Recently the students at Coláiste Ailigh embraced our new school facilities at Cnoc na Móna in Letterkenny and all the new premises has to offer.
It hosts a total of 15 general classrooms, a gym, a fitness room, a canteen, a music room, a fully-equipped construction room, a large cooking area that can host many students at any one given time, an art room and a modern canteen.
These state-of-the-art facilities ensure that each and every student at Coláiste Ailigh is entrusted with a promising educational experience that will shape their future for the better.
I began attending Coláiste Ailigh in 2010 as a first year student at the school’s old premises: Sprackburn House. At the time, the school was a house packed with students and surrounded by pre-fabs.
It was a small area, so getting around and attending your classes was difficult at times. On top of that, the classrooms in general weren’t very spacious, making the task of teaching large numbers of students difficult at times (although our teachers managed to fit 30 pupils into a small room and still keep everyone on the same page during lessons).
The old school at Sprackburn House didn’t boast many facilities for more practical subjects either. The woodwork/construction room could only hold 10 students at a time, the cooking area also shared this flaw. Yet everyone enjoyed their time there - between getting caught in hall swarms and visiting Mac’s Mace for a quick lunchtime snack.
We bade Sprackburn House goodbye on Friday, November 15th and made our way to the new school at Cnoc na Móna. As we reached the gates we were joined by our history teacher, Proinsias Mac A Bhaird, as he led us to the front door playing such tunes as “Fáinne Geal an Lae” and “When the Saints Come Marching In” on the bagpipes.
The new school is a big change for all of the students. There’s a stark contrast between it and what we were all used to at Sprackburn House. The cooking area has allowed for larger and more complex classes with its expanse and additional stations.
The woodwork room can now host construction classes and boasts top-of-the-range equipment so that students can get the best out of their education.
The new school has improved life for everyone at Coláiste Ailigh: students, teachers and staff alike. Rooms are lit naturally by the sun thanks to conveniently placed windows found scattered all over the school.
Advanced engineering assists in keeping the school heated at all times so that students no longer have to fight over who sits next to the radiator. I’m just hoping it doesn’t affect us that much when summer comes round (going by the heat we experienced last year). Behind the school there are multiple courts to be found which can host basketball, tennis and football games. Inside you can also find several tables prepared for table tennis games at various points in the school.
A library is located at the end of the building. It hosts a vast array of literature as well as a few computers. All of these facilities make sure that students always have something to do when the bell sounds for lunch. Every classroom and the main hall itself is equipped with a monitor which is linked to the main office. This monitor can be used for notifications by the staff members at the office and is used to signal the end of classes. Mind you, it took a few weeks for some people to accustom themselves to the bell’s sudden and loud ringing. Even now there’s the odd someone who jumps when it rings out through the room.
As the Principal Michael Ó Giobúin stated when we arrived at our new school after leaving Sprackburn House, the spirit of Coláiste Ailigh didn’t leave us when we left Sprackburn House. It came with us and will continue to aid us at our new school at Cnoc na Móna. Indeed it has.
Everytime I leave my class to find my next one or visit the canteen to get my lunch, I can take a look around me and recognize the exact same Coláiste Ailigh I discovered when I first joined the school. The accomplishments of my fellow students have helped reinforce this fact as not long after moving into the new school some of the students displayed their talents by claiming several prizes at the BT Young Scientist 2014 event in Dublin.
The school is still not complete. A full-sized GAA pitch dominates the front of the school and is expected to be ready for summer 2014. Gaelic, hurling, rugby, soccer and other sports will be made available to anyone and everyone attending Coláiste Ailigh
Personally, I can’t wait for its completion as it means there’ll be no more back-and-forth between the gym and sports hall. Its vast expanse will help take PE classes to the next level.
Coláiste Ailigh has done a fantastic job in becoming the pride of Donegal’s second-level gaelcholáistí and setting the standard for new, modernized education facilities.
As a student I enjoy my time here at Coláiste Ailigh and look forward to a rich education that will help me choose my future as a proud, Gaeilge-speaking citizen.
Seán is on work experience with the Donegal Democrat