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Welcome to our E-Síol with news and updates from the network.

Edmund Rice Feast Day 5th May

In this very unusual last term of the school year, we are proposing to celebrate Edmund Rice Feast Day on May 5th by asking each school in the network to contribute a 30-second video on how the school played its part in the local community during the coronavirus pandemic. The video can feature a member of staff or a student.

More information to follow in a separate email.

Religious Education Conference

Our annual Religious Education Conference was held in the Keadeen Hotel, Newbridge on January 30th. There were 35 teachers in attendance. This was a wonderful occasion of exploring and discussing views on teaching RE in a Catholic school.

A choir from St Mary’s Academy, Carlow, began proceedings with beautiful renditions of songs which included the works of Fr Liam Lawton

Dr Amalee Meehan, Assistant Professor of RE in DCU, gave the keynote address, entitled “Teaching Religion in the 21st Century”. In her talk Dr Amalee outlined a clear view of Catholic education through the key words Witness, Word, Worship and Welfare.

  • Witness: Giving witness through our actions in the world, living as a welcoming and inclusive community.
  • Word: Teaching the Word of God that comes through the Scriptures and Tradition.
  • Worship: Worshiping God, offering the liturgy in a public way and as a community.
  • Welfare: Promoting the welfare of others and the wellbeing of creation.

Our next speaker was Sr Collette from An Tairseach Centre in Wicklow who spoke on the theme of “Living in harmony with God’s creation”. 

Dr. Aiveen Mullally, Marino Institute presented our draft position paper on Religious Education and she followed this with a really interesting Q&A session with participants.  

The day finished with an open forum on current issues relating to teaching RE in a Catholic school. This session demonstrated the passion among our teachers for their subject and their students.

Rice Cup

The Rice Cup has for many years been presented to the winners of an under 14 hurling competition run formerly among CBS schools. Over the years it has continued to be organised on a voluntary basis by teachers in our schools overseen by Br O Connell, Nenagh. 

Great credit is due in recent times to people like Niall Cahill, Thurles CBS for keeping this prestigious and proud competition alive. Niall and his committee have grown and developed this competition and it is now open to ERST schools and also to schools that may now be community schools but at one time had a connection to the Christian Brother network.

Br O Connell passed away recently and the organising committee has asked ERST to come on board to oversee the competition. ERST is honoured to be asked and we are grateful to accept this link with the Rice Cup. The competition will continue to be run by Niall and his committee but with the backing and support of ERST.

Student Ambassador Trip to Geneva

10 student ambassadors and 4 teachers from ERSS Carrick on Suir, Coláiste Eamann Rís Callan, Coláiste Eamann Rís Cork and Midleton CBS Cork had arranged to attend the United Nations Human Rights Council 43rd Session in Geneva between March 4th and 7th. While there, they were going to read out our Oral Statement on the plight of students in our schools who are living in Direct Provision. However, due to concerns over the Covid 19 virus they unfortunately had to cancel the visit. It is hoped that it can be arranged for a further session in the future. In the meantime, one of the team at ERI presented our Statement.

Oral Statement at the 43rd Session of UN Human Rights Council

Mr. President,

In Ireland, asylum seekers are accommodated in communal reception centres. The average length of stay is 2.5 years but some families have been left in these centres for up to 10 years. This system is both degrading and inhumane and causes enormous hardships for those seeking sanctuary in our country. This hardship is most keenly felt by young people and students in full time education.

Edmund Rice schools cater for the educational needs of more than 60 asylum seeking students.

They see first-hand the negative impact this system has on the lives of young people and find themselves on a daily basis picking up the pieces for the inadequacies of this broken system.

They see children, many of whom have suffered extreme traumatic experiences, such as war and violence, struggling to cope within the school system with very limited supports.

These students’ often live long distances from their schools and are moved frequently from one school to another. Integration and English language skills will always be a challenge, but frequent movement between schools compounds the challenge for these students.

