Parish Newsletter Article on Loughmore NS in 2013

This was an industrious and fruitful year in Loughmore NS, and we experienced many happy times and well earned achievements this year – testament to the great spirit of cooperation between all partners in education and also to the wonderful attitude and motivation of our pupils.

In January we celebrated Irish Catholic school’s week, and our pupils’ grandparents were honoured at a special school mass. We held parent-teacher meetings later in the month, and we were also assessed by An Taisce for our first Green Flag. The school was approached by our SENO (Special Educational Needs Organiser) this month with a proposal for opening an ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) Class in Loughmore NS. The school had been recommended for this project by the North Tipperary Early Intervention Team based on their very positive prior interactions with the school, the wealth of experience and work ethic of the school staff, and also the proximal location of our mixed, country school to the wider hinterland, where a huge need had been identified for such facilities. After careful consideration and appropriate research, the Board of Management accepted this proposal and so the process of setting up this ASD class, hitherto called ‘Solas’, began.

In February many of our pupils took place in the Scór na bPaistí in Clonmore. A great effort was given by all concerned and several acts went forward to the Mid Final in Littleton – The Figure Dancers, the Ballad Group, the Question Time Team, the Music Group and Joseph Maher represented his club also in the Recitation. It was disappointing for the competitors to not place in the Mid Final, however we were extremely proud of all our participants and they were certainly winners in our eyes! The Credit Union School’s Quiz took place in the Templemore Arms Hotel also in February. Our team – Jack Cullen, Conor Ryan, Eve Sweeney and Kieran Moynihan were in attendance and came fourth out of twenty five teams. We marked ‘Safer Internet Day’ in our school this month by investigating safe and practical guideline for using the internet, phones and social media. We also held our annual Open Night in the school on Tuesday 26th of February, and it was extremely well attended. A Pancake Tuesday Fundraiser for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Temple Street was held in the school this February.  Over €110 was raised for this worthy cause. Miss O’Brien organised this tasty event and Mrs. Scott, Bridget and Kathleen were thanked for their culinary skills and endless patience!

On March 8th, the pupils of 5th and 6th class in Loughmore NS and Castleiney NS, received the sacrament of Confirmation from His Grace Archbishop Clifford. They were an absolute credit to themselves, their families, their schools and indeed to both parishes! Huge thanks were due to everyone who assisted in preparing the children and the church for this special occasion and also those who participated in this beautiful ceremony. Many families and parishioners donated confectionery and members of the Parent Association came to assist with organising and serving refreshments in the school afterwards – they performed a miracle akin to the loaves and the fishes with the large crowd we received! This help and generosity was truly appreciated by all! The Sacrament of Reconciliation was received by our second class pupils on March 11th under the guidance of their teacher Laura Quinlan. It was a beautiful ceremony filled with singing and music that belied the tender years of our young pupils. We were successful this month in applying for a grant from the North Tipperary County Council for the Artist in School Scheme.This grant (€2,200) was used to facilitate a Whole School Drama Project based on the history and folklore of Loughmore and its environs between April and June. It is awarded to only five schools each year and so we were thrilled that our proposal was considered and accepted. We worked with Actress and Drama Teacher, Aoife Carry, during this period and got stuck into a creative and exciting project entitled ‘Luck in Loughmore’, which culminated in a performance workshop held for parents/guardians in June. A Céilí Mór was held in the hall during Seachtain na nGaeilge, where the Siege of Ennis, Walls of Limerick, Shoe the Donkey, and other Céili favourites were danced – led by our school’s visiting dance teacher Margaret Corcoran. We were keen to defend our St. Patrick’s Day Parade ‘winners’ title this year, and we entered the Templemore Parade again in style – Our theme this year was ‘Reeling in the Years – Loughmore Style’. We dressed up as a number of historical, sporting, musical, etc., characters synonymous with Loughmore over the years. Who will forget our ‘Fr. Dooley’ character performing a ‘Gangdem style’ type dance in the street that day! We were awarded joint third place and €100 for our efforts! Later in the month, the Loughmore Drama Group generously donated the proceeds (€2000) from the Sunday night performance of their play ‘The Cripple of Inismaan’ to develop the Arts in our school. We will begin a whole school Art project in the New Year 2014 where this money will be put to excellent use  (watch this space!). The Parent Association and staff were kept on their toes this month with various projects aforementioned; however they also somehow found time and energy to participate in a spot of Bag packing in Dunnes Stores, Thurles, over the Easter weekend, raising a phenomenal €3200 towards the building of a new school yard.

