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“We need decisions to be made for our mental health”

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MAKE A DECISION: Leaving Cert student Mairead O'Donoghue from St Brigid's says State exam decisions need to be made as soon as possible for students' mental health.

 

As the decision around whether State exams will go ahead or not as the traditional sit down or calculated grades, this week St Brigid’s Secondary School student Mairead O’Donoghue, explains to Michelle Crean just how hard it is to prepare for her Leaving Cert while struggling to maintain a balance of school and study life and time away from the books.

“For the class of 2021, we have not experienced anything close to a “traditional” senior cycle. School online is not what I expected when going into my Leaving Cert year. This year comes with its own disadvantages of exam stress, constant studying, and preparation for exams at the end of the year, never mind all of that on top of living during a global pandemic.

I understand the Department of Education is trying to come up with alternative options on the traditional exam while considering our safety and the safety of our teachers and families. But as students, we need decisions to be made for our mental health as the uncertainty is increasing levels of stress and anxiety. Over 60,000 exam students are waiting for a decision to be made while struggling to maintain a balance of school and study life. For me, my mock exams were supposed to take place this Friday (today), a vote was taken by students and teachers in our school on whether or not to facilitate the mock exams when we return to school. The majority of teachers and students voted that the exams would be cancelled. I was relieved as it reduced the pressure I had to put myself under trying to revise old material as well as keep up with the online work given. Even though I was happy with the decision regarding the mocks, they are set in place to prepare us for the real exam and help improve exam technique as well as inform students of where they are in each subject. Once we return to school, we will be concentrating on finishing projects, practical exams and orals while completing the course and therefore trying to fit in a week of mocks would be a struggle.”

DILEMMA

The Department of Education and Minister for Education Norma Foley are in a dilemma, she explained.
However, she added they need to provide students and teachers with clarity.

“Nobody would have predicted before Christmas that we would be where we are now, and I find it hard to understand when Norma Foley says she thinks it will be feasible for students to sit a “traditional Leaving Cert”.

We have now spent 14 weeks outside of a traditional classroom setting and that is not including time taken away from students who had to isolate. As a Sixth Year group, we have overcome massive challenges in the past number of months regarding our education.

Since returning to online school after Christmas in my own experience I am finding it more manageable as I have more experience this time around. I have to say I would not be finding it so manageable only due to the support and encouragement given to us by the teachers and staff of St Brigid’s who are constantly trying to improve our experience.

Even though I try to stick to my school timetable attending classes and taking breaks as scheduled, I find myself completely drained at 4pm both mentally and physically, and then have to face into homework and study for the next couple of hours while sitting at the same desk all over again.
The decision we are all hoping to be made during this week or early next week will not satisfy every Leaving Cert student, but it will provide us with the clarity we need to continue working towards exams in June or for predicted grades or alternatives. I hope the Department of Education and the Minister for Education consider the stress and anxiety levels students are experiencing when making their decision on the future of our education as well as our, and our loved ones, health."

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Local soprano releases new single

Local soprano Mary Culloty O’Sullivan has released her second self-penned single. Following the success of her debut song ‘Forever and a Day’ which was released on July 16 and was aired on radio stations all over the world and on streaming platforms like Spotify, YouTube and iTunes, her second single was released last Friday. ‘Before […]

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Local soprano Mary Culloty O’Sullivan has released her second self-penned single.

Following the success of her debut song ‘Forever and a Day’ which was released on July 16 and was aired on radio stations all over the world and on streaming platforms like Spotify, YouTube and iTunes, her second single was released last Friday.

‘Before You Leave Me’ has a Jazz influence. Mary has been writing her own songs since March this year covering several different genres.

“Tony O’Flaherty of Sonas Studios has brought my songs to life and I am delighted with the production on the songs,” Mary told the Killarney Advertiser.

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Fun Urban Orienteering event coming to Killarney town

The event is free, open to all ages, levels of fitness and is both wheelchair and buggy friendly.Kerry Recreation and Sports Partnership are calling on you, to get out and #BeActive as part of European Week of Sport 2021, which runs from September 23 to 30. Sport Ireland, the national coordinating body for European Week of Sport in […]

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The event is free, open to all ages, levels of fitness and is both wheelchair and buggy friendly.
Kerry Recreation and Sports Partnership are calling on you, to get out and #BeActive as part of European Week of Sport 2021, which runs from September 23 to 30.

Sport Ireland, the national coordinating body for European Week of Sport in Ireland hope that this year’s event will inspire even more people than previous years and has funded multiple flagship as well as local events run by the Network of Local Sports Partnerships, including this ‘Family Street Orienteering Kerry’ event.

“This free event looks to offer everyone an opportunity the get out and be active and maybe try something new,” Gearóid O Doherty, the Coordinator of Kerry Recreation and Sports Partnership said. 

“Urban Orienteering is an activity that you can do on your own or with your family and friends. You get to challenge yourself a little and still go at a pace that suits you – and what a beautiful location to do it all in, Killarney town!

“With many people possibly new to the Kerry region, be that through work, college or otherwise, this is an ideal way to get involved in the community and explore the streets and lanes of Killarney in a fun and active way.”

The Kerry Orienteers Club have designed the courses for this event and are looking forward to the excitement of it all and helping those new to the sport to continue taking part in the months and years that follow.

“We know that, for a lot of people, this will be their first time trying orienteering, but they can rest assured, as we will be there to talk them through it and help them out if needed,” Brendan O’Brien from Kerry Orienteers said.

“If it is something they want to try again, we can signpost them to other events, both locally here in Kerry and indeed nationally. Orienteering is a fantastic sport that allows you to build your skills and confidence, with all events having a variety of routes to cater for all levels.”

To cater for physical distancing and government guidelines, there are several staggered start times for participants to choose from, beginning at 6pm and the last group heading off at 7.30pm. With free t-shirts for all who sign up and additional workshops onsite, from the likes of Leave No Trace Ireland, it is sure to be a fun and vibrant evening, all stemming from the start point at ANAM – Killarney’s Arts and Culture Centre.

Places are limited for this event. Free online registration is available and those looking to attend are encouraged to book their place early to avoid disappointment.

For more information, you can visit any of the Kerry Recreation and Sports Partnership social media accounts or go to www.sportireland.ie.

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