Principal's Blog 2015 - Whitecross NS

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Principal's Blog 2015

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DECEMBER 14th 2015

Santa Helps Whitecross School Power towards a Green Christmas

Santa paid a very special visit to the children of Whitecross National School, Julianstown recently to help the European Recycling Platform (ERP), Ireland’s only pan European compliance scheme for electrical waste and battery recycling launch it’s Green Christmas Appeal.  It is estimated that the equivalent of 48 million AA batteries will be purchased in the run up to Christmas, accounting for almost 40% of all batteries sold in the country each year. Pupils were literally "jumping with delight" when Santa arrived at ERP’s Christmas Grotto and while visiting St Nick, the children managed to recycle an incredible amount of batteries.
Speaking about the success of the day, Martin Tobin, CEO of ERP Ireland said: "We were delighted that Santa was able to take time out of his busy schedule to help us with our Green Christmas Appeal.  He had a very important message and he wants everyone to have a Merry Green Christmas this year and recycle their used batteries."
The equivalent of 120 million AA batteries were sold in Ireland in 2014 with the majority of these ending up in landfill. Why not give Mother Nature a present this Christmas and bring back your used batteries for recycling to any battery retailer that sells similar batteries when buying new ones.



At a recent general meeting in the hall the two parents were elected to the Board of Management of the school. They were Mary Teeling and Duncan Smith. Mary has already spent a term on our Board and we thank her for her time and input on behalf of parents. Duncan is a new member, we hope he gains and insight into the running of this school and how much work and decisions take place behind the scenes to keep the school running as efficiently as it is.
We also want to acknowledge the work of Andrew Lenehan who has just stepped down. His skills and know how has been a great benefit to the school, especially in relation to the school building process and maintenance and upgrading across the school campus.
Finally the following are the members of the Board who will serve from December 2015 to November 2019:

Diarmuid Everard; Chairperson
Paddy Prendergast; Treasurer
Mary Teeling; Parent Representative
Duncan Smith; Parent Representative
Georgina Brangan; Community Representative
Fr. Declan Kelly; Church Representative
David O’Callaghan; Teacher’s Representative
Liam Burke; Secretary




Abridged update from architect regarding school build:

  • There is no current delay in the project

  • Some work to be done on Civil/Structural side for temporary accommodation on new site

  • ESB overhead cable will need to be diverted

  • Follow up on additional information from Land Surveyor by Precision Surveys

  • A Public Procurement restricted tendering process is envisaged with a Suitability Assessment Questionnaire; then contractors shortlisted to 8

  • Selected contractor solely responsible for Temporary Accommodation

  • Some two storey prefabs will be installed

  • Contractual arrangements between any supplier to Main Contractor is frequently difficult with concerns expressed on both sides

  • Architect have to apply for planning for temporary accommodation

  • Get a fire cert and DAC cert for temporary accommodation

  • When planning is lodged architect will start Contractor SAQ process




  • Boyne Rugby Club hosted a Tag Rugby Blitz last week. Their new Youth Development Officer, Ben Traynor, invited schools from the greater Drogheda area to bring teams along. Mr O’Callaghan plays with the club and he picked and organised a team of 12 boys. The boys did well, even though it was a non-competitive event. After the games they all got to meet Leo the Lion; the Leinster mascot. We are planning to give the girls a chance when Ben Traynor comes out to actually take the children for some rugby coaching in the school. The other rugby event we plan is a trip for Fifth and Sixth Class pupils to the Aviva Stadium for one of Leinster’s European Cup games.


Last week our Students’ Council visited the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman in Dublin. They learned about children’s rights. Below is a list of the rights children have and are recognised by the Irish Government.

