News from Abbey Vocational School, Donegal town

Staff Reporter


Staff Reporter


News from Abbey Vocational School, Donegal town

New Junior Cert Talk
A talk takes place in the school on 29th March on the New Junior Cert Programme. This talk is open to all interested parents. Ms. Jacqui Dillon, director of the Donegal Education Centre, Ms. Geraldine Diver, principal, and JCT School Coordinator, Mr. Shane O’Neill will deliver the talk. The talk will address areas such as to why this change came about, how this will impact upon your son/daughter and the changes in curriculum assessment and teachings that are happening.

Talk from Dr. Fergus Heffernan on Family Dynamics and Well-being
Dr. Fergus Heffernan will deliver a talk on March 22nd at 7pm in the AVS. People travel the length and breadth of the country to hear this very special speaker. We are honored to have Dr. Fergus Heffernan visit us here in the Abbey Vocational School. Known for his inspirational talks, Dr. Heffernan holds qualifications as a psychologist, a psychotherapist, a family therapist, a scientist and a biologist.
He delivers his audience plenty of material for ongoing reflection for family dynamics and emotional well-being. This is an evening presentation of about two hours’ duration, which is suitable for any community or organisation with an interest in family. All welcome.
Our Leaving Cert students will have a presentation from Dr Heffernan in the afternoon and the staff will also attend a workshop after school on the same day.

Internet Safety Talk for Parents
An internet safety talk for parents will start in the Adult Education Centre, Donegal town on Monday 13th March from 7-9pm and will run over the course of four weeks. The course will cover staying safe online, threats and risks as well as social media and terminology. Minimum of 8 people required for the course to run. Free of charge to eligible participants. Contact Adele on 0868207338 to register or for more information.

Dates for incoming First Years
Induction Day for 6th class pupils: Induction day for incoming 6th class pupils take place on Tuesday 14th March (Approx. 9.30am to 2.30pm). This process gives our incoming students a chance to experience a day in the life of the Abbey Vocational School. Students will attend classes in various subjects throughout the day.
This will follow with an Information Evening for 6th class parents on Wednesday 15th March (7pm – 8pm)

Jigs and Reels March 24th
The Abbey Vocational School will host its very own dance competition, Jigs ‘N’ Reels, on Friday 24th March. Show starts at 7:30pm sharp with doors opening at 7pm.
Students from all years will compete in their version of Strictly Come Dancing with a refreshing twist in the Abbey Hotel. Thirteen couples take to the dance floor to showcase their intense rehearsal efforts over the past few months. Each couple is made up of an accomplished Irish dancer paired with a novice Irish dancer and are directed to perform their very own unique Irish dance. The practice group dance is coming along well and the dancers are collaborating tremendously hard to perfect it.
Make sure you get your tickets early and join us for a fantastic night. On the night, you can vote for your favourite couple, there will be fierce competition on the dance floor on the night with MC Noel Cunningham and three special guest judges; it’s sure to be a fun filled night! Tickets are priced €10 Adult or €7 Students and are available at the school office. Tickets can be purchased in the assembly area at lunchtime also.
We are also running a competition on our Facebook page where you can be in with a chance to win two tickets to the event. For more information, visit the AVS presents Jigs and Reels Facebook page by searching @avsjigsnreels. Videos of our couples are available to view also on the Facebook page. Good luck to all our couples!
The couples involved are: Lisa Gallagher and Aidan Mc Hugh, Caitlin Norrby and Caelan Boyle, Karla Kelly and John Relihan, Gerard Byrne and Aoife Breslin. Jack Myers and Abbie Chambers, Amy McInerney and Danny Burke, Kara Meehan and Patrick Harley, Laura McGoldrick and James McNamara. Aoife Joyce and Shaun Campbell, Jenny Burns and Richard O'Rourke. Bronagh Boyle and Mark Jordan, Clara Bustard and Dermot McGuckin, Ailbhe Loughney and Aaron Pearson.

Seachtain na Gaeilge
Seachtain na Gaeilge takes place all over the country from the 1st to the 17th Márta. The Irish Department are holding events to celebrate this week from 13th to the 16th March. This will include a St. Patrick’s Day card competition for 1st years. All entries are due in by Monday at the latest. In addition, all Irish classes will be completing quizzes, bingo and other games in class to celebrate the week. Clement Gallagher who completed a successful number of Céili dancing classes with our TY’s will be putting our 5th years through their paces to mark the occasion.