In April Ms. Aoife Everard was welcomed onto the staff as a substitute teacher covering my maternity leave. On Friday 12th April, we held our school’s Annual Clean-Up, and all pupils participated in joining forces to Spring clean the school and its environs.

In May the Irish Heart Foundation Skipathon took place in the school on April 22nd, and raised a total of €116.55. Well done to all who participated. Our newGreen Flag was collected by Miss O’Brien, Bridget Cashin and two Green School Committee Pupils, Laurna Ryan and Paudie Spillane, at a ceremony in Hotel Kilkenny, on Monday 27th of May. A Minutes Silencewas held at midday on Friday 10th of May to commemorate all those who suffered loss during the Great Famine. The school band performed at the Séisúin Mór in Templemore pupils from the school also danced at the Seisúin. Well done to all concerned. A block of Tag Rugbylessons were arranged for 5th and 6th class pupils. Training was conducted by Eamon Connolly. The5th & 6th Class pupils also went on a Contemplative Retreat, which took place on the 9th of May in Salesian House, Milford, Castletroy in Limerick, under the direction of Sr. Sarah O’Rourke. Sr. Sarah rang afterwards to compliment the pupils on their exemplary behaviour.The 1st and 2nd class school tour took place on May 15th, the pupils went to Adventure World, also in UL, where a super day was had by all. First Holy Communion took place on Saturday 25th of May – it was a very special day for all concerned. Two new entrance doors were organised by the Board of Management to be fitted this month, in keeping with the school’s Health and Safety Policy, and safety rails made a fitted by Gerald Maher were very much appreciated also.

In June ‘Sports Day’ took place on June 7th and a day of Fun and Fitness was enjoyed by all. The Inaugural Annual John Kelly Memorial Run was succcessfully arranged, with the full support of Kati Kelly, for Friday 14th of June at 7pm. Despite atrocious weather conditions there was a heartening crowd there to participate and it all went very well. A total of €3000 was raised for the school yard. €123.50 was raised at our Down Syndrome Ireland Ice-Cream Party in June. All classes enjoyed their school tours – the senior pupils went to Castlecomer Discovery Park and the  Killaloe Adventure Centre, and the Infant Classes went to a play in the Source Theatre and out also to Pallas Hill Farm.

Loughmore NS was awarded its first Green Flag by An Taisce in May and held a ceremony in June to raise their flag. This ceremony was attended by pupils, staff, parents, parishioners and special guests. It was a very proud day for the entire school community who have worked tirelessly and collaboratively on the theme of Litter and Waste in the last eighteen months to achieve this accolade. The Green School Committee, which is comprised of pupil representatives from all classes, school staff (teachers, cleaner, caretakers), and community representatives, steered the school meticulously and enthusiastically through a Seven Step Programme. Targets such as reducing waste in the school by 50% in 6 months were achieved through vigilance and cooperation between all partners in education here and we were very proud and pleased to receive recognition for this work in the form of our first ever Green Flag.  Our newly formed school band, under the direction of teacher Nina Scott, played music for the occasion, and the children sang songs and raps they had written especially. Former Principals Stephen Maher and Peggy Gleeson were invited to plant two trees for posterity and to mark their career and legacy in the school. Councillor Jim Ryan, who had spoken previously to a school assembly on the theme of recycling, was a guest speaker at our ceremony. Our Parish Priest and Chairman of our very hardworking BOM, Fr. Corbett, congratulated the pupils, staff and parents on this great achievement, and also paid homage to our very proactive and supportive Parent Association.  Seanie Gleeson, a pillar of Loughmore Community, was given the honour of raising the Green Flag with fellow parishioner Joe Brennan, in recognition and appreciation of the huge contribution they have made and continue to make to the school on a voluntary basis. Without such philanthropy and generosity we would be lost. Mary Fogarty of the Cottage made and donated a spectacular Green Flag Cake for the occasion and parents and staff donated confectionery for the ceremony. Graham Cullen of CM Signs made and donated a sign displaying our Green School Motto – ‘A Cleaner Today – A Greener Tomorrow!’. The sun was shining brightly as the flag was raised and now flies proudly in front of our school as a testament to the dedication of our school to environmental issues and community collaboration and pride. An afternoon of refreshments and fun activities followed. We look forward to starting work on our next Green School Theme – Energy, in September when we return to school. Thanks to all concerned for your assistance and support. Ní neart go cur le cheile!