Other difficulties they face include living in overcrowded rooms with no privacy or study facilities, procuring money for school books, stationery and other requisites, long journeys to school, difficulty accessing third level education, inadequate English language support and insufficient psychological support.

Edmund Rice International and The Edmund Rice Schools call for

  • Complete reform of the direct provision system.
  • The ceasing of arbitrary movement of young people and their families from centre to centre and from school to school.
  • Provision of increased level of English language support and psychological support.
  • Equal access to third level education for asylum seekers.

I thank you.


Futures on Hold Rally

Following on from the launch of our position paper “Futures on Hold” we have taken, as a Social Justice theme this year, the plight of students in our schools who are living in Direct Provision. We have asked our schools, particularly the Peace and Justice groups to raise awareness of this issue among their school and wider communities. 

Many of our schools have been active on this issue. To coordinate this and to make a public statement that Edmund Rice schools call for a reform of the Direct Provision system,particularly with regard to its impact on young people and their access to education we arranged to hold a rally in Mount Sion on Tuesday, March 3rd. It ran from 11am to 2pm with a break for lunch from 12.30 to 1pm.

We had a number of different speakers who have experienced living in Direct Provision, both students and families.

 Br Kevin Macherenhas who works with asylum seekers in Waterford and Cork presented a workshop as did Edward Kennedy, Principal in Mount Sion, on the School of Sanctuary. The Mount Sion Choir provided musical entertainment.

To finish, each student and teacher present was asked to sign a petition calling for reform of this system.

Cancellations

The rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic forced us to cancel the following planned activities:

  • Trip to Geneva to deliver our Oral Statement. 10 students and 4 teachers had arranged to travel.
  • The Primary Principals Seminar.
  • The Chairpersons Cluster Meeting.
  • Our Staff Reflection Day
  • Walk in my Shoes (2 Events)

New Charter Design
Redesigned Charter for Launch in September

We are currently working on a new design for our Charter using more contemporary photographs and layout. We hope to have this ready for schools in September.

Student Leader Certificate
Ready for launch in September
European EREBB Initiative

ERST in conjunction with Edmund Rice, England and ERST Northern Ireland is designing an Edmund Rice Student Certificate course to be offered to students in all 3 regions from next September. It is envisaged that the certificate course will be a module of 12 sessions covering such themes as The story of Edmund, the Global connection, Advocacy, Social Justice, Leadership and Reflection.

Deputy Principals' Conference

Our annual Deputy Principals conference took place in the Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise in November. The conference was held over two days, from Thursday evening at 5.30pm to Friday at 1.30pm with 41 Deputy Principals in attendance.

The programme consisted of an ethos session, sharing good practice, an input on the role of Deputy Principal and an open forum on current issues. Miriam Horgan, former DES Inspector, gave a very interesting presentation on the role of the deputy principal in the 21st century. She covered topics ranging from School Self-Evaluation to the DES vision of the integration of digital technology in education.

Pat O’Brien and Alexandra Duane from Joey’s in Fairview gave a very interesting presentation on their school’s involvement in P-Tech, a programme that was developed in New York in 2011 by global tech giant IBM and local educators. It aims to give students a career pathway into the digital economy by building up their skills all the way through second level. The involvement of Joey’s Alumni was very important in the promotion of the programme in the school.

Aaron Wolfe from CER Cork gave a very thought-provoking and entertaining presentation on the need to be creative and innovative in school leadership.

There were opportunities for networking and social time over dinner on Thursday evening and lunch on Friday.

Student Council Conference

In a break with usual practice this year’s Student Council Conference was held on December 5th . Previous conferences were held in April, but there was an expressed opinion that we should hold it earlier in the year for maximum effect, as the council would have more opportunities to implement some of the learning from the conference.

