Friday, 13 April 2018


On Wednesday the 21st of march, the six Jigsaw peer Educators from Loreto Balbriggan were invited to the 'Read Your Mind' book launch in Blanchardstown Library.The purpose of the launch was to promote a collective initiative between Fingal libraries and Jigsaw.They provided a catalogue of books in the sectors of mental health and well being in young people.

Our school was honoured to witness this book launch along with other schools in the Fingal County area along with our neighbouring Loreto Swords and Skerries Community College.It enabled the peer educators to understand the vitality of encouraging young people to maintain good mental well being.

Towards the end of the book launch a selection of lovely pastries ,tea and biscuits were provided and served to all the attendees of the launch.


Tidy Towns

On Thursday 15th March, a group of about 25 TY students set out to help with Tidy Towns Balbriggan. This event was organised by Ms Gaughan and the Tidy Towns committee, which was set up earlier in the year. We left after break, to meet a Tidy a Towns member who would show us what to do. Half of the group went litter picking around Balbriggan, whilst the other half went to the train station, to shovel up areas for flowers to be planted. In the train station, we used shovels and rakes to loosen up the soil. We also removed litter and large rocks and weeds from the area. The other Tidy Towns members will soon return to the train station to plant flowers there, in order to brighten up the station. It was tiring work, but it was worth it when we saw what a difference we had made. After returning to the school for a well needed lunch, the two groups joined together and we went litter picking for the rest of the afternoon. We walked to the car park opposite the church and began work. Everyone was shocked to see how much litter was there, but by the time we had left, the place looked much cleaner. Going back through the village, we picked litter as we walked. I loved having the ability to make a difference, however small it was, and I can’t wait to help out again. 

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Jigsaw Peer Education Programme

A graduation ceremony was held in Skerries Community College for the six students who got selected for training as Jigsaw Peer Educators. After attending several enjoyable sessions over the last few months,a graduation was organised to mark the end of their achievement. Six girls from Loreto Secondary School and a few other students from other schools including students from Skerries Community College were handed certificates for their accomplishment.  After listening to the instrumental show and a few speeches made by students and teachers, we had our pictures taken by parents/ guardians who also attended. We nibbled on the finger foods that were laid out for us and chatted along to our friends and family. 

Thank you to Ms.Costigan for organising the programme. We look forward to delivering the presentation based on raising awareness of mental health to our peers over the coming weeks.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Junk Kouture

Congratulations to all students on their performances in the Kouture semi-finals in The Helix. Well done to 3 of our costumes on reaching the Final : “ Tyred “  “Angel of the Night” “ "The Dutchess". We wish the finalists the very best of luck in the final which will take place in the Three Arena on the 19th April.

TY Breast Cancer Awareness Talk

Awareness helps to save lives...Breast Cancer Ireland are keen to promote education and awareness amongst women of all ages.

It's a myth to think that Breast Cancer only happens to women over a certain age!  Breast Cancer can happen to women young and old. Thanks to the speaker who came in to talk all about breast cancer and its early stages. We are now fully aware of all the symptoms. 

The speaker introduced herself and her equipments. She went through the presentation she had prepared. The presentation included a lot of useful information. We found out that breast cancer affects 1 in 9 women. She read out the instruction on how to get the breast cancer app and how it works.  We got to touch the mannequin which was helpful as you get a sense of feeling of what exactly you are looking for and what is normal around the area. 

I found the talk very beneficial because I now know how to check for breast cancer symptoms. I discovered a new app which I intend to use regularly.  I know 8 warnings to look out for and how to do the breast examination and how often should one do it.

TY Film Studies Trip

Mr. Daly's and Ms. O'Sullivan's film studies year long module class got a lucky trip to Swords cinema. We took the bus and there was excitement buzzing in the air. The movie that we watched was chosen by the teachers and it was a very good choice. We watched "The Greatest Showman ".  Swords Pavilions was filled with 60 friendly Loreto Balbriggan faces.  We got our cinema food and munched away during the 2 hour long movie. 

A little bit more about the movie;
Inspired by the imagination of P. T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business & tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation. Starring P.T Barnum, the Wolverine star Hugh Jackman, Phillip, the High School Musical sensation Zac Efron and Anne Wheeler as Disney's favorite Zendaya. 

