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News at St. Colmcille’s St. Colmcille’s Primary School, Ballymena Parents’ Newsletter Publish Date: April 2011

Issue Number 11

Welcome to our Spring Term News at St. Colmcille’s. Term 2 has been a very busy time in school starting with an Open Night in January ending with the visit of the Eucharistic Congress Bell to our parish in April. The children have had many opportunities to extend their learning experiences in school with a wide variety of extra-curricular activities. Numbers in excess of two hundred and fifty pupils registered for the after-school programmes and the pupils have represented the school in science & technology events, quizzes, sport, music and speech & drama competitions. Once again the pupils have excelled themselves in both the academic and non-academic fields. The results from the post-primary Entrance Assessment place our pupils among the top performing primary schools in Northern Ireland – nine of our pupils were placed in the top 4% of this cohort! The Y7 pupils were awarded runners-up in the NI Formula 1 Science Challenge and invited to the UK Finals in London. Once again the school received the bursaries for the top primary school at the Ballymena Festival. The staff too have been recognised for their work following an external assessment in April – the school has been recommended for the bronze Investors in People award and will be formally notified of its success in the summer term. One of the many highlights of the term was Y3 making their First Confession last week. It is on occasions like this when the home, school and wider parish community come together that the Catholic ethos of our school is tangible. The school has much to celebrate and the launch of the school website at the start of the term allows these achievements to be recognised by a global audience. I trust you will enjoy reading about our school both in this Newsletter and by visiting the school website. Mr B McKenna - Principal

St. Colmcille’s opened its doors to the wider community during the school’s open night on 12th of January. Many families came to see first hand, the excellent provision that St. Colmcille’s can offer their children. Families were entertained by the school’s award-winning choir and a group of talented instrumentalists. Pupils were very keen to show how the ICT suite is used, demonstrate the technology models made in Key Stage 2 and a variety of other learning activities the children experience on a day-today basis in St. Colmcille’s. However, it was the Foundation Stage classrooms and early year’s resource area that were of most interest, particularly among the three and four year old children. We look forward to welcoming them to St. Colmcille’s in September.

There are a number of places available for Year 1 in September 2011. If you wish to enrol your child for September please contact the school.

St. Colmcille’s launched it’s website on 21st February. It has proven to be a very useful tool in furthering links between home, school and the wider community. Take time to log onto the website and view the array of information, achievements and photographs available online.

The school Choir

Year 7 Choral Poem Individual Winners

Congratulations to everyone who took part in 2011 Ballymena Festival. Standing up in front of an audience, particularly in a solo performance, requires great confidence and the school is very proud of all those who took part. This year the Year 7 children won the McFadden Cup for the third successive year with their wonderful rendition of There’s a Dragon. The adjudicator was very complimentary of the children’s performance describing it as very inventive. Years 2 and 5 thoroughly enjoyed the ‘Music for Fun’ class. The school choir once again was very successful receiving marks of distinction in each of their classes and winning the Shafto Adair Cup, the W&G Baird Ltd Cup, the Festival of Britain Challenge Cup and the SW Anderson shield. On Saturday 7th March, at the Festival Gala Presentations, the primary school ‘swept the boards’ in winning the two primary school bursaries of £100 each. This tremendous success is testimony to the children and their teachers who prepared them so thoroughly. Congratulations to everyone!

Eoin, Ryan and Darius represented the school at the NEELB STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) challenge in the Antrim Board Centre on 14th March. The pupils had the difficult task of designing and making a revolving tower using basic materials. They put their skills into action and made a very promising model. Well done to the young engineers!

After last year’s success, the Year 7 children once again attended the Be Safe event at the Ballymena Business Centre on Friday 29th January in association with the PSNI, the NI Fire Brigade and Ballymena Borough Council. During the course of the day the children took part in a number of workshops teaching children how to stay safe, for example, what to do if there is a fire at home; reducing crime, drug awareness and electrical safety in the kitchen. The day was extremely informative and the children learned how to reduce the risks around them in a very active and fun way.

