great time! This was my first time making churros and I was very proud of my efforts“.

There have also been opportunities to try new subjects this year, including our new formal lessons in Mandarin.

In summary, it’s already been a busy time for the Transition Year pupils and we have been delighted with their efforts to engage with the various activities, despite the challenging environment. Well done!

Below is a photo album of all Transition Year events which will be updated as the year progresses.

The Form IV Art set had a busy Trinity term. Alice Letort explains the work they undertook over the past 6 weeks. 

The Form IV distance learning project this term was to create a ‘Virtual Wall of Tools’. The project comprised a number of steps. We started by learning the shape of tools by doing some blind line drawings as well as positive and negative space drawing. Then we studied Jim Dine, and his tool drawings before moving to the experimental printing section of the project. Jim Dine is an American Pop Artist. We were able to take inspiration from his black and white tool drawings. We all had great fun composing and printing the tools with shoe polish, paint, and any other material we could find at home!  Next, we started focusing on one tool by doing a detailed observational drawing. 

Now we were ready to start the final part of the project which lasted 2 weeks. It consisted of creating  3D tools with cardboard. We first had to plan the construction and then build them. It was a challenge to make the mechanism of the tools function but many of us achieved it. I created pruning shears in which the hinge fully functions!  When all of them were done, Ms Cullen created the ‘Virtual Tool Wall’.

I had a lot of fun this term trying all these new techniques, especially the experimental printing because I never practised it before. I also enjoyed building the 3D tool, it was fun and complex.

Form IV (Transition Year) Art pupils have been working on a portraiture-themed project throughout the Hilary Term. This began with a trip to the National Gallery of Ireland to see The Zurich Portrait Prize in late December. Pupils also researched a portrait artist of their choice and the range of artists chosen was wide and varied. This research, along with a number of drawing exercises, prompted and encouraged pupils through the concept and design phase of the creative process of portraiture. The pupils completed the final portrait in the medium of their choice. Enjoy the gallery below.

Basketball

In basketball, the Senior and Gadette Girls have reached the quarterfinal stages of the league while the Junior and Minor Girls have had great success in all their friendly games this term which is setting them up nicely for their leagues which will start in January. This term traditionally ends with the annual Christmas blitz; there was an abundance of colour, energy and sporting endeavour (oh, and silly hats and tinsel).

Hockey

The boys’ senior team have had a difficult season with a dismal return of only two draws in their 6 league matches.  They have played some good hockey at times but find it difficult to exert enough pressure on opposition defences. There have been some good individual performances along the way but perhaps not enough gelling as a team.

The Junior teams have shown some promise thus far this term. The Junior A team are on track for a playoff match in their league but they will need to win some crucial games against St Kilians and Sutton Park after Christmas. The Junior B team is effectively a Form III team and they are being primed for future success.  They have played five matches only losing one against a strong Newpark team.

The minor team have a lot of potential and they have played some excellent hockey at times. They are in a very tough pool in their league having to play against perennial winners of the league Wesley and St Andrew’s College.  As they continue to improve it will be interesting to see them challenge for the u14 cup.

The U13 team is possibly one of the stronger Form I teams we have had for a while. They had a narrow defeat against St Andrew’s College losing 1-2 in a match that could have gone either way. Their remaining matches are against teams sitting at the bottom of the table and wins over them would boost them into a playoff position. Special mention must go to Harry St Leger who has been playing some fantastic hockey. He also sets a good example in his attitude towards training. Most importantly he is eager to learn from his coaches in order to improve.

Rugby

The rugby teams have been training hard this term.  Even though we lost many sessions to the wettest November in recent history we still managed to play SCT and JCT cup games v Enniscorthy and Skerries respectively. We also played friendlies against Wilsons Hospital, Blackrock, Kings Hospital, Clongowes and Headfort.  Whilst we have struggled against the bigger schools we have performed well in all matches. We look forward to Shield competitions and league knockouts next term.

Judo

Well done to Kate Dementyeva and Georgy Dementiev who competed in the All Ireland Schools Judo Championship and had some good success. Kate won a Silver medal in the Junior Girls <52kg division, and Georgy got a win out of 4 tough matches in Junior Boys <50kg.

Golf

Once our Senior pupils play one of our ‘traditional team’ sports they can choose an additional sport or activity. This year a new initiative was introduced which is proving very popular. Hopefully, it will lead to more of our pupils taking up and playing golf on our nine-hole golf course in their free time. Nine pupils, five senior boys and four girls, are taking weekly golf lessons with Josh Adams a PGA professional in Stackstown golf club. When the weather is too poor be played outside they use an indoor facility featuring a Trackman golf simulator. Our Junior pupils were offered the same optional opportunity on Sundays but there was very little take-up. Perhaps there will be more interest when the weather improves and the days get longer.