The musical genre was not popular among us students but as soon as the movie started we were all indulged into it. Personally I dislike watching musicals but every since watching that one I suddenly started liking them. I would give it a 10/10 rating. 

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Work Experience: Diary Entries

Student 1
Week One- Mater Hospital Dublin
For my first week of Work Experience I went to the Mater Hospital in Dublin. As I have been interested in a career in medicine for a while this course was very beneficial for me. We mostly spent the week listening to talks from different workers in the hospital. For example, we got to hear the realities of studying medicine and working after college from a Junior Doctor in the hospital. The highlights for me were visiting the blood labs and the mortuary. In the blood labs we saw bags of different blood cells and learned how blood is analysed. The hospital had tubes that could send vials of blood to different parts of the hospital instantly which I found amazing. In the mortuary we saw a brain which had been preserved in a bucket, I was surprised that nobody fainted. Overall, the week was very enjoyable and gave me a much better insight into working in a hospital. 
Week Two- Paz de Ziganda Ikastola, Pamplona, Spain
My second week of work experience was at an Ikastola in Spain. An Ikastola is a primary/secondary school where classes are taught through Basque, a minority language in Northern Spain, like a Gaelscoil in Ireland. The students learned English as a third language there and I helped out in their classes for the week. At the start of the week, I was in the playschool and primary school part of the school. I read stories like The Three Little Pigs to those children and made them do actions and sound effects with certain words to keep them engaged and help them to understand. I also helped older primary school children who were practising dramas they would be performing for their parents in English. I read scripts with them so they could hear how a native speaker pronounced different words. With one class who were studying the ocean, I told them the story of The Giant's Causeway. They loved hearing about Irish culture and laughed at my accent every chance they got.

Later in the week, I spent time in the secondary school section of the school. I spoke to them about differences between Ireland and Spain and answered questions they had about Ireland. They were especially shocked by the different foods we ate in Ireland. Nobody there had ever eaten or even heard of turnips or parsnips. They were also surprised by how different our school was to theirs. I told them that we couldn't wear nail varnish, makeup, or big earrings and they all looked horrified. They were also surprised when I showed them pictures of our school uniform and told the that most schools in Ireland had uniforms. Based on the information I told them, they assumed my school was a private school, as it sounded similar to private schools in Spain. None of them could believe that my school was not private and that most non-private schools in Ireland were similar to my school. We also talked about books, celebrities, and TV shows. Their standard of English was amazing so it was easy to have conversations with them. I even got to help out in a 6th Year English class who were preparing for the Spanish Leaving Cert. I read the ending of the novel they were studying aloud for them so they could hear my accent. Then I got to hear about the different college courses they wanted to do and what the Spanish Leaving Cert was like.

That week was an amazing and unique opportunity to see what teaching English as a foreign language is like. It really was one of the highlights of Transition Year for me and helped me to decide my career path. 
Week Three- Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Cork. 
I spent my final week of work experience at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in Cork. Pfizer manufacture different medicines like Paracetamol, and at the plant I visited, they made the raw materials for the medication rather than the actual medication. We had guided tours of the labs, plant, and warehouses from workers in the different areas. The highlights of the course for me were working in the labs and engineering talks we heard. In the labs, we got to analyse different substances and use advanced technology to create graphs to help us identify the substances. This was a fun way of seeing what working as a scientist in a lab is like. During the engineering talks, we did different challenges which made the talks really engaging. We had to build a tower and a bridge out of straws and balance different things on them. This week was very interesting as I learned a lot about different careers in STEM subjects. I got to see where different STEM degrees could lead which I found beneficial. 

Student 2

Week One- Speech and Language Clinic 
My mum works as a receptionist in a speech and language clinic, so I decided to go there for my first week of work experience. I was also interested to discover more about the occupation of a speech and language therapist. On the first day, I was nervous as I arrived at the clinic, because I was unsure of what it would be like. However, the three therapists were very welcoming and I soon settled in. I was given the opportunity to sit in on several therapy sessions everyday. I was very lucky to get to do this and most of the parents were open to me being there. I liked interacting with the different kids and watching how the therapists worked with them. Each child had different issues and the therapists adapted the sessions to suits them, changing every week. I realised that speech and language therapy covers a wide variety of topics, not just stammering and pronunciation. I really enjoyed my week and got the chance to work with lots of different children. I would now consider a career with children or/and with speech therapy in the future.