During the first week in February the school celebrated Catholic Schools Week which had the theme ‘Rooted in Jesus Christ.’ This was inspired by the Pastoral Letter of Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland, which was published on 20 March 2010. In section 9 Pope Benedict directly addresses the children and young people of Ireland. This year the Catholic Church had asked schools to recognise the role of grandparents in a special way. There were smiles all around when the Y4 children’s grandparents came to school for a special prayer service which included songs, readings and prayers made and read by the children for their grandparents. It was a very moving celebration and thoroughly enjoyed by grandparents, children and teachers alike. It is a special memory that these Year 4 children will always have – a day when they almost burst with pride with the love they felt for their very special grandparents!

Year 3 celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation on the 12th of April in All Saint’s Church with Fr. Toland and Fr McCaughan. The children performed a wonderful drama about the Good Shepherd and the beautiful singing rounded off what was a very special event in the lives of the children and their families.

At our school assembly on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, Year 4 retold the story of our patron saint through music, song and dance. This production was followed by a showcase of Irish culture and traditions from senior pupils of the school. One of the highlights of the entertainment was the harpist, Anna-Maria (Year 7), who enthralled the children with three traditional pieces. Anna-Maria will represent the school in the Northern Ireland Young Musician of the Year after Easter- a competition her brother Roshan won in 2008.

We have continued our community links with Carniny PS. Year 6 from both schools have worked together on a number of projects this year. They were all involved in a storytelling session with Liz Weir on the theme of Vikings. The children worked in groups to brainstorm ideas for a story which in turn was used to compose a ‘Viking rap’. Next year the school plans to include Gracehill PS in this very successful cross-community link.

St. Colmcille’s ran its fourth book fair during March to coincide with World Book Day celebrations. The children from each class were given the opportunity to look at all the available books and teachers shared some of the stories with the children helping to develop a love for reading. Many classes had a number of authors reading their favourite books online as part of the ‘read to a million kids’ programme on the World Book Day website. This year all of the children came to school dressed as their favourite characters. We even had Clifford the big red dog come to visit our school. What is more, sales from the book fair realised over £2100 – and as a result, the school received £1600 commission to spend on books that will benefit all of the children throughout the school. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those that supported the book fair which is now one of the most successful book fairs on Scholastic’s records!

To further celebrate reading in our school the Year 2, 3, 4 and 6 children attended the Ballymena Book day event in the Braid Arts Centre. They heard stories from the renowned Liz Weir and Raquel from Jamacia.

These Year 3 children have successfully completed their ten week reading partners programme with Mrs Beattie, Mrs Clarke and Mrs Hayes – three specially trained learning assistants. The children read a wide range of exciting books over the course of the ten weeks. Congratulations to our reading partner boys and girls.

The ‘Time to Read’ programme has continued to be a great success this term. The school now has five volunteers for the programme Victor Fails, David McCausland, Paula McLaughlin, John McElrean and Eileen Traynor - all of whom spend a short time each week with the children reading together from books that have been specially selected for the scheme. The children this term have been delighted to continue with the programme and have successfully read a wide range of books. New titles will be introduced next term to further develop and foster the children’s love of reading.

The Year 7 children were studying the ‘Science of the Car’ as their thematic unit and competed in this year’s Formula 1 in Schools competition. This is a global competition in which the children must seek sponsorship to plan, design and make a Formula 1 bloodhound model car. On the day of the competition the children display the work they carried out during their project, provide a portfolio of their design, give an oral presentation using Power Point and race their model car. This was the second time St. Colmcille’s took up the challenge and we were delighted to win overall second place in the competition with an invitation to compete at the national finals in London! We would like to take the opportunity to thank Michelin tyres, Fujitsu and the Credit Union our main sponsors of the project.

World Champion Karter Alex Dempsey visited the Year 7 children along with his Kart in February this year. Alex described what it is like during a race, how his team support him and he even brought along a number of Formula 1 memorabilia for the children to look at. He was a great inspiration for our Ballymena Bullet team.

