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Leaving Cert clarity is “most welcome”

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By Michelle Crean

There has been mixed reaction to news this week that traditional sit-down State exams are to go ahead in June after an announcement by Education Minister Norma Foley.

Students had been calling for changes to the 2022 Leaving Cert including a hybrid exam where students could choose between being awarded accredited grades or sitting an exam.

Many, including students who spoke to the Killarney Advertiser last week, said they feel under pressure as they've missed school days due to COVID-19 and feel a hybrid exam would suit them better.

A nationwide survey last week, conducted by ISSU, found 40,000 students also wanted the hybrid exams.

"The Leaving Certificate class of 2022 has experienced significant disruption to their learning and their school experience," Minister Foley said.

"In light of this, following extensive engagement with the advisory group on planning for State examinations, I can confirm this plan for significant changes to the examinations, which takes account of the experiences of students during the pandemic and will provide the best possible pathway for this year’s Leaving Certificate students."

She added that students "had a number of concerns" and "wanted clarity and certainty" and that she has asked the State Examinations Commission (SEC) to "put in place measures to ensure that the overall set of results in the aggregate for this year will be no lower than last year".

"I can confirm extensive changes to the written paper in acknowledgement of the challenges our students have faced. They build on the changes already made to the papers and notified to students last August. These combined changes mean that students need not be concerned that they will be disadvantaged compared to their peers. The exams will be structured in a familiar way, but with more choice and a reduction in the number of questions to be answered this will not be the traditional Leaving Certificate exam."

An alternative set of LC examinations will be run this June following the main set of examinations, "limited to certain categories of students, such as those who experience a close family bereavement, COVID-19 illness and certain other categories of serious illness, during the first examination period". However, there will be strict eligibility criteria applying to this contingency sitting, she added.

REACTION

St Brendan's College student Kacper Bogalecki, who is a National ISSU representative, gave his thoughts on the announcement.

"Having spoken to students when we first heard the news, they were not pleased with the outcome," he told the Killarney Advertiser.

"It was clear to us, by consultation with students, that they wanted a hybrid Leaving Certificate. Unfortunately, this was not the case which resulted in a bit of disappointment. A lot of students over the past month have very much entertained the idea of a hybrid LC and having that safety net of an accredited grade going into the written exams was comforting to them."

However, he said that the hybrid Leaving Cert model for this year would have been flawed because a quarter of current Sixth Years do not have Junior Cert results to compare to, and a host of other reasons too.

"Having the same changes made to the papers as last year's cohort received, whilst also ensuring that this year's Leaving Certs are not going to receive lower grades than those of last year's LC class is a fair solution, one that I think many students now understand is the best way forward and one which puts us on a level playing field. Moreover, we finally have an answer, students have clarity on what will happen in June and they now have a direction towards which they are headed. This is most welcome."

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How to boost your immune system with nutrition

By Tara Tangney from Activate Fitness The immune system is precisely that — a system. To function well, it requires stability. While there is no magic bullet for increasing immunity, […]

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By Tara Tangney from Activate Fitness

The immune system is precisely that — a system. To function well, it requires stability.

While there is no magic bullet for increasing immunity, there are ways to keep your immune system strong so that you are better prepared to fight off infections and heal quickly.

As long as your immune system is running smoothly, you don’t notice that it’s there, but if it stops working properly – because it’s weak or can’t fight particularly aggressive germs – you get ill.

Without an immune system, we would have no way to fight harmful things that enter our body from the outside or harmful changes that occur inside our body. Here are five ways to ensure you support a good immune system coming into the wintery months:

1. Eat More Vegetables

While all vegetables have health benefits, some pack a more powerful immune-boosting punch than others. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, and other cruciferous vegetables are rich in fibre, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals. Vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach and tomatoes are rich in beta-carotene (vitamin A), which helps regulate the immune system and protect against infections.

