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News at St. Colmcille’s St. Colmcille’s Primary School, Ballymena Parents’ Newsletter Publish Date: Christmas Term 2010

Issue Number 10

Welcome to the tenth issue of News at St. Colmcille’s. We began our fourth year by welcoming forty-eight children to Year 1 and four new members of staff. We trust they will enjoy their time with us in the knowledge that we work collectively as a learning school to ensure that everyone gains maximum benefit from their time at St. Colmcille’s. This year the Board of Governors secured additional accommodation at the schools own expense – reducing class sizes and providing the best learning environment for all. As this publication is going to print Northern Ireland is experiencing severe weather conditions. The school’s programme of events has also been affected as a result. Unfortunately, the Christmas concerts and carol service had to be cancelled. This was very disappointing for the children as many hours were spent preparing for their respective shows and having seen the dress rehearsal of the Key Stage 1 Christmas concert it was sure to be yet another wonderful evenings entertainment. This Newsletter gives you a synopsis of some of the many activities that have happened during the term in St. Colmcille’s – developing the skills and the capabilities of the children for lifelong learning and for operating effectively in society. I trust you enjoy reading the articles as much as we have enjoyed participating in the wide and varied programmes.

Mr B McKenna - Principal

St. Colmcille’s Celebrates a New Year!

The school began a new year with the celebration of Mass on the 29 th September – feast of St. Michael the Archangel. Fr Toland, our school chaplain, officiated at the ceremony and the children sang beautifully under the direction of Mrs McDonald. A number of children from Years 4-7 were involved in the readings, prayers of the faithful and the offertory - they carried out their roles superbly. This marked the beginning of our fourth year in St. Colmcille’s Primary School.

The Trustees of the school made an application to the Department of Education for additional accommodation in September 2007 as the school building could not cater for the number of pupils on roll. Although the Department had approved an extension to the present building, budgetary constraints resulted in the project being suspended indefinitely. The Board of Governors worked along with the school’s leadership team to secure temporary accommodation at the school’s own expense. Everyone is delighted with the additional classroom space and the current Year 5 children are the first year group to be taught in the double mobile unit.

After last years success with the Road of Hope Shoe Box Appeal St. Colmcille’s went into action again this year in support of this worthy cause. We collected over two hundred Christmas shoeboxes for the orphanages in Bosnia, Croatia and Romania. Pictured with the pupils is Fiona Kelly the organiser of the Road of Hope charity. Fiona is sending our boxes by lorry to arrive in time for Christmas Day. What joy your gifts will bring to the boys and girls this Christmas. Fiona and the school would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all those who responded so generously to the Christmas shoebox appeal.

Our Christmas shoeboxes being distributed in a remote part of Croatia.

The children and staff came to school in fancy dress on Friday 29th October as part of the Hallowe’en celebrations in school. As you can see the children went to great lengths to scare the staff and looking at the photographs above, they managed to do a good job of it! The senior pupils got into the spirit of the season by making their own Jack-O-Lanterns. The Student Council organised this non-uniform day as a charity fund-raising event and the proceeds went to support the charity Barefeet.

St. Colmcille’s was recently visited by the Religion Diocesan Advisors. Two advisors visited each classroom to share in the pastoral life of the school and observe the religious education provided by each teacher. The main points from the visit included: • The school is a very warm and welcoming environment. • The atmosphere is extremely positive and the children are happy and confident. • The children responded thoughtfully and openly. • The children talk meaningfully about their work; • There is excellent learning and teaching, and opportunities for the children to reflect upon their faith.

The Eco Council have been involved in organising a wide variety of activities during the first term. Firstly the council members took part in a tree planting activity at Carnfunnock Country Park near Larne. The children were invited to take part in the exercise to replace trees that had been lost when a new play area was created in the park. Under the guidance of Lisa, Cara and Gregor the children planted 50 trees - a mixture of Rowan and Silver Birch trees. The pupils have also been hard at work getting the school garden ready for the Spring. Year 5 took charge of tidying up the flower beds and the vegetable patch. The Eco Council have also been keeping a close eye on how well each class is saving energy, keeping the school tidy and recycling correctly. An Eco Award is now being awarded to the class who is best at this every month. So far our winners have been Mrs McAleer’s Year 7, Mr Rodgers’ Year 7 and Miss Stewart’s Year 5. As part of their recycling work the Eco Council took part in the Cash For Clobber clothes recycling scheme. We collected more than 70 bags of donated clothes. The money raised from this project will help support our environmental work in school over the coming months. Following the start of very cold and snowy weather, the Eco Council have taken steps to help look after our feathered friends. Most recently they built bird feeders which we have erected in different places around the school. The Council members have observed some birds (particularly one robin) coming back every day to see what treats we have for them! We look forward to supporting the Eco Council’s programme of work in Term 2.