Week Two- Primary School 
For my second week of work experience, I decided to return to my primary school. I didn’t really have an interest in teaching, but I wanted to experience work with children and see how it suited me. On the Monday, I attended the I Wish conference in the RDS instead of work experience. This was interesting and gave a good insight into the various opportunities the STEM subjects can give to girls. On the Tuesday I began work in the school. I split each day between a junior infant and senior infant class. This was slightly overwhelming at first, as there were so many small children, but it became easier as the week progressed. I helped out with art, writing and reading. It was fun and interactive. On the Wednesday I talked to the 6th class about secondary school and gave them some tips. I also went to the 5th class and helped them with the foreign languages they were learning. Overall I enjoyed the week, but I’m not sure if I’d like to work with kids all the time.

Week Three- Vintage Clothing Shop 
My third week was spent in a vintage clothing shop in Temple Bar in town. This was quite different to my previous weeks as it did not involve children and I was doing completely different tasks. I got great experience working in a shop and I also learned a lot about vintage clothes. I have an interest in fashion and sewing so I really enjoyed this week. My jobs involved helping customers, steaming, sorting and colour coding clothes and dressing up mannequins for display. I loved seeing the different eras of fashion while I was organising the clothes by style and colour. I would possibly like to work with fashion in the future, as I am interested in an artistic or creative career. However, I don’t think my strengths would lie in a career like managing a shop.

Student 3 

Week One
I decided to work in a St. Vincent de Paul charity shop for two weeks. I found my experience great and it has totally changed my expectations towards the local charity shop. I started at 10:00 and I would sign my name in the sign in booklet, then I would put my jacket and bag in a locker. The jobs varied from day-to-day, sometimes it would be a busy day full of work or a day that their would be repetitive work. The work that I had to do included recycling products that were over ten days old which included, books, clothing, house decorations, toys, CDs & DVDs. I also had to click size cubes on clothing hangers for each of the clothes, write the date and price of the products and bring in donations to the back to discard what we would not want to put onto the shelves. Colour coordinating was one of my favourite things to do along with attending customers.

We would have a 15 minute break by 11:00. During that time I would have something to eat, fill in my Work Experience Journal, talk with my colleagues and rest. We get back to work whenever we are ready and continue with our work until 12:30. Then we would have a break and we got to go out and buy our lunch, walk around the town and get some fresh air. Thirty minutes later we get back to work until 14:00 which is when I finish. Skills I developed: Sensitivity to others, Initiative, Motivation, Communication, Team Membership and Independence.

Week Two

I worked in Vila, a retail clothes shop. My experience there was good. I learned a lot of "retail skills" such as folding trousers and jumpers in a particular way, unpacking new in clothing,  steaming new in clothing, polishing the shelves and clothing rails, putting price stickers on sales clothing and tucking tags into the clothing. My day began at 9:30 I would put my bag and jacket down in the staff room, start polishing and continue from the previous day. My favourite memory from that experience was when I got complimented by a local customer of how professional I seemed to be. That made me be confident throughout the whole week. At 12:30 I had lunch and got back to lunch at 13:00, continued working and finished at 15:00.
Skills developed: Adaptability, Learning Skills, Customer Focus and Active Listening.

Student 4
Week One
Taking advice from teachers and coordinators I decided to spend one of my weeks in a career sector that interested me and I had considered for my own future. So off I headed to Hayes McGrath Solicitors on Baggot street in Dublin city. Being completely honest, I was terrified. I got an extremely early train, I got lost on my way from the train station and I still arrived far too early at the office. All was well in the end though. I learned a lot in my first day let alone the entire week. Everything was smooth sailing, except for a silly mistake that landed me on a train to Newbridge instead of Rush. I got to read case file about things I had heard in the news for example the stabbings at the Swedish House Mafia concert in 2012. It was all so overwhelming to see the real life work behind the scenes of the most famous criminal cases in Ireland. I was so impressed with my week there, hopefully I will be able to return when I’m in college for a summer job.

