It has been an eventful year in Loughmore NS and we have enjoyed success in many areas in 2012. In November 2011 the school bade farewell to former Principal Stephen Maher and I took up my new post as Principal of Loughmore NS. I have certainly enjoyed my first year as leader of this lovely school and thank all concerned for your support and enthusiasm.
Upon our return to school after Christmas, in January, we began a yet another busy term in the school. The Parents Association was reformed and they have been a fantastic source of support and encouragement for the pupils, staff and BOM of the school. You will read a brief outline of their work this year in Secretary Elaine Hick’s report, and I wish to express our very sincere gratitude for all of this outstanding support for the school. The energetic fundraising of the PA has enabled us to purchase many new Numeracy and Literacy resources for all classes, and also contributed to the complete revision of the schools’ Book Rental Scheme. Fr. Corbett has played a huge role in enabling this scheme to come to fruition too and I wish to thank him for his contribution to this also. The pupils attended a Celtic Play – ‘Diarmaid and Gráinne’ in the Community Hall in January. Also the Green School Committee which was formed in December, consisting of school staff, pupils and community representatives, began steering our Green School’s Initiative. A plan of Action was devised in order to work on securing our first Green Flag on the theme of Litter and Waste. This plan was communicated to the school community and can be viewed on our school website. Our Green School Code was chosen from a whole school competition and Patricia Gleeson was the winner with her slogan ‘A Cleaner Today, A Greener Tomorrow!’ We have worked diligently on this plan; reaching all of our targets and we continue to maintain these vigilantly. As a result an application was submitted to ‘An Taisce’ recently inviting them to come to review our Green School Plan and hopefully be awarded the Green Flag for our great efforts in the near future.
In February we held a whole school mass to mark Catholic School’s Week, with the focus being on celebrating our grandparents. Our Credit Union Quiz Team – Áine Treacy, Rachel Cullen, Molly Flanagan and Conor Ryan, came forth in their category in the Templemore Arms Hotel on Friday 3rd of February. Every pupil in 5th and 6th class participated in an indoor hurling blitz in the Dome in Thurles this month and the pupils fundraised for the National Children’s Hospital creating some culinary delights with Mrs. Scott, Bridget and Kathleen for Pancake Tuesday. An Infant Afterschool Club (2-3pm daily) and a Homework Club for pupils of 1st – 6th classes (3-40pm daily) were established in the school.. We thank all concerned for their assistance in running these fantastic facilities. Our new school website www.loughmorens.ie was also launched in February and we encourage all parishioners to check in to this website. The staff also held our first Open Night in February in collaboration with the pupils and the Parent Association. This was very well attended by both existing and prospective parents, who were afforded the opportunity to have a good look around the school and experience firsthand the happy and industrious atmosphere that prevails here. It was also an ideal opportunity to have any queries or concerns addressed by the staff in person. Thanks are due to Ms. Gleeson, Mrs. Doyle and Caroline Nesbitt for collaborating on a new school brochure also which are available from the office on request.
These initiatives were all designed to open the school up the community, to ensure parents feel welcome and valued and also to encourage prospective parents to consider Loughmore NS as a suitable educational setting for their children. Many of you may have heard that the school is in danger of losing a classroom teacher in September – and unfortunately this is a very real possibility. The reason for this is quite simply very unfair and unreasonable governmental budget cuts to small schools. The enrolment in Loughmore NS this September was 79 pupils. Since the last budget, we are required by the Department of Education to have 85 pupils on roll in order to retain four mainstream class teachers. Over 21 pupils have left for secondary school in the past two years and a small junior infant enrolment this year meant that numbers were down slightly this year. 79 pupils is however a very healthy enrolment for Loughmore parish and our projected enrolment numbers for September 2013 are very positive. Last February many of our teachers and parents attended a rally in the Ragg, which was organised to protest at these unfair and detrimental cuts to small schools. Rural Ireland has been under attack for some time with the closure of post-offices, creameries, and now rural small schools. I encourage the community of Loughmore to please continue to support our school and help us to weather these storms. We are currently putting together an appeal against this cut and I encourage all parents/guardians who are considering enrolling their child in our school next year to please check out the website, make contact with us, and if decided on Loughmore NS for next September please write a brief letter to me stating the same. Also any parent/guardian who wishes to protest at these cuts please write to our local TD’s/Department of Education, etc., and do not underestimate the old adage ‘strength in numbers!’
