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 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. 

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.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Mid-Term TY Assembly

On Monday 23rd October, all of the Transition Years were ushered to the hall for an assembly. But it was not unlike any assembly, we had ever had before. This assembly was focused on highlighting different activities that students took part in during the first term of Transition Year. There were performances from the Sign Language Module, Mandarin and Film Studies classes. The Sign Language class performed 'Stay' by Rihanna. The Mandarin class sang a song and the Film Studies class performed a scene from ‘Annie’.

We all really enjoyed the performances and it was a good opportunity to get insight into each module and to see what they had achieved over the term. In addition, the Chairpersons of the Fundraising and Photography Committee, representatives of the TY Blog and Student Council spoke and informed us of what they had been working on since September. The assembly ended with a blessing. I think it was a great way to celebrate our achievements so far in the school year and I would definitely love to do something similar to this again.

Cheerios ChildLine Breakfast Morning

At 8:30am on the morning of Wednesday 25th October, I came into school eager to help with the Cheerios Childline Breakfast Morning. I went into Ms. Ryans kitchen and my jaw dropped when I saw the room filled with food. From cereal to brioche buns to strawberries. I asked the teachers who were unpacking fruit if they needed any help. They asked me to put up posters and bunting around the hall to get people aware. I started sticking them up when a few more girls from the fundraising committee came over to help me.

When we finished our task we went back into the kitchen and began putting all the fruit onto trays. At 09:15 all the food was out in the hall, we sat waiting for the hungry first years to rampage the hall. At 09:20 the first years began flooding into the hall. They all took their seats and got their bowls and spoons ready. The teachers then explained that all the food that was sitting before their eyes was given to them for free by all the shops that sponsor Cheerios Childline. The fourth year helpers began to distribute the boxes of cereal and milk.

After they finished the cereal we then proceeded to give out a few extras such as fruit, yoghurts and brioche buns. We then went around and collected donations for Childline. The first years finished up their food and the fourth years began to tidy up. We collected all the rubbish and let the first years wash their bowls in the kitchen. After all was cleaned up the first years left the hall. We set up the hall back the way it was and then we began counting the donations, a few minutes later we found out we had raised €352.49. We were all so proud of ourselves and of all the money we had raised for Childine. It was a great day and everyone enjoyed themselves.

TY Legal Studies Module

In the TY Legal Studies Module, one of the main topics and areas that we focused on was the roles played in the context of a court room. We learned about the role of the judge, the tip-staff, the registrar, barristers and solicitors etc. So when we discovered that we would be bringing these roles to life in our very own mock trial, we became very excited and driven to preform to the best of our ability. This mock trial would see us up against the other module class, presenting us with great competition. 

We spent the weeks leading up to the trial preparing and assigning roles to everyone in the class, making sure nobody was left without a job or purpose throughout the course of the trial.
We all studied the case and familiarised ourselves with the story we were given. When the day of mock trial came around, both classes arrived in the library to begin arranging the tables and chairs to resemble a court room giving a more professional approach to the setting. We began immediately, with no time to lose. 

The "judge" came in and the trial commenced. The prosecution and defence gave their opening statements before the prosecution witnesses were called to be questioned. After the prosecution questioned their first witness, the defence then cross examined them. This was repeated for all three of the prosecution witnesses before moving on to the defence witnesses where the prosecution cross examined this time.

Each witness had the tough job of preforming as believable as possible while the very talented barristers questioned them. Everyone portrayed their role with a lot of skill and talent and our teachers Ms O'Neill and Mr Daly were impressed and also hopeful with the thought of some future lawyers in the mix. Closing statements were given before the jury were sent out to deliberate. Their verdict was decided swiftly before they arrived back to announce the accused not guilty. We finished up by talking with Mr Daly and Ms O'Neill about the module, what we enjoyed, learned and our thoughts on the mock trial.

I found the experience of completing this mock trial highly enjoyable and educational. I am very glad that I was assigned legal studies as a module as it has opened my eyes to the world of law, crime and the courts, all things that I have now become very interested in and may even pursue as a career. 