Staff Meeting
A staff meeting took place on Monday 6th March. Various aspects of the new JCT were explored in particular the areas of well-being and the new level two programme.

Leaving Cert Debrief day
Well done to our very busy Leaving Cert students who have completed their Mock Exams and returned to school this week to take part in a debrief day. They attended a post Mock Examination talk with Michael Bond, our visiting expert on study and examination technique. Michael discussed timing, marking schemes and various other very important skills for examinations. The students completed some surveys on the exams and on the new mentoring system that is is place to support each of the students in Leaving Cert, the purpose being to inform our team here in the school on how we can best support our students during this pressured time. The students were then bussed out to the Drimarone Centre where they had a fantastic bonding day with a variety of team-building and fun activities. Thanks to our staff who organised this day for the students.

Evening Study
Evening study has commenced again. Forms are available from the office for any student interested in the after-school Study.

TY Interviews
Sean McGee interviewed 3rd year students interested in completing the TY programme for 2017-2018 this week on Friday 10th March. The process is based on the students’ TY application forms and applicants were interviewed for 10 minutes to determine their suitability.

Countdown continues again this term. This is a math-based task. All students can participate in the challenge. A mathematical sum will be placed on TV monitors throughout the assembly area each week giving students an opportunity to solve the problem. All solutions must be placed in the box at the office. This will run for the next couple of weeks until the Easter holidays when a final will take place to crown a Countdown Champion.

Art Competition
Jigsaw Donegal are hosting an art competition open to TY, 5th and 6th year students to promote positive mental health. The theme of the competition is “sometimes we need to take time to appreciate the beauty in the world around us”. The deadline for entries is Thursday 16th March. Students should see Mr Daly or Mrs Mc Callig for further details. 1st prize is a Samsung Galaxy Tablet; 2nd: €50 One for All voucher and 3rd prize: a €30 One for All voucher.

Couch to 5k
Our Couch to 5k events for Healthy School promotion continued this Thursday 9th March on the track at lunchtime. We are encouraging everyone who signed up to stay involved and push themselves to keep participating in scheduled events.

EU Business Debate
Ms. McCafferty’s senior business class attended a debate in Dublin Castle on Friday 10th March. Three participants represented the AVS on the day and the remainder of the class supported on the day. The students represented the EU member state Hungary in the debate; the theme was International Trade Agreement. The representatives discussed whether they thought international trade would be beneficial for European trade and business. Results of the task will follow in next week’s newsletter.

Spanish Club
Ms. McNulty will be running a Spanish club for 1st year students every Thursday in room 1 during the second half of lunchtime from 1 – 1:20pm. Students can participate in fun and lively activities that will assist them in learning the modern language. This week students completed an emoji worksheet, which helped them describe different emotions using Spanish adjectives.

Book Club
A meeting will take place Monday 13th in the reading room at 1:30pm. Members after completion of ‘The Hobbit’ by J.R. Tolkien will review the text.

Chess Club
TY interclass competitions continue this week to select this year’s TY Chess Champion. Chess club continues in room 3 every Wednesday at 12.45 pm for 1st-3rd years. Beginners are welcome. In addition, a competition is now ongoing to select the Junior Class Champion for the year.

Careers Expo
5th years attended a Careers Expo in the Villa Rose hotel in Ballybofey on Thursday 9th March. Exhibitors from different universities, members from the Garda Síochána and Irish Army plus various stalls were present on the day. Students were invited to ask any questions they had on the day about specific courses or apprenticeships

Alan Devine Public Speaking Workshop: Alan Devine completed two workshops this week on Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th March. The last two TY groups will complete the workshop on Thursday 16th and Friday 24th March. Alan Devine is an actor who has performed in “Glenroe, King Arthur, Hamlet, Veronica Guerin, The Tudors, Vikings and Fair City, Alan has over twenty years’ experience working as an actor in Ireland”. (
The workshops held this week were enjoyable and partakers learnt how to find confidence in their abilities and voice. Alan played fun games with participants in the workshop; students were asked to read jokes out to their audience focusing on extending their voice, being confident and using positive body language to engage their audience. He presented two speeches to students - one was dull, lacked confidence, whereas the other was enthusiastic and enjoyable; participants were asked to describe the differences in the two. He encouraged students to smile, speak and stand confidently when speaking to an audience.

