The Principal of St. Oliver’s Community College, John Halpin. Photo: Andy Spearman.
The principal of St Oliver’s Community College has not forgotten “how much last year’s students missed out,” not just on sitting the Leaving Certificate exams “but also in finalising their time at second level.”
John Halpin said being able to hold physical exams for this year’s Leaving Cert students means “we are all delighted to get normal routines back in place.”
“Students have reacted brilliantly to the restrictions necessary to reopen schools, it was tough for all but their resilience shone through. Leaving Certificate students engaged well with on-line learning and have worked diligently since they returned to class in March.”
He said the teachers and support staff at the school on the Rathmullen road, “have prepared students with their usual expertise and knowledge of the examination system, this confidence has eased the burden on students. Having the backup of the accredited grades system has also eased the usual stress associated with Leaving Certificate.”
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He said the apprehension around dealing with COVID-19 and if they were about to have a wave of cases has been a major challenge but, “as it turned out, thankfully we had a relatively small number of cases throughout the year. This was due to the co-operation and precautions taken by students and staff.”
“Leaving Certificate students remained well focused since our return but the cancellation of the formal Junior Certificate exams did impact on third year students. They still had to complete assignments and sit for assessment but it is not the same as the first experience of formal exams.”
For staff and students a key priority has been the focus on wellbeing and maintaining a positive outlook.
He said many members of the school community lost family members and neighbours throughout the pandemic and “in anticipation of returning to school in September, there may be restrictions still in place but we are all more confident in re-establishing extra-curricular activities and focusing on resilience and wellbeing.”
For those facing into the exams this year he said, “if in doubt, sit for the exams, this year's exam papers have been modified significantly to account for the broken year. As ever, be confident of the work you have done and the advice your teachers have given.
"I am very confident that there will be outstanding results for both the Leaving Certificate exams and Accredited Grades results. I would like to wish all students well over the coming weeks particularly those who have overcome adversity or challenging circumstances.”
The school, which is the biggest in county Louth and has the second largest number of students in the country, has over 1,400 students and 150 staff.
This article was written by Elaine Keogh
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