Week two
My second week was probably the best out of the three. I spent it in Shannon, Co. Clare in The  Irish Aviation Authority. I was in the air traffic control section and I was able to witness, in my opinion, the most crucial element of flying. The air traffic controllers speak to pilots, airports, runway staff, and other air traffic controllers all over the world. They control every single plane that flies over Irelands airspace, which is more that just the country itself. I absolutely loved every second of it. I was also lucky enough to get to visit the air traffic control tower, which is at the runway of Shannon Airport and see a few planes taking off. It really opened my eyes to another possible career.
Week three
For my third week I returned to one of my old primary schools, St. Brendans NS in Loughshinny. It was so nice to return to a place filled with such wonderful memories and to be remembered by all of the staff. I had a timetable for everyday so I was always busy and never wandering around. I spent time in every class and was lucky enough to go on some outings with a few classes. I went to the beach with 6th class to help them do a litter collection, and I went on a hike with 4th class along the cliffs from Rush to Loughshinny. I also happened to be there when a few 6th class kids were preparing for a debating competition so I helped them practice

Junk Kouture 2018

Congratulations to all twelve teams from the school that reached the semi finals of the Junk Kouture competition


Transition year students in the JPIC group attended a presentation and workshop on homelessness. Mary Kilgarriff from the Dublin Central Mission in Abbey St. Dublin, gave the group an inspiring insight into the life of rough sleepers , the limitations of services available  and the causes of homelessness. The group also packed toiletry bags for homeless girls and women and presented the charity with 200 euro they had raised and supplies of sanitary ware that they had collected over the past weeks. The workshop was hugely informative and motivating and it has inspired the students to maintain links with the homeless charity and continue to work towards understanding & changing the homeless crisis.

Fashion Focus Workshop

The 4E form class took part in a ‘Fashion Focus’ workshop on Wednesday morning facilitated by Eco-UNESCO. They engaged in activities which discussed and challenged their ideas on fashion, the ‘fashion life cycle’ and the environmental impact of the textile industry. They finished off the workshop by learning some upcycling skills. The students made some throw bags from old t-shirts and also created some other new fashion items from old shirts and t-shirts they had in their wardrobe.

Monday, 11 December 2017

TY Trip - Butlers Chocolate Factory

All TY Home Ec students were offered an opportunity to go to the Butlers Chocolate Factory to have a tour of the factory and to see what happens in the factory. We left the school in the morning and arrived an hour later in Coolock. First of all, we had to make sure health and safety measures were put in place. We had to wear fishnets and white coats to protect our hair and clothes. After that, a speaker, Laura, spoke to us about how chocolate is made in the factory.

As we were walking around listening to her, we got ready made toffee chocolates. There was different departments and every person in the factory had a role to fulfil. Some people had to decorate the chocolate and others had to package the chocolate. We saw different types of machines that make the work more efficient. We learnt about the origin of chocolate by walking through the timeline hallway. A short film was presented to us about the origin of chocolate and the Butlers Chocolate Factory. From the short film we learnt many new facts. For example, modern chocolate comes from West Africa. The founder of Chez Nous was Marion Butler. James Sorenson bought the company and renamed it Butlers Chocolate. Also, the company was renewed in 1984.

At the end of the tour we got to make our own personalised chocolate elephants. First of all we had to watch a demonstration and then we had to try make it ourselves. Everyone had their own brush to decorate the chocolate with white chocolate and a plastic bag and ribbon to package the chocolate. After that, the tour unfortunately came to an end. But fortunately we got to go to the Butlers Chocolate Cafe and we stayed there and waited for our bus to come and pick us up. We took a group photo before the bus came. When the bus came, we headed back to school. Overall, It was a successful outing and I think everyone gained more understanding about their favourite snack! It was a very enjoyable experience that will long in our memories.

TY Biology Talk - "The Genetics Revolution"

On Tuesday the 14th of November, Ms Gillen's lucky Biology students took a trip to Dublin Institute of Technology to attend a science talk called "The Genetics Revolution". This anticipated lecture was to be of stimulating content to the class as we had spent the previous number of weeks studying the cell and efficiently, genetics and DNA etc.
We arrived to the college at approximately 10:15 that morning, with a comfortable 15 minutes to spare before the talk began. We arrived into the hall to be presented with a large number of other schools, also there to attend the talk.
The talk began and we were immediately immersed in engagement with the speaker and voluntary audience contribution. The speaker made sure everyone felt involved and even called some members of the audience up to help him with experiments.
The lecture mainly focused on the biological areas of genetics, DNA, blood types and subtopics such as chromosomes and cells etc. It was very interesting to learn about ways to collect cell samples and also how to preform experiments on them.
The talk was overall incredibly interesting and I gained a lot of knowledge on the subject

