From a Distance…

One of the unexpected effects of this series of lockdowns is a tendency to be more tolerant of schmaltz. Easy listening ‘gems’ of the 70s and 80s, which previously would have prompted a quick skip or turn of the dial, are now listened to in their entirety, prompting wistful, melancholic smiles and maybe even a tear… Well, Bette Midler was referencing a more celestial watcher but her time-tested sappy chestnut of a tune can serve as the theme song of our new way of learning: from a distance, indeed. Both St. Conleth’s Junior and Senior teachers have hit the ground running (literally, in Mr. Lonergan’s case) as they have shifted education on-line but carried on with same professionalism, enthusiasm and care and concern for their pupils as always.

And to be fair to the students themselves (and the accommodating and ‘nudging’ parents), it has been a continuation of the partnership that has made the in-the-flesh version of St. Conleth’s such a great place to learn over the years. Attendance has been near 100% and the variety of teaching methods and adventures has been impressive, from PE activity diaries to ‘Zoom Pet/Cactus Day’ in Classics and as gaeilge to spontaneous dress-up English classes to traditional classroom note-taking and discussions. Yes, we would prefer to be in the same classroom, but until that is possible, St. Conleth’s stays together… from a distance!

Leo, Leonis: 3rd Dec. Masc.

Quick! Someone go and get Mr. Carvill (The Younger) and his nunchucks… there’s a lion loose in Transition Year! Oh, wait, it is just Leo Nolan, once again showing the swagger and chutzpah of his namesake. A few weeks back, we published the various projects of our Cool Classics Kids which were entered (and won laurels) in the Classics Now competition, but we neglected to include Leo’s: not very nice, especially considering that Leo is the widely acknowledged Dear Leader/Beloved Mascot of that quirky gang of kids known as TY-A. Well, we make amends here, and see and hear Leo reading, in fine Classical Latin, the opening of Virgil’s Aeneid Book I.

Last Christmas?

With Wham finally claiming their Christmas No. 1, we though it fitting to have one last look at Christmas at St. Conleth’s. While the rest of us were fighting it out for the last Bounties in the Celebrations container, intrepid TY (and BAND member) Rían McGonigle tightened his mask and set off with the school camera and several rolls of film to capture the fleeting moments of a celebration we enjoyed, but dearly hope will not have to experience, in quite the same way, again. On the Junior side, we see Ms. Mellon demonstrating her face-painting skills and the various student-created yuletide decorations which helped us forget you-know-what for at least a little while. And, of course, we have the latest edition of a now world-famous installation: the student art on the fence railings of No. 28 Clyde Road.

And on the Senior side, we have our Student Officers- Ted, Daniel and Emily- who spearheaded a ‘Christmas Jumper’ day which raise dover €600 for charity and photos of various class parties, including the TYs who had their very own COD Tournament, crowning Ralph and Mark as champs. A great way to end a tough term! We were all impressed by the students’ resiliency under the toughest of circumstances and look forward to at least some semblance of a return to normalcy. Happy New Year!

Christmas Carollers Crush Covid!

Ms. deBhal was not going to let a tiny, little virus completely wreck our Christmas: she was determined to somehow produce our usual term-ending, spirits-lifting Senior School Christmas Carol Concert, despite all the Covid restrictions. And, somehow, she and Ms. McGuinness, and a supporting cast of dozens of eager music students, did! Ms. deBhal grabbed the ancient skeleton keys of St. Mary’s and led a two week occupation of the recently acquired stately old home. During that time, our Darth Vader-like breathing was periodically quickened by the hearing of stray notes, angelic whispers and occasional sharp shouts wafting over the gardens. Yes, we would have preferred a performance in the flesh, but the video below (edited on short notice by our saviour, Second Year Michael ‘T’ Horan) shows what is possible in even the toughest circumstances when there is the will… and plenty of talent!

Too Cool for School!

St. Conleth’s has always been known as a bit of an ‘artsy’ school, and Ms. Halpin’s current crew of LC students have done their best to keep up that reputation, creating some stunning pieces and impersonating the edgier members of the Breakfast Club when they gather for their twilight meetings on Mondays and Wednesdays. They are also one of the few groups of kids who are still showing some moxie and chutzpah in the face of the Covid panic.

Cancel all school trips and outings? ‘Uh-uh’ said Ms. Halpin and off they went last Friday to the National Gallery for the Mondrian Exhibition. The 5th and 6th Years thoroughly enjoyed this unique showing of the masterpieces of the renowned Dutch neoplasticist, with all the Covid-compliant safety measures in place. And an added bonus was the ‘fresh air’ tour of the Science Gallery. Two for the price of one, and a much needed and appreciated escape from the desk-wiping and hand-wringing!

Bon Appetit!

First of all, we need to get a few things straight: macaron- a confectionary made from a batter of ground almond flour, egg whites, and confectioners’ sugar that puffs up to form a smooth-surfaced cookie with a hollow center; macaroons– cookies made from shredded coconut held together by egg whites and granulated sugar. They have a craggy surface and chewy interior; macron–  a populist, centrist politician and the current French president; macroom– a market town in County Cork.