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

TY Talk - Internet Safety

On Wednesday we were given a talk on internet safety by Pat McKenna from Child Watch.
When the talk began I think the Transition Year group thought that it would be a repeat of the information we had been told many times; never share personal information online, don't put comments up about someone that you wouldn't say to their face etc. But we were very wrong. Instead we received an eye opening talk about the dangers of social media from a point of view we had not seen it from before. He showed us that privacy is practically non-existent on the Internet through an engaging and captivating talk that forced us to consider the repercussions of certain behaviour on the Internet. While he didn't discourage us from going online and benefitting from the huge network of information available on the web, he did demonstrate how we could be more safety-aware and cautious while using the Internet.

Pat McKenna showed us how easy it was for our phone to get hacked, and told us information about our beloved iPhones and social media that we had never heard of before. By just using his laptop he showed us how our personal information could be found by just being on social media. He showed us real life examples of people who had been hacked and exploited by gangs on the Internet. The stories we heard were genuinely astonishing. He told us one particular story about a woman he met once who was sceptical about the true dangers of the Internet. He was able to find her address and close family members as well as photos of her she had been unaware were even online in a matter of minutes all through public information he obtained from various websites. Another story he told us warned us that information about us online can have adverse effects on our employment opportunities in real life. The story was about a 4th year student who intended to go to a certain place for work experience. Everything had been organised and she was ready to go until the school got an email informing them that she had lost her place on the course. When they enquired as to why she lost her place, it was revealed that they discovered photos of her drinking with a boy at a disco despite being under 18. Obviously this story effectively illustrated dangers which us and the girl in the story had not previously considered. It encouraged us to consider if we could end up in a similar situation or if there is anything we could do to prevent ourselves ending up in one.

Pat also spoke a lot about our 'digital footprint,' a phrase which was new to many of us. Our digital footprint is basically comprised of all information, including photos and text concerning each one of us on the Internet. We have limited control over what is included in our digital footprint. An important part of the idea of a digital footprint is that it is very difficult to take back anything that is included in it. It's also impossible to keep the information private as Pat told us that we have little to no privacy online. This is primarily due to hackers, who can access a disturbing amount of information about us in minutes. When Pat asked how many people had anti-virus software on our phones, I didn't see a single person raise their hand. He told us that he once had a talk in a boys school where he brought his laptop and was able to hack everybody in the room's phone during the talk and project images from their phones onto the wall. I saw a lot of people worriedly clutching their phones in their pockets and glancing towards his laptop then to the exits while he mentioned this. To our relief Pat didn't hack our phones during the talk but he did warn that other people could using relatively simple programs. We were all encouraged to download anti-virus software onto our phones to keep our personal details and pictures more secure. More importantly he informed us that any information we don't want people to access should not exist on the Internet in the first place.

The lecture really opened my eyes to the dangers of social media and over usage of my phones which never seems to be out of my hand. I realised that I should be much more mindful of how I act online and I learned that many dangerous people can use the Internet in a negative way. Some of us initially just considered taking drastic action and getting rid of our phones altogether however we finally came to the conclusion that while we should always enjoy going online, safety should always be our number one priority while doing so.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Irish Junior Science Olympiad

On Saturday 22nd of October, I attended a science exam for the Irish Junior Science Olympiad. Not many people have heard of this, and I hadn’t either until I received a letter, inviting me to participate in the competition. The students with the top one hundred maths and science results in the country were permitted to enter the competition. The winners would then travel abroad to represent Ireland in the International Junior Science Olympiad. 

Before the exam, I was a bit nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. After researching the exam online, I found out that the standard would be of Leaving Certificate pass level. I didn’t know what to expect, so I just looked over a few junior cert questions for the week before. The exam was in DCU. When I arrived on Saturday, with my friend who was also selected, we were sorted into two lecture halls. There were students there from all over the country. The exam was two and a half hours long and covered Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The questions were unlike any Junior Cert or Leaving Cert questions and were based on using logic to work out the answers. 

