Wednesday, 25 October 2017

TY Talk - Internet Safety

On Wednesday we were given a talk on internet safety by Pat McKenna from Child Watch.
When the talk began I think the Transition Year group thought that it would be a repeat of the information we had been told many times; never share personal information online, don't put comments up about someone that you wouldn't say to their face etc. But we were very wrong. Instead we received an eye opening talk about the dangers of social media from a point of view we had not seen it from before. He showed us that privacy is practically non-existent on the Internet through an engaging and captivating talk that forced us to consider the repercussions of certain behaviour on the Internet. While he didn't discourage us from going online and benefitting from the huge network of information available on the web, he did demonstrate how we could be more safety-aware and cautious while using the Internet.

Pat McKenna showed us how easy it was for our phone to get hacked, and told us information about our beloved iPhones and social media that we had never heard of before. By just using his laptop he showed us how our personal information could be found by just being on social media. He showed us real life examples of people who had been hacked and exploited by gangs on the Internet. The stories we heard were genuinely astonishing. He told us one particular story about a woman he met once who was sceptical about the true dangers of the Internet. He was able to find her address and close family members as well as photos of her she had been unaware were even online in a matter of minutes all through public information he obtained from various websites. Another story he told us warned us that information about us online can have adverse effects on our employment opportunities in real life. The story was about a 4th year student who intended to go to a certain place for work experience. Everything had been organised and she was ready to go until the school got an email informing them that she had lost her place on the course. When they enquired as to why she lost her place, it was revealed that they discovered photos of her drinking with a boy at a disco despite being under 18. Obviously this story effectively illustrated dangers which us and the girl in the story had not previously considered. It encouraged us to consider if we could end up in a similar situation or if there is anything we could do to prevent ourselves ending up in one.

Pat also spoke a lot about our 'digital footprint,' a phrase which was new to many of us. Our digital footprint is basically comprised of all information, including photos and text concerning each one of us on the Internet. We have limited control over what is included in our digital footprint. An important part of the idea of a digital footprint is that it is very difficult to take back anything that is included in it. It's also impossible to keep the information private as Pat told us that we have little to no privacy online. This is primarily due to hackers, who can access a disturbing amount of information about us in minutes. When Pat asked how many people had anti-virus software on our phones, I didn't see a single person raise their hand. He told us that he once had a talk in a boys school where he brought his laptop and was able to hack everybody in the room's phone during the talk and project images from their phones onto the wall. I saw a lot of people worriedly clutching their phones in their pockets and glancing towards his laptop then to the exits while he mentioned this. To our relief Pat didn't hack our phones during the talk but he did warn that other people could using relatively simple programs. We were all encouraged to download anti-virus software onto our phones to keep our personal details and pictures more secure. More importantly he informed us that any information we don't want people to access should not exist on the Internet in the first place.

The lecture really opened my eyes to the dangers of social media and over usage of my phones which never seems to be out of my hand. I realised that I should be much more mindful of how I act online and I learned that many dangerous people can use the Internet in a negative way. Some of us initially just considered taking drastic action and getting rid of our phones altogether however we finally came to the conclusion that while we should always enjoy going online, safety should always be our number one priority while doing so.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Irish Junior Science Olympiad

On Saturday 22nd of October, I attended a science exam for the Irish Junior Science Olympiad. Not many people have heard of this, and I hadn’t either until I received a letter, inviting me to participate in the competition. The students with the top one hundred maths and science results in the country were permitted to enter the competition. The winners would then travel abroad to represent Ireland in the International Junior Science Olympiad. 

Before the exam, I was a bit nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. After researching the exam online, I found out that the standard would be of Leaving Certificate pass level. I didn’t know what to expect, so I just looked over a few junior cert questions for the week before. The exam was in DCU. When I arrived on Saturday, with my friend who was also selected, we were sorted into two lecture halls. There were students there from all over the country. The exam was two and a half hours long and covered Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The questions were unlike any Junior Cert or Leaving Cert questions and were based on using logic to work out the answers. 

