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Students relieved as State exams begin



RELIEF: Relieved to have their first Leaving Cert exam over and done with on Wednesday afternoon were: Annie O'Donoghue, Miriam Fleming, Emma Griffin and Alanna Carroll from St Brigid's Secondary School, Killarney. Photo: Michelle Crean


By Michelle Crean

Hundreds of Killarney students were amongst the 1,791 Leaving Cert and 1,953 Junior Cert students in Kerry, relieved to finally get startedwith their State exams on Wednesday.

It’s been a long year of study and nerves as the anxious students prepared themselves but it’s relief all round for most who were very happy with the first one, English Paper 1 on Wednesday morning.

The Killarney Advertiser caught up with many students straight after the first exam in St Brigid’s Secondary School, The Sem and Killarney Community College – with most saying they are relieved to finally get going.

Leaving Cert Higher Lever Paper 1 carried a total of 200 marks. It was divided into two sections with each carrying 100 marks.

Section one included comprehension with text one ‘What is Art For?’, text two ‘A Photographer’s Perspective’ and text three ‘Libraries: Cathedrals of Our Soul’.

In section two, students were asked to write one descriptive essay on a number of topics.

Many students from St Brigid’s Secondary came out of the exam smiling and said that they found the whole experience quite positive.


[caption id="attachment_26630" align="aligncenter" width="2000"] HAPPY: Kasia Kalka, Oliwia Arendarska and Juliana Gherman pictured just after their first Leaving Certificate exam outside St Brigid's School in Killarney on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Michelle Crean[/caption]


Kasia Kalka said that she was not really nervous as she was prepared for it.

“I did Higher Level and it was a manageable paper.”

Julianna Gherman sat the Higher Paper in English. “It’s not anything you can study for,” she said. “It’s comprehensions and essays. It was fine, I’m happy with it.”

Oliwia Arendarska added that she was nervous on the morning of her first exam, Higher Level English, but the nerves soon settled once she got stuck in. “I was nervous coming into it but it was a nice paper. I hope the rest go that well!”

Meghann Cronin said that she was a bit anxious heading into her exam as it was the first one, but was glad when it got started.

“The paper was grand, you can’t really prepare for it.”

Annie O’Donoghue, who also took High Level Paper 1, added that she wasn’t nervous. “I was glad to get it over with. It’s more the work you’ve done – you can’t really study for it.”

Alanna Carroll was also nervous and a bit tired before taking the higher paper.

“I think it was very topical,” she said. “I did the story part of it about a young and an old person travelling through a strange land. I also did the arts section about climate, the earth being uninhabitable and you had to flee it. I’m delighted to have it over with and not have to think about it anymore.”

Students from St Brendan’s ‘The Sem’ who took Higher Level English Paper 1, included Jake Doona from Lewis Road. “It was very open, it was very ‘you’ and allowed your own personality to come out.”

Sean Lennan from Kilcummin said he found it quite good. “The paper is really creative orientated and allowed a lot of opportunity for personality. That is my best subject and can only go downhill from here – Paper 2 will be a lot more about knowledge and study.” Oran O’Donoghue, Muckross added that he was also very happy with that paper because it can be finicky. Harry Knoblauch, Clonkeen said it was a very forgiving paper with a lot of room to manoeuvre in it. “I feel very happy now and it is not a bad start.”

In Killarney Community College Lee Heffernan from Park Road sat the Ordinary Level Paper 1. “It was stressful, timewise.” Niklodem Bauouzki from Ross Road sat the Higher Level English paper. “The paper was good, I was free to go with 20 minutes to spare so that is a good sign and that puts my confidence at ease. I will just relax and take it as it comes.” Junior Certs from St Brendan’s who sat their very first State exam included Michael Mullane. “It was grand, no real surprise.”

[caption id="attachment_26637" align="aligncenter" width="2800"] FIRST ONE OVER: Killarney Community College Leaving Cert students Lee Heffernan, Nikodem Banowski, Jamie McGough and Gabriel Pereira Da Silveira after their first exam on Wednesday. Picture: Eamonn Keogh[/caption]


Jaden Tynan added that it was a good bit better than he thought. “I am feeling good now so it must have been grand.” Jack Kennealy said that he found it long. “It was very long, a lot of writing, but it is good to get it out of the way.”