A huge amount of work went on over the Summer months, and we must acknowledge all the staff and volunteers who assisted with readying the school for the new school year. We thank also Fr. Corbett and the Board of Management for organising the building of our new school yard. This yard was badly needed and is a great addition to the school.

In September we welcomed eight new junior infants, six new ‘Solas’ pupils and our total enrolment this September was 76 pupils. Due to insidious government cuts to teacher retention numbers in small (four mainstream teachers or less) school’s we lost a mainstream class teacher and so had to arrange our classes differently this year. We had to be more creative and diligent that ever to ensure that our pupils receive the best educational experience possible in Loughmore NS and the hardworking staff of the school have borne this cut remarkably stoically and with a renewed motivation and commitment to our recently devised School Improvement Plan.

Our ‘Solas’ ASD Class was established in September, provisionally in our old school building, until the new building project is complete (by next Summer). We welcomed Ms. Michelle Maher back to the school on a fixed term contract, in place of Mrs. Leona Doyle while she avails of a job-sharing opportunity. We also welcomed two new Special Needs Assistants onto the staff – Ms. Kathleen (Kitty) O’Neill and Mrs. Patricia Power. We hope they will be very happy working here. We have formed a new Green School’s Committee and devised an appropriate action plan on the theme of ‘Energy’. We will have to ensure that we maintain our work on Litter and Waste and will have to apply to keep our Green Flag next year. We aim to apply for our second Green Flag in December 2014. The Loughmore Gathering took place in September and was a hugely enjoyable day for our pupils, who participated with gusto in the Medieval themed parade on the day. We thank the Loughmore Gathering Committee also for their very generous donations to the school afterwards, (€1000) and to the Solas class (€400). We are so very grateful for this kindness and community support. The Parent Association held their AGM in September, and a new Executive was elected. I wish to acknowledge the massive contribution made by the Parent Association in the past two years and thank those concerned for their hard work and dedication. I would like to wish the new executive and Parent Association the very best for the future and reiterate my full support and gratitude.

In October Loughmore-Casteiney GAA club achieved phenomenal success in winning the double and we wish to congratulate both teams once again on this major and historical achievement. We also thank both teams for calling to the school to enable the pupils to share in this success and meet their heroes! Enthusiasm for training has taken on a whole new life since! I wish to thank the teachers and parents who assist with coaching! This provides marvellous support and encouragement for our pupils in learning GAA skills at an early age. I would like to acknowledge the generous contribution the GAA club itself makes on a yearly basis to the school, and most recently for the €250 given to us to purchase coaching equipment for the junior classes. It is very much appreciated.  In early October ourschool garden was harvested also. We had the best potatoes in Loughmore this year apparently! Thanks to all involved, especially Seanie Gleeson for guiding us in planting the garden initially and in assisting us in harvesting the produce also. Mrs. Scott made a delicious stew with various class groups with some of the garden produce. Our pupils entered the Co. Tipperary Cross Country Championships and all ran very well, with several pupils securing medals – Bill Ryan secured a bronze medal in his 800m race, and overall our boys school team came 1st in the small schools category! The Cuman na mBunscol AGM was held on this month and we were successful in our application to have our school teams re-graded to a (marginally) fairer and more appropriate Roinn in both the U11 and U13 competitons. Our Cuman na mBunscol football competition began and the pupils, all of whom trained very hard, enjoyed participating in their various games. The pupils are at present devising a Code of Conduct for Games Participation, in collaboration with their parents and teachers. We hope to finalise this in the New Year and display the end result on our website and proudly in our School Entrance Hall. A ‘Freaky Friday Fancy Dress’ Day fundraiser was held on Friday 25th of October in aid of Kevin Kelly’s work in the orphanage in Azerbaijan.  We raised almost €200 for this causeand presented this to Kevin at a whole school assembly at which he spoke to the pupils about his work.   Our Annual Progressive 25 Card Game was held in the Hall on Wed 23rd of October. We received a cheque for €2,500 from the PA following the card game towards general school maintenance. This fundraiser was very well run and very well supported, and we are very much indebted to all concerned for their hard work and goodwill. A special mention here to the ever helpful and accommodating Conor Stapleton, who assists us in so many ways throughout the year! We are indebted to you! Thank you.  I returned to school after my maternity leave finished in late October and would like to take this opportunity to thank Miss Mary O’ Brien, Deputy Principal, for acting up in my absence and for the great work she did, and continues to do, along with Nina Scott (Acting Deputy Principal during this time) and all the staff. I thank Nina Scott also for her exceptional work with our school band also.

