The school year 2014/15 was another busy year at Queen of the Universe N.S. with work finishing on the third phase of the A.S.D. extension and a number of improvements being made to the school grounds.
It was with great sadness that we also had to say goodbye as Mrs. Lilian Choo retired after 32 years distinguished service in the school. Mrs. Choo was very highly regarded by both current and former pupils and was an extremely talented teacher. Her artistic skills were put to great use around the school with two murals painted by her and her talented pupils. She will be missed around the school for her friendliness, kindness and good humour. We wish her all the best for her retirement and I’m sure she will pay us many a visit over the coming years.
Our pupil enrolment rose again to 292 children. 55 Junior Infants started with us and had a great year with their teachers Ms. Cody, Mrs. Choo and Ms. Joyce. The children in second class received their First Communion in May and sixth class pupils received their Confirmation in March. Shauna O’Neill who had just finished 6th class represented the school and her town at Croke Park on All Ireland final day. She took part in the Allianz Cumann na mBunscol mini sevens and played extremely well in front of a huge crowd. Shauna had won the football title with her school the previous October and the school again took part in the Cumann na mBunscol competition. However this year we bowed out at the semi-final stage despite playing very well in our games against Scoil Mhuire gan Smál, Askea girls and Gaelcoláiste Ceatharlach. Later in the year we participated in the hurling competition. After wins against the Gaelcoláiste and Ballon we met Ballon again in the final. In a tight and tense final our girls won having battled bravely right up to the final whistle. This completed a three in a row for the school and great credit is due to the camogie club in town for their hard work with all the underage teams.
One of the big projects during the year was to make a suitable home for some new arrivals to our school in October. Having won a competition in September run by Slow Food Ireland we were now to be the proud owners of three hens. These arrived to great excitement along with a house and some food. The children all agreed to take responsibility for taking care of the hens and they were placed outside Mr. Cox’s room. The hens started to lay eggs almost immediately and it was great to see the children check daily to make sure the hens had food and water. As the year progressed we decided to give the hens a more permanent home and with the help of Billy Hughes and some Tús workers a beautiful enclosure was created.
Our annual sponsored Halloween walk was another huge success for the school and the children had great fun dressing up and parading around the Fair Green.
The Parents’ Council in the school were busy during the year and one of their big events was the Christmas Bazaar in the McGrath Hall. The local community came out in huge numbers to support our school and great fun was had with spin the wheel and various stalls selling some beautiful merchandise. Our own sixth class had to work extremely hard as they made personalised Christmas decorations with the help of Ms. McDermott, Rona and Sean Cummins. The annual Christmas draw was another success raising more much needed funds for the school.
To get everybody in the Christmas spirit the classes performed a concert in the school hall for parents. Huge numbers turned up to watch the great performances and singing talent in the school. Our third and fourth class also performed as part of a concert of Carols in St Andrews church in conjunction with the local folk group. This group were working with Music Generation and also performed with other schools in a concert in St Andrews church in May.
Following the arrival of our hens, we decided that as a school we would work with Nore Valley farm and try to incubate some chicks. There was great excitement as children watched and waited patiently as the chicks grew inside the eggs and got ready to hatch. It was amazing to see the process of the chick emerging from the egg and we were lucky that all our chicks hatched safely. Children then got to see the chicks grow as we kept them under heat lamps for a few weeks before they returned to the farm.
The school was again successful in the Credit Union quiz this year winning the U-11 category. The team of Annie O’Neill, Emma Conroy, Emma Power and Grainne Dermody then competed in the chapter level in Kilkenny, representing their area with pride.
Work finally finished on the A.S.D. extension much to the delight of everybody in the school. It was great to get finished and get the full yard back for playtime but it was also great to get the use of a huge new room for 1st class. This room provides a spacious, bright learning space with benches for computers.
Seachtain na Gaeilge was again celebrated in the school and was great fun. This included a demonstration of Irish dancing from some of our students. Students also worked hard on reading and maths using online websites like Reading Eggs and Mathletics.
Work on the grounds during the year included a new garden area. These raised beds were put to good use when we planted potatoes, beans, radishes, onions and peas which we harvested in September. We also have a wildflower area, a compost zone and a 5 star bug hotel.
The school took part in the Creative school award during the year which gave students a chance to showcase their talents in the arts. One of the major projects was the creation of a sound wall which allows children to make sounds using a variety of recycled materials. This is now a beautiful colourful addition to our playground and will in time become part of the junior playground. To receive our award, Roisin Jordan and Ellie Cody went to Dublin where they took part in workshops and spoke to the Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’Sullivan T.D.
We thank the parents, staff, Board of Management and of course the pupils for their support during the year and look forward to an equally busy 2015/15 school year.