Principals report positive feedback

By Sean Moriarty

Principals in three Killarney secondary schools reported positive feedback from students after Wednesday’s State exams began.

St Brigid’s Secondary School has 97 Leaving Cert students and 120 on the Junior Cycle.

School Principal, Roisin Moore, said the Leaving Cert paper was a positive start for all concerned.

“The English paper allowed plenty of scope and was very relatable to what is happening in the world around them,” she told the Killarney Advertiser this week.

“It certainly challenged their skills. The Junior Cert English was very fair, but a very intense two hours for the students, while the Home Economics paper was a testing paper at times, some of it was very challenging and they seemed pushed for time.”

St Brendan’s Principal, Sean Coffey, echoed these comments for the 135 Leaving Cert students and 144 who took on the Junior Cert exams.

“Feedback on both Ordinary and Higher Level papers was positive,” he said. “The social media theme was very relevant to their lives. The Higher Level paper was all about encouraging creativity and different kinds of divergent thought.

“I also thought the junior exams were an open and creative paper. Overall, it was a positive start and will allow students to settle in and carry on in a positive frame of mind.”

Leaving Certificate students no longer have to cope with the stress of two major subject exams in the one day, the opening English Paper 1 was followed by Home Economics on day one.

Killarney Community College also welcomed the new format where most students don’t sit two big exams each day, as was the case in the past.

“They really seemed happy enough with what came up so far,” Eilish O’Leary, Deputy Principal, said. “They are looking forward to ticking each exam off now as they come up. We would have a lot of students who had a Home Economics exam on Wednesday afternoon, but overall I think the way exams are spread out now are more beneficial to the students and they have more time to study in the afternoons.”

Junior Cert students did have a second level exam to take on opening day as the Civic, Social and Political Education exam was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

“The Junior Certs were a little nervous when they came in as it was their first time facing a State exam, but they seemed happy enough to turnaround and come back in the afternoon.”



[caption id="attachment_26631" align="aligncenter" width="2000"] ANSWERS: Meghann Cronin, Emily Egan and Laurna Mulcahy from St Brigid's Secondary School, Killarney, pictured examining Higher Level Paper 1 on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Michelle Crean[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_26634" align="aligncenter" width="3000"] ONE DOWN MORE TO GO: Killarney Community College Junior Cert students Niamh Coghlan, Mikaela Bingham, Rebecca O'Callaghan and Lorna Looney pictured after their first exam on Wednesday. Picture: Eamonn Keogh[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_26635" align="aligncenter" width="2722"] EXAM TIME: Killarney Community College Junior Cert students Suhel Ftah, Chantelle O'Sullivan, Stephen O'Brien and Jami Mai O'Sullivan after their exam on Wednesday. Picture: Eamonn Keogh[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_26636" align="aligncenter" width="2225"] PAPER ONE DONE :Killarney Community College Leaving Cert students Marie Moriarty and Dominika Gabrys after their English exam on Wednesday. Picture: Eamonn Keogh[/caption]



[caption id="attachment_26638" align="aligncenter" width="2700"] TIME OUT: St Brendan's College Junior Cert students Michael Mullane, Jaden Tynan and Jack Kenneally taking some time out after their first exam on Wednesday. Picture: Eamonn Keogh[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_26639" align="aligncenter" width="3094"] QUESTION TIME: St Brendan's College Leaving Cert students Jonathan Falvey, Sean Lennon and Jake Doona checking what questiones they answered after their English exam on Wednesday. Picture: Eamonn Keogh[/caption]



[caption id="attachment_26641" align="aligncenter" width="2255"] PAPER ONE: St Brendan's College Leaving Cert students Oran O'Donoghue and Harry Knoblauch after their English exam on Wednesday. Picture: Eamonn Keogh[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_26643" align="aligncenter" width="2864"] GOT THE ANSWERS: St Brendan's College Leaving Cert students Brian Okwute and Sean Magann after their English exam on Wednesday. Picture: Eamonn Keogh[/caption]





Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes



Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language.