On a lighter note, the pupils of Loughmore held a very successful Seachtain na Gaelige Concert in March of this year which was enjoyed by all. We hope to repeat this event next year and also to hold a Céili Mór for all the community to attend during Seachtain na Gaeilge. The pupils also entered the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Templemore for the first time, with our theme of ‘The Loughmore Olympics’. We marched behind a new school banner designed and donated by Graham Cullen. Much to our delight, an entertaining combination of the Haka Gaelic, and other inspired events such as ‘Whitefield Bog-Snorkeling’ and ‘Synchronised Ironing’, won over the judges and we secured joint first place with St. Colmcille’s BNS Templemore. We look forward to defending our title next year! (Feel free to forward any ideas to us please!!!). Some of Loughmore NS’ finest dancers and musicians participated in the Séisiún Mór in Templemore on Sunday 1st of April, with all pupils participating in fundraising activities for Our Ladies Hospital in Crumlin.
In April we entered the Cumann na mBunscol Hurling competition. The U13 Boys played in Roinn B, having been upgraded due to winning the Roinn C competition the previous year. Unfortunately this Roinn was far too strong for us and despite brave performance by the boys we did not progress very far in this completion. The U11 boys played a blitz in Roinn C, and enjoyed some success on the day. The U13 Girls also participated in a one day blitz in Gortnahoe and both won and lost some games. Both blitzes were well attended and enjoyed by all. Ms. Dunne, Ned Ryan, Cora Treacy and Stephen Maher were actively engaged in training and mentoring these teams throughout the year. Also we thank Willie Butler and Opel for sponsoring sports equipment for the school. We also began planting our new school garden in April. This garden is a credit to its creators – Joe Brennan, Seanie Gleeson and Sean Stapleton. We are greatly indebted to them for their voluntary work in the school and would in truth be lost without their generosity of spirit and industry. The planting of our new garden was organised by Mrs. Doyle and supervised and guided by Seanie Gleeson. We harvested the garden in early October and were delighted with the great yield of potatoes, onions, peas, carrots, radishes, lettuce, turnips, parsnips and cabbage. We held our first annual school clean-up in April and also assisted in the Loughmore Tidy Towns Clean-Up Day. The pupils received a series of workshops from the environmentalist Robyn Barry in April and also participated in the Irish Heart Foundation Skipathon. The pupils of 1st class received the sacrament of Penance on 23rd of April and our school quiz team – Áine Treacy, Aimee Gleeson, Mollie Flanagan and Conor Ryan represented Loughmore NS at the NPC (National Parents Council) Quiz in Clonmel.
In May the pupils of fifth and sixth class also travelled with me to my home village of Ballingarry to visit the Famine War-house, the site of the 1848 Young Irelander’s Rebellion. They were surprised to learn that nearby, the Commons was the place where the Irish tri-colour was first flown in 1848, and were regaled with many tales and facts by the fascinating Johnny Webster, who is in charge of raising and lowering this flag at dawn and dusk each day, ever mindful and respectful of the stringent regulations and rules which govern this patriotic job. On this trip we took the opportunity to arrange a friendly basketball match with Lisnamrock NS and practice the basketball skills the pupils had developed using the new basketball facilities generously made and erected by Tommy Sweeney and Ned Ryan. The Legion of Mary paid us a visit to discuss the Eucharistic Congress and the pupils of 1st class received their First Holy Communion on the 26th of May. The Parents Association were on hand to serve refreshments in the school afterwards and a very enjoyable morning was had by all. We had an official opening of the new school garden in May, and our new ‘outdoor classroom’ was also unveiled. We raised €100 for the Donkey Sanctuary by holding a non-uniform day in the school and presented this to Paddy Barrett of the Donkey Sanctuary who came to give us an inspiring talk also in May.