I found it difficult but was able to answer most of them. Everything was multiple choice. Afterwards, there was a break for lunch and then there was an awards ceremony. Everyone received a certificate for being a finalist in the Olympiad. Awards were then given to three bronze, three silver and three gold medalists. The overall winner was also announced. The silver and gold medalists qualified to go to the Netherlands to compete in the International Competition. I’m glad I competed in the Olympiad and though I was not very interested in maths and science before, it has opened my mind to possibly working in science in the future.

First Aid Course

On October 3rd, the Sports Committee were invited to take part in a first aid course with a paramedic called Alan Horgan. The Sports Committee was divided into two groups, one participated in the morning and the other the afternoon. So after lunch the second group headed down to the room where the course was taking place. As we entered the room our eyes were drawn to the nine dummies on the floor. We sat down in our seats anxious to learn. Alan introduced himself and began to tell us about CPR. Many of us had never learned how to do this before and it was scary at first knowing this could save somebody's life.

Soon after watching a video, demonstrating how many compression's to do, we tri on the dummies. Alan told us to always check that CPR is needed before proceeding to the compression's. It is used when the patients heart stops working (cardiac arrest). An easy way to remember is just to check for a patients pulse and breathing.  As we began to feel confident with CPR, Alan introduced the breathing mask. We each got a small plastic tube to stick into an oxygen mask and he informed us these would be available in a defibrillator bag when needed. 

Alan instructed us how to breath into the dummies , tilt the head all the way back and blow into the tube. Then we proceeded to watch a video on how to use a defibrillator to shock a patient. There were a number of steps necessary before shocking the patient including making sure the area is safe. We each took turns practicing on the dummies and soon put the compression's, the breathing and the defibrillator all together.  We all now have the ability to help someone if needed . The committee was very thankful to Alan for taking time to teach us such a valuable lesson and we really enjoyed the day.

TY Visit - Loreto Order at Home and Abroad

On Friday the 13th Loreto Balbriggan welcomed some very special visitors from the convent next door and from Gorey in Wexford. Sr. Stephanie and Sr. Germaine are two Loreto Nuns who both spent over 40 years working as missionaries in Kenya, Africa. Along with their visit we were lucky enough to display a wonderful exhibition from The Irish Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. The exhibition depicted wonderfully, the relationship between Kenya and Ireland, which began over 100 years ago, how it started, the wonderful things that happened to strengthen it and where it stands today.

Some of the topics covered in the exhibition were the introduction of coffee to Kenya, the NGOs that work in Kenya. The work done by the IBVM in Kenya also the work done by other religious orders such as The Legion of Mary. One specific person from the Legion of Mary was the Venerable Edel Quinn. She went to Kenya when she was only in her 20’s and spent the remainder of her life there, driving all over North East Africa, opening Legion branches and helping the less fortunate. The exhibition was so educational and truly opened our eyes to Loreto outside of school, a Loreto that we are not all too familiar with, a Loreto that we need to learn more about.  Sister Stephanie began with asking us to close our eyes and imagine a journey to a place we would like to visit. Some of us imagined a big ship sailing the open sea for a long period of time, until we reached our destination or others a luxurious plane ride. She then proceeded to ask us to imagine the beautiful country or city we had arrived in. Some were vast and packed with people or others had brought their mind to a quiet beautiful island. After we opened our eyes we reflected on each other's journeys.

Sister Stephanie then told us about the long thirteen day journey sister Germaine took to Kenya. She was sent as a missionary when she was young, she told us she did not have the option to not go. Off she went and lived her day to day life there teaching and helping in a small town in Kenya . Her work was of great benefit to those around her and her story really captured us. What caught us most by surprise was the fact she lived forty four years there! She spent most of her working life there; devoted. We all regarded a huge respect for her. Then Sister Stephanie told us a little about her own personal experience in Kenya. She had gotten a plane and had wanted to go. She explained how she had really wanted to peruse her missionary work in India but as it turned out she was sent to Kenya. She loved her life there also, she became one of the locals and also did teaching there. Sister Stephanie had only returned back from Kenya two years ago! After we heard from the two sisters we all got to chat about the exhibit and learn interesting facts about Ireland's relations with Kenya. We thanked the sisters dearly and were very grateful for them to share such an amazing journey with us. 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Important TY Documents

Dear students,

Here is a link which will direct you to important TY information such as the TY Book List and Work Experience Letters


TY Photography Course

On Monday, October 9th, a group of 12 eager fourth years stood outside Art Room 2 waiting for our Photography Course to start. Most of us had no idea what to expect. Nevertheless, we were all very excited and keen to get started.