TASTY Project
The official launch of the project kicks off next Tuesday 14th March. The TASTY teams from this week on are due to start working once a week for the month of March on their new food product. 42 TY students are working with local hotels and restaurants on the next phase of the project to develop their product. The teams are now in the process of visiting their hotels and restaurants for initial meetings with the chefs and management. Discussions are underway for the direction of the product they are going to develop. The students are working in conjunction with hotels and restaurants in Donegal. These local establishments are: The Smuggler’s Inn, Harvey’s Point, Solís Hotel, The Mill Park, Chandpur and The Village Tavern.
The overall aim of the Donegal TASTY Project is to provide transition-year students at the
Abbey Vocational School (AVS), Donegal town, with a “TASTE” of the varied career paths and opportunities within the Tourism and Hospitality industry. During the course of the project, the TY students will be given the opportunity to work alongside tourism industry
professionals and learn first-hand about food origin and sourcing, new product
development, culinary arts, food packaging, marketing, PR and presentation skills.
The goal of each of the TY Tasty Teams, in conjunction with their assigned hotel or restaurant, is to develop a savory or sweet food product that can be sold in a takeaway format.

Well-being workshops
On Thursday 9th March a workshop hosted by NET Ireland took place. The Net Ireland “Road Team travels across Ireland facilitating retreats for schools and parishes up to 5 days a week. Since 1981, NET teams have conducted over 30,000 retreats”. ( The day will focus on well-being.
TY students were in the Central Hotel all day with mentors aged between 19 and 24 years of age. The mentors chose to take a year out to work with NET speaking to young people and complete fundraising for the establishment. A team of 8-12 young people run the retreats; the mentors split the TY’s into groups where they engaged in-group bonding activities, group discussions and learning activities. Students learned the qualities of being a good and effective leader through games.

TY Dublin trip
On Wednesday 15th March TY’s will travel to Dublin. All students will visit the Croke Park grounds on this day where they will take part in a tour of the grounds museum and facilities. They will then visit Kilmainham Gaol and the Dáil. All are looking forward to this trip, which is a wonderful educational experience for the students.

Irish Orals
Junior Cert Irish Oral Exams took place on Thursday 9th and Friday 10th. The orals are worth 40 per cent of the overall grade. Students have prepared for this through mock orals in class with their Irish teachers.

Art Mocks
Leaving Cert Art mocks were held this week for students studying the subject. This was based on the practical element of their exam.

The Environmental Committee
The Environmental Committee have submitted their action plan for the Young Environmentalist Award. The Committee chose to promote the value of exercising outside. They held a poster competition for First Year Students to raise awareness and have helped promote the Run for Fun. For their submission the Committee had to present the reasons they choose this topic, research to support their choice, outline how they have met the aims of the action plan, what new skills they developed and rate how effective their action plan was in raising awareness of exercising outside. They submitted a sample of the posters, videos, photographs and a presentation as evidence.

U14 Boys Gaelic
The U14 boys played Loreto, Milford in the County Semi Final before mid-term and won which now leaves them in the happy position of being in the County Final. The boys will play in the final against PCC Falcarragh. We await anxiously the news of the date as the boys are very excited about this event.

Well done to Mia McCalmont and Kitty McNulty who represented the school at the Ulster Schools Cross Country Final in Belfast during the midterm. Both girls competed a year out of their age group in the U17 race. Kitty finished 67th in a very competitive race. She only started cross-country this year and must be commended on a gutsy run. She is improving every week and showing great potential for the track season ahead. Mia, who is a seasoned runner, finished in 7th place to qualify for the All Ireland Final in Belfast on 11th March.
This is a great achievement and opportunity to compete against the best from all over Ireland. Good luck to Mia.
Thank you to the 16 senior athletic coaches who officiated at the Primary School Sportshall Athletics Regional final hosted by Donegal Sports Partnership. There were 7 small schools in the competition with the top three schools qualifying for the County Final. The qualifiers were Frosses NS, St Nauls NS and Bruckless NS.
Our athletes now look forward to a busy track and field season over the coming months.
Training times: Tuesday: 4.00-5.15pm; Friday: lunchtime

Girls Basketball
On Tuesday 7th, our 1st year girls came up against a tough team, Ursuline College Sligo. The girls got off to a slow start but they never lost control of the game. The girls scored some fantastic baskets at the beginning of the third quarter to put them in the lead. The Ursuline girls never let up during the game making it a difficult game for the AVS girls. The Abbey girls pulled through, resulting in a thoroughly deserved victory.

Boys Basketball
On Thursday 9th the U14 boys played Crossmolina in Ballina, Mayo. The boys put up a good fight and played well but unfortunately, they did not pull through, leading to a tough loss with a final score of 19-29.