The school year 2013/14 was another very busy one at Queen of the Universe. The school had many successes throughout the year across sporting, academic and artistic fields.
The school population continues to grow with 281 children enrolled and a tenth class being set up. This raised issues as the current school has only nine classrooms. As we looked at options it was decided by the school to purchase the vacant former Teagasc building which borders the school on two sides. This was seen as ideal as the building would house learning support, resource teachers and a classroom greatly expanding the available rooms in the school. The added bonus was that the yard to the back of the building could be used temporarily for parking while the second phase of our Autism classes was being built and eventually could be incorporated into the infant yard to give them more play space at break times. With all these plusses the Teagasc building was bought and our 4th and 5th classes moved in after Halloween along with Ms. Watchorn, Ms. Tully and Ms. Nolan.
The one setback in the purchase of the Teagasc offices was that the Department of Education would not provide any finance to us. They did give money to paint, carpet and upgrade the fire alarms but it meant the school had to take out a mortgage. This remains a very large sum which the school has to pay back over the coming years requiring continuing fundraising. We would like to thank all who have helped over the last year and hope for your continued support into the future. We also offer a huge thank you to the Parent’s Council who helped to clean the building prior to moving in and fundraised throughout the year.
With work ongoing for our fifth green flag, the pupils have been working very hard on biodiversity around the school. Many projects related to wildlife and plants can be seen throughout the school and we were visited by Mike Glynn, who informed the children about the birds that can be found around the town. We are also working on a number of gardening projects and hope to transform a number of areas over the next year. To add to the excitement we won a competition to win hens for the school. These will hopefully arrive in September or October and be a great educational resource for the children.
Congratulations to two of our students Julia Bandyk and Rachel McCullagh who were highly commended in the Texaco art competition. We also had winners in several other art competitions throughout the year.
The Credit Union quiz teams were very successful again this year. Our U-13 team of Rhoen Eate, Emma Campbell, Chloe Beck and Eibhlinn Ryan won the local quiz and went on to represent our school at Chapter level in Kilkenny. We also had success in the U-11 age group at local level coming third with our team of Sarah Hickey, Olivia Whelan Sapphire Gao and Aimee Brennan.
A large number of children received their First Communion and Confirmation during the school year. These are always great occasions with a lot of work going on in preparation for the big event. This year we had Bishop Dennis Nulty for the confirmation and he gave a lovely sermon to the children before confirming them. Our sixth class read at masses throughout the year in preparation for Confirmation and attended six special evening masses of preparation.
On the sporting fields we had great success throughout the year starting with medals in the Cross country event for Shauna O’Neill and Róisín Jordan. We then won the Allianz Cumann na mBunscol football championship for the second time. Having beaten both Askea and Scoil Mhuire from Carlow, the girls played Bennekerry in the semi final. They won this match with all members of the panel getting to show how good they were and looked forward to playing against the Gaelscoil in the final. This was a very tense affair with the teams very evenly matched. The scores were level after normal time and we faced extra time. The girls really improved and scored two goals to win comfortably in the end. Caitlin Condron accepted the cup on behalf of the school and the panel who were: Emily O’Hara, Aimee Doyle, Chantelle Kelly, Sara Clarke, Georgina Byrne, Emma Byrne, Ellie Cody, Shauna J O’Neill, Chloe Beck, Caitiln Condron, Shauna K O’Neill, Róisín Jordan, Meadow Reddy, Emma Lillis, Jessica Tamas, Ciara McCullagh, Sorcha McKenzie and Rayanna Byrne. A huge thanks to Mr. George Darcy, Ms. Fiona Corr and Mrs. Ann Hickey for their help with the team.
Following the success in the football we were quietly confident in the Camogie competition held later in the year. Following huge wins against Ballon N.S. and Gaelscoil Ceatharlach in the group stage the girls had to play against Ballon again in the final in the MC Grath Park. Following a slow start the girls really worked hard and ran up a very large score winning very comfortably in the end. Again this is the second time we have won the camogie to become double double champions. The girls were also runners up in indoor camogie earlier in the year. Huge credit must go to the football and camogie clubs in the town for all the hard work they do with the girls throughout the year.
Sixth class girls also competed in basketball this year playing games against Rathvilly, Drumphea and Ballon.
Shoe Boxes were collected again this year for the Heart to Hand charity and they were again delighted with the generosity of the families in the school.
This year for Halloween we decided to have a sponsored walk around the town to show off the many spooky costumes the children buy and make. This also raised some money for the school which was greatly appreciated.
Our third class took part in Music Generation this year. A music teacher came to the class weekly and the girls performed at two concerts during the year along with other school, one in St Andrews Church and one in the church in Borris. These were beautiful events with the girls singing superbly both on their own and as part of larger groups.
The largest fundraiser run by the school this year was the Everest challenge. The students in 6th class along with parents agreed to climb Mount Leinster in June and that combined they would climb the height of Mt Everest. A lot of hard work went into organising the event and selling prayer flags. These flags had a prayer or intention written on them and were flow at our “base camp” at the nine stones. On Everest expeditions the prayers flags are flown and the intentions are blown across the land. Unfortunately despite the climb taking place in June the weather was awful on the Sunday of the climb. For safety reasons we were not allowed to climb the mountain and decided instead to walk a much longer route from the nine stones downhill to the village of Myshall, easily covering the height of Mt Everest. Bishop Denis Nulty loved the idea of the climb and joined us on the day. Despite getting wet in a downpour at the start, the weather steadily improved as we walked down and we finished in sunshine in Myshall. Again a huge thank you to the parents council who were heavily involved in organising and running the event.
Visiting teachers to the school during the year included Hip hop dancing, Fit Kids, Cricket, football, camogie, badminton, science, bird watching, music and story telling.
Finally thanks to the teachers, SNAs and children for their hard work during the year, to the parents for their support and to Dorothy Kinsella, Billy Hughes and Tina Kelly who keep the school running so well.