I found it difficult but was able to answer most of them. Everything was multiple choice. Afterwards, there was a break for lunch and then there was an awards ceremony. Everyone received a certificate for being a finalist in the Olympiad. Awards were then given to three bronze, three silver and three gold medalists. The overall winner was also announced. The silver and gold medalists qualified to go to the Netherlands to compete in the International Competition. I’m glad I competed in the Olympiad and though I was not very interested in maths and science before, it has opened my mind to possibly working in science in the future.

First Aid Course

On October 3rd, the Sports Committee were invited to take part in a first aid course with a paramedic called Alan Horgan. The Sports Committee was divided into two groups, one participated in the morning and the other the afternoon. So after lunch the second group headed down to the room where the course was taking place. As we entered the room our eyes were drawn to the nine dummies on the floor. We sat down in our seats anxious to learn. Alan introduced himself and began to tell us about CPR. Many of us had never learned how to do this before and it was scary at first knowing this could save somebody's life.

Soon after watching a video, demonstrating how many compression's to do, we tri on the dummies. Alan told us to always check that CPR is needed before proceeding to the compression's. It is used when the patients heart stops working (cardiac arrest). An easy way to remember is just to check for a patients pulse and breathing.  As we began to feel confident with CPR, Alan introduced the breathing mask. We each got a small plastic tube to stick into an oxygen mask and he informed us these would be available in a defibrillator bag when needed. 

Alan instructed us how to breath into the dummies , tilt the head all the way back and blow into the tube. Then we proceeded to watch a video on how to use a defibrillator to shock a patient. There were a number of steps necessary before shocking the patient including making sure the area is safe. We each took turns practicing on the dummies and soon put the compression's, the breathing and the defibrillator all together.  We all now have the ability to help someone if needed . The committee was very thankful to Alan for taking time to teach us such a valuable lesson and we really enjoyed the day.

TY Visit - Loreto Order at Home and Abroad

On Friday the 13th Loreto Balbriggan welcomed some very special visitors from the convent next door and from Gorey in Wexford. Sr. Stephanie and Sr. Germaine are two Loreto Nuns who both spent over 40 years working as missionaries in Kenya, Africa. Along with their visit we were lucky enough to display a wonderful exhibition from The Irish Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. The exhibition depicted wonderfully, the relationship between Kenya and Ireland, which began over 100 years ago, how it started, the wonderful things that happened to strengthen it and where it stands today.

Some of the topics covered in the exhibition were the introduction of coffee to Kenya, the NGOs that work in Kenya. The work done by the IBVM in Kenya also the work done by other religious orders such as The Legion of Mary. One specific person from the Legion of Mary was the Venerable Edel Quinn. She went to Kenya when she was only in her 20’s and spent the remainder of her life there, driving all over North East Africa, opening Legion branches and helping the less fortunate. The exhibition was so educational and truly opened our eyes to Loreto outside of school, a Loreto that we are not all too familiar with, a Loreto that we need to learn more about.  Sister Stephanie began with asking us to close our eyes and imagine a journey to a place we would like to visit. Some of us imagined a big ship sailing the open sea for a long period of time, until we reached our destination or others a luxurious plane ride. She then proceeded to ask us to imagine the beautiful country or city we had arrived in. Some were vast and packed with people or others had brought their mind to a quiet beautiful island. After we opened our eyes we reflected on each other's journeys.

Sister Stephanie then told us about the long thirteen day journey sister Germaine took to Kenya. She was sent as a missionary when she was young, she told us she did not have the option to not go. Off she went and lived her day to day life there teaching and helping in a small town in Kenya . Her work was of great benefit to those around her and her story really captured us. What caught us most by surprise was the fact she lived forty four years there! She spent most of her working life there; devoted. We all regarded a huge respect for her. Then Sister Stephanie told us a little about her own personal experience in Kenya. She had gotten a plane and had wanted to go. She explained how she had really wanted to peruse her missionary work in India but as it turned out she was sent to Kenya. She loved her life there also, she became one of the locals and also did teaching there. Sister Stephanie had only returned back from Kenya two years ago! After we heard from the two sisters we all got to chat about the exhibit and learn interesting facts about Ireland's relations with Kenya. We thanked the sisters dearly and were very grateful for them to share such an amazing journey with us. 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Important TY Documents

Dear students,

Here is a link which will direct you to important TY information such as the TY Book List and Work Experience Letters


TY Photography Course

On Monday, October 9th, a group of 12 eager fourth years stood outside Art Room 2 waiting for our Photography Course to start. Most of us had no idea what to expect. Nevertheless, we were all very excited and keen to get started.

