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Issue 1/2018 Vol. 5
This fifth edition of the newsletter marks a year of flying many celebratory flags at Esker.
And what a truly remarkable, memorable year it has been with some very interesting and influential people and very unexpected and exceptional experiences that we have had. But where to begin?
We could start with our astonishment at the news that we had been selected for a visit from Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D Higgins, the President of Ireland.
Flying the Irish Flag
When the visit was announced, we were utterly astounded at the amount of help offered from within our school community to showcase our exceptional school. Excitement and anticipation hung in the air: The countdown was on… For all of the details, please read on to page 6.
In the days and weeks up to the visit, the Board of Management (BOM), Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), and many parents, staff and friends helped to prepare for the visit. To all of you, we will be eternally grateful. We are also very grateful to Mr. Khan, for feeding the happy, hungry masses that came on the day.
June Flag Raising Ceremony
Wednesday, 20th June saw the raising of the An Taisce Green Schools and Active flags, and the celebration of Esker receiving its 5th STEM plaque (for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). This was a very exciting event, recognising the immense work done by the Active School committee, the Green School committee and the STEM committee.
For this momentous occasion, we were very fortunate to have Kevin O’Brien of the Irish National Cricket team and Cllr Paul Gogarty, Mayor of South Dublin County, as well as Naomi, Gerry and David. Kevin raised the Active Flag, while Mayor Gogarty raised the Green flag.
We also celebrated receiving the DPSM Plaque of STEM Excellence, reflecting the tremendous work done in every class in the school, with particular thanks to Katie and Sinéad for overseeing the project.
The school celebrated with a wonderful rendition of Mr. Blueskies, with everyone getting active! As a very special treat, the PTA sponsored an ice-cream van to help cool down in the summer sun. A truly memorable and magnificent day for all of Esker’s students and staff!
After four fantastic, fruitful years in Home School, Gemma Stokes will be moving out of her Home School role to focus on her duties as Deputy Principal in a Special Education Teaching (SET) role.
We would like to extend our sincerest and heartfelt thanks to Gemma for the sterling work that she has done in helping to forge wonderful links across our school and community, helping to make Esker a fun place for parents and children.
Over the coming weeks, you will be seeing lots of Leah Burke, who will be taking over the Home School Liaison role. Leah’s office is downstairs and she will be available to meet with parents there. A very warm welcome to you in your new role, Leah!
We have had a fabulous friendship week in Esker ETNS. Best quote of the week from a Senior Infant, "if you see someone who isn't smiling, give them one of yours". Congratulations to our Kindness Award Winners.
Go out and surprise someone in your family with a random act of kindness, spreading happiness!
Home School Liaison
Over the course of the year, many exciting initiatives, parent workshops and classes have taken place with Gemma’s support, including:
• Well-being week – We had yoga, 20 parents were trained in paediatric first aid, and a nutritionist from Carambola came to talk to children and parents (sponsored by SDCC)
• Parents Plus, the positive parenting programme was run by Gemma and Rebecca (of Lucan East ETNS) with 15 of our parents
• Conversation classes - given by a parent for parents. Many thanks to Honor for doing the honours here!
• English classes given by the ETB
• DIY classes given by the ETB
• Gardening club run by the parents
• Walking club run by Gemma and parents
• CLOVER ran for junior infants. It was again sponsored by Dublin Libraries. The children had a trip to Lucan Library and their parents helped out with weekly reading in class for one term
• Maths week: Lots of parents came in to help with maths trails and the 5th /6th class table quiz, as well as working to help children to develop their ‘Maths eyes’
• Maths 4 Fun – Parent volunteers came in in the two 1st classes. They helped the children to develop their mathematical skills, using games such as board games, pattern blocks and playing cards.
• 2nd class: ‘Maths Packs’ went home, encouraging parental involvement in maths through games for homework and fun.
Thank you to our wonderful parents for all of your time, energy, enthusiasm, encouragement and support, you were lots of FUN!
Well done to all the boys and girls who won medals for 100% attendance each term this year. Even if you have a medical or dental appointment, if you come to school before or afterwards - that day counts. Begin good habits early, and come to school every day. Congratulations again everyone!