Article 1

Everyone under 18 has these rights.
Article 2
All children have these rights, no matter who they are, where they live, what their parents do, what language they speak, what their religion is, whether they are a boy or girl, what their culture is, whether they have a disability, whether they are rich or poor. No child should be treated unfairly on any basis.
Article 3
All adults should do what is best for you. When adults make decisions, they should think about how their decisions will affect children.
Article 4
The government has a responsibility to make sure your rights are protected. They must help your family to protect your rights and create an environment where you can grow and reach your potential.
Article 5
Your family has the responsibility to help you learn to exercise your rights, and to ensure that your rights are protected.
Article 6
You have the right to be alive.
Article 7
You have the right to a name, and this should be officially recognised by the government. You have the right to a nationality (to belong to a country).
Article 8
You have the right to an identity – an official record of who you are. No one should take this away from you.
Article 9
You have the right to live with your parent(s), unless it is bad for you. You have the right to live with a family who cares for you.
Article 10
If you live in a different country than your parents do, you have the right to be together in the same place.
Article 11
You have the right to be protected from kidnapping.
Article 12
You have the right to give your opinion, and for adults to listen and take it seriously.
Article 13
You have the right to find out things and share what you think with others, by talking, drawing, writing or in any other way unless it harms or offends other people.
Article 14
You have the right to choose your own religion and beliefs. Your parents should help you decide what is right and wrong, and what is best for you.
Article 15
You have the right to choose your own friends and join or set up groups, as long as it isn’t harmful to others.
Article 16
You have the right to privacy.
Article 17
You have the right to get information that is important to your well-being, from radio, newspaper, books, computers and other sources. Adults should make sure that the information you are getting is not harmful, and help you find and understand the information you need.
Article 18
You have the right to be raised by your parent(s) if possible.
Article 19
You have the right to be protected from being hurt and mistreated, in body or mind.
Article 20
You have the right to special care and help if you cannot live with your parents.
Article 21
You have the right to care and protection if you were adopted or are in foster care.
Article 22
You have the right to special protection and help if you are a refugee (if you have been forced to leave your home and live in another country), as well as all the rights in this Convention.
Article 23
You have the right to special education and care if you have a disability, as well as all the rights in this Convention, so that you can live a full life.
Article 24
You have the right to the best health care possible, safe water to drink, nutritious food, a clean and safe environment, and information to help you stay well.
Article 25
If you live in care or in other situations away from home, you have the right to have these living arrangements looked at regularly to see if they are the most appropriate.
Article 26
You have the right to help from the government if you are poor or in need.
Article 27
You have the right to food, clothing, a safe place to live and to have your basic needs met. You should not be disadvantaged so that you can’t do many of the things other kids can do.
Article 28
You have the right to a good quality education. You should be encouraged to go to school to the highest level you can.
Article 29
Your education should help you use and develop your talents and abilities. It should also help you learn to live peacefully, protect the environment and respect other people.
Article 30
You have the right to practice your own culture, language and religion – or any you choose. Minority and indigenous groups need special protection of this right.
Article 31
You have the right to play and rest.
Article 32
You have the right to protection from work that harms you, and is bad for your health and education. If you work, you have the right to be safe and paid fairly.
Article 33
You have the right to protection from harmful drugs and from the drug trade.
Article 34
You have the right to be free from sexual abuse.
Article 35
No one is allowed to kidnap or sell you.
Article 36
You have the right to protection from any kind of exploitation (being taken advantage of).
Article 37
No one is allowed to punish you in a cruel or harmful way.
Article 38
You have the right to protection and freedom from war. Children under 15 cannot be forced to go into the army or take part in war.
Article 39
You have the right to help if you’ve been hurt, neglected or badly treated.
Article 40
You have the right to legal help and fair treatment in the justice system that respects your rights.
Article 41
If the laws of your country provide better protection of your rights than the articles in this Convention, those laws should apply.
Article 42
You have the right to know your rights! Adults should know about these rights and help you learn about them, too.
Articles 43 to 54
These articles explain how governments and international organisations like UNICEF will work to ensure children are protected with their rights.


  • The Department of Education has approved the Building Project to progress as a Single Phase Construction. In effect this means that all of the permanent school buildings will be released to the builders for construction and re-construction. The whole school will relocate to the new site with limited access to the all weather, the playing field and the three prefabs located adjacent to the new site. A budget has been set aside to locate and relocate prefabs on the new site, some of which will be two storey. We hope to advance this proposal, in conjunction with the Design Team as soon as possible. There are significant advantages to a Single Phase Project, but the main one is the construction period will be shorter. I have included a plan of the prefab relocation, but a clearer version is on display in the school.


  • We have begun the Fun Friends Programme in second class and it will run over a number of weeks. This is a special programme was specifically designed to:

Build resiliency through social and emotional skills development.
Empower children, families and teachers.
Promote peer learning through play and experiential/inquiry learning.
Encourage support networks and positive role models.

  • The Fun Friends Programme teaches children and families the following skills:

Smiling and looking people in the eye
Speaking with a confident voice
Talking about feelings and also understanding other people's feelings (development of empathy)
Helping other people - peers, family and teachers
Body clues
How to relax
Making friends
Being brave and happy
Trying new things - making step plans
'Red' and 'Green' thoughts, and other essential life skills

  • The Acronym ‘FUN FRIENDS' is used in activity books and manuals

F amilies
U niting to
N urture (Social and Emotional Development of Children)

F eelings (talk about your feelings & care about other people's feelings)
R elax (do "milkshake" breathing, have some quiet time)
I  can try! (we can all try our best)
E ncourage (step plans to a happy home)
N urture (quality time together doing fun activities)
D on't forget - be brave! (practice skills every day with friends /family)
S tay happy

  • Parents are asked to become actively involved through the workbook the children bring home. By discussing the work being done in the workbook they reinforce what was done in school and help to consolidate their child’s learning.

  • The Programme is coordinated by Maeve Chambers and Brian Colreavy from our Learning Support Department.


