As Principal of Presentation College I have been invited by your editor to write an article about life in the school. This is a timely invitation in that our “Open Night” is fast approaching. Indications are that students and parents have made their decision early about which Secondary School to attend during the last year in Primary education. “Open Night” helps to reafﬁrm that decision.
Research shows that the two main factors which parents consider in deciding which school to send their children are Good Discipline and Good Results. Both are interdependent – “You can’t have one without the other” as the song goes. If the school is effectively managed and organised, students will know where they must be at any given time; they and their teachers will know what is expected of them and both groups will then make maximum use of the learning time that is available. In such an atmosphere students will be challenged to achieve their personal best-and will know that to do, so they must supplement school leaming with daily homework.
Achievement in public examination is a fair indicator of how successful a school’s disciplinary code is. Good results imply good order and good discipline in a school. Last summer 122 students from Presentation College sat the full Leaving Certificate examination. Seventy-one of last year’s group are now attending a University, Regional Technical College or other Third Level institution. One, being the eighteenth highest entry qualiﬁer to Trinity College, Dublin, was awarded an Exhibition Scholarship.
Because we provide an orderly and secure environment each student has the opportunity to achieve his/her full potential. A survey conducted across ten countries by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement found that “the availability of reading resources in schools is one of the factors most strongly associated with effective schools. In Ireland more effective schools tend to have more books in libraries than less effective schools”. Our library has about 3,000 books in stock and has seating accommodation for seventy students. The librarian’s timetable ensures that all students have easy access to the books and that the list is regularly updated.
Participation in extra-curricular activities encourages a sense of community and pride in the school and broadens the relationship between our teachers and our pupils. Representing one’s school in competition is a prized ambition for many students while the bus-load of supporters contributes to the unity of purpose on such occasions. Hurling, Basketball and Soccer are among the preferred games for boys, while girls participate in Camogie, Basketball and Soccer.
With the co-operation of the Monivea Rugby Club we have rugby coaching on a weekly basis. We competed very successfully this year in Debating, Public Speaking, Cookery and Quiz competitions. The annual School Tour is another highlight, while our annual Musical draws a wide following from all comers of the catchment area. Through the Student Representative Council students are encouraged to contribute to the welfare of the school community, while the Leaving Certificate Committee coped admirably with the responsibility of running the Graduation ceremony.
We have an active Parents” Council which over the years have contributed much to the school. This year the Council organised a Careers Information Evening, helped with the Musical and has a Drug Awareness Programme in place for the remainder of the year. Later the Council will organise the Mock Interviews for the Leaving Certiﬁcate and Post-Leaving Certiﬁcate students.
In the last few years we have introduced a number of innovations in the school:
Technology, Building Construction and Woodwork.
NCVA Level II Awards for Post-Leaving Certiﬁcate students – These awards qualify for Regional Technical College entry and job placement is virtually guaranteed afterwards.
Investment in a new computer system.
To continue the development which has occurred in the Primary Schools, a Resource Teacher has been appointed to cater for the needs of the weaker student.
Making the school wheelchair friendly.
Extending the school.
Developing our canteen facilities.
Supervised study throughout the school day to cater for teacher absences for whatever reason.
Needless to say this account of Presentation College cannot do full justice to the school. While we have a spacious building and grounds including the Sports’ Centre, the true atmosphere of the school can only be felt by witnessing at ﬁrst hand the interaction between all the members – students, teachers, parents and management – who constitute the school community. We believe our school to be a Christian caring place which gives each student the opportunity to develop all his/her gifts to the full and to become a responsible member of society.
Feature Photo: New Presentation College, Ballygurrane, Athenry 2020