We spent the morning viewing photos that Tim, our instructor, had taken himself. He showed us very close up pictures of objects and asked us to guess what the objects may be. I underestimated this task and assumed it'd be quite easy. Then I found myself identifying a broken truck window as an ice cube and decided not to underestimate anymore of his tasks. He then asked, “who was the worst at drawing in the class”. I did volunteer myself but was a little dismayed to see all my friends volunteer me too. After I was chosen as the worst at drawing I had to draw out a house using a laser pointer to properly show off my terrible drawing skills. I'm not sure if my true artistic ability shone through as I drew it.

After this, we continued looking through Tim's photos. In a way, we got to travel the world as we looked through Tim's photos. He had taken many of them while travelling across Europe and Africa to reach South Africa. Each photo showed us an entirely different world to the last with many different cultures, lifestyles, and societies being shown. It was a genuinely moving experience.

On Monday afternoon we were given our own cameras and split up into pairs. We did not get to travel the world as Tim did, but we were free to go anywhere in Balbriggan we liked to take photos. When asked, I had rated Balbriggan a strong 2/10 as an area to take photos in but I quickly found beauty in places I had not seen before. It was as if, photography had allowed me to see the town in a way I had not viewed it before. We had to take a certain amount of shots that filled criteria such as 5 black and white photos and 5 photos of reflections. I was really happy with some of the photos I managed to get. We ran back to the school to return our cameras before 4pm.

The second day we played the same guessing game we had played using Tim's photos. Although this time I was expecting it to be hard, I still didn't exactly excel at it. I was certain a zoomed in shot of a bubble was really a massive cliff with a pink and purple waterfall. I was sadly mistaken. We also learned about perspective in photos and how to add depth to our photos. We looked at the different shapes and lines that make up every photo which I thought was a really interesting way to look at them.

Tuesday afternoon we had to shortlist our favourite ten photos we had taken the day before. Everybody's favourite ten photos were displayed on a board by a projector one at a time. We got a great chance to look at each other's work and offer advice and praise on them. As I was one of the last people to show my photos I spent the whole afternoon waiting in fear and feeling a certain twinge of envy every time somebody projected their own photos, as I wondered why I didn't have the same ideas they did. When I did get to show my pictures it was a relief but also an excellent learning opportunity. I got to hear exactly what I was doing well and what I could improve on.

Overall, I feel that the course massively improved everybody's confidence and skill in photography. Before the course, I didn't have a huge interest in it, but now I find it really intriguing. Everybody had a really wonderful time on the course and we know we won't forget it in a hurry.

TY Face Painting Fundraiser

On Friday 6th of October we had a special day in the school; Face Paint Friday. Organised by Ms Ryan, the aim of this event was to raise as much money for a charity. Part of the fundraising committee and I were set the task to paint as many students' faces as possible to raise money for our chosen charity.

When we found out that all of the proceeds of Face Paint Friday would go to Special Olympics, we were all delighted because this is a charity very close to a lot of students' hearts. It is a sports organisation, providing year round training to both adults and children with intellectual disabilities. There are currently 8,872 athletes in Ireland.

The morning of the face painting was extremely busy, people trying to get cups of water, looking for brushes and paint pans. When we finally got to sit down and paint the students faces, we were amazed at the cluster of students waiting to get their face painted almost all the time. It was really nice to see that students wanted to support us and help a worthy cause.

We painted in the morning, during classes, at break and at lunch. The students were given a sheet of paper with six festival-like designs on it, they picked one and picked the bright colours they would like. It was nice to chat to students from different year groups who I had never met before. There was a great atmosphere in the hall, everyone seemed to be in a better mood after getting their face painted.

