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“Stress and anxiety levels are increasing” – says exam student

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STRESS: Leaving Cert student Cillian Hickey from St Brendan’s College says there’s a great deal of stress for exam students and a decision must be made if they’re going ahead.

 

Thousands of exam students are unsure whether they should be putting themselves under increased pressure to cover work missed last year, or study for orals and practicals which aren’t guaranteed to go ahead, says Leaving Cert student Cillian Hickey from St Brendan’s College.
This week he shares his thoughts with Killarney Advertiser readers about the decisions surrounding the upcoming State exams and the struggles he and his fellow Leaving Cert students are facing across the country.

“The gruelling struggles of any normal Leaving Cert year can be difficult for any student to cope with. However, the class of 2021 have been the subject of an incredibly stressful and torrid year. We spent our last day of Fifth Year in school on March 12 being told we would return before or, in the worst-case scenario, after the Easter holidays. Little did we envisage remote learning at home until the end of May and returning to school having to implement social distancing while wearing masks in September only to being stuck at home once again after the Christmas holidays just passed, and the message that was reiterated to us that it’ll only be for January is now beginning to look more and more unlikely.

I recently represented my year group along with my classmate Darragh Doolan at an online conference hosted by the Irish Second-Level Students Union (ISSU) where students’ opinions and suggestions from all over the country were heard. The consensus of most is that we just need clarity and decisions to be made soon in relation to the State exams instead of waiting until the last minute as we saw last year. The Minister and Department of Education say they want to do what is best and what is fair for all students, yet I hardly think it is fair to lead exam students along for weeks on end while stress and anxiety levels are only increasing.

I understand the Minister for Education finds herself in between a rock and a hard place to say the least, but with the lack of clarity and predictability this global pandemic has brought, I think it’s a bold statement for Norma Foley to make that we will be in a safe environment to complete a “tradition Leaving Cert” come June. Despite the fact that our experience of senior cycle has been far from “traditional”, having nearly been absent from our classrooms for approximately 13 weeks so far – with no nailed down date for our safe return – I find it hard to believe that as a year group we are expected to stay motivated to commit so much time to working at home which can often present its own struggles such as a poor Internet connection or no quiet place for a student to work productively, while not forgetting to revise old materials and retain new information being taught to us through a screen without any escape from our studies such as meeting friends, sports or whatever it is that lets you go into a world of your own with no worries.

CRUCIAL

The pre-Leaving Cert exams are crucial for students to experience the environment we could be dealing with over the two weeks that technically define the next couple of years in our young lives if the exams go ahead, and with the amount of school time missed the question being asked by most schools is can we finish courses in sufficient time to allow us enough time for crucial revision while also accommodating nearly two more weeks of class time for the pre-exams when we return to school, whenever that may be. In my own experience I have to thank the teachers and all staff in St. Brendan’s College who have adapted fantastically over the last year for the pressure they too are being put under amidst all this uncertainty. Keeping to our timetabled school days we have live classes with each teacher via Microsoft Teams every day. Although it is a somewhat efficient way of making up for our absenteeism from the classroom, it doesn’t come anywhere near the same benefit of face-to-face learning. No matter how many breaks or walks you go for throughout the day, the emotional toll that comes with the mundane repeated routine sitting at the same desk from 9am to 4pm takes on you is mentally draining, without worrying over the fact if we were in school, we’d be expected to take our seat in the study hall for another two, three if not four hours.

There is no definitive line that can be drawn in the sand that will satisfy every student, but from hearing the viewpoints of so many Sixth Years and their thoughts towards the situation, I believe what we all want to know is if the Leaving Cert of 2021 does go ahead will there be additional edits to the papers on top of what has already been changed in September in line with the additional school time missed? Difficult decisions have to be made and bold leadership needs to be seen to come to the fore. After all, the powers that be must take into account and always remember in their decision making that they are dealing with young people’s lives and futures.”

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Go on…put the kettle on to help a good cause!