Well, one person who knows her meringue from her coconut is Caoimhe Moore, who stunned Ms. Crowley’s French Class with the quality of her macarons. And then Charlotte McClaren’s pains au chocolat took there classmates’s breath, and tastebuds, away! Saoirse Corry was also a chef pâtissier for the day, and her delicate creations just finished everybody off; and the whole 4A Class, like true Frenchmen, just napped through break, dozing contentedly with full bellies and satisfied smiles behind their masks!

The Big Reveal!

Ms. Halpin’s Second Year Art Class really pushed the artistic and philosophical boundaries with their last project: Charcoal Reduction Drawings. It is a simple but startling idea: work backwards to create art. Hey, they have been doing it in the Civil Service for years! In this process, students ‘backdraw’: they don’t draw a figure, they ‘uncover’ it with erasers, like Michelangelo carving his Pieta from the block of marble. It is a thrilling process and creates some startling pieces, as you can see below. We are wondering if we can take the method to other mediums. Instead of writing a story in English from scratch, we can take a dictionary and just cross out most of the words. And, instead of students simply writing the solution ’42’ to a Maths test we can hand out a list of all real numbers. We will get back to you on those two!

Adveniet!

An unintended positive outcome, even blessing, of this Covid year has been the opportunity provided to stop and take stock of what really matters in one’s life: with life aired down to its bare essentials, we have learned what we have lost that really matters… and what we probably did not need in the first place.

Perhaps, this Christmas will also be seen and experienced in a new light: yes, we will suffer from the restrictions on the meeting of families and even those placed on the religious celebrations of the holy day, but we may also have found a new appreciation for the significance and the importance of Christmas, with some of the trappings shorn away.

Our Religion teachers, Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Lonergan, certainly have done their best to make sure that St. Conleth’s stays true to its Catholic ethos, and the true meaning of Christmas, as they arranged for the Student Council to represent the St. Conleth’s community and attend the Mass for the Feast of the immaculate Conception at St. Mary’s Church and for students and teachers share in the symbolic lighting of Advent Candles. Yes, despite Covid, the man in the red suit is coming, but so is He, whose arrival was never in doubt!

Classics Kids Cash In!

Get a life, Westlife! Step off, Steps! Back off, Backstreet Boys! There are some ‘new kids on the block’ when it comes to boppy beats and illuminating lyrics: Yes, the Temple Bards (formerly known as ‘James and the Sirens’) are here and they have just won Second Place in the Classics Now student competition. They have €100 worth of drachma in their pockets and record companies clambering for their signatures on contracts. Stay tuned for more heroic, homeric hits!

The CAI-T, the Irish Association of Classics, Latin and Greek Teachers, may not number in the thousands like the hordes associated with Maths, Irish and English, but, like the Spartans at Thermopylae, we make up in enthusiasm and chutzpah what we lack in numbers. Every year there are numerous events run by the group for our enthusiastic students: from Latin Day to the Classics Speech Competitions to the Young Classicists Symposium and, famously, the Ides of March Table Quiz. And Conlethians have made a habit of winning laurels and medals at all these events. This year, the CAI-T learned from the fate of Pericles, dead from a plague in 430 BC, and ran a student competition completely on-line in association with the Classics Now Festival. And, yes, once again Conlethians were to the fore!

Charlie Plant’s painstakingly built Minoan Labyrinth (the child labour by baby brother and sister was completely voluntary) won an Honourable Mention and the sassy lyrics and snazzy looks of the aforementioned ‘TheTemple Bards’ absolutely blew the staid judiciary of Classics Professors away. Apparently, several of the judges are interested in purchasing the single on vinyl! And behind this melodious vanguard of James, Eliza, Eva and Julia, there were plenty of other laurel-worthy projects which you can see above: a tour of Charlie’s labyrinth is followed by Patrick Devlin’s exquisite animation of the fall of Icarus; Marcus Far’s digitised Labours of Heracles; Senann Corry and Jacob Alexander’s delightful maritime and arboreal creations; Fergus O’Reilly and Michael Sweeney’s ‘first person shooter’ version of the Labours; and Oisín Power’s Latin versions of the finest moments of Presidents Clinton and Nixon. We also have Harry Collins’s innovative reconstruction of Troy, here. And with over forty First Years taking Classics right now, there is plenty more to come in the years ahead!

Help Jamie Nail the Covid Blues!

First Year Jamie MacNicholas still needs your help! If you are a student and have not filled out his BTYS project survey on the psychological effects of covid measures, please do! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VYXQ5XP

Art Matters!

Ms. Halpin’s First Year Art class decided to stop the moaning and think about something other than the Covid Blues. News that the global shutdown helped but did not reverse the perceived effects of human activity upon climate change spurred them to take on a new project: creating visually engaging posters with a positive environmental message.