We spent the morning viewing photos that Tim, our instructor, had taken himself. He showed us very close up pictures of objects and asked us to guess what the objects may be. I underestimated this task and assumed it'd be quite easy. Then I found myself identifying a broken truck window as an ice cube and decided not to underestimate anymore of his tasks. He then asked, “who was the worst at drawing in the class”. I did volunteer myself but was a little dismayed to see all my friends volunteer me too. After I was chosen as the worst at drawing I had to draw out a house using a laser pointer to properly show off my terrible drawing skills. I'm not sure if my true artistic ability shone through as I drew it.

After this, we continued looking through Tim's photos. In a way, we got to travel the world as we looked through Tim's photos. He had taken many of them while travelling across Europe and Africa to reach South Africa. Each photo showed us an entirely different world to the last with many different cultures, lifestyles, and societies being shown. It was a genuinely moving experience.

On Monday afternoon we were given our own cameras and split up into pairs. We did not get to travel the world as Tim did, but we were free to go anywhere in Balbriggan we liked to take photos. When asked, I had rated Balbriggan a strong 2/10 as an area to take photos in but I quickly found beauty in places I had not seen before. It was as if, photography had allowed me to see the town in a way I had not viewed it before. We had to take a certain amount of shots that filled criteria such as 5 black and white photos and 5 photos of reflections. I was really happy with some of the photos I managed to get. We ran back to the school to return our cameras before 4pm.

The second day we played the same guessing game we had played using Tim's photos. Although this time I was expecting it to be hard, I still didn't exactly excel at it. I was certain a zoomed in shot of a bubble was really a massive cliff with a pink and purple waterfall. I was sadly mistaken. We also learned about perspective in photos and how to add depth to our photos. We looked at the different shapes and lines that make up every photo which I thought was a really interesting way to look at them.

Tuesday afternoon we had to shortlist our favourite ten photos we had taken the day before. Everybody's favourite ten photos were displayed on a board by a projector one at a time. We got a great chance to look at each other's work and offer advice and praise on them. As I was one of the last people to show my photos I spent the whole afternoon waiting in fear and feeling a certain twinge of envy every time somebody projected their own photos, as I wondered why I didn't have the same ideas they did. When I did get to show my pictures it was a relief but also an excellent learning opportunity. I got to hear exactly what I was doing well and what I could improve on.

Overall, I feel that the course massively improved everybody's confidence and skill in photography. Before the course, I didn't have a huge interest in it, but now I find it really intriguing. Everybody had a really wonderful time on the course and we know we won't forget it in a hurry.

TY Face Painting Fundraiser

On Friday 6th of October we had a special day in the school; Face Paint Friday. Organised by Ms Ryan, the aim of this event was to raise as much money for a charity. Part of the fundraising committee and I were set the task to paint as many students' faces as possible to raise money for our chosen charity.

When we found out that all of the proceeds of Face Paint Friday would go to Special Olympics, we were all delighted because this is a charity very close to a lot of students' hearts. It is a sports organisation, providing year round training to both adults and children with intellectual disabilities. There are currently 8,872 athletes in Ireland.

The morning of the face painting was extremely busy, people trying to get cups of water, looking for brushes and paint pans. When we finally got to sit down and paint the students faces, we were amazed at the cluster of students waiting to get their face painted almost all the time. It was really nice to see that students wanted to support us and help a worthy cause.

We painted in the morning, during classes, at break and at lunch. The students were given a sheet of paper with six festival-like designs on it, they picked one and picked the bright colours they would like. It was nice to chat to students from different year groups who I had never met before. There was a great atmosphere in the hall, everyone seemed to be in a better mood after getting their face painted.

Thank you to Ms Ryan who organised the event, and thank you to the students who supported and donated.