Public Access to Law

On Tuesday the 28th of November a group of 30 Transition Years had the chance to go to a Public Access to Law course in the school. The course took place all day in a classroom. In the morning we watched a CSI video which talked about two famous murder cases. The cases were easy enough to deduce just by watching, but they showed that forensic evidence plays an important role in court cases. The second case we saw was especially easy, I saw a good few people mumble "it was him" the second the actor who was later revealed as the killer came onto the screen. Nevertheless, the videos were informative and educational.

Afterwards we went through the main newspaper headings concerning law for the day, which showed us that law is always a topical subject. My personal favourite headline which was about a genuine case: "Man jailed for stealing from church boxes using sellotape-on-a-stick." In the afternoon we did three separate mock trials where we had the chance to be barristers, witnesses, and defendants. I chose to be a barrister for the prosecution for a case about an angry man 'disturbing the peace' on an aeroplane. My side won the case as he was found guilty, although I later felt bad because I certainly had a reasonable doubt about whether he was actually guilty or not.

I really enjoyed the course, even though Ms. Clerkin came in at the end and informed us that we had a test on everything we learned that day. We've been assured that the test is very easy. We didn't get a chance to discuss Twelve Angry Men, the film we had to watch and answer questions on prior to the course, but we did get to discuss important aspects of being a barrister. Overall I found the course extremely beneficial and it has guided me to consider pursuing a career in law in the future. 

Monday, 20 November 2017

Third Age Computer Course

Last week, lots of TY students attended a meeting, wanting to volunteer at a course teaching elderly people basic computing skills. This week, seven students were randomly selected to participate. Every Thursday, from two o’clock until four, myself and the other volunteers will go to Balbriggan Library to help out at the course, run by Third Age. Third Age is an organisation which offers several free services for the older generation, including the computing course, helping senior citizens to feel comfortable using computers, tablets and phones in their everyday lives. (

Last Thursday was the first week of the five week course. At twenty to two, the participating TYs met with Ms Clerkin in the atrium and walked to Balbriggan Library where we were greeted by Ruth, the very friendly woman running the course. We were asked to sit beside one or two of the senior citizens in the room and help them throughout the lesson. The woman that I was helping was lovely and she chatted away to me throughout the couple of hours. I found that the time flew by! Not only did I help her to improve her skills for using the internet, I realised that I was learning a lot from her too, as she told me stories of life before the internet and computers. 

Halfway through there were refreshments, and we then continued with the class. One of the women was Polish and the girl that initially sat down beside her couldn’t understand the settings on her computer. Luckily enough though, one of the other TYs was also Polish, and could soon help the woman with her computing skills! Even more of a coincidence, the two had actually met a few years before, in Balbriggan. They exchanged emails and will keep in touch if the woman needs further help with her computer. The others also really enjoyed the class, and each TY got on very well with the person they were helping. We realised how important it is that the older generation know how to use the internet safely, and that it is a great idea for the younger generation to teach them. Ruth taught the class and instructed us on how to help the senior citizens, so we had nothing to worry about. We showed them how to use Google properly and navigate around websites. Next week we will be setting up emails with them. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent there and I am really looking forward to helping out again next week!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

TY Retreat

We were all excited on a cold Tuesday morning for our Transition year retreat, as we waited in the religion room, reminiscing our previous retreat we had with Gerry, and how much fun we had listening to his compelling and fascinating stories and the sing songs we had. We all couldn’t wait for the much anticipated ‘music quiz’ that Gerry does every year. Spirits weren’t exactly high after coming back to school from a relaxing midterm, so we couldn’t wait for fun and reflection.

Gerry walked in with his usual welcoming smile and his guitar in his hands. He first asked us to start of the morning with a meditation, so we all closed our eyes and sat back and listened to the soothing strum of the guitar. As he does, Gerry all asked us how we all were with his thick Dublin accent. He went on to tell us that he always loves coming to Loreto Balbriggan, and looks forward to coming
back every year, and we were all amazed to learn that this year was his 25th year coming to our school. 

