Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Organic Garden Project - A New Beginning

Brendan Dickerson (pictured centre above) reports on a new Transition Year project this year - an Organic Garden!

This year the TY Biology classes plan to prepare and maintain an Organic Vegetable Garden. The classes are excited about the opportunity to plan and grow vegetables as well as soft fruits such as raspberries and blue berries. The group have been allocated an unused bed and green house in the farmer’s old garden, both in need of some attention. 

The project kicked off during evening activities on Saturday the 17th of September 2011. At 6pm a group of eager gardeners started work, with the help of Ms. Hennessey. We arrived to find all of our equipment, neatly laid out in the greenhouse, spades, shears, pitchforks, gloves and a rake all kindly supplier by the school gardener. 

The bed was in desperate need of some attention. The first task was an assault on the weeds, and trust me, there were a lot of weeds. The team worked with great focus and we managed to clear the bed in about half an hour. After most of the larger weeds were removed we dug the ground and used a pitch fork to turn the soil around so it would look nicer, pulling out smaller weeds as we went. Once the bed was weed free we raked and levelled the soil. 

Our find of the day was a leather jacket grub, the larva of the Chafer Beetle, a pretty ugly looking beast! 

Next, the grass around the raspberry bushes were pulled out to make them look neater and the surrounding area clipped with the shears. The Greenhouse was next on the task list. It was raked, to get rid of the grass, and old dead poppies were pulled out. At the end of our session the area was looking a lot better, and neater. The large red skip that we had been given was almost full from all the weeds we had pulled out. All in all it was a great evening and I hope soon enough we will have the garden up and running. 

Week 1 gardeners included – Brendan Dickerson, Alex Bisgood, Tosan McLarn, Anna v. Schintling, Emily Speckter, Sadhbh Sheeran, Stephan Koethe and Ugo Onwurah. Here are some before and after shots!

Before the onslaught.

The Green House

Hard at work.

The bed - ready for planting.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Compulsory Modules No. 1: Drama

This year on Monday afternoons TY pupils have a double class in what we call the compulsory modules. These are courses that everyone in the form participates in and which rotate through the year. The modules are Drama, Careers, Astronomy and P.E. Below is the first in a series introducing what's going on in each at the time of writing, starting, in no particular order, with Drama. 

A family of octopi (?) pose for their portrait 
A large part of successful drama lessons is about creating a space to encourage playfulness. So obviously this is mostly welcome from the pupils' perspectives. With the first group of year there is always the small matter of getting to know one another as there are always new characters in the form. 'Zip!Zap!Boing!' is a classic drama warm-up game used by professional directors and troupes the world over - we always start sessions with this. Playfulness takes centre stage with activities like 'Grandma's Steps' or 'The Bear of Poitiers'. These and a long list of other games seek to bond the group of performers, develop some physical awareness and fine tune verbal agility in a variety of situations. 

'Family Portraits' asks the groups to pose as a family having its photograph taken...a family of toddlers, accountants, Elvis Presleys, Olympic weight lifters, the list goes on.

Muscular, mostly...

As the group progresses it is hoped to develop greater confidence in role-playing, improv., and characterisation. A goal for each group is to have a workshopped sketch developed by the final week of the module. A lot done, more to so...

Another reliable activity - 'Changing Mirror'

Tara takes Gerardo's order in 'Role Reversal'

Oriol is put through his paces in the Coach/Athlete role reversal 

Junior Cert Celebration Day - Photo Slideshow

Below are a series of photos, taken by Transition Year pupil Christina Alvarez, of the Junior Certificate celebration day reported on earlier this month by Sadhbh Sheeran.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

TY Hike - A Few Photos

Yesterday's TY hike in the hills directly behind the college was blessed with perhaps the finest day so far this September. The views afforded by such a clear day from Fairy Castle were breath taking. To the north the city sprawled away, in the bay the tide was low but sailing races were clear to see off Dun Laoghaire, round to Killiney hill, Bray Head, the two Sugarloafs (Little and Big) and on to Maulin, Djouce, War Hill and the mast on Kippure.

Many of the hikers took photos so these are just an initial smattering and we hope to post a pupil report on the walk soon.

A brief rest while stragglers catch up, yes there were some stragglers!
Sall and Moll forage for 'blackers'
The leading party assemble at Fairy Castle
P. Dilenberger - looks to the sea, pensive; the Big Sugarloaf in the distance

Sam and Olly 'fly the dove' (sort of) with Dublin Bay beyond

Friday, September 23, 2011

TY Hike in the Hills

Tomorrow sees the first of a few scheduled 'whole form' hikes. All TY should be participating unless otherwise arranged and pupils are reminded that any physical activity of this nature counts towards their Columban award scheme. 

