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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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Killarney centre stage for Pride Festival

The award-winning Kingdom Pride in Kerry festival is back next week and Killarney will take centre stage. Kingdom Pride will be celebrated in towns all across the county from July […]

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The award-winning Kingdom Pride in Kerry festival is back next week and Killarney will take centre stage.

Kingdom Pride will be celebrated in towns all across the county from July 17 to 21.

The organisation’s flagship Party in the Park event will be held again in Killarney House and Gardens, following the Pride march in the town centre on July 20.

This year, in solidarity with the people of Palestine, Kingdom Pride in Kerry is inviting the people of Kerry to come to show their unity by bringing Palestinian flags and kites to the march, and to the Party in the Park.

“Pride is a protest for human rights all over the world. Here in the Kingdom, we have been so lucky to receive tremendous community support from our allies and supporters, and we see the struggle for liberation of all peoples as a united cause,” said Daniel Quirke, chairperson of the organising committee.

“Our events have always welcomed everyone, regardless of gender, orientation, religion, or nationality. We truly believe that together we can create positive change through caring for and loving one another. This year is no exception, and we look forward to helping to highlight the Palestinian cause, and to bringing people together to keep generating positive change for all people.”

Events will take place in Cahersiveen, Listowel, Killorglin, Tralee and Dingle, and include an Irish comedy night with Áine Gallagher, an Irish-language movie screening, yoga, sea swimming, poetry and storytelling, bowling, pitch and putt, a lively drag night at the INEC, and plenty more for people of all ages.

“We do our best to keep tickets as low-cost as possible, and we have lots of events that are totally free to attend. It is important to us that people can share Pride with us, regardless of income. Especially with the rise of the cost of living putting a strain on people’s pockets.” added the chairperson.

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A weekend of Live Music, Fun and Entertainment, at FleskFest 2024

The organisers of the annual FleskFest have “a tremendous line-up, with a weekend full of entertainment to suit all” for the July 18 to 20 event. “It promises to be […]

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The organisers of the annual FleskFest have “a tremendous line-up, with a weekend full of entertainment to suit all” for the July 18 to 20 event.

“It promises to be the festival weekend of the summer, an event you don’t want to miss out on. Last year’s Festival was a fantastic memorable experience for our community, a time to get together and celebrate,” said festival PRO Seán Daly.

Organised by Glenflesk GAA, FleskFest 24 will take place at the Barraduff Community Field next week.
There will be a fully licensed bar in the Fest Marquee, some amazing live music on The Big Stage, food trucks and much more.
Glenflesk GAA club’s biggest fundraiser of the year includes a new-for-2024 Texas Holdem Poker Tournament on Thursday night.
Weekend highlights include old-time waltzing, jiving and polka sets with Paudie McAuliffe and Paudie Coffey Band on Friday,
On Saturday, the new Well Flesk event will take place.
“A morning of self-care and wellness at Flesk Fest featuring masterclasses in yoga, pilates, mindfulness, spinning, fitness sessions, workouts, firewood sauna and ice pods with a range of experienced and qualified instructors,” added Daly.
Leading local musician Johnny Courtney and Friends, Sam and Ina, The O’Donoghue Sisters, Reigning All Ireland Champions Glenflesk Ballad Group, and The Border Boys will take to the Big Stage over the weekend.
Sunday is Family Fun Day with children’s entertainment and disco and the All-Ireland Hurling Final Live on the Big screen followed by music with Thingamajig.
The festival will finish with a Sunday evening session with the Meadhbh Walsh Band.

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