He went on to tell us that he enjoys kayaking and hiking, and he feels a sense of peace when he is doing his favourite activity, and the fears he is forced to come over when he is faced different challenges on the water, but afterwards feels accomplished and proud. We were all absorbed by these interesting life stories he told us, some his very own personal ones and some he has learned by meeting all kinds of people throughout his life.

He told us a touching story about an adopted mother and son finding each other after many years apart, and his own experience with the passing of his father that was a very unique and distinctive story to him and an inspiring story about a talented young teenager by the name Brian McFadden. It came to the music quiz we were all excited about, and we all had the best fun trying to guess the different songs, old and new. All and all, a retreat day is always one of the best experiences in Loreto Balbriggan, and a chance to reflect on life and have good craic with your friends!

RSE Talk

Before the Halloween Midterm Break, the TY students experienced an RSE talk hosted by the organisation ACCORD.

The lecture was about Relationships and Sexuality. We covered topics which involved:

-Relationship breakdowns and how to deal with them
-Excessive use of drugs & alcohol
-Dealing with romantic relationships and what we expect from each other relationship wise
-Teenage pregnancy & contraceptives

Group work was also used to help each other describe scenarios where family breakdown might happen, etc.

This lecture benefited us as young adults in terms of being ready to be in another persons life, do's and dont's of peer pressure and how we can avoid it, by being around good friends.

This lecture would be highly recommended to the TY students next year because of the educational aspect to it.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Book Launch - "Learning for a just World"

On Wednesday the 25th of October, three lucky students, who were chosen by Ms. Grace, ventured out into the city to attend the launch of a fantastic new resource for Development Education. We took the train into Pearse station and after a quick stop in Off Beat Donuts (thanks to Ms. Grace) we started walking into the city. The event took place in Loreto College, St. Stephan’s Green and was attended by some very important people including Éamonn Meehan, the executive director of Trócaire and Ciarán Cannon, The Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development.

The new resource is called “Learning for a Just World”. The resource is the product of hard work and dedication on the part of Trócaire, The Loreto Education Office and Irish Aid. The book was made with the intention of incorporating it into the New Junior Cycle and educating girls about the world around them. The event consisted of some speeches from the people who developed this resource, a presentation from some girls from Loreto Navan on their school Social Justice group and then we were treated to some tea, coffee and pastries. It was a wonderful experience to represent the school at such an important event and we were very honoured to be there.

Peer Education Programme with Jigsaw

Day 1

The 18th October was the first day for the Jigsaw Peer Education Program. This program was attended by six lucky TY students along with students from Skerries Community College and Coláiste Ghlor na Mara. We all met with Ms. Costigan that morning feeling excited but nervous at the same time. We hopped on the bus and arrived in Coláiste Ghlor na Mara to meet with the students from the other schools. While we were walking up to the school our eyes started drifting showing us the glimpse of the brand new school we were just about to enter. 

After introducing ourselves in a unique fun way, Aoife and David (presenters and organisers of the program) went through the slideshow presentation explaining all about the basic grasp of mental health and what exactly is mental health. We later ended the program with a debate on weather we agree or disagree that "Young people are better off talking about their mental health to people their own age rather than to adults". Thinking we would hardly get anything covered from 9:30 am to 12:30 am was something we got wrong, we covered a lot within those 3 hours and we enjoyed meeting with new people. It was something that we all haven't tried before and it was a great experience. We were all looking forward to the next program.  

Day 2 

On the 24th of October, we set out on the small minibus driven by David that would take us to our desired desination -Coláiste Ghlor Na Mara in which our second Jigsaw session took place.We were all glad to see all of the other students as we had a great encounter with them during the first training session.This time Ms McKenna accompanied us to the session and kindly brought in sweet treats such as  biscuits and muffins that we all shared with each other during our break.

As we began the session we talked about the topics we had covered in the last session.We then played an interactive game in which we all stood in a circle and guessed each others names.We would each say our name and call out the name of the person we would pass the ball to.It was quite funny when we had to quickly pass the ball while simultaneously saying each others name which greatly tested our memories.By the end of the game we could all confidently say we knew each others names.

We then moved on to a walking debate in which we were given statements such as "It is the fault of the parents if their young child is suffering with mental health problems".Upon hearing these statements we would walk to the side of the room which said agree or to the side that said disagree. If we were not sure we would stay in the middle.We then voiced our opinions and reasons for agreeing,disagreeing or not being sure.