We are blessed to live at the foot of the ancient Dublin hills and no doubt we all too often take our location for granted. Walks like these help to recapture that sense of gratitude. By the way we must also give thanks for TY staff team member Mr. Noel Coldrick who is co-ordinating tomorrow's outing; he is vastly experienced as a walker in these hills (and far beyond) and he is willing to supervise and help to organise all manner of hikes if there is a desire to do so coming from the TY pupil body. For instance last year eight TY-ers walked c.60 miles of the Wicklow Way, mostly to raise money for Habitat for Humanity.

We will assemble at 2 p.m. tomorrow and after that NC is in charge but I think we'll walk a part of the Wicklow Way and visit Fairy Castle, Three Rock and come back down in a loop from Ticknock to Kilmashogue...but you never know!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Participants for House Speeches Announced

At this time of year, every year, the pupils selected for TY House Speeches are announced. This night is a favourite in the Columban calendar and is organised by the English department. It will take place on Sunday October 2nd in the BSR, starting at 8 p.m.

The idea is straightforward. Two TY members from each of the senior boarding houses will speak on a topic of their choice in front of the entire school. They are judged on various criteria by a panel of three judges (one judge is always last year's winner, in this case Neil Dalrymple). Speakers are strongly encouraged not to be too reliant on notes, which adds to the challenge. An individual winner is awarded as well as a winning house from the combined scores of its speakers. Usually the variety of topics covered in the evening is staggering - there really isn't a pattern but generally the entertainment levels are high!

Mr. Canning helps and cajoles the chosen few in their preparations and co-ordinates the whole evening. If any of the people listed below need assistance or guidance they can also consult with their TY mentor for advice. Parents, guests and visitors are welcome to attend on the night.
  • Glen: S. Freney, O. Glenn-Craigie, S. Hillert
  • Gwynn: H. Johnson, W. Wood, P. Dillenberger
  • Stackallan: A. Bisgood, A. Chisholm, B. Dickerson
  • Iona: C. Alvarez, D. Gernon, T. McCormick
  • Hollypark: A. Herrero, J. Huggard, H. Peters

The five TY-ers in Beresford are co-ordinating the interval entertainment.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

DAWN WALK - Beware! Flying Coffee!

It is hoped to offer several 'dawn walks' for TY pupils on Sundays this year. Bray resident Sean Freney writes his account below of  last Sunday's (very) early morning TY walk up to Bray Head. 

Bray Head - The North Face!
We set out on Sunday morning at 6:45 am for the first TY dawn walk of the year to climb Bray head.
We gathered outside the sports hall, and departed in two cars. Mr. Swift’s was much the smoother.  In-flight banter between fellow Bray local boy Mr. O’Shaughnessy and me was almost competitive. Who knew more about the local businesses past or present, dry cleaners and general practitioners, that sort of thing. In 25 minutes we were at Bray seafront, from where we walked to the base of the hill to start our ascent. Mr. Coldrick told us that it would be a nice morning, but he always does – all was to be revealed...

Brave Mountaineering Souls - we need more of this spirit!
When we got close to the summit he and Mr. O’Shaughnessy had already reached the top. Only as the cross appeared just metres away did we feel the full force of the morning wind. The remaining five of us climbed the almost vertical rock face with great difficulty, and the gale did not aid us in our venture. When we all reached the top we could hardly move and were getting blown about the place.

It was then that Mr. O’Shaughnessy started offering coffee from a flask – we’d arrived at the top and it was time for a treat. The gusts had other ideas. The wind was so strong at his first sip Mr. O’S ended up with milky coffee on his glasses and down his front. When he offered it to others my camera lens took the brunt! He was the first to admit it wasn’t one of his finest ideas! A fellow early morning hiker kindly took a photo of the group.

With a little time to spare we walked for ten minutes along the path that leads to Greystones. Mr. Coldrick befriended a piebald horse but couldn’t persuade Brendan to hop up. 
'Mr. Coldrick befriended a piebald'
We made our descent and drove back to the college in time for breakfast and chapel.

In my opinion it was a great morning, much more productive than staying in bed. On behalf of myself and my three fellow Columbans, I’d like to thank Mr. Swift, Mr. Coldrick and Mr. O’Shaughnessy for accompanying us. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

SCC: First Impressions

In the first TY session of the year pupils were given their timetables and told what to expect and how best to benefit from TY. We flagged up the new blog and spoke about our hope that by the year's end every TY pupil would have contributed a piece. Mr. Jones invited the new members of the form to volunteer to write a 'first impressions' piece and Anna v. Schintling was the valiant soul who raised her hand. Her thoughts are below. 