As part of the Year 7 World Around Us Theme ‘Micro-organisms’ Queen’s University Belfast came to St. Colmcille’s to carry out a number of scientific investigations. Dr McGrath (Head of Microbiology at Queen’s) came along with colleagues from Reading University to teach the children about the various micro-organisms that live all around us and to test the conditions necessary for their growth. The children tested which conditions encouraged rapid growth of yeast by collecting carbon dioxide in balloons and measuring the balloons’ circumference. The children learnt a great deal and at the same time got a snap shot of themes they could study in university.

Throughout the term the Year 7 classes have been evaluating a pilot project initiated by the University of Ulster. Kirsty Compton (the University’s education officer) has helped the Year 7 pupils to become a community of scientific enquirers by studying a number of different scientific phenomena. The children had the opportunity to witness phenomena such as floating teabags, dancing raisins and exploding coke bottles to name but a few. After observations the children had to create questions about what they had seen and then vote on which questions to further discuss. The project has been a great success and the pupils have gained a great insight to the world of science.

During March, the Year 7 pupils were invited to take part in the Mini Olympics at St. Patrick’s College. The children went as ‘Team France’ and the event began with a parading of the athletes. The children competed in a number of different track and field events and many of the pupils won medals throughout the competition which they were awarded by our own local Olympian Maeve Kyle. A big thank you to St. Patrick’s college for hosting the event and in particular Mrs Pauline Thom for all her hard work in preparing the children for the competition.

The Year 7 children entered a competition at W5 as part of their 10th anniversary celebrations. They had to write a formal letter explaining what they thought was great about W5. Out of all the schools that entered, St.Colmcille’s won the coveted prize of an all expenses paid trip to visit the new ‘Senses’ exhibition at W5 so that they could test run all of the new exhibits before it was opened to the general public. The children were greeted by the director of W5 Dr Sally Montgomery who demonstrated the new Senses room. This was a great achievement for our Year 7s, well done to all!

Year 7 visited The Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont on 23rd February as part of their theme entitled ‘Actions Speak Louder’. During the visit the children had a guided tour of the various assembly chambers and even managed to sit in on a live debate of the Justice Bill!

A number of Year 14 pupils from St. Louis Grammar School have visited the Year 7 classes throughout term 2 to teach the children basic French. Not only has this further built on our curricular links with our neighbouring post primary schools but has also allowed the children to have a snapshot into the languages they will be learning next year. We would like to thank St. Louis Grammar School for all their help and support throughout the project and in particular Dr Byrne who helped organise the programme.

Well done to the Year 7 children who received their swimming awards. The boys and girls have been attending swimming lessons every Friday afternoon, developing their skills, fitness and having great fun at the same time. At the end of the programme each child had to complete a swimming test over various distances and using different swimming strokes. Many of the children managed to swim over half a mile! They were all delighted to have successfully completed the tests and to receive their awards.

Congratulations to the girls’ Gaelic football team who represented the school at the GAA Blitz hosted by St. Patrick’s College. Although they didn’t come away with any silverware, Mr Murray commended the girls for their sportsmanship. Perhaps Liam Bradley, the Antrim county manager, should have a look at the up and coming talent and consider promoting ladies football within the county!

The St. Colmcille’s soccer team have had another successful season this year. In the Senior Cup competition they beat Fourtowns Primary School 4-1 in February, with goals from Michael, James, Rory and Kuba. They then went onto defeat Ballykeel Primary School in March in the same competition with a 2-1 win. The goalscorers in this game were James and Michael. They have now progressed to the semi- final of the Senior Cup and are due to play Carnaghts Primary School in May. We wish the boys the best of luck in this fixture and hope they can continue to show the same level of teamwork and sportsmanship they have demonstrated in the competition so far. Well done boys!

The children in Year 5 took part in Sport Northern Ireland’s Activ8 Programme. The Activ8 Programme teaches children about leading a healthy lifestyle by encouraging them to have a breakfast every morning, take part in at least 60 minutes of exercise every day, eat a balanced diet and drink 6 – 8 glasses of water. During the week the children in Year 5 completed Healthy Lifestyle diaries to record their eating and exercise habits. They also enjoyed short activity sessions in the playground each day with Miss Stewart and Mr Kearney.

