School News- Colaiste Cholmcille, Ballyshannon

First Year students conquer Knocknarea.


Coláiste Cholmcille, Ballyshannon – 19th Oct

Maths Inspection

Congratulations to our Maths Department who have recently been inspected and received a glowing report from the Inspector on their performance and the excellence of their pedagogy, materials and the teaching and learning taking place in their classrooms. Well done to all.

Leaving Cert Parent Teacher Meeting

Thank you to all who attended the Leaving Certificate Parent Teacher Meeting on Tuesday 20th Oct from 4.15-6.30pm.

Halloween Disco

First Year students will attend a Halloween disco on Friday 23rd October in the afternoon. This has been organised by Mrs Fiona Khuel in aid of the Syrian Crisis. Thank you to all involved.

First Year History Trip

First Year Students really enjoyed their history trip to Sligo recently. They visited Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery in the shadow of Knocknarea. This is the largest cemetery of megalithic tombs in Ireland and is also among the country’s oldest, with monuments ranging from five thousand to five thousand eight hundred years old. Archaeologists have recorded over 60 tombs of which 30 are visible. Subsquently, students climbed Knocknarea to Queen Meabh’s Cairn. Legend has it that Queen Meabh is buried in the cairn. Students really enjoyed this day away, putting some of the material they have learned this term into context. It also afforded them the time to bond and get to know each other. Thank you to Mrs Kate McGrath for organising the trip.

Friends for Life Programme

Students in first year have just completed the FRIENDS for Life Programme with Mr O’Reilly. This initiative is aimed at helping the students to set into their new life and routine in second level. The ‘FRIENDS for Life’ programme is a school-based positive mental health programme. The World Health Organisation cites ‘FRIENDS for Life’ as the only evidence-based programme effective at all levels of intervention for anxiety in children (WHO 2004). The programme helps students to develop effective strategies to deal with worry, stress and change and teaches the skills required to reduce anxiety and promote resilience. It is beneficial for all students, irrespective of their anxiety level. This is part of our overall pastoral care programme within the school.

Due to the increasing awareness in education of the need to understand and address the emotional and mental well-being needs of children and young people, the NBSS decided to pilot and research the ‘FRIENDS for Life’ programme in partner schools. In collaboration with the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) and the Social, Personal and Health Education Support Service (SPHE) fourteen NBSS partner schools participated in the research project. There are three main components in ‘FRIENDS’ based on CBT principles; (1) Learning/ Behaviour, (2) Cognitive and (3) Physiological. The Learning/Behaviour component involves helping children and adolescents to problem solve, use coping skills, expose themselves gradually to feared situations, reward themselves for brave behaviour and identify positive role models and support networks. The Cognitive component involves helping children and adolescents to use positive self-talk (green thoughts), challenge negative self-talk (red thoughts), evaluate themselves realistically and reward themselves. The Physiological component involves teaching children and adolescents to be aware of their body clues, to use relaxation techniques and to self-regulate. The results of research demonstrated that the ‘FRIENDS for Life’ programme is effective in reducing anxiety levels, as measured by both students and parents. The teachers who delivered the programme in their schools believe it will benefit all students. Thank you to Mr Philip O’Reilly for facilitating this programme for our first year students.

Petit Dejeuner Francais

Second Year students really enjoyed their French breakfast as a special welcome to Mademoiselle Coralie Coiffard . Mademoiselle Coiffard will be working with the French Department in our school as a Language Assistant. The students tasted a number of French delicacies including croissants, baguettes, pain au chocolat. This is part of the work Mademoiselle Coiffard will be undertaking with the students this year to give them a real taste of French culture and of the language.

Mr Sean McGee

Motivational speaker Mr Sean McGee visited Coláiste Cholmcille to give a presentation to the class of Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate Applied students. Mr McGee talked about study skills, time management, exam pressures and keeping focus in the weeks and months ahead before the exams. Thank you to Year Head Ms Campbell for organising this event.

Junior Cycle Art

Junior Certificate Art Students will attended an Art Exhibition’ in Letterkenny recently. The 19th annual exhibition of Junior Certificate Art from Donegal Secondary Schools is presented in partnership with the Donegal Art Teachers Association. The show is an explosion of creativity, featuring drawings, paintings and sculpture from young people throughout the county.