The results speak for themselves, and do so loudly and clearly! Ms. Halpin’s Fifth and Sixth Year classes took on a more traditional challenge: the still life. As we have been doing a lot of ‘still living’ lately, the students were well prepared. We were particularly impressed with the way a few of the students transformed their lunch detritus into beautiful pieces of art!

The End is Not Nigh!

Now that the vaccine is just around the corner, we can take a lighter look at the crazy things that Covid, and the resultant panic, brought to our world. Case in point, our very own Prophet/Artist Jacq Herbots (Class of 2019). Yes, we all knew Jacq had a world class and stunning artistic talent, but we did not expect him to also follow in the footsteps of Nostradamus and Tiresias! One of Jacq Herbots’s most impressive (and interesting) creations is this interesting portrait of his brother Scott (Class of 2025)….completed a year before Covid! On behalf of the poet/prophet, Scott presented it as a timely keepsake to Ms. Halpin. Hopefully, in the years to come, we will all be laughing at the coincidence when we pass it in the hallway. But, in the meantime, if you see Jacq wearing a sandwich board on Henry Street, you had better pay attention to his message!

Surfin’ Safari!

Mr. Smith and Mr. Coleman were like the Wilson Brothers last Friday on the Killiney Strand (they can fight over who gets to be Brian). Yes, the temperature was a bit nippier than in SoCo, and the beverages were only topped up with extra shots of espresso, but the dynamic duo of St. Conleth’s Geography Department did their best to make the annual Geography Fieldwork Trip feel like a real day at the beach. Yes, there was work to be done: longshore drift to be measured; groynes to be stretched; and tombolos to be touted… but there was also fresh air and freedom and fun: three things we have been keeping ourselves from, lately. Edwin even brought his fishing gear… you should have seen the one that got away!

The Holiday That Just Will Not Die!

Yes, like a zombie (or a zombie movie) St. Conleth’s Halloween celebrations keep coming back to haunt us! Here are some chalk skulls from Ms. Halpin’s First and Second Year Art Classes. And what makes them even more interesting is that the students made use of a new ‘app’ which allowed them to base their drawings on their own, actual skulls. So what do you think, all ye amateur phrenologists?

Halloween’s Last Scare!

Nothing is scarier than facing into a half-term of rain, wind, sagging masks, sodden leaves and closed pubs… emm… closed gyms and libraries, but Senior School Art Teacher Ms. Halpin and the TYs did their best to frighten and distract us on the eve of this November to disremember!

Covid Blues?

Yes, we are all singing that sad little song, but one way to change the tune is to understand the virus better, and to investigate the psychological costs of the various restrictions put in place to combat it. Could the cure actually be worse than the illness? First Year Jamie MacNicholas has taken on the challenge to find out, and in the process gained entry to the main Young Scientist competition, following the guidance of his Science teacher, Mr. Callaghan, and in the footsteps of last year’s winner Cuan Moore and a long litany of BTYS Conlethian stars such as the famous Zorin Brothers. Here. Jamie explains his project himself, and how you can help him with the research:

I have entered the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition which will take place virtually in January. The title of my project is COVID-19: A statistical investigation of the impact of the COVID-19 social restrictions during the lockdown on the well-being of 10 to 18 year olds.

A report from UNICEF in May of this year stated “Children are not the face of this pandemic. But they risk being among its biggest victims. While they have thankfully been largely spared from the direct health effects of Covid-19 at least to date – the crisis is having a profound effect on their wellbeing.”

In my project, I want to investigate (i) the impact that COVID-19 social restrictions have had on the well-being of 10 to 18 year olds during the lockdown (ii) the amount of daily physical activity undertaken by young people during the lockdown and (iii) the amount of time spent by young people playing video games and watching TV during the lockdown.  

I hope to get over 200 volunteers between the age of 10 and 18 in St. Conleth’s College to complete a voluntary, anonymous, online questionnaire using SurveyMonkey. The survey will ask questions about their experience during the lockdown. I have prepared a questionnaire similar to the questionnaire used by the CSO in April this year when they measured the impact that COVID-19 has had on personal well-being in Ireland. 

If you are a St. Conleth’s student and aged between 10 and 18, please click on this link and complete the survey. Thank you. Jamie MacNicholas

The O Dulaing Visits The O Rahilly

Sing of the O Rahilly!

Do not deny his right;
Sing a ‘the’ before his name;
Allow that he, despite
All those learned historians,
Established it for good;
He wrote out that word himself,
He christened himself with blood. WB Yeats

Also, sing of The O Dulaing, who sprang his Sixth Year Irish class from the mind-forged manacles of Covid restrictions and bravely led them on a solemn pilgrimage to the outskirts of Herbert Park, a notorious loyalist den, to stand witness to The O Rahilly, first slain by the British in 1916’s Sackville Lane and now desecrated by developer’s greed (or council incompetence) with the destruction of his family home. The O Dulaing duly informed his class of this important footnote of Irish history, proving that even on confluence of Waterloo and Wellington, green shoots do grow!

TYs Paint their Brains!