Thank you to Ms Ryan who organised the event, and thank you to the students who supported and donated.

TY Life Skills

Yesterday in our Life Skills module we learnt how to do CPR. It was a very interesting class. We learnt a valuable skill that could potentially save the lives of others. Firstly, we were given a dummy to work with. We then watched an instructional video.

1) The first step is to check if the victim is responsive. If not call 999.
2) Afterwards do chest compressions. Push down in the center of their chest 30 times.

3) Once that is done, use your index and middle finger to gently tilt the victims head upwards. Pinch their nose and blow into their mouth until you see their chest rise. If the victim is still unresponsive start again from step 2. Keep doing this until the ambulance arrives.

Monday, 9 October 2017

TY Trip to the Ploughing Championships 2017

On the 21st of September a small group of TY students got the opportunity to attend the Ploughing Championships while the rest of the TY students were at Kippure. We had the chance to take part in the joy and educational festivity of the day.

The Ploughing Championships took place in the location of Tullamore in Co. Offaly. We had to arrive at the school gate in the early hours of the morning to leave on the bus for 7:30. Many of the excited students entertained themselves with music and songs for the duration of the hour and a half long journey. Such high-spirited natures were to last for the fun-filled day.

Upon arrival, we quickly took a group photo before we entered the large crowded area. We split into small groups and began to navigate our way through the muddy ground. Good thing we brought wellies!

Our TY group got to experience the brilliant atmosphere and gained knowledge of farming practices in Ireland. We also got to see farm animals such as cows, pigs and chickens. Many stalls provided information which encouraged students to join countrywide challenges such as GAISCE.

To everyone's delight despite the wet weather, we were thrilled to find that there was, in fact, a fun fair set up in the area with many daunting adrenaline inducing rides. To top it all off there were stalls which sold treats like chocolate covered strawberries and ice cream. Of course some of us didn't mind paying some of these stalls a visit!

All in all the Ploughing Championships was truly a successful event!

JPIC Trip to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

On Friday the 6th of October Ms Grace and Ms Finneran’s JPIC classes took a trip into Dublin city where we visited the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to learn about Ireland’s international aid programme. The bus departed the school at 9:30am, we sat back and watched the green fields of Fingal transform into tall city buildings.

We got off the bus on St. Stephan’s Green and were challenged with a treasure hunt of sorts. We were given a sheet of questions in relation to JPIC and we had to find the answers on Grafton Street and its surrounding areas. In a group of six we set off to answer the questions quickly so that we could enjoy our lunch leisurely in the green.

At 11:40 we met at the entrance to the park and began walking to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which is on Clonmel Street, a quick three minute stroll. When we arrived, we played a game that helped us to understand how a family in Malawi survives year to year whilst battling draught, blight and hunger. Each team represented a family living in the village of Kulungira in Malawi and we had to play to live essentially, responding to challenges and scenarios that occurred over the course of the three year period.

This game opened our eyes to the instability of life in Sub-Saharan Africa. The smallest of events can throw everything up in the air and cause complete and utter disaster for a family.
After the game was over we watched a video summarising the work of Irish Aid in multiple countries. We learned about a girl called Memory, who was 18 years old but still attending primary school because she had been held back by the work that she had to do at home. This made us realise our privilege, here in Ireland we beg not to go to school and Memory must beg to go to school.

All in all, it was an eye opening, educational trip. We all gained an appreciation for school, for our health and for the stability in our lives, the fact that we know that there will always be food on our tables.

Centre For Talented Youth - TY Course

Every year the CTYI (Centre for Talented Youth Ireland) run a College level course for Transition Years. People participating this year, applied in March or April and went through a long and tedious application process which included things like writing a 'Letter of Motivation' and getting Teacher Recommendations. Four girls from our school actually made it through this year and got accepted in late May. We pretty much spent the summer googling what we had actually signed up for while trying to stay cautiously optimistic.