Transition Years

Transition Years were involved in Fire Safety workshops which they really enjoyed. This Fire Safety Programme is a module which aims to provide students with basic health and safety training as they go into the workplace both on work experience and through part time employment. The resources are fully ratified by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA). Thank you to the members of the Fire Services in Ballyshannon who delivered the programme.

Transition Years really benefitted from the Road Safety Roadshow which they viewed last week in Letterkenny. It was very through provoking and insightful. The award winning show, which is in its fifth year is hosted by Donegal County Council in association with the Donegal Road Safety Working Group (DRSWG). Almost 3,000 young people will witness how a night out ends in tragedy for a 17-year old boy who has just passed his driving test. The story is not performed by actors but is told by a Garda officer, a paramedic, a fire officer, an emergency consultant, a mother of a victim and Richard Alcorn from Dunfanaghy, who was paralysed following a road traffic collision a number of years ago. The narrative is interspersed with music, video clips, television advertisements and is hosted by Charlie Collins from Highland Radio. The show is part of Donegal County Council’s ongoing commitment to improving road safety in the County and is targeting the group who are most at risk, young people who are just beginning to drive and often think they are indestructible. This show aims to positively influence these young drivers as they start out on what will hopefully be a long and safe motoring career. The format of the Road Show is designed to appeal to young people. When they arrive at the Road Show venue they enter a hall that is set up to give a nightclub like atmosphere with a local radio DJ playing the latest music. After a short while the ambiance changes as the Road Show story begins to unfold and the full horror of what could happen in a collision is played out in front of them. This is a very worthwhile event and we thank Mr Michael Doherty and Mrs Fiona Khuel for organizing the event.

French Theatre

Fifth Year French students attended a French Film production in the Model Arts Centre in Sligo on Wednesday 14th October. Girlhood (French: Bande de filles, Gang of Girls) is a 2014 French drama filmdirected by Céline Sciamma who starring Karidja Toure. It is a coming of age film that focuses on the life of Marieme (Karidja Toure), a girl who lives in a rough neighborhood right outside of Paris. The film discusses and challenges conceptions of race, gender and class; Sciamma’s goal was to capture the stories of black teenagers, characters she claims are generally underdeveloped in French films. It was screened as part of the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. It was also screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. It received four nominations at the 40th César Awards, including Best Director for Céline Sciamma and Most Promising Actress for Karidja Touré. We hope those attending benefit from the event and thank the French Department for organizing the same.

On parle français

The French Department have organized lunchtime ‘parler et déjeuner ensemble’ sessions with the French teachers, our French Assistant and senior students. These weekly sessions will afford students the opportunity to practice their oral French and conversational skills each week, in addition to individual sessions they are benefitting from with Mademoiselle Coiffard.

King Lear

The Leaving Certificate Higher Level English students travelled to Dublin for a production of King Lear, accompanied by Mrs Fiona Khuel, Mr Shane Drummond and Ms Gemma McGahern. Following on from the success of Macbeth and Othello, Mill Productions hosted an outstanding Royal Shakespeare Company abridged version of Shakespeare’s King Lear directed by Geoff O’Keeffe. This timeless tragedy is an astonishing tale of fierce passions and murderous ambition – a thrilling examination of the power of love and the destructiveness of suspicion. This fast paced and visually engaging production, while remaining faithful to the original text, will find resonances with Leaving Certificate students. Strong central performances from an excellent professional cast in a muscular, visceral and highly accessible show make this a satisfying King Lear for all students.

Sligo IT Open Day

It’s that time of the year again when our Leaving Certificate students are trying to decide where they would like to study next year. On Thursday 22nd October, all of the students will attend the Open day in Sligo IT.

Open days are a hugely important part of making good choices when preparing to move to third level. Unfortunately, they are busy events and often students can find them overwhelming, especially if they are ill-prepared. With the right research and some careful consideration, open days can help create certainty for students as well as generating new ideas. Ms Mairead McGurren and Mrs Attracta Gallagher have been working hard to help the students research the Open Days they ought to attend. They have been preparing the students, not only for life after school but for the journey to making the decisions about where they would like to study next year. Preparation for such events is key, but many students do not complete enough research before attending open days. The teachers have helped the students familiarise themselves with a range of courses in that institution, making a list of all the courses in which they are interested. They have also facilitated the students research by jotting down a list of questions they would like answered or things they would like to find out about. This will help them keep focused and give purpose to the day. They have also helped them to carefully examine the institution’s website.