TY Life Skills

Yesterday in our Life Skills module we learnt how to do CPR. It was a very interesting class. We learnt a valuable skill that could potentially save the lives of others. Firstly, we were given a dummy to work with. We then watched an instructional video.

1) The first step is to check if the victim is responsive. If not call 999.
2) Afterwards do chest compressions. Push down in the center of their chest 30 times.

3) Once that is done, use your index and middle finger to gently tilt the victims head upwards. Pinch their nose and blow into their mouth until you see their chest rise. If the victim is still unresponsive start again from step 2. Keep doing this until the ambulance arrives.

Monday, 9 October 2017

TY Trip to the Ploughing Championships 2017

On the 21st of September a small group of TY students got the opportunity to attend the Ploughing Championships while the rest of the TY students were at Kippure. We had the chance to take part in the joy and educational festivity of the day.

The Ploughing Championships took place in the location of Tullamore in Co. Offaly. We had to arrive at the school gate in the early hours of the morning to leave on the bus for 7:30. Many of the excited students entertained themselves with music and songs for the duration of the hour and a half long journey. Such high-spirited natures were to last for the fun-filled day.

Upon arrival, we quickly took a group photo before we entered the large crowded area. We split into small groups and began to navigate our way through the muddy ground. Good thing we brought wellies!

Our TY group got to experience the brilliant atmosphere and gained knowledge of farming practices in Ireland. We also got to see farm animals such as cows, pigs and chickens. Many stalls provided information which encouraged students to join countrywide challenges such as GAISCE.

To everyone's delight despite the wet weather, we were thrilled to find that there was, in fact, a fun fair set up in the area with many daunting adrenaline inducing rides. To top it all off there were stalls which sold treats like chocolate covered strawberries and ice cream. Of course some of us didn't mind paying some of these stalls a visit!

All in all the Ploughing Championships was truly a successful event!

JPIC Trip to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

On Friday the 6th of October Ms Grace and Ms Finneran’s JPIC classes took a trip into Dublin city where we visited the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to learn about Ireland’s international aid programme. The bus departed the school at 9:30am, we sat back and watched the green fields of Fingal transform into tall city buildings.

We got off the bus on St. Stephan’s Green and were challenged with a treasure hunt of sorts. We were given a sheet of questions in relation to JPIC and we had to find the answers on Grafton Street and its surrounding areas. In a group of six we set off to answer the questions quickly so that we could enjoy our lunch leisurely in the green.

At 11:40 we met at the entrance to the park and began walking to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which is on Clonmel Street, a quick three minute stroll. When we arrived, we played a game that helped us to understand how a family in Malawi survives year to year whilst battling draught, blight and hunger. Each team represented a family living in the village of Kulungira in Malawi and we had to play to live essentially, responding to challenges and scenarios that occurred over the course of the three year period.

This game opened our eyes to the instability of life in Sub-Saharan Africa. The smallest of events can throw everything up in the air and cause complete and utter disaster for a family.
After the game was over we watched a video summarising the work of Irish Aid in multiple countries. We learned about a girl called Memory, who was 18 years old but still attending primary school because she had been held back by the work that she had to do at home. This made us realise our privilege, here in Ireland we beg not to go to school and Memory must beg to go to school.

All in all, it was an eye opening, educational trip. We all gained an appreciation for school, for our health and for the stability in our lives, the fact that we know that there will always be food on our tables.

Centre For Talented Youth - TY Course

Every year the CTYI (Centre for Talented Youth Ireland) run a College level course for Transition Years. People participating this year, applied in March or April and went through a long and tedious application process which included things like writing a 'Letter of Motivation' and getting Teacher Recommendations. Four girls from our school actually made it through this year and got accepted in late May. We pretty much spent the summer googling what we had actually signed up for while trying to stay cautiously optimistic.

The Early University Entrance programme is just a chance for Transition Year students to pick a subject that people study in college and get to cover the same syllabus somebody in their first year of college would. Every Friday, four girls from our school go to DCU at 10am for our lectures. There were many courses available, I picked Psychology. This particular interest, was sparked by a modern day TV show called Pretty Little Liars which explores elements of psychology. Some of the other girls chose to do Law and Politics and Mathematical Sciences.