Twelve students from 3 Dublin schools, Coláiste Mhuire, St Joseph’s Fairview and St Vincent’s CBS planned, prepared and facilitated the entire event under guidance from Trust personnel. Edmund Rice: As Equals was the theme they chose and sessions were planned under the headings, Edmund Rice: working as equals; Edmund Rice: living as equals and Edmund Rice: education as equals. Topics such as Direct Provision, LGBT, Travellers' rights, mental health and disabilities were discussed. As usual there was a large turn-out of over 120 student leaders accompanied by their teachers

John Boyne Short Story Competition

During the coronavirus pandemic, the writer John Boyne decided to organise a short story competition, expecting around 200-300 entries. Instead, the competition attracted over 6000 entries and a Waterpark College student, Ryan Coughlan, won the 11-14 years old category. Enjoy his entry, Planet XT-14. (Photo courtesy Irish Times)

Planet XT-14
We walk into the conference room.

Our shuttle had recently arrived back to our home planet from our long travels to the incredible new solar system X-25. We had been tasked with landing on and researching a planet dubbed XT-14, from where we had received an interesting signal.

As captain I will be answering any questions.

We take our seats at the stage. New planets are always important, so the GSA always make major announcements publicly by the crew.

“Firstly, I want to thank the Global Space Agency and everyone who supported us on our voyage.”

News cameras film us silently as the crowd applaud. One hand raises silently.

“Captain, can you confirm life on XT-14?”

“We can confirm life on the planet. We have even brought back some plant samples.”

More hands raise.

“Captain, there is one main question everyone wants to know. Can you confirm sentient life?”

I sigh. I knew this was coming. We had spent months on that planet and it still breaks my heart.

“There was indeed life on that planet. They were very intelligent. We found satellites and even a space station, much like our own, orbiting XT-14. Using skeletons and various paintings, we know they are a cousin species to us.”

Pictures of various skeletons and digital recreations appear behind me. They were much like us but had large differences, such as their skin colours or hair.

“They seem to have gotten to the technological stage we reached 150 years ago. They mastered communication and weaponry but hadn’t quite reached biological enhancements. Like other species, they caused their own demise due to nuclear fallout.”

Silence.

Slowly, one hand raises.

“Have you found the planet’s local name?”

“According to computers we found, they called the planet Earth. The species were called Homo Sapiens.”

Ardscoil na Mara Student Ambassadors

Two ERI Youth Ambassadors in Ardscoil na Mara, Ava Dineen and Róisín Groves travelled to Geneva, home to the United Nations Office, on 22nd January. They joined other Youth Ambassadors from different parts of Ireland, Northern Ireland and England. The group was given a tour of the U.N. and attended the Universal Periodic Review of human rights for Spain. 

It was an eye-opening experience for the students to learn about the history of the U.N. first-hand. They were also given a tour of the Red Cross Museum. This gave them an insight into the work carried out for people in need around the world

In addition, the students took part in Human Rights Workshops. Schools were given an opportunity to talk about advocacy in their schools and to share initiatives in social justice, which could be put in place in their own schools. 

They learned about the work of Edmund Rice International from Br. Brian Bond, director of ERI. It was amazing for them to be able to meet with like-minded students. They hope to run a campaign in partnership with these schools on May 5th (the feast day of Edmund Rice.)

Human rights and advocacy information they learned during the trip have been brought back to Ardscoil na Mara's Peace and Justice group and will help to build future campaigns. It was a wonderful opportunity for our ambassadors.

Br Seán Breartún (RIP)

It is with much sadness that we learned of the passing of Br Sean Breartún on March 2nd. Br Sean was well known in Edmund Rice schools across the country for his pioneering work introducing the TAS books accounting system. Br Sean worked in the ERST accounts department up until his retirement in 2016. Prior to this he worked in the St. Helen’s Education Office assisting schools in managing their accounts. 