In June we participated in a ‘Fun Walk’ around the parish organised by the Parent Association which raised almost €900. We also took part in a historic archaeological dig at Rathnadrinna, Cashel, organised by our deputy Principal Miss O’Brien in collaboration with her brother Richard O’Brien, renowned archaeologist. 1st – 6th classes were involved in actively digging for artefacts, cleaning and cataloguing findings and field walking at this ancient Celtic site where it is believed that the High Kings of Ireland were inaugurated!. The Rural Rambles columnist and photographer from the Tipperary Star accompanied us on this memorable school trip. All classes enjoyed several educational and fun school tours/trips this year. Some have been mentioned already. The summer school tours were great days out for all pupils. Junior and Senior Infants spent a day at the Cabra Wetlands in Thurles. The 1st and 2nd class pupils went to Cahir Castle and to the Mitchelstown Caves. The 3rd and 4th class spent a day in the Nore Valley, and the 5th and 6th class spent a day engaging in outdoor pursuits at Kilfinane OEC in Limerick. A soccer blitz was held daily in June with Jack Ryan’s team winning out the blitz and AJ Leahy winning accolade of top scorer of the tournament! Mrs. Breda Maher trained the entire school staff, including the new teachers and Fr. Dooley, in basic First Aid and in the use of the Defibrillator in June. This was time consuming for her and we greatly appreciate her generosity and expertise. A very successful Cake Sale was held by the Parent Association and our Sports Day – ‘Fun and Fitness 4 All Day’ was a major success also. The staff, BOM and Parent Association worked collaboratively to ensure that the entire school and parish community were fed, watered and thoroughly worked out on this wonderful day. Our grandparents’ race featuring a guest appearance by former Principal Stephen Maher was particularly exciting. This and other features such as novelty races, tug-of-war, face-painting, bouncy castles and a massive BBQ ensured that the day was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for all concerned. The Parents Association outdid themselves on this occasion, presenting the school with cheques totalling almost €2,500 – the culmination of their fundraising since January 2012. Again we cannot thank the Parent Association enough for the huge contribution they have made to the school this year – not only in terms of fundraising, but also in contributing to school planning, the development of school policies and their enthusiastic support for the pupils and the staff of Loughmore NS. We had a day of fun and games in June for which former pupils returned to the school. It was a testament to the school to see the numbers of past pupils that returned to visit and participate in the activities on this occasion. At the end of June we held a Graduation /End of year mass and bade farewell and best wishes to our sixth class pupils – Darren Hayden, Jack Ryan, Molly Flanagan, Áine Treacy, Susie McGrath, Rachel Cullen and Aimee Gleeson.
We returned to school in late August this year and have had a very busy and productive term. The pupils of Loughmore NS participated in the Loughmore Harvest Festival the first weekend in September and were impressively kitted out for the fancy dress parade. They also participated in the clean up that followed and were generously rewarded for their efforts by Fr. Corbett and the staff of the newly opened Cottage in Loughmore Village with ice-cream and other treats.
This September saw more changes to the staff of Loughmore NS. Ms. Gleeson and Mrs. Doyle left to go on maternity leave and we would like to congratulate them on the recent birth of their children and wish them well on the remainder of their leave. Ms. Michelle Maher and Miss Laura Quinlan were welcomed onto the staff as their substitute teachers. We also welcomed Ms. Catherine Cummins onto the staff as a substitute teacher for Ms. Niamh Daly. We thank the girls for their hard work and dedication. We wish Ms. Daly and indeed our caretaker Nancy Carroll a speedy recovery to full health again soon. We also thank Mrs. Jaki Ryan for taking over the caretaker duties in Nancy’s absence.
We welcomed four new pupils into junior infants this September – Caitlin Maher, Cian Langton, Michael Spillane and Óran Ryan; and I am happy to report that these pupils have taken to school like proverbial ducks to water! We also welcomed a Spanish Student – Paz Madero, into 5th class for September and October. Paz was a wonderful addition to our school and made a huge impression on everyone. Mrs. Scott established a new school band in late September and they are producing some beautiful music. John-Joe Nesbitt retired from teaching music lessons in the school this year. We wish to acknowledge his huge contribution to generations of pupils and thank him for all his assistance over the years.
The pupils participated daily in Gaelic Football training in the 2.1 acres under the guidance of a range of coaches, including Ms. Dunne, Miss Quinlan, Miss Maher and Ned Ryan. The U13 boys played in the Cumann na mBunscol Football Competition in Roinn D, competing against Upperchurch NS, Drom NS and Ballylooby NS. They did not progress very far in the competition despite gutsy performances by all. The U11 boys played in Roinn D against Ballina NS and Scoil Eoin Naofa NS, Roscrea. They were beaten by Ballina NS, but beat Roscrea very well. Ballina NS went on to win out this blitz. The U13 girls won out their football blitz against Templetuohy NS, Gortnahoe NS, Birdhill NS and Dunkerrin NS, beating all teams very well. They progressed to a county final in Cashel on the 9th of November. They came second in their Roinn losing out to a very strong Cloneen NS team. We are very proud of the effort and dedication displayed by all Loughmore NS pupils in their respective Cumann na mBunscol competitions, particularly the manner in which they conduct themselves in a spirit of fair play and sportsmanship at all times. Thanks to all parents/guardians for your support. We have resumed GAA training in preparation for our hurling season next year. The usual coaches will oversee training and will also be assisted by Pádraig Egan of Loughmore-Castleiney GAA club, in collaboration with the County Board and the local GAA club. We are grateful to all concerned for organising this initiative with the school staff.