Often, after doing a lot of research, a student’s decision on how to prioritise two similar courses in different institutions on the CAO form can come down to the vibe they get from the college. This is as legitimate a reason as any other, especially as the student will be spending at least the next four years in the college. The colleges’ clubs and societies often put on a great show and have fun events during open days. Taking time to enjoy these is all part of the experience. Students have also been encouraged by our staff to take time to check out facilities such as student accommodation, sport facilities, scholarship opportunities etc. especially if a student has a particular talent or interest. This may help make the final decisions when considering their order of course preference on the CAO list.

Connect Mental Health

Thank you to all those who organised and facilitated Connect Mental Health Talks in our school. Connect Mental Health was a three day Mental Health Awareness Event that took place from October 8th -10th 2015 in South Donegal. The date was significant with the event planned to coincide with World Mental Health Day, October 10th. On 9th October, Senior students enjoyed a presentation from Easkey Britton and Breffini Earley about their experience of Mental Health and its importance in their everyday lives.

Three year ago, Breffini Earley claims he was depressed, lonely, very single, severely overweight, unhappy in work and having regular suicidal thoughts. Taking inspiration from the iconic date (10-10-10) he picked ten individual challenges, publicly told all his friends, and then pursued each of them over the course of the next 13 months until (11-11-11). Those challenges included losing weight, travelling, learning live skills such as swimming and cooking, overcoming fear of performing in public, changing jobs, finding a partner, completing a series of sporting events including duathlons, triathlons, open water swims, a marathon and a cycle around New Zealand. His stories and his message really resonated with the students.

Students were really star struck by Easkey who is an internationally renowned, pioneering big-wave surfer from Ireland and has surfing in her blood. She comes from Ireland’s first surfing family and grew up in Rossnowlagh surfing with her sister Becky-Finn & her Dad Barry Britton. Her Mum and Dad taught her to surf when she was 4 years old and her life has revolved around surfing ever since.Easkey lives up to her namesake wave, the famous west coast break which can be translated to ‘fish’ in Irish. She got her first taste for travel when she went to Tahiti and became the first Irish person to surf the infamous hell-wave Teahupoo aged just 16 and hasn’t looked back since! Ireland’s 5 x National Champion she is leading the charge of the next generation of Ireland’s surfers taking on the International surf scene.

Surfing is Easkey’s active metaphor for life. Leaving the competitive circuit and pursuing big waves, adventure travel, research and artistic expression has given her the opportunity to explore more deeply the values surfing teaches and the importance of exploring more innovative and creative ways of applying and sharing those values to create positive social change. This was a very important message for our students. She challenged them to strive to combine their sport with their academics.

Easkey’s message is not only about sport and it’s importance in life. She herself has achieved academically and students found this interesting and inspirational. Her passion for the marine environment led her to co-found the Wellcoast network in 2010 and complete a PhD in Environment and Society specialising in human wellbeing and coastal resilience last year. In 2013, Easkey co-founded Waves of Freedom. The initiative is founded on the belief in surfing as a powerful medium for creating positive social impact and empowerment, especially for more vulnerable groups like youth and women in areas of the world where it is not always easy to follow your passion.

Many of the students were so inspired by the presentations from Easkey and Breffini, they also attended the workshops organised by Connect on Saturday and enjoyed the motivational talk from Bressie who also focused on Mental Health.

DEAR Project

D.E.A.R. stands for “Drop Everything and Read,” a celebration of reading designed to remind folks of all ages to make reading a priority activity in their lives is really working well in our school The goal of the program is to prompt people to make reading a regular part of their routine . . . whether they’re reading solo or together with their classmates, parents, or friends. The idea is that at a set time every day for a week everyone stops what he or she is doing and reads for fifteen minutes. It is a shared experience and gets people talking about books and reading while conveying a strong message that the school believes in reading. Students read, principals read, teachers in the staffroom read, phones are taken off the hook and secretaries read, the caretaker reads and visitors to the school are offered books or magazines to look through. This initiative will be used to organise boxes of books, magazines and newspapers for each class, the staffroom and office. There will be an allocated time each Thursday to read. Thank you to Ms Fiona Khuel and the literacy team for all of their sterling work on this worthwhile project.