Br Sean taught in Tipperary, Greystones, Portarlington, Tralee, Dun Laoghaire, Cork, Bray, Clonmel, Limerick, and Carrick on Suir. He was Superior during his time in Clonmel. 

All who knew Sean remember him as a quiet but very able gentleman with a kind soul. Go ndeanadh Dia trocaire ar a anam dilis.

Catholic Schools Week at The Green

With Bishop Ray Browne

To celebrate Catholic Schools Week, staff and students at CBS The Green, Tralee, Co. Kerry were honoured to welcome Bishop Ray Browne to lead a prayer service for all first-year pupils. 

Catholic Schools Week was celebrated from Sunday 26th of January to Sunday the 2nd of February and this year's theme was 'Living in Harmony with God's Creation'. During his visit Bishop Ray Browne emphasised the importance of working together in our family, parish and school communities in order to ensure that the words of Jesus are fulfilled in the life of every child.

Our first years were delighted that older boys in the school played and sang beautifully at their mass and the Student Council formed a Guard of Honour for our Bishop Ray.

Army Band Visits Sexton Street CBS

There was tremendous excitement in Sexton Street C.B.S. last Thursday. 12th February, at the arrival of members of the Armed Forces! However, these were not any ordinary members of the Army but rather the Band of the 1st Brigade, Southern Command (Cork) who came to perform for the pupils of both Presentation and CBS Primary Schools. 

This special visit coincides with the commencement of a new partnership between these two primary schools and the Limerick School of Music (under the auspices of the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board).

Teachers from the Limerick School of Music are now teaching Brass and String instruments in both schools, C.B.S. and Presentation Primary, through a new programme designed to make the highest level of musical attainment accessible to these students. Junior and Senior Infants are now learning Violin and some 3rd and 4th class students are learning to play Brass instruments including Trumpet, Trombone and French Horn. 

Thanks to the joint efforts of the three schools these students now have the life-changing gift of tuition in music and their joy at this opportunity was certainly in evidence when they heard the wonderful music of the Army Band. The 'Brass' students were particularly excited to meet their counterparts in the Band as they showed off their newly acquired instruments to the seasoned professionals.

There was a fantastic atmosphere in the Hall during the highly skilled performance of the Band under the direction of conductor Captain Brian Prendergast. The programme included well-known movie themes, songs from Disney and some marches. One of the members of the band also sang a well-known Michael Bublé song much to the delight of everyone present.

Eventually, the entire audience was singing along and some of the teachers were even spotted dancing at the back! It won’t be long before the young students will themselves be part of the performance.

At the conclusion, Mr. Denis Barry, Principal C.B.S. Primary School, thanked the Army Band, Captain Brian Prendergast and the Limerick School of Music for making this occasion possible.

Baptism of Casey & Noah in Sexton Street Primary School

Pictured at the Baptism of Casey and Noah Emuze, (two boys in the front row), held recently at St. Michael’s Church, Denmark St., Limerick, is Fr. Leo Mc Namara, Parish Priest, St. Michael’s, teachers, Timmy Ryan and Karen Ward Barry, along with the parents and Godparents of the two boys who were baptized.

Brothers, Casey and Noah Emuze are pupils of Sexton St. C.B.S. Primary School.

Doon CBS Pupils Hit The High Notes

Pupils at Doon CBS are already successfully published authors and now the students can add music producers to their expanding CVs after they launched their album Mol an Óige tin early April in the parish hall.

Students from junior infants to sixth class were busy in the rehearsal studio since January working on their vocals before finally laying down the tracks in a mammoth one day recording session with Pat Murnane in recent weeks.

In 2019, Doon CBS was selected to take part in the Creative Ireland Initiative, a pilot programme which aims to increase creativity in Irish classrooms.

As part of the project, the school expanded its music library by purchasing ukuleles as well as releasing a book titled Written by Me featuring work from every pupil in the school.

Edmund Rice Schools Trust

Meadow Vale, Blackrock, Dublin
Ireland

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