St. Caimin's Has So Much to Offer

Clare Champion, Friday, 26th February 1999

St. Caimin's Community School in Shannon is Clare's newest and most modern 'greenfield' secondary school. It opened in 1985 and serves pupils from fourteen primary schools in Shannon, Sixmilebridge, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Kilkishen and Cratloe.

According to Principal, David Barry, the modern secondary school must provide as comprehensive a curriculum as possible, if it is to develop the talents of all its pupils. Accordingly, first year pupils study not only the traditional subjects of English, mathematics, Irish, history, geography and science, but are also introduced to art, craft and design, metalwork, home economics, business studies, technical graphics and materials technology (wood). In the area of modern languages French and German are provided, and courses in religious education, computer studies, social, personal and health education, physical education and civic, social and political education ensure that all pupils are given a fine general education, as well as being properly prepared for the important educational decisions that have to be made at Senior Cycle.

Deputy-Principal, Mary Hanley, points out that after the Junior Cycle a growing number of pupils opt for the Transition Year, which gives pupils an opportunity to experience exciting new activities and programmes, while at the same time improving study skills and preparing for the Leaving Certificate. In a recent survey of pupils who had completed the Transition Year, they spoke enthusiastically about courses in forensic science and electronics, self defence, GAA and camogie coaching skills, film and drama, outdoor pursuits and leadership, and public speaking. One pupil said that Transition Year had widened her horizons and made her confident about choosing subject options for the Leaving Certificate.

A feature of the Transition Year, and of other schools programmes, is the emphasis on exchanges with schools in other countries which cultivate linguistic skills and appreciation of other cultures. St. Caimin's has built up strong connections with Lycee Norte Dame in Brittany, Realsschule Maschstasse in Hanover, Hvidovre Engstrandskolen in Copenhagen and Antrim Grammar School. While French and German are the main European languages, Leaving Certificate Applied pupils study Spanish and there have been modules in Danish and Japanese in the Transition Year programme.

At Leaving Certificate level there is greater specialisation. In its Leaving Certificate programme, St. Caimin's offer nineteen subjects which includes the full range of linguistic, scientific, business and technical subjects. In addition, the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme which contains modules in Enterprise Education and preparation for work, is available to all senior students.

The vast majority of pupils graduate to third level education and so at senior level the main topics of conversation at this time of year are points and examination results. St. Caimin's made national headlines when its pupils won three Easter Commemoration Scholarships, which are awarded only to pupils who receive the highest marks in the country in the Leaving Certificate, a feat not achieved by any other school the past decade.

St. Caimin's also provides an alternative programme, the Leaving Certificate Applied, for pupils who want a more practical, work-oriented course.

St. Caimin's Principal, David Barry, believes  that while the curriculum is the important area of learning, a school must also provide a strong extra-curricular programme to foster pupils social development and interests. St. Caimin's boasts one of the best pitches in the country - frequently used by the Clare Hurling team and school teams have won Munster and Clare titles in hurling, camogie, soccer, ladies soccer and Gaelic football.

Pupils with musical and acting talent are also well catered for in St. Caimin's and the school has produced a number of outstanding musical and dramatic productions, including 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat', 'Oliver', 'Oklahoma' and 'A Christmas Carol'. A variety of clubs and societies as well as school banks, and involvement in the President's 'Gaisce' Award scheme, gives pupils ample opportunity to broaden their interests.

The Parents Association is very active in the school. It not only helps to raise funds for school activities, but also organises mock interviews for students and provides speakers on educational matters for parents. Parents have nominees on the board of management which also includes nominees of teachers and of the three trustees of the school - the Bishop of Killaloe, the Mercy Sisters and the V.E.C.

There will be no holiday in St.Caimin's this summer as immediately on the completion of the State exams, a major renovation of the building will begin, including the provision of a second fully fitted computer room, new locker rooms, classrooms and the covering in of the internal courtyard.

First year students studying French in the
language laboratory at St. Caimin's.
Gordon Callinan, Christopher Ahearne and
Robert Stacpoole using the Van De Graff
generator in physics class at St. Caimin's.

Photographs from The Clare Champion.

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