Archery

Form IV pupil Avi Johnson reports on archery this term:

On Saturday mornings, we have five academic classes. After that most of us break off to play our respective sports and get some exercise. One sport that is more hidden than the mainstream is archery. Archery is a non-reflexive sport that is as skilled as it is difficult. At 3:30 pm after the mixed basketball is finished, the archery team flock into the Sportshall.

Our coach Pat McLoughlin is always there to greet us. We set up the stands and string up our bows and begin our training. Normally we have target faces to shoot at but this term we have refrained from using them. We do this so that we are not thinking about which coloured ring we are going to hit, but rather how our shooting feels. Without the distraction of the target, we can feel how good or bad our shots are. Our coach Pat will go even further and ask us to close our eyes ‘Star Wars’ style and really ‘feel’ the firing and ‘force’ of the arrow when shooting.

Our team, consisting of Iona Chavasse, Gioia Doenhoff, Zian Wang, Avi Johnston and the new recruits Tessa Pullman and Iris Foster have really improved. The training with no target faces means that we now know how to self improve our shots and fix small mistakes without guidance. Thanks to Pat’s training we are ready for the inter-school competitions coming in the new year.

We aim to repeat and improve on our successes from last year. Team Captain Avi Johnston is confident that her team will be ready when the competitive season hits.

Sports Photos

Team Hope’s Christmas Shoebox Appeal is a wonderful charity that provides shoeboxes full of toys, treats, school stationery, hygiene products and clothing for some of the poorest children in the world. The College has been involved with this amazing charity for over 15 years and this year, once again, the Transition Year pupils have been actively involved. Pupils have already created over 200 festively wrapped filled boxes to date and have also fundraised through their mini-companies. They have also visited the Team Hope warehouse over the past few weeks packing the filled boxes into the lorries destined for Eastern Europe and Africa. A particular thank you to Mr Cron who has been driving the College’s involvement in the charity from day one, and to the other staff who accompanied the pupils to the warehouse in the evenings. Team Hope is once again the Gywnn House charity in 2019/2020.

I have spoken a lot about service over the last three years and about how to develop an ethos of service amongst our pupils. I am not going to repeat myself now. What I have perhaps spoken about less is leadership, which is actually the other side of the same coin. It is certainly not contradictory or paradoxical to talk about service and leadership in the same breath, because the best leaders are also servants, prepared to sacrifice on behalf of their followers and determined to get the best out of other people. A good leader should not be afraid to empower others, to give opportunities to them and enjoy seeing them grow in confidence and stature. A poor leader will happily see his or her followers stay dependant on the boss and wait for instructions. Ultimately that style of leadership saps initiative and leads to resentment. Of course, giving people responsibility is risky, because they might fail, but there is nothing wrong with failure, as long as you pick yourself up, dust yourself down and learn from it.

When it comes to developing leaders I am thinking right now of the pupils, rather than the staff. How do we help our pupils to become leaders, to take initiative, to be prepared to stand up and not be afraid to fall down? My concern is that when it comes to choosing prefects, for example, those who will lead the pupil body in their final year, we go on hunches and pick those who we think will be good role models, but we have given them precious little in the way of actual training, or encouraged them to stretch themselves prior to their final year. Surely leadership training should not be something that begins in the 6th form, or at the end of the 5th form, but something, a bit like service, that we try and inculcate into our pupils from the 1st form onwards.

What do I actually mean by leadership, particularly in the school context? Well, let’s examine that by looking at what an aspiring young leader at school might look like, divided into being and doing, who they are first and what they do second:

So who are they?

  • They are prepared to stand up for others and to speak out when they see something that they think is wrong;
  • They are not easily influenced by the crowd or their peer group;
  • They don’t mind being a little bit different, because they are thinking about the bigger picture of who they want to become rather than being popular right now;
  • They lead when others are not looking, not just to get attention.

And what might they do?

  • They might volunteer to run or help run activities;
  • They might act as mentors for younger or new pupils;
  • They might put their hand up for jobs that are not very glamorous;
  • They will look out for those around them who are struggling and not be afraid to bring it to the attention of the appropriate people;
  • They might have a quiet word with someone who they think is behaving poorly or making someone’s life unpleasant;
  • They will take on tasks or responsibilities that stretch them, rather than always doing things with which they are comfortable.

And what should the teaching staff do?