This term the ‘Extended Schools’ has proved to be very successful. In total there were 12 clubs that ran over the 8 week period. The varied nature of activities this term has given the programme greater appeal for our children. Many thanks must be paid to the coaches both inside and outside school, for their dedication and professionalism.

This group of boys represented St. Colmcille’s in the INTO 7-a-Side Gaelic Competition. This event was held in an extremely cold, wet and blustery Creggan on Thursday 10th March. The boys made a really good account of themselves, displaying excellent skill and sportsmanship despite the conditions. Well done boys.

Mrs Donnelly and the GCSE music students from St. Louis Grammar School performed a selection of their repertoire just before sitting their practical examinations later this month. The children were enchanted by the flutists, violinist, pianists and vocalists. No doubt from the high quality of their performances, the students will have achieved marks of distinction in their GCSE examinations.

There is a strong tradition of music excellence in St. Colmcille’s. Pupils have the opportunity to receive tuition on a variety of brass, string and woodwind instruments. In addition pupils are prepared for public examinations. This term Emer, Rebecca, Martyn and Pól passed their grade 1 Associated Board music exam.

The pupils from Year 7 represented St. Colmcille’s in the Ballymena Credit Union primary school quiz. We were very proud of all our teams. Congratulations to everyone involved but especially to Aislinn, Beth, Alana and Eimear who won the Quiz. They went forward to the regional finals in March and represented both the school and the Ballymena Chapter with distinction.

It is a startling fact that a child dies every six seconds because of hunger. Helping people to produce food and earn an income are the first steps to helping them feed their families. Here in St. Colmcille’s we have not forgotten this and the children, parents and staff have been carrying out a wide range of activities to help raise much needed funds for Trócaire including, Easter egg raffles, Fair Trade break, filling smartie tubes with 20p’s, to name but a few. As part of the Year 6 thematic unit on fair-trade, the children set up a small enterprise selling fair-trade biscuits and chocolate in school with all proceeds going to Trócaire. The school would like to thank the Co-op supermarket for partly sponsoring the Year 6 classes in this pursuit.

The manager of the local Co-op in Ballymena visited our school to talk to Year 6 about Fairtrade. Fairtrade is an organisation which was set up to help farmers and their communities in the Third World. He told us about the wide range of Fairtrade products on sale and the benefits of buying Fairtrade goods. The Coop kindly donated a range of Fairtrade goods and also the chocolate bars sold on ‘Fairtrade Break-day’. This fundraising initiative raised £139.56 and will go towards the school’s contribution to Trocaire’s Lenten campaign.

Year 2 visited All Saint’s Church and got to meet Barney the Sacristan. He gave them a tour of the church and taught them about the key features of the Church. The children are pictured in the sacristy with Barney. By the look of things, Barney is doing his part in promoting vocations to the priesthood!

This term Year 4 as part of their World Around Us topic Marvellous Materials, have been learning about different materials used in buildings. They have been doing a number of investigations related to insulation materials, waterproof materials and separating solutions through ‘Fair Testing’. The children have enjoyed answering their different questions through the investigations they have carried out.

Georgia and Callum make a solution of water and sugar to see if they can later separate the solid from the liquid.

Cora and Max test different materials to see if they are waterproof.

Measuring the temperature of the water with insulation and without. Which can will keep the water warm?

Learning in this way lays the foundation for connected learning in Key Stage 2. Our School is recognised for its promotion of STEM projects-that is promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in a meaningful and purposeful way.

Collecting Nestle Tokens Last term we began collecting Nestle ‘Box Tops for Books’ tokens. The Student Council were responsible for collecting these from each class on Friday mornings. They collected a grand total of 770 tokens which they will use to buy books for our school.