St. Conleth’s Senior School Art Teacher Ms. Halpin is always pushing the boundaries, especially in her Transition Year art class, where there is no looming state exam or curricular straight-jacket. And the TYs are happy to try new methods and new materials: neurographic art, for example. Neurography was discovered and developed by Pavel Piskarev, a Russian psychologist and creativity entrepreneur who said something like this about the craze he started: ‘Creative method of transforming the world. Author’s method. Interdisciplinary practice that allows you to make the necessary personal changes, reliably remove restrictions and successfully simulate a new, desired reality.” (It sounds more impressive if you hear it in a Russian accent.) The process involves challenging inner thoughts and worries into the drawing of abstract shapes and then creatively colouring. So, art and therapy in a one go: a perfect tonic for our times!

Rockett Men!

Like twin Apollos (or Sputniks, if you are more that way inclined) the Rockett brothers have blazed across the artistic firmament of St. Conleth’s. The elder model, Matthew (Class of 2019), was a permanent highlight of our various school concerts, culminating in his virtuoso piano performances of his own avant garde compositions in Sixth Year. And younger brother Stephen, Apollo (Class of) 21, is no mean fiddler himself, but has chosen mainly the artistic realm of paper, pencil and brush for his explosive talents. Case in point: over the lockdown, some of us used the extra leisure time to catch up on South Korean detective series or the rapscallion antics of quirky American zoo keepers, but Stephen took a nobler path. He decided to take one one idea, one theme- really just one word, and explore it artistically in a journal. The word was ‘apple’ and as you can see below, the results are incredible. And, if we get shut down again, the only good news is that Stephen is looking for a suitable ‘B’ word to do it all over again! ‘Banana’ is expected but we are hoping for ‘Beatle’!

Gaeilge agus Clasaiceach agus Baseball sa pháirc!

Some Covid restrictions are more fun than others… like the encouragement for learning al fresco! Right now, we hear the rains of Storm Alex hammering down on our tin roof rusted, but last week the weather was intermittently divine and we did not need much encouragement to follow the government diktat to get the children out where the the zephyrs roam.

Above and below we see some Wellbeing, Irish, Classics… and baseball learning going on in the friendly expanses of Herbert Park. Yes, we will all be happy to see the tail end of this virus but we can make the most of the special opportunities which have arisen because of it in the meantime. Someone has to help Gav Maguire keep Lolly and Cook’s in business!

2020: A Fine Vintage!*

  • Updated with more photos and destinations!

Aside from seeing graduating students achieving their desired university places, one of the chief joys of teaching is receiving the heartfelt thanks of these departing pupils. Last May, these Thank Yous were especially welcome, as they were inexplicably accompanied by brown envelopes stuffed with cash! In all seriousness, the whole Leaving Certificate calculated grades situation was a stressful time for all involved, especially for the students themselves. Yet, when the smoke from algorithmic machines and the social engineering devices finally cleared, nearly all our graduating class received the third level offers of their choice. Yes, a difficult and delayed harvest, but in the end, a fine vintage.

One thing was never in doubt: the Class of 2020 were leaving St. Conleth’s as young men and women who had matured and developed to the best of all their abilities, not just academic, and they left St. Conleth’s a better place for having been there. Our past pupils have a habit of dropping by, and though they may have to wait till this darn covid thing is done, we look forward to welcoming the Class of 2020 back to No. 28 Clyde Road.

Prized Poetry!

Transition Year Siobhán Fitzgerald did not spend her lockdown gorging on the latest dark Danish Netflix sci-fi series. Okay… maybe she did a bit of that, but she somehow also found time to finely hone her already impressive creative writing skills, to the point where earned two separate, national commendations! One of her poems, ‘Much Too Young’ has been accepted for publication in an anthology on climate crisis edited by poet Alice Kinsella which is forthcoming from Doire Press in Spring 2021. Her poem will sit alongside works by such established poets as Claire Hennessy, Jan Carson, Rick O’Shea, and Paula Meehan.

Siobhán was also chosen as a Runner Up in the Post-Primary Junior Category  of the Trocaire / Poetry Ireland Poetry Competition 2020 for the same poem, ‘No More’. She read her poem at the awards ceremony during Culture Night on the 18th of September. Here is her award letter and below you can see a recording of her reading. (Skip to 20:12 if you just want to hear Siobhán!).

As part of the award Poetry Ireland will also organise an author visit to St. Conleth’s: another reason to look forward to the ending of the covid conditions. Well done to Siobhán, a great example of what students can achieve under their own initiative. We encourage all our students, especially TYs, to take on similar challenges!

Francophonic Finale!