  • All our pupils are very welcome back after the holidays, but a very special welcome to our new pupils. In all we have about 12 new pupils in the school and I hope they all enjoy and benefit from our Whitecross education.

  • Our Junior Infants have settled very well and will be finishing early until September 14 th. They will then be with us for the full infant day (9am-1.40pm).

  • Please note 6 th class parents that it important that you have your child’s name down for secondary school in good time and if there is not a place in your chosen school, you have an option available.

  • The latest proposal on the building is a one-phase project with the school relocating to new site (between original school site and church) in prefabricated classrooms. We are hopeful that there will be action this year and when work begins the project will be completed as quickly as possible.

  • A word of congratulations also to Fr. Declan Kelly, who marks the 25 th anniversary of his ordination this year. There will be a special parish event in the school on September 20 th. Fr. Declan has been a great friend of Whitecross pupils and teachers since he came to this parish and we want to wish him well as he marks 25 years given to his vocation.

  • A great friend of the school passed away during the summer holidays. Brian O’Cinneide was a retired school principal from Kilkenny. He relocated to Grange Rath and in 2005 Brian began a great relationship with Whitecross in his role as substitute teacher. Initially Brian joined us when we tragically lost one of our young teachers (Cathriona Kenneally). Brian was a great support to us all, by covering her class, but also by offering support to a devastated teaching team and pupils. Brian regularly substituted across the school and was greatly appreciated by any class he took. He regaled them with stories, took it easy with homework and most importantly developed a friendship with pupils across the school. He was a friend to Whitecross whom we will greatly miss:

                            Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis

JUNE 22nd





  • PRIMARY ONLINE DATABASE: The Department of Education and Skills has developed an electronic database of primary school pupils called the Primary Online Database (POD) which will involve schools maintaining and returning data on pupils to the Department at individual pupil level on a live system. The database will allow the Department to evaluate progress and outcomes of pupils at primary level, to validate school enrolment returns for grant payment and teacher allocation purposes, to follow up on pupils who do not make the transfer from primary to post primary level and for statistical reporting. The database will hold data on all primary school pupils including their PPSN, First Name, Surname, Name as per Birth Certificate, Mother's Maiden Name, Address, Date of Birth, Gender, Nationality, whether one of the pupil's mother tongues is English or Irish, whether the pupil is in receipt of an Exemption from Irish and if so the reason for same, whether the pupil is in receipt of Learning Support and if so the type of learning support, whether the pupil is in a Mainstream or Special Class. The database will record the class grouping and standard the pupil is enrolled in. The database will also contain, on an optional basis, information on the pupil's religion and on their ethnic or cultural background. Forms to gather the relevant information have been circulated and in order to have our end of the workload complete before the end of the school year we would appreciate if parents could fill and return the necessary information.





THIRD TERM: We have plenty of events scheduled for the final term of this academic year. This week we close our entries for the PA sponsored Art & Literary Competition. At the request of the Julianstown Development Committee we have chosen a woodland & related theme, reflecting the work this group have almost completed in the woods around the original Whitecross School. Rather than a story the majority of our pupils will be writing poems related to the theme. The following week a group of our teaching staff will represent the school at an education seminar in the Czech Republic. This will give our teachers a professional insight into the education system in the Czech Republic, as well as sharing their Irish perspectives with teachers from 6 European schools. May 16 th  is a big day for most of our Second Class pupils, and judging by the preparation work they will be making it a superb occasion. Other events planned for the last term include a Fun Day organised by PA (June 14), class tours, Sixth Class graduation, new pupil orientation etc.

TEACHER ATTENDANCE: As in all jobs staff can be absent from time to time. In the case of schools, substitute cover is provided for long term absences, but for the first day of the majority or absences the class is normally split. Teachers leave a folder of work for the pupils, who are then divided into small groups (3or4) and sent to other classes across the school for supervision. The Department of Education also requests that teachers are sent from schools for professional development events during the week and at weekends. Many of our teachers in Whitecross like to keep up to date on professional events, seminars and training and we encourage them to attend. Teachers may or may not be provided with substitute cover, depending on the course. A number of our teachers are also involved in facilitating training and professional development and can be freed from teaching duties from time to time. Finally, teachers who undertake professional development during their summer holidays (25 hours) are entitled to 3 personal leave days during the following academic year. The INTO have been lobbying for years to make this substitutable, but to no avail. In fact since the education cutbacks kicked in, you will notice that there has been an increase in class division in the event of teacher absences. Of late, there is the added problem of a shortage of substitute teachers, hence no one to cover for an absent staff member.


  • SHAVE OR DYE/GREEN DAY: This March 16 th event raised over €700 for cancer research and everyone enjoyed the day. Thanks to children and parents for supporting this event.