Monitoring Healthy Breaks Our school encourages everyone to eat a healthy break. The Student Council presented a special assembly to remind everyone of our school policy on ‘Healthy Breaks’. Since then they have been monitoring each class on a regular basis to find out the numbers of children who are eating healthy breaks. Our first survey found that years 1, 2 and 3 had 100% healthy breaks but our key stage two classes were not so good at bringing a healthy break to school. Our second survey saw all key stage two classes improve, and by the third survey a greater number of classes had obtained 100% healthy breaks. However, our aim is to have all the children in our school choosing to eat a Healthy Break. Hopefully in our next survey we can report 100% across all classes. So come on everyone, let’s all bring a healthy break to school and have 100% healthy breaks in every class!!! Congratulations to our Year 1 classes who have the greatest record of healthy breaks!

We are a health promoting school and encourage our pupils to adopt a healthy lifestyle. This includes regular exercise as well as learning about food choices. The NEELB’s nutritionist, Elaine McCrystal, visited the classes this term explaining about the Eat Well plate and how the school meal’s kitchen provides a balanced diet every day with its menu. In addition the children learned interesting facts about food choices and the need to be aware of how certain foods affect our bodies and ultimately our health. Did you know that there are 9 spoonfuls of sugar in a tetra pack of Ribena; 11 spoonfuls of sugar in a can of flavoured mineral water and 0 spoonfuls of sugar in a glass of water?

Wally and Wise came to visit the children in KS1 and KS2 this term with some valuable information about how to keep safe and healthy. Through the two puppets, the children learned about the importance of staying safe in the sun, getting at least an hour of exercise every day and eating a balanced diet. The children thoroughly enjoyed Wally and Wise’s visit-especially the disco dancing competition.

The eco council have been very busy this term trying to improve and extend practices in school. Large scale questionnaire surveys were conducted among the parents, staff and pupils of the school. The results of these were then collated by the pupils of the council. Some of the actions have already been taken in response to these questionnaires. We have extended the range of materials which we recycle in our school; we now collect used batteries, old ink cartridges and old mobile phones. Collecting and recycling these in school means that less of our waste will end up being dumped in landfill sites. The children in the council have also set in place a new monitoring system in school to ensure that all our classroom waste is recycled properly. Children in Year 5 and the Friday Science club were busy during this term replanting some of the tubs around the school grounds. New flowers have been planted and already some of these have started to bloom. We look forward to the next term when we can begin to grow more of our vegetables. Let’s hope we get as big a harvest as we did last year!

This term, Year 2 have established St. Colmcille’s Garden Centre, which is located in the Foundation Stage Resource Area. The children have been learning how plants grow. As part of their topic the children went to the market Garden at the Ecos Centre. Frank gave everyone a tour of the Market Garden and taught the children about plants.

We have been learning how to stay safe on the building site!

Year 1 have been busy constructing their very own houses!

Norman, the road safety officer came to visit Year 2. We learned how to stay safe in the dark and how light reflectors work. We discussed the importance of sitting in the back seat in a car and wearing a seatbelt when travelling in a vehicle.

The Hope Centre supports both individuals who have an addiction and their families. Furthermore it provides and delivers support and information to families and schools across the entire board area. During the first half of this term, Mairead McNeill one of the support workers at Hope completed a drug awareness programme with the Year 7 classes. During the project the children learnt about the dangers of smoking, alcohol and illegal drugs. This will certainly help the children make the right choices in the future. The school would like to thank Mairead and the Hope Centre for all their support and hard work.

Award winning author Liz Pichon gave a master class for the Year 7 pupils in April this year, as part of the school’s drive to improve writing. Liz described how her love of illustration developed into a love of writing and ultimately to her becoming a published author. The children were able to ask Liz a number of questions about writing and I am sure she managed to inspire a few of our own budding authors! The children also managed to purchase signed copies of her latest book ‘The Brilliant World of Tom Gates’.

On 13th April, the Year 7 children celebrated the Service of Light in preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation which will take place on 11th May in All Saints Church. During the Service of Light, parents light a candle from the Paschal candle and then pass it to their child as a sign of passing on the light of faith. We pray for the Year 7 pupils as a community, as they continue to prepare for their Confirmation.