We don't actually just attend lectures with a bunch of college students, we do get to go to our own lectures specifically for Transition Years. It's really just a chance for Transition Years to see what college life is like. There are about twenty people in my Psychology class and we have two lectures and one tutorial each week. Our day finishes at 4pm each Friday. For those of you wondering what a Tutorial is, I'm still not quite certain. My psychology class spent our first tutorial playing Pictionary with an old chalkboard. They supposedly allow students to get a better understanding of what the material they're studying in lectures is about, but I'm still working out how Pictionary achieved that.

I've already established how college is different from secondary school. Our lecturers laugh when we call them 'Miss' and insist on us calling them by their first names, a concept which is still too weird for me to fathom. Also we don't have to do our homework. On the first week we were told that doing our homework is our own business and if we do it, they'll correct it but if we don't, they don't really care. Despite this, the Psychology groupchat still blows up every Thursday night as people freak out about this week's homework. They usually decide that "if nobody has it done then they can't be mad, so even if you have it done don't tell them and they'll forget." 

This amazing theory never worked in Secondary School, and it still doesn't work much in college. You can eat and drink in your lectures, which lets me enjoy my tall Mocha from the Starbucks on campus in class each week. You can also go on your phone during lectures which sounds fun but loses its novelty when you keep getting "what's she on about?" snaps in the groupchat during a lecture. Furthermore there's a lot more class discussions in our classes. Although this arguably isn't always a great idea with groups of 16 year olds. Once, one guy asked a lecturer what her favourite type of hallucinogenic drug was during a class discussion and another was insistent that linguistic was not a type of intelligence but a type of pasta. Generally, however, our class discussions help to keep us engaged and learning in different ways.

The two modules we do in Psychology are Cognitive Psychology and Child Development. Psychology isn't really what I expected it to be at all. It's not what most people expect. The Psychology we see on TV is very different to Psychology in real life.
In Cognitive Psychology we learn about things like attention and memory while in Child Development we learn about different types of intelligence and stages in the brain's development. 

Eventually we'll have to write a paper which is just a huge essay for our modules and do the same end of term exams a college student studying our module will. I find the course really intriguing but the hard part about Psychology is that nothing can be proven in it. Everything we learn is just theories and none can ever be said for definite. This was pretty hard for me to wrap my head around but I'm starting to understand it more.  

Our course ends in December and until then we have plenty more strange but interesting lectures to look forward to. Above all, we hope that we can get some really good experience for college out of this course.

TY Tag Rugby Blitz

It felt like winter had just begun on Friday the 6th of October, especially for the 24 girls heading out to Terenure for the highly anticipated Tag Rugby Blitz. The cold air and cloudy sky worried everyone as they packed their shorts and short sleeve t-shirts that morning. However the freezing weather was to dampen nobody’s spirits as we piled onto the bus, leaving the school by 10am.

Upon reaching St. Mary's College, the team crowded into the changing rooms to get ready before beginning the chain of matches organised for the day. The immediate excursion tasks posed to the group allowed us no time to feel the cold, and by the end of a quick training session, everyone was sweating.

The group of us were divided into two teams, red and blue. Both got started on the first match of the day, everyone playing with impressive skill and competitive tactics. For a group of people who have hardly played Tag Rugby before, the precision and game delivered was greatly admired by the coaches and opposition teams.

The teams were of course faced with some difficult tasks to overcome but they did successfully and yet again impressed onlookers. With the combined speed, accuracy and skill of each team member both of our groups managed to bag a few wins.

After the two final matches drew to a close, lunch was eaten with some complementary Maltesers provided by Mr Brennan for our team spirit and hard work on the field.
We were back on the road and arriving at the school just in time for our last two classes.

A great day was had and a new love for tag rugby was established as many of the girls proclaimed they'd love to keep it up. 

Homework Club

Every Tuesday and Thursday for the next 13 weeks, TY students are volunteering to help out our first year students with their homework and any inquiries about school life. We meet our assigned first year student at 4:15 pm and we usually spend 10 mins discussing what their little feet's have been up to and answer one of their many questions. 

