Saturday, May 02, 2015

Happy day at opening of school extension

"We used to be able to shout to each other from one end of the school to the other, but now that doesn't work ..."

School principal Marion Sherlock reflected on the growth of St Joseph's NS over recent years when she welcomed parents and friends of the school to the official opening on Thursday of the latest extension to Halverstown, writes Brian Byrne.

There are now 68 children on the rolls, expected to grow to 75 next year, getting closer to the 'magic number' of 86 which would gain them another teacher.

The latest extension involved two more classrooms, a car park that not just takes the pressure off the narrow road at drop-off and collection times but also doubles as a playground in the winter, and a full refurbishment of the rest of the school.

"We're absolutely delighted," Marion Sherlock told the assembled guests for the official opening by former PP Fr Michael Murphy. "We needed more resources for the growing number of children, and we now have so much space in our new classrooms. We also gained a Library, and the icing on the cake is a multi-purpose room, converted from the old shoe-box room."

She thanked all those who had made the expansion possible, especially the work of the Board of Management whose members had dealt with the increased paperwork demand since the last extension six years ago.

The parents and grandparents also came in for honourable mention, not just for their work with the children but also for 'taking up the paintbrushes' and helping in many ways to complete the work on the new facilities. "Also for the advice they gave us — when it came to things like heating, plumbing and insulation, it was amazing the number of experts we had within the parents' body. They willingly gave us the benefit of their expertise, and were often here late into the night."

Finishing touches, such as the landscaping put in place in the days before the opening, were also thanks to those same people, Marion noted. The high quality workmanship of contractors Kennycourt Construction was also applauded. "They were complete gentlemen to work with, and anything that we wanted, they found a way to work it around."

There were plaudits also for the staff of the school, who all help every day 'to keep the smiles on the faces' of everyone. "And the children, of course, without whom school would be a very dull place. They are consistently fabulous, and we're so proud of them."

Marion singled out for particular mention Liam Aylward, who had managed the project from the beginning. "Without him, we wouldn't have half of what we're here to celebrate today. He worked tirelessly, meeting builders and contractors early in the morning and late at night."

As he wasn't able to attend the opening event, a presentation for him was made to Liam's wife Mary, by the chair of the current Board of Management, Evelyn McKenzie-Smith.

The pupils, under the direction of teacher Carmel Brown, sang a number of songs for those present before Fr Murphy blessed the building and cut the ribbon to officially deem the new extension open.

Two cherry blossom trees were planted at the car park entrance, by the youngest and the oldest pupils, Murray Cole and Ross O'Brien respectively. They were assisted by Fr Niall Mackey and former chair of the BOM Petra Conroy.

St Joseph's celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009.

Pictures of the opening are available here.