August 14, 2022

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For the second Christmas in a row schools are having to think outside the box...

For the second Christmas in a row schools are having to think outside the box in terms of coming up with ways to mark the festive season.
t Scoil An Ghleanna SNP in Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry principal Sorcha Ní Chatháin is preparing to welcome Santa into the school under cover of darkness.

“He came last year and we captured video footage of him drinking coffee from our mugs and falling asleep on the sofa,” says Ms Ní Chatháin.
The 18 children at the two-teacher school – the first Gaeltacht Community National School in Ireland – are preparing Christmas-themed songs and will put together a video montage for their parents.
They’re also busy decorating the inside of the windows of the school, which look out to Skellig Michael.
“We look at this as an opportunity to showcase what the children can do. It’s a presentation of their music and songs that we’ve been working on. It’s about making it fun for them.
“We don’t want to over complicate things but we want to be imaginative so there’s something new each year to bring a bit of sparkle.”
“Parents are very appreciative of everything we do. We work very hard to think outside the box and do something different,” says Ms Ní Chatháin.
At Bray School Project, an Educate Together school in Bray, Co Wicklow, children in Lesley Sheridan’s second class are planning their very own celebration of light.
“With it being the darkest time of the year, we look at lots of religious and non-religious traditions.
“We speak about Diwali, the Hindu festival of light and Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of light. We look at Advent and the five candles as Christians prepare for Jesus and we look at lunar festivals and the Chinese New Year, which is also a festival of light.
“We also talk about Newgrange and how the light of sun enters the sun chamber and how people believed the sun was a god,” says Ms Sheridan.
Before the children break up for the Christmas holidays they will mark their celebration of light at a little ceremony in the school yard.
Ms Sheridan explains that each of the children will bring their own little battery-operated tea light to a spiral in the yard – the spiral is the school’s symbol. Ms Sheridan has also been encouraging them to think about the things and people that light up their own lives.
“It’s really simple. One of the nice things about it is it’s not a show – it can’t go wrong. They all have lines to say or they can just read them and we make a little video and send it home to the parents,” she adds.
Chuck Dunford, principal of Templemary NS, which is under Catholic patronage, in Killala, Co Mayo, says while the usual pageantry of Christmas is off the table, they have a tradition of getting all the children a chicken and chips lunch on the last day before the holidays which causes great excitement.
Mr Dunford, who teaches the senior classes at the two-teacher school, says they’ve been learning Silent Night in French, German and English switching between the languages to make it interesting for the children.
Because it’s a rural school Mr Dunford says that something that’s also become a Christmas tradition at the school is the reading of Patrick Kavanagh’s A Christmas Childhood, which is full of nostalgia for rural, farming, family life.
“Some of the imagery is hard but there are farming kids and it provides one of those kind of magic moments. Everyone learns a verse and we go around the class and then everyone says the last verse together,” he says.
His colleague Sinead Holmes, who teaches the four junior classes in the school says while Santa won’t be coming to the school in person this year, he will make an appearance over Zoom and all 40 children will get a selection box from the parents’ committee.
Every morning at St Patrick’s Boys’ NS in Drumcondra in Dublin, the sounds of Christmas music playing greets the 473 children and their parents.
Principal Natasha Bassett says there’s such a strong desire to keep the Christmas spirit alive that they’ve come up with alternative ideas for the children to enjoy.
While the traditional carol service had to be abandoned, the school has a Christmas radio slot at 2pm every day when brief announcements are made and at the junior end of the school, Santa is scheduled to make a socially distanced appearance and will wave across the yard and call the pupils’ names.

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No shows or plays again this year – but these schools are still making Christmas magic appeared first on