After this we went into detail of each piece of the presentation so we would gain a better understanding of mental health and the positive message behind the importance of good mental health.

Lastly we all brought out our props in which we would use to explain our various interests and hobbies and why they made us feel good. Many brought in books,sketch pads,note books ,scout badges,footballs and many more to present to the group.We all stood in front of each other and were given one minute to do our mini presentation.Although it seemed nerve racking at first, it was a great way to learn about each others talents and hobbies.It also improved our public speaking.

Once again after the fun packed three hour session, we said our goodbyes (and sláns to the Irish speaking staff at the reception) and headed straight to school just in time for lunch.

Day 3

Today was the third session of the peer education program organised by Jigsaw. We met with Ms. Ferris at 9:10 in the atrium for rollcall. Then we hopped on the bus with David along with the other students from Skerries Community College. This was our third session so we were getting used to to the place and becoming more comfortable with the people there. We sat down on our chairs and David and Aoife started the program with the third section of the mental health slideshow presentation. 

We did an activity within our school groups regarding raising mental health awareness through the app Twitter. We had to come up with a slogan and a few hashtags and the limited characters were 140. After presenting it to the other school groups we got in a circle and discussed mental health issues such as bullying, teenage relationships, anxiety and panic attacks. We discussed people to go when dealing with these particular issues. We then took a break which was everyone's favourite part of the time. We served ourselves tea, chocolate biscuits, and some Jaffa cakes. We joked around and got to know the each other even more. 

After the short break we were put into groups and we were giving giving another activity task. This times activity task was to discuss  " why young people find it hard to talk about their mental health " . Instead of discussing and presenting this in a normal way we presented it in news format along with the news background sound effects. We later on discussed one adult figures that we know in our lives, in anyone's lives, in TV shows, in movies or social media's. 

Here are a few examples...
Anyone's lives: mum, dad, aunt, uncle...

Movies: In the lion king Mufasa and Simba, in Moana Moana herself and her grandma, the fairy godmother in Cinderella. After saying goodbye to everyone we headed our way back to school back to our last class. 

Day 4

On the 14th of November, we met at 9:10 at the foyer. We were all slightly nervous as this would be the first Jigsaw training session that we had to present the presentation entitled "Its Time To Start Talking" in front of each other.

As I took many sips of water to calm my nerves, the Jigsaw Peer Education staff, David and Aoife suggested we start our 4th session with an ice breaker. We played the game "Fruit Salad" in which we were all given the name of a fruit. One person would call out a fruit e.g. orange. All the oranges would then get off their seats and quickly rush to another seat before they were all taken.The person left with no seat would call out another fruit and so on.The ice breaker calmed down my nerves as I was quite awake and adrenaline boosted afterwards.

We then had our ten minute break.Of course we were once again supplied with the usual tasty treats of chocolate biscuits, muffins,tea and coffee. Mmmm!

Aoife and David were the first ones to do the presentation to quickly remind us of how it is done before we students did it. I was extremely grateful for this as it was a good guide to how I would present the slides.When they were done it was time for us to begin the presentation. We were each given a sheet in which we would constructively criticize each others performance.We all went up and even though some of us were quite nervous at first, we all did a particularly impressive job. I was certainly happy with my performance and figured it wasn't as bad I thought it would be.That was quite a relief!

After everyone had went up, we all pointed out each others strengths and things we could work on from the presentation.We truly learned  a lot from this session and found ways that we could improve our public speaking skills.It was the best way to learn from our mistakes and to hopefully deliver these talks with no difficulties to our peers in school.

Once the session was over we said our goodbyes and left with our heads high feeling proud of ourselves and each other.

Berlin Trip

Day 1
On Friday the 27th of October, while most students prepared for their mid term, a group of History and German students, including many 4th years met at Dublin airport at 4.30am for their very early flight to Berlin. Many of us seemed a little cranky queueing up for security but we seemed in a much better form after we had a good nap on the plane. We got through the airport in Dublin and Berlin surprisingly fast, although I did get searched by a security guard after setting off their security machine. We got a coach to our hotel and barely had time to abandon our bags in the hotel basement. Then it was off to our first trip, a walking tour of Berlin city. While many of us weren't exactly keen to walk around the city in the lashing rain we actually had an amazing time. We got to see some of Berlin's most interesting landmarks and learn about its rich history. We saw landmarks like the Berlin Wall, Hitler's bunker, and the Brandenburg Gate and got background about them from our helpful tour guide. 

