Wednesday Newsletter, 29th September 2021
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
(Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities).
While we are not yet out of the woods with Covid19 and its variants, we remain vigilant and continue to adhere to the standard protocols still required of us in order to protect our school community. Yes, these are trying times, as we have experienced in the past two weeks, but let’s choose to focus on hope and optimism. It is not a winter of despair when we look at our children and realise that they are our ‘spring of hope’.
With this in mind, we will be marking Mental Health Awareness Week which is coming up from October 7th-13th with a number of projects and activities around this crucial topic. We will celebrate Jersey Day next Thursday the 8th October, (each child donating €2) with the proceeds going towards Pieta House. It would be a great start for us on the road to getting our Amber Flag for Kilmacanogue National School, raising awareness of mental health issues and stigma for school age children, as well as giving towards a great cause.
Mr. O’Connor and Mr. Farrell are coordinating the Amber Flag initiative with the whole school team and will let us know more about this in the next newsletter.
We also have a Gardening Project in the pipeline which 5th and 6th Classes are planning to do as part of their S.E.S.E. and S.P.H.E. curricula.
Ms. Burnham and Mr. O’Connor would be very grateful if you could send a pair of gardening gloves in for your child. Please name the gloves and place them in a ziplock bag (rather like a crime scene investigation)! If you have any spare, small garden hand tools to share also, that would be most welcome for our gardening projects. We are looking forward to some very happy gardening and gardeners!
This all links in with our positive mental health initiatives at the school, as we hope to add to our already nurturing environment that responds to our wholeness, who we are as humans, and in turn increase performance, healing, satisfaction, productivity, and lower stress by consciously connecting with nature. In next week’s newsletter, we will let you know more about our very exciting tree planting operation at the school.
We have applied for a grant worth €500 to Wicklow County Council to purchase trees for the school. As I write, teachers and SNAs at the school are working on our first major project on biophilia.
Carl Gustav Jung (the famous Swiss psychiatrist) first used the term biophilia in 1920 when writing about the power of nature to heal. Nature, of course, reveals to us God’s beauty, glory, power, wisdom, presence, creativity, and, most of all, his loving care.
The lesson of nature is that everything is cyclical and that nature has this way of putting our little ego-centred stories into a much bigger picture! So, “breathing the forest atmosphere” here on our doorstep is valued in a special way by our team who see the educational value of creating a greater awareness of the healing power of nature among our pupils and staff.
Research has shown that being in nature produces positive effects on a range of health imbalances, for example, obesity, mental health concerns, diabetes, social isolation and so forth. It has also been shown that recovery rates improve when patients can view trees from a hospital window or have the use of a visual wood in buildings and can walk in a beautiful secluded piece of forest beauty. Tree therapy is now a therapeutic term and is considered as a form of preventative medicine in many countries. The natural environment provides a restorative environment where our brains can recharge when we’re tired.
Nature is free, it’s available and our pupils can benefit greatly from its embrace.
National Tree Day falls on the first Thursday of every October each year. So next Thursday, 7th October, in honour of trees we will have a day of no-photocopying at our school. Let’s see how much paper we save that day!
On Monday, we will observe the feast of my favourite Saint, Francis of Assisi, patron Saint of Animals and ecology. He will be our focus at our first Assembly since we have come back to school. Assemblies will be conducted via Zoom into each classroom, at 9.30 a.m. for the Senior end of the school and 9.50 a.m. for the Juniors. It will be lovely to gather together in this way and continue to develop a feeling of unity and a positive school culture among the students and staff.
Last week I mentioned that quite a number of children have been wearing earrings to school. This goes against school policy which was put in place for health and safety reasons. We do not wish to prevent children from participating in play on the school yards, but the wearing of earrings to school may result in that very measure. The Parents’ Association has just in the past few days asked for this policy to be reviewed with the Board of Management. When that process is over I will inform you of the outcome. Until then, we are still upholding our policy.
Again, may we remind you that the Admissions Policy is on our website, www.kilmacschool.ie It is important to consult this document as the opportunity to apply for admission begins next week. The date for applications to be made will commence October 4th 2021, and ends on November 1st at 3p.m.
All of the forms are available on the school website for downloading purposes. Applications may be delivered by hand directly to the school door or by email or post.
thank you again for your encouragement and positive contributions. Until next week, be well and take each day as it comes.
Warmest best wishes,
Ms Ann Marie Bourke
School Art Gallery
Junior Infants’ Peace Dove
Senior Infants Enormous Crocodile
5th Class Weaving
First Class Food Chains
First Class Peace Hands