CONFIRMATION: Well done and congratulations to all the children who made their Confirmation last Friday. The email extract below from Mollie Hartnett’s grandmother sums up better than I can how special the ceremony was:

To all the teachers of the confirmation pupils,

I am the grandmother of Mollie Hartnett and I attended the Mass and ceremony for Mollie last Friday and I just want to say what a wonderful ceremony it was.  The music singing and the whole ceremony was just wonderful from start to finish. I had travelled up from Cork on the day and I have never attended a ceremony so nice.    What I thought was particularly lovely was the participation of all 49 pupils through- out the ceremony you can always ask the best singers to perform on the day but each Confirmation child had their own roles and stood up on different time during the Mass. The finale when they all gathered on the altar was beautiful.

Well done to all the teachers  who worked so hard to prepare these children for their big day and also to the school choir whose sang through-out the ceremony.
As the six class pupils embark on the next phase of their lives they will be left with great memories of a great confirmation day.

Well done to all.


Doreen Hartnett

BOOK SALE: The Book Sale organised by Ms. Reynolds 4 th Class was also a great success. The event was in coordination with World Book Day and the charity nominated for the day was Irish Guide Dogs. Almost €1000 was raised by the children with the help of their teacher. Well done!


PA QUIZ: The annual PA Quiz was once again a very enjoyable occasion for all that attended. The questions set by Pat Cronin were both challenging and amusing and added to the entertainment on the night. Of course the quizmaster (Pat Mannion) delivered the questions in his own style which enhanced the amusement factor. A special thanks to our core PA committee (Kieron, Duncan and Yvonne) and the wider cohort of parents who helped on the night.

POLISH VISITORS: Thirty three children (12-14yrs) and 5 teachers came to Whitecross School last Friday. This group of Polish students came from a prestigious private school in Warsaw (Primus School) and had been staying in Newgrange Lodge. The Students’ Council helped set up activities for our visitors to give them a flavour of our school. They played board games, did some art, joined in PE lessons and watched our own special game, Gaelic Football. Afterwards, the Students’ Council joined with the group for some drinks and food, while we listened to a brilliant recital of music from Ms. Reynolds’ musicians. The Polish teachers were very impressed by the friendly and relaxed atmosphere in Whitecross and how pleasant the children were. Nice to hear!

YOGA: Third class are embarking on a yoga module, which seems to have begun really well. Cora McEvoy is the instructor and all going well, we will roll it out to other classes throughout the remainder of the year.



CREDIT UNION QUIZ: Well done to all our teams who performed so well in the Credit Union Quiz at the City North Hotel last Monday night. Many of the local schools took part and our U11 team came first. In all we had 6 teams in the competition and with a little coaching from Mr. Colreavy they came well prepared to represent the school. The U11 winners were Inish Maloney, James Hughes, Ella Markey and Keeva Coughlan. They now move on to the regional round of the competition in late March.

AIRGEAD AOINE: By now all children and parents in the school are aware of our Airgead Aoine fundraising initiative. We have a huge jar to fill (5 gallons/23 litres). The children made a huge effort in Week 1 to get us started and I am predicting a full jar and a party to celebrate sooner than expected. It will be interesting also to find out how much is in the jar! Thanks to all the kids and parents who are supporting this initiative, especially the Students’ Council who are helping to organise it.

Our 4 th, 5 th and 6 th classes did themselves proud by all accounts at the Peace Proms. I also want to pay tribute to all their teachers who gave up their Saturday evening and night to take the children along as well as preparing them so well for the occasion. Unfortunately, the children and teachers were not happy with some aspects of the show, especially the poor display by the conductor. The school will be reviewing future participation in this event.


The first Board meeting of this term took place last week. The Board typically meets twice a term. However, there is also regular contact between Board members and myself regarding the running of the school. The most involved voluntary member is Diarmuid Everard. We regularly meet, phone or email to discuss school matters, mainly to do with the building project, but a range of other issues linked to the school as well, ranging from disciplinary issues, to school projects, to maintenance etc. The other busy volunteer on the Board is Paddy Prendergast. He is the school treasurer. All school income and expenditure is managed by Paddy. We meet at least 2 or 3 times a month to discuss financial issues. The school pays wages to secretarial, caretaking and cleaning staff each month. We normally have invoices of at least €10,000 to process at the end of the month. So Paddy’s job is quite responsible in many ways. However, he is an excellent financial planner and ensures our spending here is always appropriate and managed efficiently.

SCHOOL BOARD: Diarmuid Everard (Chairperson); Paddy Prendergast (treasurer); Liam Burke (secretary); David O’Callaghan (teachers’ rep); Andrew Lenehan (parents’ rep); Mary Teeling (parents’ rep); Fr. Declan Kelly (Bishop’s rep); Georgina Brangan (Bishop’s rep)
Last week’s meeting dealt with topics such as School Build (every meeting!), discipline policy; social networking sites; the bin fire; yard duty; finance; parent/pupil issue. Most meetings are held in the school and last between 2 and 2 ½ hours. The term of office is 4 years and at the end of this year a new Board will be constituted.