This Autumn Term After School Programme has been a great success! This year we have been able to offer an extensive range of activity including; Basketball, Gaelic football, Art, Science, Choir, Camogie, Soccer, Tennis, Dance and Fundamental Movement (Body and Mind). As you can see from the sample of photographs above, the children not only had a great time but also learnt a number of new and exciting skills. A big thank you to all the teachers and coaches that led each of the clubs. Next terms the clubs will resume the week beginning 31st January and will continue for eight weeks.

The St. Colmcille’s soccer team got their season underway on 1 st October 2010 playing in the Owen Daley 7-A-Side tournament held at the Ballymena Showgrounds. Last year the team were very successful and this year was no different. Despite early morning rain and numerous pitch inspections, the St. Colmcille’s boys took to the field in their first match against Gracehill P.S. and after putting up an almighty effort, were narrowly beaten 1-0. In their second game of the group they were paired against Buick Memorial P.S. St. Colmcille’s had the better of the early exchanges and were very close to the breakthrough with chances from Brandon Reid and Ronan Laverty. They had goalkeeper Rory Corr to thank shortly after as he pulled off a number of great saves. Then with mere seconds to go a low drive by Eamonn Elliott was redirected by Brandon Reid and finished off brilliantly by striker Rory Kelly. St Colmcille’s claimed the victory. In the final group game St. Colmcille’s were pitted against a strongly fancied Dunclug P.S. side. With a strong swirling breeze playing a major part in the game and chances at a premium, both sides settled for the scoreless draw. With only one team progressing to the semi- finals St. Colmcille’s missed out on goal difference. However, the boys played excellently in all their games and showed great sportsmanship throughout the tournament. Well-done boys! Team: Eamonn Elliott, Taylor Kernoghan, Tarlach Tennant, Ronan Laverty, Brandon Reid, Rory Corr, Rory Kelly and Michael McAuley.

The Year 1 teachers and learning support staff continue to work tirelessly to implement the various elements of the revised curriculum, which aims to empower young people to develop their potential and to make informed and responsible choices throughout their lives. The children develop many of their core skills through the medium of play such as literacy, numeracy, decision making, team work and cooperation. As you can see from our photogallery the children are not only learning these vital skills but doing so in an innovative and fun way - learning to write in the sand, using ICT to listen to letter sounds, using Bee-Bot and the interactive whiteboard to develop counting skills and working with 2D shapes to improve the children’s understanding of the concept of shape. In addition to the pupils’ learning experiences, the parents of Year 1 have also been back to school. Parent workshops are an important part of the extended schools’ support programme offered at St. Colmcille’s. The Year 1 parents’ programme focused on how they can support their child at home with learning and an introduction to the phonics, pre-reading and prewriting skills.

Well done to the Year 6 children who received their swimming awards this week. The boys and girls have been attending swimming lessons every Friday afternoon, developing their skills, fitness and having great fun at the same time. Last week each child had to complete a swimming test over various distances and using different swimming styles. They were all delighted to have successfully completed the tests and to receive their awards.

Mrs Donaldson kindly agreed to visit Year 2 to discuss the importance of looking after your teeth. As part of the school’s healthy lifestyle’s programme, Year 2 have been learning about taking care of themselves as part of their topic ‘ourselves’. Everyone learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed meeting Mrs Donaldson’s toothy friend.

St. Colmcille’s is a learning school and believes in Investing in People. Not only do our pupils have the opportunity to achieve, but our staff are also encouraged to professionally develop. We congratulate Mrs Laverty and Mrs Hayes who have successfully completed further training in reading initiatives. In addition to being learning support staff both ladies provide one-to-one support to children in the afternoons.