Rehearsals will continue throughout midterm break for the Grease Musical which will take place in November. Grease is a 1971musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey with additional songs written by John Farrar. Students have be listed who are taking part and rehearsals have begun. Named for the 1950s United States working-class youth subculture known as greasers, the musical is set in 1959 at fictional Rydell High School (based on Chicago, Illinois (William Howard Taft School)) and follows ten working-class teenagers as they navigate the complexities of peer pressure, politics, personal core values, and love. The score attempts to recreate the sounds of early 1950’s rock and roll. The show tackles such social issues as teenage pregnancy and gang violence; its themes include love, friendship, teenage rebellion, sexual exploration during adolescence, and, to some extent, class consciousness/class conflict. First performed in 1971 in the original Kingston Mines Chicago club, it has been successful on both stage and screen; we are looking forward to this production which will rival the best. We have a proud tradition of excellence in theatre and drama in Colaiste Cholmcille and look forward to another outstanding production. Well done to Ms Fiona Khuel, Ms Julianne Murphy and all staff and students working on this initiative. Work will continue during midterm break.

Girls Basketball Coláiste Cholmcille

The U16 and Senior Girl’s basketball teams are off to a great start this season winning games in the local league and the National Cup. Coláiste Cholmcille had their first league game home to the AVS winning both U16s and senior games.

On Monday 5th, the Senior Girls Team travelled to Monaghan for the first round of the National Cup were they had a great victory over Colaiste Oireall. The girls were up by 8 points at half time and were in control of the game until a determined Monaghan team started to come back making it a tense but exciting last 5 minutes to the final whistle. The final score ended up at 47-43 to Coláiste Cholmcille seeing them through to the second round of the National Cup. They will play home to Solerno Secondary School Galway before the midterm break.

On Wednesday 7th the U16 Girls travelled to Tyrone for the first round of the National Cup and had a comfortable win against St.Patrick’s Academy Dungannon. The girls showed great intensity and teamwork from the start of the game putting them in a good lead from early on. They proved too strong in the end winning 49-23. They will play home to Loreto College Mullingar next week in the second round. All support welcome.

Girls and Boys Active

First and Second Year Girls are encouraged to become involved in Girls Active which is taking place in The Mercy Hall. In addition, Mr O’Reilly is in the process of setting up ‘Boys Active’ in our school. Studies show that choices in leisure promote successful life skills such as utilizing positive coping skills, increased sense of self, reduction in risky behaviours and increased goal setting. Research suggests that physical activity is an effective tool for reducing the symptoms of stress among girls and boys. Physical activity is anything that requires movement of your body that increases heart rate. Working out on a regular basis (at least three days a week) will make you strong, increase energy and flexibility and turn you into a physically active person. Well done to all involved.


Good luck to all Transition Year students beginning their Gaisce challenge for the year. Thank you to Ms Louise Conroy for organising the event. Gaisce - The President’s Award is the most prestigious Award in Ireland for young people aged 15 to 25.

Sporting activities

We endeavour to have provide as many opportunities for students to develop extracurricular talents. All students are welcome to participate in sport and we encourage students to join a sporting team or group even if they haven’t tried that sport before. Sport provides an excellent opportunity for students to meet and make new friends.

Mr Shane Drummond enjoyed success with Under Sixteen Rugby on 8th and 17th October. Mr McGlynn travelled to Omagh with Boys Gaelic Football on 12th October. Ms McKinley and Ms John Kenny continue their winning ways with the Girls Gaelic Football Teams. On 12th October they beat Colaiste Ailigh, Lettekenny. The final score line 2 goals and 10 points to 7 points in favour of Colaiste Cholmcille. They were also victorious against Bundoran on 17th October with Under 20’s Girls. Mr Conlon and his hurling team have also enjoyed success. We wish each of the teams and their coaches every good wish.

BT Young Scientist

The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition is much more than a competition; it is an unforgettable experience of a lifetime for the students who take part. The exhibition itself is the final stage in the competition which is open to all second level students from Ireland, both North and South. As well as the 550 student projects on display, there are a further four exhibition halls filled with science and technology based exhibits and entertainment, making it a thrilling event for those who enter and for general visitors too. Students are currently working on their entries from Coláiste Cholmcille. We wish all students luck in their entries and thank Ms Tina O’Grady, Ms Emma McKinley and Ms Louise Conroy for all their hard work preparing students for this competition and life experience.

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