BUILDING: Two members of the School Building Committee (David O’Callaghan & Liam Burke) met with one part of the Building Design Team on Friday. This was the person in charge of the Quantity Survey (Fintan Bennett); basically the element of the project that involves material quantity and costs. The Board were concerned that this company did not believe that they would be ready to sign off until February at the earliest. We needed to check what the issues were and ‘February at the earliest’ could be anytime in 2015! We met in their offices in Ballsbridge and here is a summary of the meeting
Agreed that progress was slow
Bill of Quantities takes 4-6 weeks to complete and other design team disciplines had not completed their work for this, but he would follow up
Department has increased building allowance for increased costs since project initiation
Predicted that work should be ready to commence by July 2015

AVIVA STADIUM: Mr. O’Callaghan (along with myself) took 30 children to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday for the Leinster/Harlequins match. There were plenty of Santas dressed in the blue of Leinster and although the quality of rugby was not the best, the right team won. We also had fantastic seats high up and behind the press box. The free selection boxes were an added bonus before the game!

CHOIR: Two choirs are busy rehearsing at the moment; the 50 children representing the school in the National Concert Hall on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of this week (The Snowman). These children have the privilege of singing in the NCH and also accompanying the RTE Symphony Orchestra! The other choir from 4 th, 5 th and 6 th classes rehearse this week in the National Basketball Arena for their Peace Proms performance in the RDS at the end of January. Singing experiences all around for our pupils.


CHRISTMAS EVENTS: So far there are at least three big Christmas plays/musicals taking place in the school. Junior Infants, Senior Infants and First Class are making full use of our less than spacious school hall to rehearse for their shows next week. As far as I know children, from across the school will be invited along with parents for a special performance. Ms. Reynolds Fourth Class is also putting together an event ‘as Gaeilge’ which takes place this week. Apart from that, the 50 strong choir will represent the school in the National Concert Hall from December 19 th to 21 st. This is preceded by the Peace Proms Rehearsal in the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght on Tuesday, December 16 th for 4 th, 5 th and 6 th Class pupils. So all the children will have plenty of singing opportunities during the run-in to Christmas!

RESOURCE CONTRIBUTION: We recently sent out letters asking for and explaining the School Resource Contribution. To date we have received just over €5200 from families with children from 6 th down to 1 st Class. If you have overlooked or not received the letter please check the website for a copy. A special thanks to all who made a contribution or acknowledged the request.

PLEASE NOTE: School finishes at 12 noon on December 19 th and resumes on January 5 th, 2015. Also some addresses and contact numbers need to be updated by parents. Please do so as soon as possible.


CHRISTMAS EVENTS: Apart from ‘The Snowman’ several classes have planned small Christmas themed events, plays and shows and are busy rehearsing for these. The Snowman event takes place in the National Concert Hall over three days and five shows (December 19 th, 20 th and 21 st). We really appreciate the effort the children are making in the choir, especially Ms. Grufferty for preparing them. Teachers will also be giving their time over the busy Christmas period to help with the logistics of getting the children to Dublin, supervising and getting them back.

GIRLS’ FINAL: The girls’ team did the school proud by reaching the final of the Meath Schools’ GAA competition. On the way to the final they won 8 matches from 8 played. I really appreciate the effort made by Mr. Byrne, Mr Colreavy and Ms. Staunton in preparing the team. We were strong favourites going in to the final, but not unlike the Dublin Senior Team, we were well beaten by a better team in the day. However, the signs are good for both boys and girls teams in Whitecross. The work done by St. Patrick’s GAA and teachers here leads me to believe that we will have a county title in the near future!


THE FIREBIRD: This was a very enjoyable play based on a Russian folktale. It was aimed at the junior end of primary school, so children from Junior Infants to Second Class attended. The play blended puppetry, with farce, with theatre. Having checked with the customers (our pupils) I invited the group back next year to perform again for our younger pupils. Interestingly, the actors are all English based in the West Midlands of England and were solidly booked in Ireland from September to the end of November.

GIRLS’ FINAL: The rescheduled girls’ final takes place this Saturday at 12.30pm in Parc Tailteann, Navan. They play St. Declan’s, Ashbourne. Let us wish for a win!!

The School Board of Management meets at least twice a term to ensure that the school is run efficiently, safely and well. All of the management committee are volunteers (except myself) and give of their time for the good of the children (& teachers/parents) in the school. Some significant achievements of the Board in recent years was the purchase of the site linking the school to the church grounds, organising the construction of the access walkway and funding and completing the all-weather facility beside the school pitch. Maintenance issues also come up for discussion at board meetings and decisions are made on how best to allocate funds for the upkeep of the school. However, it can be difficult to make decisions on allocating funds projects which will not be needed after the new build. Much of the decision making for the new build is also part of the boards remit.