The school is indebted to the support of the Parent Teacher Association. Not only do they provide financial support but the members are always on hand to support the school in any way that they can. The PTA is a vital organ in St. Colmcille’s and we thank them for all that they do for us. Monthly Draw Winner: October: Patrick Kerr November: Johanne Torres December: Amy McCambridge

Spring Term Draw Dates: February 4th March 4th April 1st

During the past term the PTA members organised the printing of the children’s Christmas Cards – this proved to be very popular. Next term the PTA will continue with the Monthly Draw and they will organise the Great Balloon Race on Wednesday 16th March. Thank you for supporting the PTA.

The members of the senior school choir where invited to sing at two ecumenical services this term. On 8th October the children sang at the Harvest Supper Concert in St. Patrick’s Church, Ballyclug. On the 26th November the choir sang at the Methodist Church ‘Music for Advent’ concert in aid of the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice. The latter event was recorded live and we look forward to receiving a copy of the recording in the new year.

The Year 4 children attended the Do This In Memory of Me Enrolment Mass on Sunday 24th October in All Saints Church. The programme is a collaboration between the home, school and parish and will help to collectively prepare the children for the sacrament of Eucharist which will be celebrated on May 22 nd 2011. The children will be invited to a number of other masses throughout the year which will help them reflect and gain and understanding of the importance of this sacrament. They will also refer to the Thumb booklet as shown above which will further offer the children instruction and guidance on the various parts of the mass and the symbolism behind each part. The school would like to thank the Do This in Memory team for their support throughout the programme. Dates of Do This In Memory Masses: 23rd Jan; 13th Feb; 27th Mar; 17th Apr; 8th May; 26th Jun.

Congratulations to all the children from Year 3 who have successfully completed the Reading Partners programme. Mrs Beattie, Mrs Clarke and Mrs Hayes worked with the children during the term developing their reading skills. The school would like to thank the reading partners for all their hard work throughout the year and to the parents whose support at home makes the programme so successful.

Throughout the term five members of the business community have been supporting a number of Year 5 children with reading. The school purchased a wide range of exciting books to be used solely by the children in the programme so as to help foster that ever special love for reading. The school would like to thank most sincerely all the volunteers who have given their time throughout the term.

As part of their study of Water Year 5 spent a day at Dunore Water Treatment Plant. They toured the water works to view how water from Lough Neagh underwent a rigorous cleaning process before being distributed to our homes. The children began the tour by getting kitted-out in protective clothing - then they were ready to see alum being added to the water in the first stage of cleaning. To end their study of water, Jane from Northern Ireland Water came out to talk to the children about the importance of keeping hydrated. Under Jane’s guidance the children investigated how much water is on our body, how much sugar popular drinks contain and the importance of water for our health.

During the winter months there is a 61% rise in the number of house fires compared to summer statistics. With that in mind members of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service came to visit Year 5 in December to talk to them about Fire Safety. The children learned what the common causes of house fires are and how to prevent fires in their houses. To see the ferocity of a fire caused by a Christmas tree burning follow this link In the event of discovering a fire the message is GET OUT, STAY OUT and GET THE FIRE BRIGADE OUT.

The Year 7 children have been studying the theme of “Faith and Light� as their World Around Us theme in the second half of the first term. As part of that theme the children will be learning how other faiths use the symbol of light to celebrate and deepen their relationship with God. On Wednesday 15th December Rabbi Mennachem from the Jewish Community in Belfast came to talk to the children about the festival of Hanukkah and the importance of light in their celebrations. The children had prepared questionnaires and were able to ask the rabbi a wide range of questions helping them to understand how other faiths are celebrated. The school would like to thank the Rabbi for his time and energy during his visit.

The Year 7 children were visited by Ms Krzyzanowska a Polish teacher who carried out an exciting workshop on Polish culture with the students. Ms Krzyzanowska was dressed in a traditional Polish costume and she informed the children about a wide variety of subjects on life in Poland. The children had the opportunity to make and observe some hand crafted Polish crafts, which were also given to the school as a gift. A great morning was had by both classes, helping the children to learn and welcome other cultures and traditions.