Mr. Porzadny reaffirms the ‘French Paradox’ by dipping cheese in his coffee yet remaining the sveltest of svengalis! Read about his francophonic finale with the Class of 2020:

Did you know that French people like to have Camembert dipped into coffee for breakfast? On this past lovely Wednesday morning we had a virtual French breakfast with French music and a French quiz to celebrate the end of the year with our soon to become graduate class of 2020! Ciaran, Maria, Alex, Fiona, Michael, Jack and Oscar all answered the call and the party was on! From pain au chocolat, to croissants to freshly pressed orange juice, our little culinary trip took us to the depth of our taste buds. Needless to say that other than that, the loosening of the restrictions was on the agenda. Everyone seems to have kept their spirit up thanks to walks in the several lush parks of our beautiful city. Mr Porzadny’s French playlist had a mixed review but his French Kahoot seemed to have unanimously conquered the heart of his students. Well done to Michael who wins the challenge: t was a battle til the end with Jack who ended up second, right at the last minute, followed by Oscar. A pleasure it was indeed to have had the chance to teach this lovely bunch. I wish them all the best on the path of life and may the Camembert never drop in their coffee cup!

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Bell Bottom Blues!

Actually, judging by the fervour with which our Junior School students are tackling their projects, the Covid lockdown is not really getting them down at all! We do imagine, however, that when the projects involve fashions of the 1970’s, parent and staff who were around back then probably do succumb to some nostalgic melancholy when they view them. We are too young to remember ‘the decade that taste forgot’ but Mr. Kilcommons was just talking the other day how he missed his old bell-bottom jeans, tie-dye T-shirt and lambchop sideburns! Though, if this lasts much longer, certainly the hairstyles will start looking 1970s-ish. Ms. Loomes’s Sixth Forms did more than a troll through the history of fashion. See some highlights below and click on the titles further below to see the full projects on a variety of subjects.

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Fashion Throughout the Ages: The 1970’s ( by Colmán O’Flynn)

Book Report (by Niamh Hennelly-Bridges)

Fashion through the Ages: (by Jamie MacNicholas)

My Time Capsule of Covid-19 (by Milo Campbell)

The Invention of Paper (by Paul Jackson)

Lift-Off!

Do you remember making paper airplanes in class, instead of listening to your teacher? Mr. Morris’s First Year STEM Club has made a virtue out of that ‘necessity’ and taken a scientific/technological/engineering/mathematical approach to the ancient art.

Last week, his Friday morning gathering focussed on drag, inertia, wind resistance and sheer ‘coolness’ of design while planning, manufacturing and flying their airplanes in the Performance Hall. Great fun was had by all but don’t blame us if your French I class witnesses a massive take-off of Airbus prototypes. And this time, without the dubious, anti-competitive governmental subsidy!

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Que Bonita Es Barcelona!

What would you give to spend a few glorious days and sleepless nights with over sixty tweeners in beautiful Barcelona?  Well, the St. Conleth’s staff have a rigorous testing and competition regime in place to select the right teachers for the privilege of chaperoning on school trips and those who ‘win’ are always the object of much jealousy…. and a considerable amount of PTSD therapy upon their return.  This time, intrepid adventurer Gav Maguire led a decidedly sporty team, made up of Ms. deBhal, Ms. Speller, Ms. Wafer, Mr. Magee and Mr. Robertson.  As soon as they are out of quarantine and the debriefing process, we will ask for their impressions, but in the meantime, see what First Year Colman Hegarty and Second Year Joymarita Rajinikanth thought of it all: 

During late March, 1st and 2nd year went on a weekend trip to Barcelona. After a smooth trip across the sea, we hopped on a bus for a great trip around the city, stopping at the 1992 Olympic stadium, the Sagrada Família and la playa. We went to the hostel for dinner and the next day we were off to Porta Ventura. We tried all the rides and got the coach back to the hostel. On Saturday the weather was not cooperative but we had a great rugby
masterclass as the girls went shopping.  Sadly we ended up playing much older players in our match but we still played a great game. The next day we played our second match and once again were outclassed but the girls had a fun masterclass. We made to the airport and on our flight in no time. Gavin, Louis, Ms Speller, Lydia and Shane all were amazing at organizing and keeping everyone in check.

I don’t think any of us expected there to be a time in our lives where we’d wake up at 3am on a cold Thursday morning to put on our school tracksuits, without complaint, and be excited about it.  None-the-less, that’s exactly what we ended up doing, to our surprise and that of our parents.  Between the buzz of being with our friends and the coffee which many of us had downed on the way to the airport, it was safe to say that the teachers didn’t have a fun time getting us through security. I think the only time the teachers where able to get us all to shut up was when we were finally on the plane and the lack of sleep finally hit us!  But, unfortunately for them, it was back to chaos again once we hit Spanish soil. The warmth only seemed to amplify our babble, if anything. How the teachers were able to get through the trip without going bonkers, is beyond me. (Ed.’s note: statement yet to be verified.)

I’m pretty sure the tour guides – who, despite all the mindless chatter, managed to drill a bit of history and culture into our heads – were counting the seconds till they could depart all the noise. But, though they might not admit it, I could have sworn they were hesitant to leave the company of us, Conlethians, in all our friendly glory. The rest of that day consisted of thrilled remarks as we toured Newcamp Stadium – most of them coming from the boys -, messy unpacking, groans at the thought of dinner and victory dances at bowling alleys. 

It was an experience none of us will ever forget, to say the least 🙂

Joymarita

Conleth’s Classics Kids Kick ‘Aes’!