CHAIRPERSON: Diarmuid Everard
TREASURER: Paddy Prendergast
COMMITTEE: Fr. Declan Kelly, Georgina Brangan, Mary Teeling, Andrew Lenihan, David O’Callaghan


GIRLS’ GAA: Due to the very wet weather, Páirc Tailteann in Navan was declared unplayable and the Girls’ GAA Final was rescheduled for the same venue on November 29 th. Meanwhile the boys play a challenge match against Mount Hanover NS on Wednesday.

ASTRONOMER: Kevin Sweeney came to the school to talk about space, space travel, aliens and so on, the day after the Philae probe landed on that comet (67PC-G). It was also bang in the middle of Science Week. The reviews of his lecture on astronomy ranged from ‘Great’ to ‘Very interesting’ to ‘Brilliant’. If nothing, outside experts coming to the school help children identify areas, topics or subjects which is of a particular interest to them.

WEST MIDLANDS THEATRE: This is a theatrical group specifically formed to bring theatrical events to primary schools in Britain and Ireland. The troupe are based in Wolverhampton, England.  They come to the school this week to perform a Russian folk tale (the Firebird) for the junior classes (Jun Inf to 2 nd)

SAMBA: The Samba workshops have been a great success in the school. Kieran Gallagher is an excellent instructor and apart from the noise the children do get a great idea about rhythm and beat and how percussion instruments work. At the moment 5 th and 6 th classes are participating each Thursday.

THE SNOWMAN: Rehearsals are continuing for the Snowman every week. The choir will be on stage in the National Concert Hall on December 19 th, 20 th and 21 st for 5 performances in all.

The Board, over the past few months, have been endeavouring to get the Department and Design Team to organise the construction element of the building project in one single phase. The thinking behind this was to speed up construction and also to reduce any health and safety problems. This would have entailed some classes (4) moving offsite and the remainder of the school moving into prefabs on the new ground we purchased. In the end the Quantity Surveyor (part of Design Team) did not agree with proposal as he felt it would increase project costs. The construction process will remain a two phase project. We have been assured that the tender documents are almost complete and these will go to DES for approval shortly.


     Some of Ms. Ffrench's recycle team                             Samba in action!!


FOOTBALL: We are confident of having one team in the Meath GAA Schools’ finals and possibly two. The girls will qualify with a victory on Thursday and the boys will qualify with a victory tomorrow and Thursday. The finals will take place mid November in Páirc Tailteann, Navan.

AUGUSTINIAN MISSIONS: Fr. Francis Aherne came to the school to accept a cheque from the Student’s Council for the Augustinian Education Fund in northern Nigeria. Given that he spent over 30 years in Africa, he was able to paint a detailed picture of life and education in Africa for our Sixth Class pupils. We learned that most children get only a primary education, they all love school and hate holidays (as they get proper meals there), that there is a range of religions and languages in Nigeria and that Fr. Hughes from Julianstown has been working there for more than 45 years (Aoife’s granduncle!) We also talked about Boko Haram and Ebola. I didn’t realise that this dreadful disease got its name from the Ebola River in Congo. Fr. Francis left with a cheque for €860 presented to him by Aoife Hughes on behalf of the Students’ Council and the pupils.

SHOEBOX APPEAL: Deirdre Gray presented her annual Shoebox Appeal to the junior end of the school. This is an annual appeal where children (& parents) fill a shoebox with small toys and tokens for less well-off children in developing countries. It is always well supported at Whitecross.

SCHOOL BREAK: After mid-term the break times for the children are divided to maximise the yard space. The field becomes unplayable because of poor weather, so the Junior Infants and Senior Infants share the yard with the Fifth and Sixth Class pupils. This is for lunch break only and the break is from 12.15 to 12.45. The remaining students break from 12.45 to 1.15. This system has been in place for a number of years now and ensures that all children can have an active play-time.

MIDTERM: We break for Hallowe’en midterm this Friday (October 24 th) and return on Monday (November 3 rd). We hope all our kids have a happy and safe Hallowe’en break.


GAA: The girls’ team is doing the school proud in their endeavours in the Meath Schools’ League. They have now won 5 from 5 matches, defeating St. Joseph’s NS, Navan in last week’s round of the competition. Catherine Gray was ‘Woman of the Match.’
The boys, unfortunately, were beaten by a very strong Duleek BNS team. This is our first loss in the competition, with the backbone of the team coming from the Fourth Class pupils, so our GAA future is bright and we still hope to reach the play-offs. Evan Ferguson was superb and rightly won the Man of the Match award.
Also a special thanks to Paul Lenehan and his team from St. Patricks’ GAA (Rosemary, Eamon and Hugh) who came on Thursday to coach the Junior and Senior Infants, in both football and hurling. It was a great success.