After the door, we went back to the hotel to explore our rooms and have dinner, then we headed off to the Reichstag building, the German parliament. We went through a quick security check there, where of course I managed to set off the security machines again and get another pat down. Once we got through we were given a headset with earphones to guide us through the parliament. The building had fantastic architectural features and the view from the top of it of Berlin at night was breath-taking. The glass dome on top of the building which represented the reunification of Germany was especially impressive as it used the sunlight to decrease the carbon emissions of the building.

Day 2
On the Saturday we visited Checkpoint Charlie and the Topography of Terror. Checkpoint Charlie was a crossing between the capitalist and communist sides of Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. There is a large mast in the middle of the checkpoint which symbolically features a picture of a Soviet soldier on one side looking over the American sector and an American soldier on the other side looking over the Soviet sector. We had a chance to get our picture taken with a soldier outside of a replica of the guard house that stood there. We went to the museum there which featured plenty of interesting images, newspaper articles, and stories of the point and how people attempted to escape over the border. After that, we visited the Topography of Terror, a holocaust museum. A guide showed us different parts of the museum and explained some of the images we saw. The experience was informative but sombre, and opened our eyes to the horrors of Germany's past.

That afternoon we went to Alexanderplatz, a huge square in Berlin for lunch and shopping. Some 4th years decided to sample the local cuisine and try Currywurst. Currywurst, by the way, is sausage sliced up and covered in ketchup then sprinkled with curry powder. It was about as tasty as it sounds, I later decided to buy a pretzel to expel the taste from my mouth. We shopped in some of the major shopping centres in Alexanderplatz and people bought designer tracksuits and delicious German chocolate for their families. I got a snow globe which later broke. That night we went to see 'The One Show' which I could only really describe as a spectacle. It was an artistic show, meaning it didn't have any main plot and featured beautiful and strange costumes as well as well as dances with fire and gymnastics and singing. We later asked the teachers what the entire thing meant, but were told that it was probably better not to overanalyse it. Nevertheless, it was certainly very entertaining and captivating. Things only got more confusing as our bus driver sang us German shanties over the speakers on our way back to the hotel, but overall we had a fantastic day.

Day 3
On the third day we got a coach to Potsdam and were brought to Cecelienhof Palace. Unfortunately, we never actually got to do our planned guided tour of the place as it was shut until 12pm on Sundays. However we did get to admire the majestic outside of it while it was redecided what we could do for the morning. We eventually ended up going to a nearby village which was an unexpected and very beautiful place. Some 4th years decided to skip the Currywurst that day and we headed to a nice Italian restaurant for lunch. Others visited the amazing bakeries and cafés in the village. After the village, we went on to the Wannsee Conference House. We learned that at the Wannsee Conference, many Nazi figures including Adolf Eichmann discussed the solution that had been reached about how to deal with the Jewish people in Europe. Our tour guide gave us a very engaging talk about the conference and answered some insightful questions very well. We were given a chance to walk around the house after that and read or listen to stories about those who died in or survived the Holocaust. 

After dinner we went to the TV Tower, one of Berlin's most iconic landmarks. We learned that the tower was originally built by the East German government after they removed all religious imagery including crosses from their side of the city. Unfortunately for them, the TV Tower they built has a huge golden cross on the side of it when the sun shines on it during the day, and despite some expensive measures the tried to take such as using special paint to repaint it, the golden cross remains. We got an elevator to the top of the tower, and I could feel my ears popping as we went up. At the top, we had a chance to look around and admire our view of the city from the tower at night. 

Day 4
On the final day we had planned to go to the zoo and Hitler's bunker, but unfortunately our flight had been moved to earlier in the day so we didn't get to see them. I did, unsurprisingly, set off one final security machine as we went through the airport and get my last security search. We flew back to Dublin, exhausted but completely satisfied with our trip. Everybody said that they had the best time and all the 4th years especially said it was a once in a lifetime trip. We all went home delighted and beaming, ready to enjoy the rest of our mid term break.