The Eucharistic Congress Bell is a key symbol of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress. From its origins in the Dominican Convent of Portstewart, Co. Derry the Bell was more recently used to ring in the Jubilee Year 2000 in Glendalough, Co. Wicklow. The Bell reflects the invitation to faith, to prayer, to reconciliation and to mission which has always been important in our Christian tradition. On April 15th the Congress Bell arrived in Ballymena and a Mass was held in All Saints Church to celebrate the occasion. Classes throughout the school made a variety of art works based on the theme of ‘Christ gathers us to be nourished by the bread of life’. This was displayed in the parish centre after Mass.

Congratulations to Mrs Madison (one of our Year 1 learning support assistants) and her husband Joel who celebrated their marriage on February 18th this year in Finvoy. The Year 7 girls from the school choir sang at the wedding ceremony conducted by Mrs McDonald and accompanied by Mr McKenna. We wish Mrs Madison and her husband Joel many years of happiness in their new life together.

Miss Cunningham stole the show at this year’s St Agnes’ Choral Society’s performance of the hit musical ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’. Miss Cunningham played the role of one Millie’s Friends and gave a show stopping performance including dance, song and acting! Well done Miss Cunningham. (And yes that is Miss Cunningham on the far left of the photograph!)

This term’s fundraising event was the Great Balloon Race. On the 16th March over 1,200 balloons were released from school and made their journey northwards making a wonderful colourful sight. The winning balloon was found by Mrs J Priddle in Losslemouth, Moray, Scotland – a distance of 228miles. The prize winners of the Great Balloon Race were as follows: £50 £20 £20

Winner of balloon that travelled the furthest

Seller of the winning balloon Finder of the winning balloon Child who sold the most balloons

Mrs Tracey Russell Rhys Matthews, Year 6 Mrs J Priddle Aimee Brett, Year 7

(£100 Smyths voucher)

Monthly Draw Winners : February: Jamie Riordan March: Ronan Laverty April: Emer McAtamney Many thanks to all those who have supported this term’s fund-raising events. Your continued support allows the PTA to purchase resources for our school. Look out for pictures of the resources in our summer term newsletter.

Star of the Month Congratulations to all our Stars this term: Year




Sarah Boyle

Pearse McAuley

Clodagh Reid

Kevin McAllister

Daniel Patterson

Conrad Cubitt

Ryan Thom

Conor Corr

Conan McMullan

Caoimhe McKeown

Ellie McCurdy

Liam Martin


Joseph O’Rawe

Aoife Devlin

Mark McCormick


Ciara Thom


Caolan Darragh

Aoife Hamill

Mate Kopczynski

Dylan Kane

Niamh Tennant

James Crilly


Ellen Dougan

Jenny Jose

Aaron Magill

Conor O’Rawe

Patrick Doherty

Conall O’Neill

Aislinn Stewart

Daniel Etherson

Gaby Lau

Rory Kelly

Tarlach Tennant

Michael McAuley


1 2


Mia Flanagan

Amy O’Hagan Reece Duffin-McElroy

Louis Doherty

Callum Thompson

Our Golden Rules In creating an ordered and caring environment the staff and pupils have adopted six Golden Rules that permeate all aspects of school life. Golden Time has been introduced as part of the school’s positive behaviour procedures.

Dates for your Diary End of Term 2

Thursday 21st April

Term 3 begins

Tuesday 3rd May

Do This In Memory Mass (Y4)

Sunday 8th May


Wednesday 11th May

First Communion

Sunday 22nd May

School Closed

Friday 27th May

School Closed – staff development day

Monday 30th May

Year 7 Mass of Thanksgiving

Thursday 23rd June

End of the academic year

Thursday 30th June

The Principal and Staff wish you all a very holy and happy Easter.

Colmbkille Newsletter 2011 Term 2  

Colmbkille Newsletter 2011 Term 2