MASS: Mass for the school takes place this Friday at 11am

DTIM: The Do This in Memory First Communion Programme is up and running. Catherine Ryan will be the parent leader, liaison person. The programme involves parents supporting the First Communion preparation for their Second Class children. There are four Masses designated through the school year as part of this programme: Nov 15, January 17, 2015, March 21 and June 7 (Corpus Christi). First Holy Communion takes place on May 16, with First Confession on February 4 th.
SOCIAL NETWORKING: Parents need to be vigilant when it comes to your children accessing social networking sites. The majority of social networking platforms are not for primary school children and in my view they should not be using them. Comments, good or bad about classmates or school mates or teachers should not be uploaded!! Furthermore comments viewed by children should not be relayed by other children through the school.

CREDIT UNION: East Meath Credit Union comes every second Tuesday. This helps foster a good saving ethic in our pupils and is available to all pupils from Third Class up! With 20% up front required for any new mortgages our pupils will need to start saving now!!


YARD MARKINGS: A special thanks to Deirdre Gray for upgrading the yard markings in the school yard. This will enhance playtime for all children, but especially so for the juniors.

SAMBA: Kieran Gallagher brought his drums and Samba rhythms to 3 rd and 4 th classes on Thursday. He will continue with weekly lessons for these classes through October and hopefully we can extend to 5 th and 6 th classes in November.

GAA: Both girls and boys teams have a 100% record in their respective Meath Schools’ GAA League. We are not just proud of how well we are doing, the sporting attitude and endeavours of the kids. Credit must also be extended to the Pats GAA club for their excellent coaching programmes which have fed our teams’ successes. Indeed some of pupils also play with Colmcilles GAA, who equally contribute on the sporting front.

WALK: Thanks to all the parents and kids who took part in the Beach Walk. A special thanks to Kieron O’Brien and Duncan Smith who organised the event so well especially the teas and coffees at the Coast Tavern on the return leg.

JERSEY DAY: Was a great success and raised €860 for the Augustinian Educational Fund in Nigeria. Fr. Francis Aherne from the Drogheda Augustinians will be presented with a cheque for that amount in the school in the coming days.

DO THIS IN MEMORY PROGRAMME: Tuesday (October 7 th) sees a meeting to organise the DTIM Programme in the school. The object of the programme is to involve parents in the preparation for the children’s First Holy Communion ceremony. It involves some Mass attendance and preparation of the children for these occasions. In the past schools took control of all the preparation programme, it is now shared with the parents of the children.

COMENIUS PROJECT: Five teachers attended a conference programme in Lithuania last week as part of our EU School Partnership Programme. Apart from organising project work the teachers got an insight in the educational system in Kaunas, Lithuania, meeting pupils, teachers and parents. The programme encourages schools to link, work on a project (European Traditions in this case) and share educational ideas and experience.

CORINNE BUSSER: Corinne is a teacher who is working in a school in Liechtenstein, but living in Switzerland. Corinne will be a new face in the school for the next two weeks. She will be looking at how our educational system works and gleaning ideas from the staff here as well as sharing her own experiences of the Liechtenstein educational system.  


COMMUNION: First Holy Communion is set for Saturday, May 16 th @ 11am. First Confession will take place on Wednesday, February 4 th @ 7pm

FOOTBALL: Well done to the boys and girls GAA teams who won their first rounds of the Meath Schools’ League against St. Declan’s Ashourne and St. Stephen’s Navan respectively. The league will continue until the end of October.

ACCESS: Access to the school grounds from the church has proved to be a hugely positive addition to our school facilities. However now that there is a gate in place we intend to allow access only during school hours in the morning and afternoon for pupils/parents entering and leaving the school. We don’t want to leave it open to all-comers as this will compromise school security.

HEADLICE: Please check your children for headlice as there have been reports in some of the classes.


ARCHITECT: Diarmuid Everard, David O’Callaghan and I met with the architect on Friday morning. The extra new space and walkway provide options for the school when it comes to the construction phase of our new building and we are also examining some element of off-site accommodation for senior pupils. The architect agrees that given the will and support of the Department, the construction could be done within one year from beginning to end and in one phase. This would save considerable money for DES and also lessen the accommodation problems attached to a two phase project which would take much longer.

WALKWAY: We are delighted that the new walkway is in operation and happy to share it with the wider school community. There are some guidelines that we would like to highlight with you for using the facility:
Unaccompanied children need to be very careful in the Church Car Park/Cycling is not permitted on the walkway or school grounds/Children may wait for parents at the church entrance gate, but will return after a short period if parents are delayed and wait at wall at the front of the school/Parents entering the school yard in the morning need to stay right of the double red line and walk between the Colonnade and the old prefabs, follow the yellow arrows/The walkway is not a ‘right of way’ and will be locked outside school hours and typically locked between 10am and 1pm/Children and adults are not allowed access to new ground north of the walkway/Everyone respect the private property south of the walkway/Drivers must be alert at all times in the Church Car Park/Be aware that cars have been broken into in the past in that car park/Finally, we would appreciate if the front of the school is left car free and the few parents who park and wait there revert to parking and waiting in the Church grounds.