Kansas storyteller Rosie Cutrer loves to tell stories and she enthralled the children of St. Colmcille’s on 14th October with a wide variety of tales after being invited by Liz Weir our local storyteller. With a degree in theatre and twenty-three years experience as a teacher Rosie knows how to entertain and educate. For the younger children she brought along her puppet Bearly and used plenty of music and audience participation. For our Key Stage Two pupils she told folktales from around the world, literary stories, personal stories of growing up in the 1950’s and even played claw hammer banjo in between. It was a pleasure to have Rosie in our school and we hope that she captured the children’s imaginations and again helped to foster a love of reading.

Every year the school focuses on certain Pastoral Care issues with the children. As part of National Anti-bullying Week Miss Cunningham invited the NSPCC to talk to the children about being safe and raising awareness of ChildLine. The staff and Governors also reviewed its Pastoral Care policy ensuring the school provides a safe and caring environment for everyone. The pupil’s presented the NSPCC with a cheque to help them continue to support children and young people in Northern Ireland.

In addition to the forty-eight Year 1 pupils who started in September, St. Colmcille’s welcomed new members of staff. Pictured (front row L-R) Mrs Margaret Hughes and Mrs Lisa McAreavey, (back row L-R) Miss Kirsty Donnelly, Mr Odhran Devlin and Mrs Martha Connon. We trust that they will enjoy their time with us and thank them for all that they do for the pupils of St. Colmcille’s Primary School.

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






Amy McCambridge

Harry Connon

Ryan Laverty

Oliver Doherty

Joanne McDonnell

Peter McElroy

Carter Reid

Gareth Lau


Naomi Gordon

Kurian Joseph

Helen Donaldson

Niall Esler

Chloe Mullan

Joel Cushenan

Cara McDowell


Samuel Crawford

Jude Casey

Callum McMurray

Sophie Byatt

Caolan Robb

Caoimhe Tierney

Shae Williamson



3 4 5 6

Ryan McCartney

Patrick Dougan

Patrick O’Brien


Chylinska Jamie Reid

Erin Buick

Rory McCormick

Brenda McGuigan

Niamh Bird

Christopher McCallan

Anna Doherty

Emma McCormick

Paudie McKee

Grace Foley

Mariusz Wieczorek

Sarah Crawford

Niamh Wray

Ciaran Farrell Emma Flannigan

Matthew Corr

Dylan Letters Drew Hanley


Sophie Donnelly Shakira Martin


McConnell Jack Jaimon

Taylor Kernohan Orla Casey

Luke Kirkwood

Euan Mulvenna

We are all very aware of the severe weather experienced by everyone pre-Christmas. Record temperatures of -18 degrees and snowfalls of up to 15 inches made life very difficult for people. The school did have to close as a result of same, but thanks to the efforts of parents, pupils and indeed past-pupils the school closures were kept to an absolute minimum. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Maths Week Ireland 2010 is an annual event that promotes awareness, appreciation and understanding of mathematics to all. The theme for this year’s event was ‘Mathematics – discovering nature’s secret’. Our school registered with Maths Week Ireland and every class took part in a series of activities from 9 th to 16th October. Activities included Autumn walks, counting and sorting leaves; measuring and drawing objects in the environment to scale; calculating the area of irregular shapes around the school and learning about financial management with visits to the local Credit Union and First Trust Bank.

New Entrants – Open Night St. Colmcille’s invite the parents and children due to start primary school in September 2011 to an OPEN NIGHT on Monday 17 th January at 6.30pm. This will give you the opportunity to look around the school and talk with the staff. Application forms for admissions are now available from the school office. Please contact the school by telephone (028 25639970) and an application pack will be sent to you.

Term 2 begins for the children on Monday 10th January 2011 Mid-term break: 14th-18th February 2011 School Closed on 17th -18th March 2011 (St. Patrick’s Day) Term 2 finishes on Thursday 21st April at 12.00 noon Term 3 begins on Tuesday 3rd May 2011

The Governors, Principal and Staff wish you all a very holy and happy Christmas and best wishes for the new year.

St Colmcille's Newsletter  

St Colmcille's Newsletter