A Holistic Approach to Education at Parteen

Clare Champion, Friday, 17th March 2000

Parteen National School, set in impressive green surroundings, nestles in the picturesque shadow of the local 19th century parish church, built in 1835, in the peaceful village of Parteen. It is hard to believe that this Clare oasis of tranquility is only a few minutes drive away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre of Limerick.

This sense of country living has attracted many new-comers to live in the locality and consequently the past number of years has seen the transition of Parteen N.S. from what was once a small two teacher rural school to the currently expanding 167 pupil, 7 teacher school. The school size helps to create an intimate atmosphere and is conducive to fostering the very obviously strong sense of community in which the school takes great pride. The atmosphere is that of a large family where all the children from Junior Infants to Sixth class know each other on a personal basis.

To ensure that each individual pupil is enabled to achieve his/her full potential and benefits from the learning experience provided by the school, a high standard of politeness, self-discipline and mutual respect and co-operation is expected of all the students.

In keeping with the schools holistic approach to the development of each student, the pupils of Parteen N.S. are provided not alone with a solid academic grounding but also engage in a wide range of learning experiences conducive to their development as well-rounded individuals. A visit to the school on "Science Day" shows how the children's sense of wonder and natural curiosity are stimulated as they are introduced to the world of physics, chemistry, biology and botany. The buzz of excitement is tangible as the young "Einsteins" from Junior Infants to Sixth class enthusiastically conduct experiments while engaging in such diverse projects as the study of habitats, acids, alkalines and gases, exploration of sound, investigation of aerodynamics and the dissection of animal hearts as part of the study of circulation. The experiences are made even more interesting and meaningful by computer aided learning in the schools computer lab.

At the dawn of the new millennium, Parteen N.S. is very conscious of the necessity to prepare its pupils to meet the needs of a changing society and to ensure that they are not inhibited by the technological era. The school is justifiably proud of its new computer lab, which has become a reality as a result of wonderful positive parental and community support. Parents, board of management and community worked unstintingly to ensure the enormous success of the Autumn Fair and in the process generated sufficient funds towards the provision of this 21st century facility for the young pupils of Parteen.

However, side by side with being prepared to cope with the demands of the modern world, the school recognises that well-rounded individuals must always be aware of their roots, heritage and traditions. They must be made conscious of the ways in which the past has shaped contemporary society. "History Day", planned for next term, aims to bring history to life for the children as each class travels back in time to discover the reality of life for our ancestors at significant periods in the history of mankind. This exciting learning experience will be further enhanced by the visit of Clann Cluana Theatre Co. to the school to bring to life the story of the "Fianna".

As befits a school that has won the Clare Tidy Schools Award on numerous occasions, respect for the environment is instilled in the children from an early age. This emphasis was reflected in the activities of the schools recent "Spring Day". While the young children skipped from class to class dressed as daffodils, reminding everybody that 'Spring is here', older children busied themselves tidying the school grounds, planting bulbs, maintaining the age-old parish tradition of making St. Brigid's crosses, investigating environmental issues and producing bright seasonal wall friezes and window murals.

The seasonal murals and the further examples of cheerful, colourful artwork on display in the classrooms, not alone enhance the children's learning environment and create a welcoming atmosphere for visitors to the school, but are also testimony to the high profile given to the arts in Parteen N.S. The young artists are eagerly awaiting a visit from world famous artist/cartoonist, Anne Fitzgerald, "Fitz" of "Dear God..." fame, to the school later this year, when they will be fortunate to have her share some of her expertise with them.

Music is an integral part of school life in Parteen. This year has seen the debut of the school orchestra at the school's Christmas carol recital and at the local church ceremonies on Christmas Eve. These talented young musicians, whose range of music extends from Clare sets to the Pink Panther, are now looking forward to playing at the school's first Holy Communion, Confirmation and 6th class graduation ceremonies. The school choir has distinguished itself in being Clare and Munster champions and in representing the province at the National Community Games finals at Mosney on numerous occasions. The sweet voices of the young singers have been heard by people at home and abroad as a result of the choirs contribution to the immensely successful Paísti Chernobyl tape - a local initiative aimed at helping to alleviate the plight of the children of Chernobyl.

When one of the pupils from Junior Infants recently announced that "the only man-made object that can be seen from the moon is the Great Wall of China", it was obvious that Table Quiz fever had definitely hit the school!!! Flushed with pride at the success of the school's quiz teams at local and regional level finals organised by the League of Credit Unions, there is great rivalry at present as students jostle for a place in the school's Community Games quiz teams.

Sport plays an important part in the day to day life of the school and a diverse range of physical activity is provided. Athletics, basketball, camogie, dance, gymnastics, hurling, indoor hockey, soccer, rounders and volleyball are all part of the local curriculum, while for the past number of years senior classes have had the opportunity to enjoy outdoor adventure activities/aquatics, canoeing, orienteering and windsurfing on Lough Derg. This year, to the delight of the many aspiring young Darren Clarkes of the area, pitch and putt has been added to the list of activities for senior pupils. In close co-operation with the local Community Games groups and the G.A.A., the school has achieved great sporting success down through the years and takes great pride in its students, past and present, who have attained local, county and national recognition. However, winning is not the utmost priority.

Life is certainly action packed for the young people of Parteen as they embark on life's journey at the beginning of the 21st century.

Glen O'Halloran, Shane Mulcahy, Aoife O'Brien
and Jenny Moroney at work on their Spring mural.
Painting a mural on the classroom window were
Aine O'Connor, Cloe Kiely and Stephen Ryan at
Parteen N.S.

Photographs by Eamon Ward, Clare Champion.

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