Then they start their homework with the help of the TY students. We help them whenever they are stuck but that doesn't happen a lot as they are quite capable of doing it by themselves. Over the next few weeks, we will be teaching them strategies to help with revision and study skills. One of the most enjoyable parts starts at around 4:55 pm, when the refreshments show themselves through the door and are dragged towards us on the tray with glorious eyes and jaw dropping mouths as we try to look away. 

Mostly, the hour is filled with entertainment and enthusiasm. We have a lot of experience and stories to share with the first years along with some advice which we hope will benefit them as it did for us.

TY Baking

As you may know a lot of the TY students went to Kippure last week but for the rest of the girls who didn't go there were lots of activities planned.
In the morning from 9:10am to 11:10am we baked some cupcakes. Ms. Ryan and Ms. Purcell instructed us on how to bake the cupcakes and we were also taught how to make tie dye frosting. The students who have not picked Home Economics as an option subject learned a lot about baking. It was a fun morning.

After break from 11:20am to 12:40pm we had a quiz. Ms. Flynn and Ms. O'Neill held the quiz and the prize was a pencil case and colouring pencils.

From 2:00 to 4:00 we went to demo room 1 and watched a movie called the Blind Side. It was a good choice.

Even though we did not go on the Kippure trip the TY students who didn't go had a great time.

Here are a few pictures of us baking.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

TY Religion

On the 29th of September, we made Saint Bridget's crosses out of straws in Religion class. It was a very difficult task at first but the more we got used to the weaving the easier it got. For the past few weeks in Religion class we have been learning about 'Celtic Spirituality'.  So far, we have learnt about Celtic Society and their Religion. We are currently learning about, St. Patrick and St. Bridget and how the Celtic customs influenced Christianity in Ireland. Saint Bridget's crosses are usually made of reeds but we were not able to get enough reeds for the class.

French Play

On Wednesday the 27th September, all of the TY students who study French were crowded into the hall to watch this year's French play, performed by the FTFS group (French Theatre For Schools). The name of the play was 'Le Texte Perdu' (The Lost Script). It followed the story of four actors who were searching for the missing script for their upcoming play, meeting various strange and eccentric characters along the way, such as une actrice très célèbre and les deux mecs - Zic et Zac. We all laughed and cringed at the slapstick comedy before us. We all agreed that the best part of the play was watching some of our friends being brought up and having to act, sing and dance along with the actors on stage!
I volunteered to perform in the French play, before fully knowing what it was. I am a new student this year and hadn't seen the play before. Ms O’ Neill had given me the script a week or so before, so I learnt the lines that I had to perform thoroughly and I was nervous but excited to get up on stage.  When I arrived and was told that I could read my lines from the script, I was relieved. The actors from the French theatre company were very friendly and reassured me throughout. I was nervous to read my lines on front of so many people but I was glad I had done it afterwards. It was much easier than I had expected and several other girls read lines too. Two girls even had to disco dance during the play, and I was glad I didn't have to!
In the play, the actors spoke slowly so it would be easier to understand and made the audience participate by either: inviting people on stage to have a few lines or asking questions to the audience. It was very enjoyable and easy to understand. It was also a benefit to French students to prepare them for orals and aurals because we got to listen to real French accents.
Overall, 4th year as a whole really enjoyed the French play and would definitely recommend it to the lower years in the school. It was a great opportunity to actively practice the French language in school.

Je me suis amuseé très bien !

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

JPIC Fair Trade Morning

JPIC stands for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation. A very fancy name for a very fun, interesting module. Some of the many interesting things we learn about is Fairtrade and the work they do to improve the working conditions and increase the wages of farmers in the developing world.

To celebrate the work they do we decided to hold a Fairtrade tea morning. Everyone in the class brought in their favourite mugs and an assortment of Fairtrade goodies. We had tea, hot chocolate, biscuits and we watched a documentary about climate change, all in the JPIC fashion. It was a great morning and we learned so much about Fairtrade and gained such a profound appreciation for the work they do.