CONFIRMATION: Takes place on a Friday this year. This is a new departure for Whitecross. March 6 th @ 3pm. The bouncy castle may have to wait until Saturday!

COMMUNION: No date fixed as yet.

MASS: The annual school Mass to mark the beginning of the school year and also the 9 th anniversary or Cathriona Kenneally will take place on Friday, October 17 th. Children from 2 nd to 6 th Class will attend.


All our pupils are very welcome back after the holidays, but a very special welcome to our new pupils. In all we have about 14 new pupils in the school and I hope they all enjoy and benefit from our Whitecross education.

The new walkway is a brilliant addition to our school facilities and has already cleared up traffic at the front. The children have been advised at Assembly to be especially careful in the church car park and if parents are not available they are to return to the school after a few minutes and wait at the wall at the front. We plan to send out an advisory note when the gates are in place and all is complete. We would also encourage children to lock their bicycles if they are cycling to school as there is access to the school now at the front and at the rear. A special thanks to Andrew Lenihan for bringing this worthwhile project to fruition.

Our Junior Infants have settled very well and will be finishing early until September 15 th. They will then be with us for the full infant day (9am-1.40pm). The teachers are delighted with the low numbers (21 in each class). However, the school will not be able to sustain low numbers given that the Pupil Teacher ratio is 28:1.

Please note 6 th class parents that it important that you have your child’s name down for secondary school in good time and if there is not a place in your chosen school, you have an option available.
As far as the School Build is concerned, Diarmuid Everard, Andrew Lenihan, David O’Callaghan and I will be meeting with the architect this Friday and will report back on progress in due course.


SPORTS DAY: Another very successful Schools Sports Day was held yesterday. Well done to Kieron and Duncan and their helpers on the day and indeed the day before for making the event enjoyable for our pupils. A quick check in the classes indicated that there were about 250 pupils in attendance, which indicates what an important event this is on the school calendar. Normally I get to attend, but instead of watching 50m races on the school pitch, I took it upon myself to cycle 200km in the mountains and hills of Co. Wicklow. Not a good option!

GIRO PHOTO COMPETITION: Well done to Riley O’Carroll for his wonderful action shot (with help from Dad) of the Giro peloton as it excited the second Southgate roundabout. He wins €50 sponsored by the school.

RECIPE BOOK WINNERS: The School Recipe Book Project is developing, but given the number of recipes and the work attached to organising the draft for printing, it will take time. The class with the most recipes was Mr. Byrne’s Sixth Class and for their efforts the class will be awarded with a Pizza Party later this week. Well done Rang a Sé.


Mr. Burke took myself and 11 other students from 4 th Class fishing to Dunleer (Rathescar Pond). First of all we met Brendan, who is a fisherman. He showed us how to cast the line and then he let us do it ourselves. Altogether we caught five fish. He told us that all of the fish we caught were roach and that they are a very delicate fish. The biggest was about 15cm. We used live maggots for bait. He told us that if the float goes under the water it means that you’ve caught a fish. At the end before we went he showed us some pictures of the fish he had caught, on a different day and they were huge. I had a good time and I’m glad I was chosen.
By Sarah McDonald (4 th Class)

May 26th 2014

  • BOOK FAIR: Mr. O’Callaghan’s class (or was it Mr. O’Callaghan?) ran a book fair last week. The fair generated a turnover of €3065.40 with 50% being returned in the value of new books for the various class libraries in the school.

  • GAELIC FOOTBALL TRAINING: A special thanks to the juvenile committee in St. Patrick’s GAA for providing two excellent coaches for football sessions with Second to Sixth Classes.

  • ROUNDERS: Unfortunately the girls went out in the rounders, defeated by St. Mary’s GNS, Trim. The boys, however, had a great win over Ballivor NS, with some great batting and fielding. They play a quarter final next against Duleek BNS.

May 19th 2014

  • FIRST COMMUNION: Once again the First Communion Ceremony was marked by great commitment to the occasion by 60 pupils from Second Class. The children read and sang excellently and did not make a single error on their special day. The utter professionalism of their teachers Grainne Cassidy and Sarah Jane Kirwan ensured that the children were totally prepared and they were more than well supported by the wonderful school choir led by Sinead Dowd and Emma Grufferty.

  • ELECTION: Reminder that the school will be closed this Friday (23 rd) for the Local and European elections.

  • SOCCER: The Third and Fourth Class soccer league has begun with the majority of children in the classes taking part. Matches take place after school every Thursday and it is great first of all the younger children get the opportunity to be involved and secondly it is so well run by Mr. Colreavy and his teacher helpers.

May 11th 2014

May 2nd 2014

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