Marcus Aurelius, our departed deified emperor emeritus, would not be happy if he looked down from his heavenly abode and witnessed the current state of his formerly glorious empire:  war rages across ‘our sea’; dangerous cults proliferate within our borders; provinces are breaking away and, due to the poor state of the roads on the Roman periphery, it takes over a fortnight for word to reach us of the outcome of our brave legionnaires’ battles!  An exhausted rider has just returned from far-off Goatstown with this despatch:

Mount Anville was once again the setting for the ‘Ides of March’ Classics and Latin Teachers Table Quiz and, once again, the panis et circenses were staged with the most pleasant hospitality.  But do not let the camaraderie amongst the small and tight Classics set fool you: this was a battle royale and no quarter was expected or given!

St. Conleth’s always shows up with strength of numbers for these affairs and this time we fielded three strong teams:  Sixth Years Paul Ralph, Eoin MacNally, Cian O’Mahony and Sterre Van Egmond formed a solid testudo-formation phalanx to do the grunt infantry work.  Fifth Years Johnny Barry and Andrew Latvis united with Third Year ‘Ancient Wars Wunderkind’ Matthew O’Farrell and polymath Hugh Etchingham-Coll (called up from the Chemistry auxilia) to perform a function befitting their equestrian status, outflanking many of the barbarians and scouting for future engagements. TY Zachary Carr bravely took on a legate’s roll with one of the more outlandish barbarian outfits, St. Mary’s of Drogheda, though the language difference did hamper communications amongst this motley crew.  And let us not forget the all-important rear guard: Fifth Years Maria Azzia and Diletta Santuari (from the Roman ‘home’ counties),  dogged TY Joe ‘One Poem’ Downing and another Chem Kid Auxiliary, Oisín Gilligan, intentionally took up a position at the back of the legion to enable the vanguard make a grab for the laurels and the lucre.

In the end, all of our teams did the eagle proud but we just could not match the zealots of Gonzaga where, reputedly (as in ancient Sparta) their hatchlings are cast into a Renalagh ravine if they cannot name the six rivers of Hades soon after birth.

All in the Family!

With students and teachers from across the globe, it is very evident that have a diverse community at St. Conleth’s and we are very proud of it.  This, of course, does not mean that we have no common ground (or double negatives): our agreed ethos, rooted in the lay Catholic tradition but welcoming to all, assures a unity that underlies any difference in opinion or particular of debate.

Last week was Catholic Schools Week in Ireland and St. Conleth’s did its part to reaffirm this great tradition of education and faith.  The Religion teachers engaged their classes with activities based upon the theme of ‘A Family of Families’ and we all gathered for a special assembly.  Mr. Gallagher, our Pastoral Director, outlined the significance of the week and the special emphasis made by the Pope and our bishops, tying it all in to the Celtic calendar and the legacy of St. Brigid and Mr. ODulaing made an impassioned connection between our greater mission and our everyday school life.

This year’s theme was particularly suited to a school that prides itself on its family atmosphere.  Students took part through their Prayers of the Faithful and special musical performances by Matthew Rockett, Elizabeth Counihan and Joe Gallagher (see above and below).  In a time of global fracture and uncertainty, it was reassuring to see our family of  St.Conleth’s so multifaceted but united and at peace with itself.

Abair é! Irish Debaters Win First Round!

You have read  here about our French debaters.  Our English rhetors are currently charging through Leinster (as they have charged through the history of schools debating).  And now Gang Gaeilge have joined the party!  Bainisteoir Fay had the boys and girls well-prepared and Emer Healy-O’Reilly, Conor Power and Oisín Dowling definitely did not let the tribe down and came first of four schools in this opening round match of the DÍOSPÓIREACHTAÍ AN PHIARSAIGH, run by Gael Linn.

Perhaps the fact that it was a home fixture helped: the presence of feisty muintir na háite such as Paul Ralph, Harry Mansfield and Gavin Nugent certainly did seem to spur the team onwards.  This being Irish debating (and this being St. Conleth’s), though the competition was fierce, it was also friendly and tae agus plé tar éis na díospóireachta.  Well done to Ms. Fay and the whole team.   They somehow found time and energy to prepare for the debate despite having taken part in another Irish Department outing the previous day, attending a performance of An Triail at UCD: a riveting play, indeed…  but it does tend to be a bit gruama.   It is even more impressive, then, that our team could still find their bronntanas do na gab! 

Good News: There is an Afterlife!