A large number of 3rd – 6th class pupils competed in the Tipperary Cross Country Championship in early October. The school athletics team came fourth overall in this competition which is a huge achievement. A particular mention is due to Conor Ryan and Orlaith Maher, both of 6th class, for securing bronze medals in their respective races. Thanks to Elaine Hicks for co-ordinating this event. Try-Outs for the Scór na bPaistí were held in the school in October. The pupils are practicing hard for their entries and we look forward to this competition. As part of our School Improvement Plan, in line with the National Numeracy and Literacy Plan Towards 2020, we have planned several numeracy and literacy initiatives to be rolled out this school year. October was ‘Maths 4 Fun Month’, with parental involvement and participation encouraged every Friday Morning for one hour. We thank all concerned for their input. The Parents Association organised a wonderfully spooky Halloween Disco in the Community Centre on Tuesday 23rd of October. There was a great attendance by all kinds of creatures (photos available on our website) – pupils, past-pupils, parents and even some mystery guests (we have our suspicions Seanie!!!) Huge thanks to Sinéad Adlum and the Parents Association for organising this great event. Our Annual Progressive 25 Card Game was collaboratively organised by the school staff and the Parents Association under the guidance of Seanie Gleeson and coordinated by our Secretary Bridie Long. It was a huge success raising over €3,300. In light of governmental cuts to education and the current economic climate, this money is invaluable to the daily running our school and we thank everyone who supported this event in any way. A parent/guardian ‘book swap’ facility has been established in the school. A ‘bring one-take one’ policy exists. This is just a basic facility to make books for leisure readily available to the adults in our school community. It is located in our front hall – please avail of this facility – there are some excellent books there!
In November we attended Our Lady’s Secondary School brilliant production of ‘Hairspray’ and were very proud of our talented past pupils! Our school GAA Quiz Team won the Mid-Tipperary School’s GAA Quiz in the Ragg – members of this team were Conor Ryan (Captain), Orlaith Maher, Michael O’Connell and Jack Cullen. We also collected a large number of shoe-boxes for Team Hope which were collected recently. We also participated in the MS Readathon in November for the 19th year running and raised over €400 for this cause! We also raised over €180 for The Irish Wheelchair Association buy purchasing their ‘Angel’ badges. There is a wonderful spirit of empathy and solidarity in Loughmore NS and the pupils and parents are very actively involved in supporting various charities throughout the year. The pupils of 5th and 6th Class partook in their Ceremony of Commitment and Light, which is their enrolment ceremony in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.
In December we hope to participate in Carol Singing, the Christmas Carol Service, Christmas Eve Mass and several other activities.
Loughmore NS is blessed with prodigious and dedicated teachers, whose approach to teaching is child-centered, innovative and above all caring. We are also blessed with wonderful SNA’s, secretary and caretaker – all of whom contribute massively to the holistic education and success of this school. The BOM are a truly progressive group of people who work diligently in the background to ensure the smooth, safe and efficient running of the school. It is important to note that BOM members work in a voluntary capacity, engaging in regular training nights, seminars and of course BOM meetings without any complaint, and I wish to acknowledge their wonderful work here and thank them for their time and expertise. Many improvements and repairs have been made in the past year under the direction of the BOM, including – the creation of a shared resources room, new lights have been installed inside and outside of the school, a school bell has been wired inside and outside the school, new PE equipment has been purchased, all fire extinguishers have been serviced/replaced, out of bounds areas have been closed off, a school garden has been built, low-lying trees have been pruned and cleared away, a Principal’s office/meeting room has been established, the attic pipes have been lagged, and so on. We thank the Board for their support and guidance. I also wish to thank the parents who have helped out with swimming throughout the year – Ned Ryan, Pat Gleeson and Tommy Adlum. Thank you also to Conor Stapleton for all his assistance throughout the year, and to Bridget O’Dea and Jaki Ryan for allowing us to use the Community Centre for PE. Your help is greatly appreciated. Bill and Anna Corcoran are our dedicated swimming coaches, and Margaret Corcoran has been a wonderful dancing teacher for the school also. Thank you also to Fr. Corbett and Mgr. Dooley for all their guidance and support.
We offer our sympathy to Mrs. Scott and her family on the passing of her sister Pat this year. We also extend our sympathy to Fr. Corbett and his family on the death of his brother Seamus and to Stephen Maher on the loss of his mother. Ar dhéis lámh Dé go raibh said.
To conclude, it is evident that we have had a very busy, yet productive year in Loughmore NS, due in no small part to the wonderful spirit of cooperation that exists between all of the partners in education of the school. We look forward to continued health and happiness please God in the coming year. I would like to take this opportunity to wish the members of our school community and the parishioners of Loughmore and Castleiney a happy and peaceful Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.
Angela Dunne – Principal.
Key Dates for the 2013:
Open Night: 26th February – Confirmation: 8th March – Communion: 25th May