  • Allow pupils, right from the earliest years, to take responsibility and then support them…and praise them and lift them up when they fall;
  • Encourage them to take initiative, rather than wait for a member of staff to suggest something.

These are just some initial thoughts and I am sure that it would be easy to flesh them out a lot more. Although prefects in the 6th form are necessary, actually all 6th formers should be leaders and, in fact, all pupils should be encouraged to see themselves as leaders, whatever year they are in. I want to see how we can do that better than we have done, so be prepared for me to be speaking a lot about leadership in the months to come.

I feel challenged by young people around the world marching in protest against world governments failing to take action to prevent or counter the environmental catastrophe that we are facing. I let pupils in our Transition Year go, with their parents’ permission, drawing the line there, since gathering written permission from parents at the last minute in a boarding school is potentially problematic. Whether they felt strongly about the issue or merely wanted a day off school, is not for me to judge but it seems to have been a big event and it will certainly have attracted the attention of politicians. Let’s hope they have the courage to act. Momentum is building and it is exciting to see young people at the heart of such a powerful and positive movement.

In reality, I do have a problem with the idea of pupils missing school to make such a protest because disrupting education is rarely the right thing to do, but if those in government sit up and take notice it may not be a bad thing. However, what our own pupils need to understand is that marching and waving banners is actually the easy bit because it places the responsibility on other people to affect change. The harder challenge is for us all to make the changes in our own lives and in our own community, which will, slowly but surely, start to make a difference right here at St. Columba’s College. We cannot wait for politicians to legislate.

Yesterday in assembly I threw out a challenge to the pupils, namely that they, as a pupil body, should come up with a pledge, a manifesto, if you like, something concrete and practical, as to how we can make a difference right here in our own backyard. It might be about recycling, electricity, litter, water, traffic, clothing, food. We all like the idea of making a difference until it affects what we put on our plates, don’t we? We would prefer, I suspect, to believe that it is up to others, to politicians, to Greta Thunberg, to fight the battle, to address the United Nations, while we stand in the wings and applaud. But ask us to make personal sacrifices for the future of our planet…that is another thing altogether!

Personally, I have started to think about these things a lot more. I remember when I was at school and we had a visiting speaker on the strange topic of ‘ecology.’ He had long hair and an earring (we all had crewcuts and tight trousers and jackets) and we sneered at him and thought he was a bit of a weirdo. He spoke about the need to live sustainably and to look after the resources of the planet and it made a lot of sense, but we were all too cool to admit it to each other. Shame on us, but rather than engage with him and take him seriously we preferred to laugh at him. I don’t think anyone is laughing any more.

We are delighted to announce details of this year’s Cultural Trip to London.  The trip will take place over the January Exodus (Friday Jan 24th to Monday 27th Jan) and is open to pupils in Forms IV and V, but is currently limited to 40 places (but this may increase). Places will be allocated on a “first come, first served” basis. The estimated cost of the trip is an all-inclusive €550, which includes:

  • Return flights between Dublin to London.
  • All bus, rail and underground transfers.
  • Three nights luxury hostel accommodation in Meininger Hotel, South Kensington (adjacent to the Natural History Museum), with breakfast, packed lunch and evening meals.
  • Tickets to a West End musical (show to be confirmed).
  • Ticket to cinema in Leicester Square.
  • A Thames cruise.
  • Dinner in Leicester Square restaurant on one night.
  • All entry fees & tours for museums and attractions including: The Science Museum, Covent Garden, Natural History Museum, Imperial War Museum, National Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, British Museum, Tower of London, Cabinet War Rooms & Churchill Museum.
  • A visit to China Town during Chinese New Year celebrations.

There is a jam-packed itinerary for the pupils, catering for a wide array of interests, and is a great way to experience London and see all its major attractions and museums.

To secure a place for your son or daughter please complete this online permission slip (please note, passport details are required at the time of booking). A deposit of €220 is also required and can be paid by cheque (made payable to St. Columba’s College). Alternatively, the deposit can be lodged directly into the College bank account (details available upon request).

If you require more information please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Jones or Mr. O’Shaughnessy.

On Tuesday night the seventh annual TY Modern Languages evening was held in the Big School Room. Eleven pupils presented in Spanish and French on topics such as El Flamenco, Le Tour de France, Las tribus de América and Les Jeux Olympiques. Leon Moreau also gave an outstanding recitation by heart in Bavarian of a childhood poem. During the interval we we enjoyed lusty renditions of the German and French national anthems.Many congratulations to the winner and recipient of the Alyn Stacey Cup, Sveva Ciofani, for her presentation on Pablo Escobar. In second place was Eliz Kolat (Les stéréotypes français) joint third were Oliver Townshend (Mis aventuras con Diego) and Sinead Cleary (Les fromages français). The standard overall was extremely high. Well done to all those who participated and made this such a successful event.