Well, those of us fully infused with the ethos of St. Conleth’s never had a doubt, but, still, it is great to see budding young intellectuals such as Hugh Etchingham-Coll and the Oisín Dowling use logic and wit to back up a basic tenet of all the old time religions.  The motion at the 2017 Bouchier-Hayes Debate was actually more about the positive practical results of a belief in the afterlife (regardless of its existence) but the debate quickly encompassed all the related ‘big’ questions, especially relevant at this time when religious fanaticism implies more than just horrendous traffic jams at the Galway novena.  The Bouchier-Hayes family, long associated with the school and the sponsors of this award, would have been proud at the deep-thinking and repartee tossed around the Conference Room, as would the past winners of the prize, from Frank Kennedy and Barry Ward, currently crossing rhetorical swords at the rostrum of the Dublin City Council or Michael O’Dwyer, Philip McDonald and Ian Hastings, now further intricating the intricacies of tort in various world capitals at law firms such as Slaughter and May.  As you can see from the pictures below, all our debaters were in fine effusive flow, and used hand gestures and raised eyebrows with such emphasis that the actual spoken words were almost superfluous to the point!  On hand to adjudicate were Debating Czar John Carvill and alumnus Christopher Costigan, currently studying History and Politics at TCD, as well as an unnamed, cloaked representative of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.   They did not find it easy picking a winner of this team award, with Harry Mansfield proving the best individual speaker and everyone scoring points against each other, including some devastating tidbits from the History Boys, Oisín Herbots and Sean Moiselle, and a much-anticipated showdown between the Pettitt Brothers, which made that Iron Man/Captain America tiff seem trite in comparison.  In the end, the winners the Bouchier-Hayes Plate for Impromptu Debating 2017 were Dean McElree and Simon Pettitt, who argued so forcefully about the benefits of the afterlife that they themselves experienced Pauline conversions and, at the close of debate, shed their wordy possessions and left to join the Trappist monks.  Just wait till Simon hears about the vow of silence!

 

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French

“Learning French in St Conleth’s College is the most interactive, easy to follow and enjoyable way to not just learn how to pass an exam, but to love the fact that you know how to speak French.” D.O’C – 5th Year

The French Department has always been one of the more dynamic forces at St. Conleth’s.  Over six years of studying French in St Conleth’s, students will be lead by qualified French teachers to appreciate the language, discover its use and experience the importance of learning a language in today’s society. Written and listening tests, oral exams (from 1st to 6th Year) and methodology classes will provide the tools and the practice the students will need to succeed at both the Junior and the Leaving Certificate.

From singing, to participating in quiz, competitions, debates, exchanges and school trips; from creating their own blog and researching for their French projects to participating in role plays or making presentations in front of the class, students will engage in a wide range of cultural and educational activities.  The methods used to teach French at St Conleth’s College are innovative, diversified, adapted to the students’ level and based on a genuine communicative approach. Personal reflection, group work and participation in class is encouraged by every teacher.

One of the more curious traditions of the French Department is the ‘immersion method’ of sending our Third Years to a noted ‘Région de Langue Française’- Donegal!   Ms. Brotelande and Ms. Sheppard would regularly gather the Junior Cert boys and head off to the wilds of Donegal for some intensive language lessons, with a good bit of outdoor pursuits and water-sports thrown in to make the vocab and grammar go down easier.  Of course, a handsome young Australian gap year student was usually brought along to do the heavy lifting!  Mr. Porzadny and Ms. Crowley have continued the tradition, as can be seen from our pics, and just this last year, there was the return of another honoured Conlethian tradition- the return to the actual motherland itself.   As well as cultural activities with the Transition Years at the Alliance Francaise, and their various cutting edge technological classroom interventions, Mr. Porzadny and Ms. Crowley have also kept Les Joutes Oratoires thriving at St. Conleth’s: Several of our Débatteurs Français over recent years have won ‘Best Speaker’ awards.  Indeed, every year at St. Conleths’s is a Year of the French!

French Department Links

On www.myfrenchteacher.eu students and parents will be able to find: a reminder of the weekly homework for the Senior cycle students, activities and lessons for all the students, sections for the learners of the French language as well as for French teachers, and several links to useful websites such as:

Economics and Business

Economics

Economics is offered as a Leaving Certificate subject at both Higher and Ordinary Level. The course is divided into two parts:

  1. Microeconomics which studies price, costs, utility, supply and demand, elasticity, marginal theory, markets (competition, monopoly and oligopoly), factors of production (land, labour, capital and enterprise), and the role of government intervention in markets.
  2. Macroeconomics studies the economy as a whole and examines how it is performing by measuring key variables such as GDP, inflation and unemployment.  It also explores booms and recessions and examines how governments should influence the economy via fiscal policy (tax and spending) and monetary policy(ECB).

Half the 8 questions examined by the Leaving Cert exam are on Macro and half on Micro.  Candidates must answer any 4 questions.

Business

Students enjoy the subject’s mix of practical skills and more academic theoretical elements, and the new syllabus under the Junior Cycle promises even more ‘real life’ learning.

During Transition Year, ‘mini-companies’ take over the school as the students are encouraged to set prices, cut costs and negotiate with the labour force (i.e. themselves), as they put their Business acumen into practice.

At Leaving Certificate level, Business is often the most in-demand class: few can resist the allure of practicality and entrepreneurial inspiration. A high-light of the year is trooping down to the nearby Aviva Stadium for the Bank of Ireland Bond Trader Challenge, where teams from Mr. Bolger’s Business classes compete against
schools from across Leinster in doing what Business students do best: make money!