In November we were informed that we had won first place in the Templemore Electoral Area, in the North Tipperary Tidy School’s Competition. We received a €300 book voucher for our prize and we were delighted to receive this accolade, and are much indebted to the voluntary assistance of several parishioners for the great condition the school is kept in, as well as our school cleaner.  This school year we would like to hold a children’s mass once a month in Loughmore church on Sunday mornings in order to support parents in nurturing the spiritual and religious development of the pupils in our care. The first of these masses took place on Sun 17th of November. Special participation will be expected by sacrament classes at future masses, however all pupils will be encouraged to attend and participate. GAA School’s Quiz took place on 24th of November in the Ragg. We were the reigning champions from 2012 and our school name has been engraved on both perpetual trophies for posterity.  This year’s team – Jack Cullen, Maria Connolly, Eve Sweeney, Géaróid Treacy and AJ Leahy represented us very well, securing a place in the county final at which they also gave a great account of themselves. Thanks to Murt Ryan for assisting us again this year! After much communication and dialogue, the North Tipperary County Council has erected flashing lights on the road at either side of the school, as a traffic calming measure. Scór na bPaistí try-outs took place in the school here on Thursday 14th of November and our pupils are practising hard for the Scór na bPaistí which will take place early in the New Year.

December will be another very busy month here in Loughmore NS as the pupils prepare for Christmas Tests, Carol Singing, Junior and Senior Nativity plays, etc. Tipp FM’s Down Your Way will record our pupils in a special Christmas Programme here on Wednesday 11th of December. This is due to be broadcast on Thursday 19th and Saturday 21st of December. Carol Singing will take place on Saturday 7th of December in Dunnes Stores for pupils who are members of the Parish Folk Choir in aid of our Solas Class, and our Junior pupils will perform their Nativity Play for their parents/guardians/parishioners on Wednesday 18th of December at 12.30pm in the church. Our other pupils (2nd – 6th classes) will perform their Nativity Play for the Gospel at Christmas Eve Mass in Loughmore Church this year.

At the time of writing this account of this school year in Loughmore NS, we have been granted NCSE (National Council for Special Education) approval for the opening of a 2nd ASD class in our school next year, such is the demand for places. We are fortunate to have a wonderful ASD facility already established in the school, and this project is a natural extension of this class – enabling us in time to have both a junior and a senior ASD class in operation in the school, and thus facilitating the integration of ASD pupils in a positive, appropriate and timely manner into our mainstream classes. Therefore if all goes to plan, we will have a newly built ASD Unit (two classrooms and a multisensory room) built by the end of the summer 2014, ready for September 2014. These plans are contingent on Department funding and absolutely not on local fundraising. If appropriate funding and supports are not granted by the Department, the BOM will not agree to facilitate a second class, as our existing pupils have to take priority when making such decisions. The existing Solas class has been extremely well supported by the Department of Education and the North Tipperary Early Intervention Team, and has been excellently organised by the special education team there, headed by teacher Niamh Gleeson. It is a wonderfully positive addition to the school and I sincerely thank the staff, Board of Management, Parent Association, Parishioners and Pupils of Loughmore for supporting this venture and making such a crucial difference to the lives of our Solas pupils. The goodwill and generosity of spirit and support generated by this class has been phenomenal and is truly synonymous with the character and spirit of Loughmore community as a whole.

On a final note, I wish to let people know that this school year (2013-2014) is the 80th Anniversary of the school, and we plan to hold a Loughmore NS School Reunion Mass and Celebration sometime between February and June 2014,if you could bear this in mind. I am hoping to call a general meeting in January to form a Reunion Committee. It is envisaged that this would be an opportunity to invite back past pupils/teachers/clergy and put together a display and booklet on this history of the school. There is a lot of history attached to the school and it would be lovely for past pupils to share an evening of reminiscing and celebrating. If you might be interested in joining this committee please don’t hesitate to contact me in the meantime.

On that note, I would like to wish everybody a Very Happy Christmas on behalf of Loughmore NS, and a peaceful and prosperous New Year. Thank you all for your great support for our lovely school.

Angela Dunne – Principal.


Key Dates for 2014:

Parent – Teacher Meetings –Tuesday  21st/ Wednesday 22 nd January (3.30 -5.30pm)       

Open Night  Tuesday 25th February 7 -9pm.          

First Holy Communion – 24th May.

Annual John Kelly Run – Friday 2nd May.

80th Anniversary School Reunion Celebration – Saturday 31st May