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TEA TIME: Nora Murphy, Mary Lehane and Betty Carmody, drinking a cuppa as they raise awareness about this year’s Virtual Tea for Motor Neurone Disease which takes place on June 21.

By Michelle Crean

June 21 is Global Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Awareness Day and one local group is calling for participants to get involved.

Christy Lehane, Chairman of Kerry Friends of Motor Neurone and Ambassador for the IMNDA, will take part in the Virtual Tea for MND fundraiser and awareness event.

“We never thought this time last year that 12 months later we would be doing Virtual Tea for MND,” Christy told the Killarney Advertiser.

“In these COVID times our fundraising efforts have all ceased, but sadly there is no slowing down of Motor Neurone Disease. Providing the support and services to our Motor Neurone sufferers is now more important than ever before. I am now appealing to all you good people and friends who have supported us in the past to please hear my plea. I myself will drink Virtual Tea for MND again this year. So go on, put on the kettle and take out the china tea pot and get family and friends around to the garden for a brew and a catchup for a great cause. If you do not feel comfortable with having people around, you can go very modern and go Zooming and encourage your friends to do so also. I am aware that some of our MND sufferers are themselves organising Virtual Tea Drinking get togethers.”

Participating SuperValu stores are on board again this year providing tea bags etc. to raise awareness of MND, and staff will be asking shoppers for donations for the IMNDA starting on June 7 to 21.

“I seldom seek donations and financial support, but perhaps in these COVID times when our need is greatest you might be moved to help us.”

Every year MND Associations across the globe mark June 21 as a special day of recognition where the International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations across the world undertake a range of activities to raise awareness and keep focused on the search for the cause, treatment and eventual cure for this terrible disease.

You can donate to www.imnda.ie or if you can contact Christy Lehane Chairman of Kerry Friends of Motor Neurone and Ambassador for the IMNDA on 087 9671011.

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Laura’s new look for Leaving Cert

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NEW LOOK: Laura Cronin, who is currently sitting her Leaving Cert, cut 14 inches off her hair for The Rapunzel Foundation.

By Michelle Crean

Rathmore’s Laura Cronin headed into her Leaving Cert exams this week with a whole new look after transforming her hairstyle for charity.

Laura, daughter of Una and Donal from Rathbeg, cut 14 inches off her hair for The Rapunzel Foundation.

As her long locks didn’t get cut over the last year Laura decided to get a good chop in Katelynn’s Hair Design in Rathmore instead, and use the left over hair to create wigs for sick children.

“I thought, rather than trim it I’d cut a lot off,” Laura, who hopes to study pharmacy in college, told the Killarney Advertiser. “I wanted to cut off a lot of it, I was sick of long hair. I said that if there’d be enough I’d donate it as it’d be a shame to see it on the floor.”

Laura said that hopefully it can make a child happy if it allows them to receive a specially made wig for their First Holy Communion, or a similar occasion.

“I’d encourage anyone who has long hair to think about what they could do with it.”

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€1m upgrade for Killarney store

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INVESTMENT: DV8 have invested €1m to update their store in the Killarney Outlet Centre. Pictured at the reopening were staff members: Clodagh McCarthy (Store Manager), Lorraine McGough (Assistant Manager), Anuka Altanson and Sarah Murphy. Photo: Don MacMonagle

A popular Killarney fashion shop, which reopened last week, securing up to 15 jobs, has had a facelift after a €1 million investment.

Leading fashion retailer DV8, which has a network of over 50 stores across Ireland, reopened its 4,000 square feet store in the Killarney Outlet Centre.

And customers admired the new look.

DV8 sells over 40 top fashion clothing brands as well as footwear and accessories in its stores and online at www.dv8fashion.com. The hip fashion house is well-known for its uber cool shop interiors and has dedicated customers across Ireland and the UK.

“We are delighted to be reopening our new store in Killarney and confident it will compliment the existing retail offering in the town, with DV8’s unique range of male and female clothing and footwear,” David Scott from DV8 said.

“We think local shoppers will enjoy the DV8 experience, including the top fashion brands and excellent customer service.”

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