Classics

Classics VI Notes:

Like the Spartans at Thermopylae, the Classics and Latin Department may be surrounded and outnumbered but they are fiercely proud, frenetically active and quite blissfully unaware of how many ‘likes’ they have on Facebook.  All students take Latin in First Year.  It is a proven perfect primer for further studies in language, history, mathematics and cavalry battles. A bit of Latin also presumably helps in the fields of law and medicine, but its real attraction for mere dabblers is the ability to drop a pro bono or alia iacta est in mixed wine-and-cheese company. For the chosen few, Latin continues through Second and Third Year and here the pueri become viri, once they can command the Stephen Fry-dubbed ‘Rolls Royce’ of Latin grammar: the passive periphrastic.

For the Leaving Certificate, students may take either Classical Studies or Latin, but not both, as the exams run co-currently. Rumours abound that one Conlethian in the past, the ambidextrous Ambrose MacGillycuddy, managed to take both exams simultaneously, writing with both his left and right hands, but others claim that the Classics paper was actually completed by his conjoined twin, Umbrose.

Latin shifts to an early morning start for the Leaving Cert, and the small class size allows sufficient time and space for extensive discussions, which make the grammar, vocabulary and history go down like a leisurely cena in the luxurious triclinium of some splendidly idle patrician in the last, golden days of Rome.

Classical Studies is the broadest Leaving Certificate subject, mixing drama, history, epic poetry, biography, art and architecture in a delightful but challenging combination of different disciplines. You will analyse Alexander’s use of light infantry, measure the intentionally skewed lines of the Parthenon and voice the anguished rage of Jason as he weeps over the fate of his young sons. The abilities to read, write and think are the only pre-requisites but a taste for adventure is recommended.

Our phalanx of Classics and Latin students are quite active extra-murally. We are perennial laurel-winners at both the Classics and Latin Teachers’ Speech Competition and the Ides of March Classics Table quiz. (Click here for a write-up of our most recent expeditions to these competitions.) We also visit the interactive Classics Museum in UCD, wander amidst the neo-classical Georgian splendor of Dublin and every second year, head to Rome itself!

The best site for further useful links is the webpage of the Classical Association of Ireland Teachers: www.caiteachers.com

Science

Junior Certificate: Science
Leaving Certificate: Biology, Chemistry and Physics

Look at dramatic inflation in the ‘points’ requirements for Third Level Science courses, and you will see how important, and competitive, an education in Science is becoming.  The employers clearly want Science graduates, and entry into these courses is now at a premium!   Of course, for the Department of Science at St. Conleth’s, making our students eminently employable is only a by-product of our true mission: to encourage our students to learn and enjoy all the wonders of the World of Science.

The new Junior Cycle places Science right up there with the holy trinity of English, Irish and Maths as a required subject, so there is no dodging the donning of the white lab coat!  And why would you try?  JC Science gives you a broad but lively and engaging introduction to all the various areas and aspects of the subject, from astronomy to zoology, with hands-on laboratory experience a priority.  At St. Conleth’s something is always cooking up there in the lab, and an added bonus is a nice break out on Clyde Road for everyone when someone inevitably trips the smoke detector with his smouldering magnesium.

For Leaving Certificate, we encourage every student to do at least one science, and we set the timetable so that it is possible to do all three: Biology, Chemistry and Physics.  Smaller class sizes assure close attention from the teachers and there is a lively competitive spirit and repartee between the senior science subjects.

Science also comes alive outside the classroom at St. Conleth’s. We have a proud tradition of entering and winning prizes at the Young Scientists Competition, with multiple teams and individuals being selected for exhibition each year, and our teachers also take students to other Science events throughout the year, including the Scifest national science exhibition and competition, which we are hosting an associated event this year.

Some relevant links:

Also of interest:

Geography

The time-honoured cross-sectional diagram of the earth is most of our First Years’ first entry into their Study-books, but Geography certainly goes on from there!

Geography may be the most diverse subject you can study in school. What happens at the subduction zone? Are South America and Africa two pieces of a jigsaw that once were joined together? What is a population pyramid? How come the south of Italy and the west of Ireland have so much in common? Global Warming, Desertification, Deforestation, Overfishing, Major Multi-National Corporatons, Political Corruption, Refugees, Fair Trade, Bilateral Aid … and so much more.

In our Geography classes we try to cover our curriculum using innovative teaching methodologies that engage the student. Geography pupils will reach their goals and learn so much about the world we inhabit in an interesting challenging environment!

There is something about the OS maps, the pictures and the field trips that sparks the interest and keeps the students focussed. Again, the new Junior Cycle version of Geography promises even more hands-on adventures in learning, with projects and field-work counting via continuous assessment towards the final grade.

Field-work is already mandatory in Leaving Certificate Geography as the mandatory field-study brings our Sixth Years out into the elements with their various measuring and recording devices. A non-mandatory, but recommended, jump in the Irish Sea often caps the trip to a nearby strand….once the long-shore drift has been carefully noted.