The school signed up to Language Sampler scheme as part of the ‘Say Yes to Languages’ initiative in primary schools organised by Post Primary languages Ireland in 2021. This is the school’s third year running the module.

Hélène Olivier-Courtney, the school’s French teacher and director of French For All Killarney School of French, covers ten schools in Kerry over the three terms.

The success of the initiative relies on an all-school approach and the active involvement of class teachers and management.

“The whole staff in Fossa certainly helped make this new journey a special and enjoyable experience for the children as we learnt French through art, songs, games and food tasting! This year, we also organised a catwalk on our last day. Our sixth-class students will have such a head start before secondary school and most importantly will have develop curiosity interest and love for the language,” said Hélène.


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Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate



By Chris Davies

Last Friday’s Dublin Riots should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It has been bubbling under the surface of Irish society for a good number of years now. The actions of a small minority last week was a culmination of years of racism, hatred and misinformation shared online by far-right groups.

Late on Friday night a disturbing WhatsApp voice note was doing the rounds on social media where a far-right actor could clearly be heard encouraging violence on the streets of Dublin. 

“’Seven o’clock, be in town. Everyone bally up, tool up…Any foreigner, just kill them”

Watching the Riots unfold on social media brought me back to when I was working in Dublin a number of years back. My morning commute from Skerries to the city centre involved a dart to Connolly Station followed by a short trip on the Luas to the Jervis. Every week, without fail, I would witness at least one racial slur or attack on someone who didn’t fit the narrow minded view of what an Irish person should look, dress or talk like. I don’t know if it is the eerie silence of public transport that seems to amplify the situation, but that’s where I found it to be most common. The abuse was usually perpetrated by a group of youths or someone who was clearly under the influence of drink or drugs. The victims were always of colour, often dressed smartly enough to presume they were on their way, or coming from work. A far cry from the perpetrators who you could tell were roaming aimlessly around the city looking for trouble.

While shameful to admit, I would often look on and watch the abuse unfold, only to spend the rest of my work day thinking about the poor person who was told to “F*&K off back to your own country”. I would sit at my desk questioning why I didn’t step in and say something. There were one or two occasions where I did step in and call it out, but not nearly often enough.  

This disgusting behaviour is much more visible in our cities. Since moving back to Killarney I wouldn’t witness as much direct abuse on the streets but working with the Killarney Advertiser I would be tuned in to local news and some of the comments I read on our social platforms are far worse than anything I witnessed during my time in Dublin.  

There is a significant group of people in Ireland that I would call the ‘silent majority’. We are not as outspoken on issues we care about. We tend to observe and consume the news quietly, and only speak of our support or disgust on certain issues in close circles, too afraid we might offend someone. The problem with this is that we are leaving these far-right groups unchallenged, to become louder, more aggressive and more hostile as seen last week. 

The past week Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats have been busy in the media expressing no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris but I would suggest that there is a large percentage of the Irish population that bears some of the responsibility. We witness racism in our communities and online every day and we need to start speaking up and calling it out. 

On the issue of immigration in Killarney, there is no doubt resources are being stretched and our tourism industry is suffering as a result of an influx of immigration. Locals have also raised concerns in relation to the placement of so many male international protection applicants in one setting and we only have to look back on the incident in Hotel Killarney last year where a number of men were involved in a harrowing stabbing incident to see how that played out.  

However, being concerned around immigration is not the same as anti-immigration. It is important to raise these issues with local representatives and Kerry TD’s but also to separate ourselves from far-right groups who are only interested in encouraging violence.  

The anarchy we witnessed last week should never be the answer and research shows it is completely unnecessary. Harvard University have looked at hundreds of protests over the last century, and found that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns and that it only takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.

Let’s continue to protest peacefully for issues we believe in, but stand up and speak out against people and movements in our community that incite hate and violence. 

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