2. Eat Balanced Meals

Include all macronutrients in your meals. Protein is particularly important for healing and recovery. Protein sources include leaner sources of meat, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, milk, beans, soy, nuts and seeds. These foods are also good sources of zinc, a mineral that promotes healthy immune function and aids in wound healing. Healthy fats are also essential to support our immune health. Try to include a variety of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in your daily diet. These are found in avocados, fatty fish, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. These foods provide good fats but are also rich in phytonutrients and fat-soluble vitamins. For example, a small handful of nuts such as almonds is a great source of vitamin E. Wild-caught salmon is one of the only foods naturally rich in vitamin D. Fatty fish are also rich in essential fats called omega-3s, which are known for their multiple health benefits.

3. Regular Exercise

Exercise is one of the main aspects that support a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise promotes cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and offers protection against a variety of diseases. And just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to a healthy immune system, improves blood circulation allowing immune system cells to move through the body more freely and do their job more effectively.

4. Good Quality Sleep

Getting enough sleep has many health benefits. The lack of sleep puts your body into ‘fight or flight’ mode, releasing adrenaline and increased stress hormones into the body. Research shows that in general, adults need at least seven hours of sleep for optimal health and well-being. As we sleep our immune system works to heal and repair the body. A few tips for getting a good night’s sleep include avoiding caffeine in the evenings, turning off your screens (TV, laptop, phones, etc.) well before bedtime and sleeping in a cool, dark room.

5. Manage Your Stress

You may not often think about how stress affects your ability to fight off infection, but your state of mind can have a significant impact on your health. When you are experiencing more stress, your immunity is compromised, which puts you at a higher risk of getting sick. Managing stress may help you fight germs and infections. Stress management techniques include breath work, meditation, yoga, moderate exercise, walking etc. Having a support system of close friends and family can also help us feel connected and stay strong throughout stressful times.

Although there is no magical potion for immunity, you can take these five steps to boost your immune system which is very important as we enter the colder and darker mornings of winter. Don’t underestimate your lifestyle’s impact on your ability to help keep your immune system strong. Good nutrition, quality sleep, and managing stress can all have a significant impact on your health. If you need help with your nutrition, send us an email at nutrition@activate.ie and we will be happy to help you!

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Ireland’s newest and toughest cycle will be a thrilling challenge

Ireland’s newest cycling event comes to Kenmare this month with an exciting and challenging course for the experienced cyclist. Already attracting attention within cycling communities around the country, Velo Kenmare […]

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Ireland’s newest cycling event comes to Kenmare this month with an exciting and challenging course for the experienced cyclist.

Already attracting attention within cycling communities around the country, Velo Kenmare will tackle some of Kerry’s toughest climbs and highest mountain passes.

Taking place on October 22, Velo Kenmare is an 135km timed loop route starting and finishing in Kenmare. The total climbing distance is 1,650m, and organisers hope to appeal to serious cyclists who are looking for a new and thrilling challenge.

No stranger to cycling events, Velo Kenmare is being managed by Elite Events Management, who also successfully deliver iconic cycling events Wicklow 200, Ride Dingle and the Ring of Beara Cycle.
Cyclists are encouraged to register for Velo Kenmare on the Velo Cycle Ireland website www.velocycleireland.ie but places are limited for the enjoyment and safety of all participants, and anyone interested is urged to sign up soon as places are filling up.

TOUGH CLIMBS

​​​​The tough enough mountain climbs are over Molls Gap, Ballaghbeama Pass, Ballaghasheen and Coomakista. The route will take in breathtaking scenery Kenmare is famous for, and incorporating some of the most stunning parts of the Wild Atlantic Way and Ring of Kerry. It is hoped visitors to the cycle event will be encouraged to stay for a few days, and will all be given €20 vouchers or ‘Velo Dollars’ to spend in local shops which will be redeemable against goods and services in Kenmare.

Riders will be allotted a time slot to allow for a staggered start, taking them along a fully marshalled route, with medical cover, bike mechanic support, and hot food and entertainment at the finish in Kenmare.

Making its mark, Velo Kenmare participant race packs will come inside a yellow Velo Kenmare water bottle and finishers’ medals are in the shape of a yellow cow bell. Prizes will be awarded for the quickest top three male and top three female finishers, and fastest male and female will be awarded the title of King and Queen of the Kerry Mountains.

Experienced cyclists are encouraged to take on this exciting new challenge, testing themselves and their clubmates for the fastest finish across these four gruelling climbs, through some of the most beautiful landscape in the country for the best welcome back at the finish.

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