I was excited to come to the college because I've always wanted to go to a boarding school. The days before I came here I thought a lot about what to pack and what the people probably might be like.
When I arrived I was warmly welcomed by the kids who had been here before. I was shown around by one of the seniors. She showed me where I was supposed to live for the coming year.  I really liked my room from the first moment. I unpacked my things and went to listen to the Warden’s speech.
The first school day was very exciting because I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to go and what my classes were but the “older” pupils of this place showed me where to go.
Everything was so new to me, the campus and all the other people.
So far I really like the school and I have settled in quickly. All the people are really kind and are helping wherever they can. I enjoy life at St. Columba’s College so far which is pretty much what I expected.

Collecting for AWARE

A report from intrepid collector Siobhán Brady on her experience of helping raise money for Aware's annual Daisy Days:

Each year, Transition Year pupils spend a lot of their time taking part in fundraising for different charities. This year, our first event was for the charity AWARE. This charity helps people deal with depression.  I was in the first group to go fundraising on Grafton Street.

So on Thursday 15 September, Dearbhala Gernon, Harry Johnson, Melchior de Preville and I set out at 8:15 a.m. in the mini-bus to the Luas station in Dundrum, driven by Willie Gibbs. When we got into town on the Luas, a man from AWARE met us outside the St. Stephen's Green centre, armed with green boxes containing different coloured bracelets (which took us all of ten minutes to learn how to put on!) and bright yellow teeshirts which had the slogan "Daisy Days. Help AWARE to defeat depression" on them. 

We were immediately faced with competition from the Transition Year students of Terneure College who were collecting for Our Lady's Hospice. But, undaunted, we trooped down Grafton Street asking the same question over and over: "Would you like to buy a bracelet for AWARE?"

Some people were very generous, giving up to €20! Some were not so friendly but all of us kept a smile on our faces and wished them a nice day! Our hands and legs were sore from standing holding boxes which seemed to be  getting heavier and heavier over the three hours we were there, but it was all for a good cause.

At twelve o'clock, we signed off our names at the main desk and gave our boxes back to the man from AWARE. We got the Luas back to Windy Arbour where Mr Coldrick cheerfully met us and drove us back to school

I think this was a very worthwhile day. I liked the idea  of putting one new person in each group so we got to know each other better. My attitude has now completely changed towards anyone collecting for a charity on the streets of Dublin as I know how much it means to the collector when someone stops to donate with a smile on their face!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mentoring Groups

Each Transition Year pupil is assigned to a mentoring group headed by a member of staff who will supervise and advise the pupils thoughout the course of the year. Having met as a whole form in the first week, these smaller groups have been meeting during this past week and have exchanged ideas and become familiar with each other.

Pupils are encouraged to set themselves academic, extra-curricular and personal goals and their mentor will advise and support them in these aspirations. Each pupil will organise and collate a folder containing details of activities engaged in during the year. This will provide a permanent record of achievment. They will all be encouraged to contribute to, and hence take a lot from their own individual Transition Year.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Junior Certificate Results Celebrations

Last Wednesday, members of the Transition Year received their Junior Certificate results. That afternoon, the pupils celebrated their fine achievements with a day out in Dublin - giving the new pupils to the school a chance to bond with their new classmates and to see a little bit of the city. Sadhbh Sheeran gives us a low-down on what took place.

We received our results at 12.30pm on Wednesday the 14th of September and like everyone else who were to collect their results I was absolutely terrified. But within the hour we were all, both those who had sat their Junior Cert in June and those who hadn’t, boarding a bus and heading out of the school towards the Dublin docks to celebrate the end of three years' work! 

On arriving at the Poolbeg yacht club we were bundled into waterproofs that resembled something between the stereotypical fisherman’s outfit and a Santa suit! Donning life jackets, we were split into groups - those of us who would brave the rougher boat and those of you who would prefer the more gentle covered boat! I chose the rough boat!! 

We were guided to 3 boats, 2 ribs and a covered safer-looking boat! Those who had opted for the less adventurous boating experience boarded the latter, only to find it would not start and so were instructed to remain on shore for the time being and they would go out after we returned. The rest of us piled into the ribs and set off, bouncing across the waves. About five hundred metres out we collided with what was apparently a lobster pot, although I have to say it didn’t look much like one to me. The engine cut out and would not restart so we had to be towed back to the docks by the other rib! 

We had soon boarded a covered boat and set off once again! As we came round the coastline we saw landmarks such as the Aviva Stadium , Howth Head, Dalkey Island (pictured above) and Bono’s house. There were seals sitting on the rocks on Dalkey island. For some of the people on my boat it was their first time seeing seals and they were utterly intrigued! As we came round Dalkey Island we encountered another problem, the other boat, the only rib left, was having some trouble picking up speed so to be on the safe side the passengers from that boat came and joined us for the journey back to the docks. 

