Report on the Patrician Academy Student Council Wellbeing Week by Christopher McSweeney.
It is an honour to have been given the opportunity to write this article on behalf of my colleagues in the Student Council. My name is Christopher Mc Sweeney and I am a fifth year student here in the Patrician Academy in Mallow. I have been a member of the student council for the past number of years so I believe I am well placed to discuss the topic at hand. In simple terms, well-being is the state of being comfortable, healthy and happy. According to a Union of Students in Ireland report in 2019 students are experiencing severe levels of anxiety, depression and stress, with close to a third of students having a formal diagnosis of mental difficulties at some point in their lives. In my opinion, well-being is an extremely important factor in our overall development as a person, which has a massive impact on all aspects of our life. It has no doubt been a difficult number of years for us all here in this school but with the new building almost complete, there is a huge sense of hope and anticipation. Despite all the difficulties we have faced, the comradery and feeling of community in this school has never ceased to amaze me. From the Student Council to the trad group, the sports teams to the drama group, there is something for everyone. Our success in the past number of years in terms of academics and extracurricular activities begs the question, what will we be able to achieve as a school when we are free of the shackles of the portacabins and in our new state of the art facilities? In my article today, I will be focusing on the importance of wellbeing in the Patrician Academy and the well-being week that took place just last week. As the Dalai Lama once said,” Happiness is the highest form of health” and as far as I’m concerned the Patrician Academy would definitely agree.
From the very outset of my time here, I have been made to feel welcome and have been given every opportunity possible to grow and develop from a boy into a young man. I strongly believe that this school is unlike any other, in the way it gives students a voice and encourages them to get involved in all aspects of school life. I believe this encouragement and faith in the students is of huge benefit to their welfare as it nurtures their talents and improves their self confidence. The relationships between students and teachers alike is and always has been a positive one, with every member of staff only wanting the best for all the pupils in the school. It is needless to say how integral well-being is in our school and it is something we should all be very proud of. In my opinion, this is portrayed through the Trojan work that is done year after year by the student council and staff in organizing the hugely successful well-being week.
This year the week began on Tuesday the 2nd of May when we returned to school after the May Bank Holiday weekend. The agenda of events was packed from then all the way up until Friday evening.
Embrace on Farm Safety
The first item on the agenda was a panel discussion with Embrace on Farm Safety with students from all years attending. Peter from the Embrace charity came and shared stories and advice and drew awareness to hazards on farms. It was an extremely informative discussion that could prove very useful to a large number of students in the future.
We were lucky this year in that the well-being week coincided with the Farm Safety week and with over 4500 farm accidents occurring annually, according to the Teagasc National Farm Survey, I believe that it is vital that we promote farm safety, wellbeing and awareness throughout the whole school. Mallow being a majority rural area, many of our students come from farming backgrounds and this event was extremely important for all involved.
Bingo here in the Monastery Hall for 1st and 2nd years.
The next event to take place was Bingo here in the Monastery Hall for 1st and 2nd years. This was the second hugely successful event of the day as it was clear that it went down a treat with the two year groups with the sound of laughter reverberating through the corridors.
The Students v Teachers Soccer Match.
When that had finished there was barely time for the students to get down to the sports hall to watch one of the most anticipated events of the school calendar, the students v teachers soccer match. The 5th years had put forward a team of their best players to face off against a team of teachers who had up until 10 minutes before been at the top of their respective classrooms. It was a brilliant game of soccer with neither team holding back. There was an amazing atmosphere around the school with the sense of comradery and community growing minute by minute.
Finally the action packed day was finished off with yoga classes for the second year’s. A special thank you must go to Christine for the very enjoyable classes that no doubt helped to ease the stress and anxiety for the second years as well as a number of other year groups that she held classes for throughout the course of the week.
Weeding with Mallow Tidy Towns
Another event that took place was the T.Y. students volunteering and linking up with Mallow tidy towns. They assisted with the weeding of the area outside the school gate and will continue to do so for the rest of the term. Fostering, nurturing and looking after our school and our town’s community is an important element of our Student Council.
This is just a flavor of what the week was to hold with it continuing in this vein over the next couple of days. From yoga classes to litter picks, mental health talks to panel discussions, fun fairs to music and poetry exhibitions an example of which you have just experienced, it is clear that it was a hugely successful week that I believe will have a great impact in raising awareness about our mental and physical wellbeing amongst the students and staff.
Magical Music and Poetry Concert
A Music and poetry concert was held in the Monastery hall for the 5th year students. Colm Hannon played Minuet on the Violin, the music students played two Barndances and Dublin Airport. “The House of the Rising Sun” was sung by Jack O’Hanlon, Dylan Matthews and Ben Cremin, while Chrispin Benard also sang a verse in Swahili. The concert was greatly enhanced by the very meaningful and thought provoking poems based on Diversity and Multiculturalism: Fionan Murray – Rights Around the World, Ethan Vella – Spice of Life, Michael Corbett – Throne of Bones and Paddy O’Mullane – Diversity and Stars.
The Annual Run/Walk.
The week was finished off on Friday after lunch with what was possibly the highlight, the annual run/walk. At approximately 1:20, almost 100 runners left the school and headed for the town park with the Student Council members in their yellow high vis vests and balloons marshaling the runners in through the traffic and looking after the safety and well-being of all concerned. They were followed soon after by hundreds more walkers who were headed for the town park. It was a warm summer’s afternoon and when the ice cream van arrived at the finish line the queues stretched from there all the way to the other end of the park. Overall the week had been an astonishing success that was enjoyed by the students. The Teachers weren’t forgotten either with tasty currant scones on Friday at break time!
To quote Mr. Delaney the videos and images that were posted online captured a lovely essence of the week. There was a real sense of enjoyment and a brilliant spirited atmosphere in the school all week. Such weeks are a testament to the hard work and organizational skills of our staff and a particular thanks must go to Ms. Desmond, Ms. Glynn and Ms. Walsh for leading the initiative.
Thank you to the Student Council for organizing the week. Their tireless work and dedication made this week the huge success it was.
A special thank you must also go to Ms.
Regina Glynn for facilitating and running the student council over the last few years. Her enthusiasm and passion is greatly appreciated and it is clear that she has the best interests of the students at heart. She has selflessly given up numerous hours and dedicated a huge amount of effort in helping the student council achieve its goals.
In conclusion, the school should be extremely proud of the work it has been doing over the last number of years amidst all the challenges it has faced. When the fire happened all those years ago I would never have predicted that I would be standing here, seven years later in the shadow of the new building speaking in front of the Minister for Education. I was in 5th class at the time and despite the fire, like so many others, I was still fixated on attending this magnificent school where my father, uncles and brother had all gone before me. I believe that the school has gone from strength to strength over the years since the fire through the perseverance, patience and determination of management, staff and students. We are extremely fortunate here in the Patrician Academy to have Ms.O’Regan and Mr. Delaney at the helm steering the ship. They have been steadfast in supporting every venture the students have decided to make. They are firmly committed to a holistic approach to education and for that we are all truly grateful. I believe it is very evident that this school is on the right track for the future and is leading the way in promoting wellbeing for all the students and teachers. In my opening paragraph I posed the question, what will we be able to achieve as a school when we are free of the shackles of the portacabins and in our new state of the art facilities? In my opinion, the future is extremely bright and there are untold possibilities as to what can be achieved.