Here in St. Columba’s we are very passionate about ensuring that our school environment is sustained to a high standard. We are enacting procedures to apply for our second Green Flag as well as attempting to become a single-use plastic free campus with the help of a dynamic Green Committee.
Climate change is the single biggest issue facing this current generation and if it is not addressed it will continue to impact future generations. Members of the Green Committee, as well as IV Form pupils, want to enact change and have established an Instagram page called youthstrike4climate.ie to highlight the vital need to address climate change.
Those pupils are Imogen Casey, Maybelle Rainey, Ellen Homan, Aiyuni O’ Grady and Eile Ni Chianain. To date, the page has amassed almost five thousand followers and continues to grow. Please feel free to follow the page and support their attempts to enact change.

Over the last 20 years the College has proudly supported the Christmas Shoebox Appeal run by Team HopeTwo years ago we sent a record 260 gift filled wrapped shoeboxes to needy children in remote parts of Africa and war torn parts of Eastern Europe. These boxes were donated by pupils, staff & parents or were put together from fillers that were either donated or were purchased by proceeds from TY mini companies or the Tuck shop. Last year the figure was significantly lower and we would love to return to the heights of 2017. 

The deadline for receipt of filled shoeboxes is after the half term break and it would be fantastic if pupils, parents, staff or indeed friends of the College would take the time over half term to make up a box.

If you want to make up a box wrap a shoebox (base & lid separate) in Christmas wrapping paper. Choose whether you want to make a box for a boy or girl and decide on the age category 2-4; 5-9; or 10-14. What goes in a box? Just follow the 4W rule!


If you are not able to wrap a box then please place all of the items in a bag and we will provide a wrapped box for you. If you have a lot of items lying around your home that you no longer use, and they are in good condition, then please bring them back to school and place them in the plastic crates in Gwynn. It costs €4 per box for transportation – please place the money in an envelope and place it in the box.

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.

Last week, while our Leaving & Junior Certificate candidates settled into this intense exam period, the pupils in the other Forms took part in a variety of trips across Ireland. Form V spent four days in the Burren, their traditional ‘Trips Week’ expedition, doing a variety of Biology & Geography fieldwork but with plenty of opportunity for fun in the sun too (we got a lot of sun). The trip began with a walk ‘n talk up Blackhead followed by surfing / rock climbing at Lahinch before experiencing a stunning sunset at the iconic Cliffs of Moher. The vast majority of the fieldwork was carried out on Thursday – the Geographers exploring Liscannor Bay while the Biologists studied both sandy and rocky seashores near Fanore – while Friday began with a hike up Mulloughmore Mountain before the Geographers went caving and the Biologists hunted for orchids (and saints) at Slieve Carran. Finally, on Saturday, they all visited Ailwee Caves & Birds of Prey Centre before heading home.

Our Transition Year pupils spent the week in the Achill Outdoor Education Centre doing a variety of activities, again in glorious early summer sun. The activities included kayaking, surfing, coasteering, hiking, swimming and, on the final evening, camping out in the Achill countryside.

Pupils from Forms I, II and Primary took part in a variety of day trips over the week, usually within an hours drive of Dublin. Trim Castle, Mellifont Abbey, Glasnevin Cemetery, Croke Park (Skyline Tour & GAA Museum), National Aquatic Centre, National Aquarium (in Bray), Bray Head (hike), Kilruddery House & Gardens, the National Gallery (Nolde Exhibition), St. Michan’s Church, Museum of Modern Art (Frank Bowling’s exhibition ‘Mappamundi’), Dublin Zoo, the Kippure Estate, the Botanical Gardens, St. Enda’s Park, Marlay Park and, the less leafy, Tayto Park were all visited over the four days – luckily all in glorious sunshine.

Evie Pringle in Form II describes her favourite moment of the week – Frank Bowling’s exhibition ‘Mappamundi’ at the IMMA.

I loved his use of vibrant colors splashed in an array of patterns across the canvas. He managed to stick everyday objects onto a canvas, slap a bit of paint on it and make it into a beautiful piece of thought-provoking art. His paintings were massive, much larger than your average painting, covered with layers and layers of acrylic paint, prints, marbling techniques and materials such as styrofoam. He often painted maps, usually of Africa, into his pictures. He sometimes started with a print on the canvas and then painted over it, or hid drawings or paintings under layers of paint, giving the impression that he paints for himself rather than for other people. This I like as it means he paints what he likes and it really brings out his personality. It turned out to be a really great day although my feet were a bit sore by the end.