The Early University Entrance programme is just a chance for Transition Year students to pick a subject that people study in college and get to cover the same syllabus somebody in their first year of college would. Every Friday, four girls from our school go to DCU at 10am for our lectures. There were many courses available, I picked Psychology. This particular interest, was sparked by a modern day TV show called Pretty Little Liars which explores elements of psychology. Some of the other girls chose to do Law and Politics and Mathematical Sciences.

We don't actually just attend lectures with a bunch of college students, we do get to go to our own lectures specifically for Transition Years. It's really just a chance for Transition Years to see what college life is like. There are about twenty people in my Psychology class and we have two lectures and one tutorial each week. Our day finishes at 4pm each Friday. For those of you wondering what a Tutorial is, I'm still not quite certain. My psychology class spent our first tutorial playing Pictionary with an old chalkboard. They supposedly allow students to get a better understanding of what the material they're studying in lectures is about, but I'm still working out how Pictionary achieved that.

I've already established how college is different from secondary school. Our lecturers laugh when we call them 'Miss' and insist on us calling them by their first names, a concept which is still too weird for me to fathom. Also we don't have to do our homework. On the first week we were told that doing our homework is our own business and if we do it, they'll correct it but if we don't, they don't really care. Despite this, the Psychology groupchat still blows up every Thursday night as people freak out about this week's homework. They usually decide that "if nobody has it done then they can't be mad, so even if you have it done don't tell them and they'll forget." 

This amazing theory never worked in Secondary School, and it still doesn't work much in college. You can eat and drink in your lectures, which lets me enjoy my tall Mocha from the Starbucks on campus in class each week. You can also go on your phone during lectures which sounds fun but loses its novelty when you keep getting "what's she on about?" snaps in the groupchat during a lecture. Furthermore there's a lot more class discussions in our classes. Although this arguably isn't always a great idea with groups of 16 year olds. Once, one guy asked a lecturer what her favourite type of hallucinogenic drug was during a class discussion and another was insistent that linguistic was not a type of intelligence but a type of pasta. Generally, however, our class discussions help to keep us engaged and learning in different ways.

The two modules we do in Psychology are Cognitive Psychology and Child Development. Psychology isn't really what I expected it to be at all. It's not what most people expect. The Psychology we see on TV is very different to Psychology in real life.
In Cognitive Psychology we learn about things like attention and memory while in Child Development we learn about different types of intelligence and stages in the brain's development. 

Eventually we'll have to write a paper which is just a huge essay for our modules and do the same end of term exams a college student studying our module will. I find the course really intriguing but the hard part about Psychology is that nothing can be proven in it. Everything we learn is just theories and none can ever be said for definite. This was pretty hard for me to wrap my head around but I'm starting to understand it more.  

Our course ends in December and until then we have plenty more strange but interesting lectures to look forward to. Above all, we hope that we can get some really good experience for college out of this course.

TY Tag Rugby Blitz

It felt like winter had just begun on Friday the 6th of October, especially for the 24 girls heading out to Terenure for the highly anticipated Tag Rugby Blitz. The cold air and cloudy sky worried everyone as they packed their shorts and short sleeve t-shirts that morning. However the freezing weather was to dampen nobody’s spirits as we piled onto the bus, leaving the school by 10am.

Upon reaching St. Mary's College, the team crowded into the changing rooms to get ready before beginning the chain of matches organised for the day. The immediate excursion tasks posed to the group allowed us no time to feel the cold, and by the end of a quick training session, everyone was sweating.

The group of us were divided into two teams, red and blue. Both got started on the first match of the day, everyone playing with impressive skill and competitive tactics. For a group of people who have hardly played Tag Rugby before, the precision and game delivered was greatly admired by the coaches and opposition teams.

The teams were of course faced with some difficult tasks to overcome but they did successfully and yet again impressed onlookers. With the combined speed, accuracy and skill of each team member both of our groups managed to bag a few wins.

After the two final matches drew to a close, lunch was eaten with some complementary Maltesers provided by Mr Brennan for our team spirit and hard work on the field.
We were back on the road and arriving at the school just in time for our last two classes.

A great day was had and a new love for tag rugby was established as many of the girls proclaimed they'd love to keep it up.