Arriving safely back on dry land we were met by Mr. Sherwood and the remainder of our year, who had been to the Dublin Eye while we were out in the boats. They then boarded the boat and we set off toward the Dublin Eye. I had never been on the Dublin Eye before so was very excited. From the top we could see right out into the harbour and around Dublin - a sight of the city I had never seen before! 

On returning to the club house we were reunited with the rest of our year and had some supper. Then it was back on the bus and off to Dundrum Cinema where Mr. Sherwood had booked us the V.I.P seats to see the movie Friends With Benefits, a romantic comedy, that everyone enjoyed, even the boys who loathed to admit liking anything with Justin Timberlake in it! 

As we were leaving the cinema we passed other people also celebrating results night but I have to say I wouldn’t have rather spent my day any other way! I would like to thank Mr. Sherwood who put much effort into organising the expedition for us and to Mr. Gibbs, Mr. Clarke and Ms. Baker who accompanied us. 

Photos of the trip to follow shortly.

Friday, September 16, 2011

It's Installations Time of Year!

On the second day of term the Warden installed the new team of college prefects in chapel. There are more prefects than usual this year and this is mainly because they are a terrific form.

This Sunday at Matins (by the way directly after Dawn Walk no. 1 see here) six new fellows of the college will also be installed. The fellows are equivalent to governors in other schools and have a really important role in decisions to do with the future of the college. There are some really excellent individuals joining this body and all of us at Serpents & Doves wish them well - and if there are any fellows reading who better to ask about life as a pupil in the college than a member of TY? Now there's an invite.

But really getting to the point of this post. In TY in the last days we have had our own installation. Yes the six members of this term's TY Tuck Shop Co-Op have been appointed. All they need to do now is to brush up on their 8 x tables...(that's one for the Maths Dept.)

The tuck shop at SCC uses profits to pay its workers, make contributions to charity appeals within school and also provides funds for sporting facilities around the college. Working there helps your inter-personal skills, trains you to work under pressure, improves your multi-tasking and in general gives a really good insight into the world of retail.

There will be plenty of opportunities for other members of TY to gain the whirlwind of experience that comes from being a St. Columba's confectionery clerk you just need to approach Mr Swift if keen.

And the successful applicants are: S. Freney (Glen), B. Dickerson (Stackallan), T. McLarn (Stackallan), S. Sheeran (Hollypark), M. Buckingham (Beresford) and S.Beeby (Beresford). Well done chaps and remember 80c + 80c + 80c = €2.40!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Aware Collections Underway

The first charitable component of the TY Programme begins in earnest today with our long standing involvement with the annual collection for Aware. Aware is Ireland's leading N.G.O. concerned with helping those who suffer from depression and is committed to breaking the stigma that too often surrounds it. 

TY members make sure you're aware (unintended pun) of when and where you're collecting and that you're clear on the arrangements for travel to and from your allotted stomping ground. 

Our pupils will be collecting over today and tomorrow in both Grafton St. in the city centre and more locally in Knocklyon shopping centre. So if you see some young serpentish doves shaking a collection box give generously - it would help a lot. 

TY Columbans have raised thousands of € every year for over a decade and even though we are living in ever straitened times we're sure this year will be no exception.

Here's a link to the Aware homepage.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dawn Walks Begin, Oh Yes!

Sania He on last year's Dawn Walk to the Lead Mines and Carrickgollogan

Many of last year's TY garnered great enjoyment from going for walks in interesting locations around Dublin at silly o'clock. So we've decided to get this voluntary activity up and running again. What's the big idea? Well these rambles will take place on Sunday mornings when there is a Matins service. All boarders will be in the college on the Saturday night so they might as well get up and at it on Sunday morning.

TY walkers will have stretched their legs, seen beautiful scenery and appreciated the best part of the day and will still be back in time for a late-ish breakfast and a quick change for chapel. The walks won't be long or terribly strenuous but they will score highly on the satisfaction rating. It's really more about an attitude that's positive and life affirming!

So sign up, there's a notice on the TY board and as with all good events places are limited...

This Sunday we're climbing Bray Head and will be led by a local boy, the teacher with the north Wicklow brogue, Mr. O'Shaughnessy.

Click here for an account of a previous Dawn Walk on the college website.

The New Bunch

St. Columba's College welcomed back our Transition Year students last Thursday and already they have been very busy. Over the next week they will be partaking in fundraising for the charity AWARE as well as discovering Dublin on their first team building day - which doubles as a Junior Certificate celebration. Look out for reports to come.