Below is a large selection of photos from all the trips over the week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tania’s Presentation – Les Bandes Dessinées

 

Georg Müller-Methling, Form V reports on the recent school trip to China. 

A group of 17 pupils and 3 teachers left St.Columba’s College on March 22nd very excited about the upcoming trip, less about the fact that they missed out on the house singing event the same evening and that they had to leave at 04:45 in the morning. 

The group took two 8 hour flights, first to Abu Dhabi and then on to Hong Kong. The first day in Asia was very tough, for most of us the warm and humid climate was very unusual and we arrived in the morning, which meant that we had to stay up for another whole day, but everybody quickly forgot the exhaustion. We were welcomed by our first tour guide Ball-Ball (“because my body looks like a ball”), who was very interesting and funny, and spent the afternoon in a shopping mall to get some food and then we drove to our hotel to relax, before we had our first dinner in Asia. Later, we went for a walk to the fascinating harbour. 

The next day we  visited the 10,000 Buddhas, which led us to a nice spot on top of the city, then the Hong Kong Museum of History and the Hong Kong Science Museum, before we went to a have the first proper Chinese dinner. Most of us had to get used to the Chinese food, but it actually got better from day to day. The highlight of the day was yet to come: in the evening we went to Victoria Peak, from where you could have a magnificent view of Hong Kong and its enlightened skyscrapers. After that, some of us went to the Ladies’ market to buy some souvenirs. 

The next day, Ball-Ball took us to Lantau Island, where we used a cable car to get to the Giant Buddha in the middle of the forests. We walked the way up to the Buddha and also visited the close by monasteries. In the evening we took the metro to the harbour to see the light show. On our last day in Hong Kong, we visited the NanLian Gardens, some of us had lunch in the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world, while others preferred McDonald’s, before we went to a food market and then on a bus ride to cross the border and get to Shenzhen Airport. As we found out later, saying hi to China meant saying bye to proper toilets, social media and English speaking people. It was a very long day, in the end we nearly missed our flight, but finally we arrived in Zhangjiajie.

Our new tour guide Becky who taught us Chinese songs (at least she tried) took us to the Tianzi Mountains in the Yuanjiajie National Forest Park, the place where the movie ‘Avatar’ was filmed, which was enormously impressive. In the afternoon we walked the longest and highest glass bottomed bridge in the world with a height of 260 Meters. The same night we flew to Shanghai, where our most interesting tour guide Qi waited for us. 

In the morning we made our way outside the city in order to get to Zhujiajiao town, an ancient water town, before we went on to see the Chinese Maritime Museum & Urban Planning Exhibition Hall. That night we had dinner in the Xiantandi Area, a small area in the middle of China’s biggest city. Yu Garden and Shanghai’s old Town, where we had a delicious tea tasting,  were on our list the next day before we flew to China’s former Capital Xian. In Xian we were accompanied by the probably funniest guide called Richard who had the very interesting habit of ending every sentence with the words “oh yeah”.

One of the most exciting and interesting events of the trip awaited for us the next day. We got to visit the Terracotta Replication Factory and the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum. Later that day we cycled the ancient city wall, which goes around the whole city and is 14 kilometers long.  The following day we had to travel again, but this time we did not take the plane: the high-speed train (350 km/h) brought us to Beijing, our last destination. It took the train five hours for the 910 kilometers, it was an impressing experience. In Beijing tour guide Jing introduced us to the Peking duck before we headed to the hotel.

We spent Easter visiting the Tiananmen Square, only two days after Kim-Jong Un did, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. It was a very exhausting day with a lot of very interesting experiences, a lot of Smog and warm temperatures, a very special Easter.

Our last full day in China commenced with the visit of the Summer Palace from the Qing dynasty. The last site we visited was probably one of the highlights of the trip at the same time: The Great Wall. We climbed the 1,000 not always even steps and reached the top with an awesome view, however there was a lot of Smog unfortunately. After that we had our last dinner in China before we went to the airport to get home, again via Abu Dhabi. 

For me personally, and I think for the whole group, this trip was an unforgettable experience. China is an extraordinarily interesting and exciting country with lots of beautiful sites to visit. It was also worth going for the experience we gained. At times it was a bit difficult for some of us, but when you accept the cultural differences like being the main object for a photo by many strangers, it is a highly enjoyable country. 

Thank you to the teachers, especially Ms McEneaney, Ms Lynch and Mr Clarke as well as all the parents for making this awesome trip possible! I would highly recommend going on trips like this one in the future, because it is a really good opportunity to travel the world and broaden your mind.