As the second school year under pandemic conditions begins, Loreto Secondary School Balbriggan prepares itself for another busy year. The experiences of the past academic year have shown us that the commitment to excellence, the dedication of the staff and the wonderful sense of community in Loreto Balbriggan remain alive and well. Our Transition Year students adopted the very apt theme of ‘Resilience’ as their theme for the 2020-21 school year. This theme was embraced by our entire school community and all our students are to be commended on the incredible strength, focus and positivity they showed in the face of the many challenges caused by the pandemic.
Our sixth year students were a credit to the school as they overcame the many challenges and adapted to the many changes of Leaving Certificate 2021. They are a wonderful cohort of students living up to the motto of the Loreto Foundress that ‘women in time to come will do much’. In Loreto Balbriggan we not only encourage and strive for academic excellence, we also develop leadership capacity and aspire to provide a holistic education where every aspect of the student’s person is developed and nurtured. We know that the leaving cert class of 2021 will meet these expectations and will go on to make a difference in the world.
We were fortunate enough to hold a virtual Graduation Ceremony and prize-giving on campus with our 6th year students. As well as awards for academic excellence, there were also awards for positive leadership and inclusivity.
The sixth years were given a ‘Guard of Honour’ by all their teachers as they left the school on what was an emotional last day. We wish them every success with their exam results and we have no doubt that they will continue to excel and flourish as they have already proven themselves in these challenging times.
The school is persistently looking forward in its efforts to improve and develop itself to ensure that its students receive the very best care and a positive and quality educational experience. More than ever students need the support and foundation provided by a strong and well-structured school community. Students flourish under the excellent structures and systems in place in Loreto. The dynamic staff who drive the school, work tirelessly for the betterment of the girls. Staff have worked collaboratively at upskilling and researching how they can best optimize the students’ learning experiences in a very restricted classroom environment and in the virtual classroom. The pastoral care system is second to none. There are three deputy principals with two-year groups assigned to each, this is reinforced by the tremendous work of the year heads and form teachers. The structures ensure that no student will slip through the gaps when it comes to support and care. There is an expanding Special Educational Needs department and counseling and chaplaincy services that serve to underpin the comprehensive pastoral structures in place. Emphasis is placed on these supports, recognizing that the considerable pressures of modern living can have a significant impact on mental wellbeing.
Students are strongly encouraged to take up leadership roles within the school. Being a student leader in Loreto Secondary School enables those involved to develop personally into effective leaders, it creates cohesion between the senior students and the rest of the student body and it aims to use the strengths of the senior leaders to benefit and inspire our younger students. The school has a successful prefect structure of Head Girl, Deputy Head Girls, Captains, Co-ordinators, Senior Prefects and Class Prefects.
In normal times the school offers a wide range of extra and co-curricular experiences including Junior and Senior Choirs, Orchestra, Public Speaking, Gala Evenings, Maths Olympiad, Gael Linn Irish Debating, Mock Trials in the Criminal Court of Justice, TY Musical not to mention the multitude of sporting opportunities available from Hockey to Gaelic football, Tennis, Soccer, Basketball, Badminton, Athletics, Camogie and Cricket. A team of dedicated teachers are waiting in the wings for things to return to normal and are looking forward to the lifting of restrictions so their students can pursue their interests and passions outside of the classroom.
Despite the fact that restrictions affected many of our extracurricular and co-curricular activities, it was a very busy and successful year in Loreto Balbriggan.
As a STEM school we encourage those with an interest in scientific inquiry and research to take part in Scifest as well as the BT Young Scientist Competition and it was yet another successful year for the students who participated in the competitions with five projects overall excelling in BTYSE and SciFest.
In other good news, past BT Young Scientist award winning students, Mizna Shahid and Zainab Shahid, received an “Honorary Mention” in the Older Age Division of the International Statistical Literacy Programme Poster Competition 2020-2021 for their research project poster entitled: “Using Chitosan to Create a Biodegradable, Antimicrobial Plastic Alternative to Aid in the Reduction of Plastic Waste in Hospitals”.
In Business competition several groups went on the represent the school in the NFT Enterprise and the Fingal Student Enterprise competitions. The creators of the ‘Bee Happy’ Mini-Company, were overall winners of the Intermediate category in the Fingal Student Enterprise competition and went on to win a special merit award in the national final. We are so proud of all our Business students who build such a thriving culture of enterprise in our school.
In the world of the Arts three students represented the school in the Grand Final of Junk Kouture 2020. Their creations ‘Wonderland’ and ‘Tribal Chevron’ were the products of many hours of hard work and dedication. The girls performed superbly in the final which was aired on RTE2 in February 2021.
These successes are but a snapshot of what our students have achieved in the past year. Despite challenging conditions and a lockdown they remained active citizens as they continued to give their time and effort to others. Our Gaisce Participants contributed to over 1050 hours of volunteering in their communities over the course of the school year and we are very proud of all their hard work and commitment to this wonderful initiative.
Loreto Balbriggan was nominated for the highly prestigious European Innovative Teaching Award 2021. The project involved twenty one teachers from varying disciplines in the school. These teachers took part in an Erasmus project entitled ‘European Links to Junior Cycle Reform in Ireland’ in 2019. The ‘European Innovative Teaching Award’ (EITA) showcases outstanding teaching practices carried out as part of Erasmus + projects. It recognises the work of teachers and schools and celebrates the exceptional contribution they make to their profession.
This big school, with a big heart embraces all disciplines but more importantly it embraces all it students with a spirit of care, support and encouragement.
None of the above could happen without the passionate and dedicated work of an enthusiastic and committed staff, the wonderful student body and the constant support of parents.
Despite the pandemic Loreto Balbriggan opens its doors with pride and passion. Excellence, enthusiasm, and dedication typify all that we do and we know we can overcome what challenges we may face in the year ahead.
Please visit our school website www.loretobalbriggan.ie for details of the dates for application and registration and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more insights into school life in Loreto Balbriggan. §