Esker Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
This year, the PTA have surpassed themselves with their kindness, consideration and ingenuity over the year. Many thanks to the parents and grandparents for their help. This is a picture of just some of the helpers.
Each year, the PTA look for new members at the AGM. Please come along and offer any help that you can.
Their wonderful committee have been involved in creating the most magical fairy garden this year, with gardening club, as well as organizing many fundraisers and then paying for experiences for the children.
The PTA organised the Toy and Treat Sale on the 15th December, which raised €764, the Spring Raffle raised €1189, the Book and Treat Sale on 4th May raised €827 and the school photographs raised €1905. Wow! Fabulous fundraising!!!
From the fundraising, the PTA have paid for many fun and informative events in our school. These include:
• The 10th Anniversary celebration ‘Madagascar’ circus
• The 6th class Graduation party
• The Ice-cream van on flag day
• Half of the cost of Music Generation for 4th classes paid for by the PTA
• The NPC School Transfer (to Secondary) talk was organized by the PTA
• Dave’s Jungle
• Zeeko Online Safety Talks
• Organising and wrapping 104 prizes for the Spring Raffle and then selling tickets.
Many thanks to the Gardening club for making the most magical fairy garden: Maureen, Maha, Milena, Deepa, Janice and Ivana, and the other parent volunteers. Thanks also to Tomislav who made the beautiful bridge.
The Gardening Club won the Category G (Community/School Garden/Allotment) Award at the South Dublin County Council Community Endeavour Awards in the Moran Red Cow Hotel on 25th November 2017.
We are so proud of the Garden club and the special accolade that they received. We are also thrilled with the amazing space that they have created for the children and staff to enjoy. The prize was a beautiful plaque and €1,000.
Dave’s Jungle Reptile Show
Jungle Dave and his reptile friends, Brian the snake, Kevin the caiman and Phillis the iguana came to visit the school as an end of year treat on 21st June 2018. What an amazing treat! Bhí zú ar scoil agus thaitin sé go mór linn!
Zeeko Online Safety Talks
On May 14th Petra from Zeeko came in to give online safety seminars for children, teachers and parents. There was a superb turnout from parents on Monday, May 14th for the talk. Thanks you to the PTA! See www.webwise.ie for more information.
GSC Annual Spring Clean & Waterways tidy
On April 20th, the Green School Committee were out on our annual spring clean, as well as keeping our local waterway tidy. Well done to everyone! Small actions make big changes!
GSC Walk for water
Colette, Gemma and Heidi accompanied the children of the GSC to Glendalough for the annual walk for water on 24th April. This experience shows the children what it is like for children in developing countries to have to walk for water every day.
Green Schools Committee - National school of the year for work on water 2018
Over the course of the year, Gemma, Barry, Heidi, and the Green Schools Committee (GSC) were involved in raising awareness of environmental issues, while working towards the third Green Flag for Water. The GSC, which is composed of children from all classes, had been working for the past two years to achieve this flag. We previously received our first for litter and waste and the second for energy.
The committee led the whole school in a number of measures designed to reduce water consumption in the school. Water Warriors regularly patrolled the school to raise awareness of wasteful water consumption and remind children of a number of measures such as the ‘One push is enough’ rule for handwashing.
The inspector from An Taisce (Green Schools) was so impressed with the work done in the school that we were later named ‘Irish Water: Dublin Region: Water School of the Year’ for our work, winning a plaque and €750.
Gemma, Shivam, Ainhoa and Thomas attended a ceremony in the Westin Hotel to collect the award but much to their surprise, Esker was named overall ‘National Winner 2018: Water School of the year’. The school was presented with a magnificent glass trophy and a cheque for €2,000. The presentation, which was sponsored by Irish Water, was made on Thursday 3rd of May by the Director of An Taisce, Dr Michael O’ Mahony.
Gemma, Heidi, Daniel and Ola were very proud to be awarded our Green Flag for water conservation in a fantastic ceremony in the Helix at DCU.
At Esker, we believe that it is important to listen to our students’ voices, in a democratic way. Students are selected by other students to sit on the Student Council, the Green School Committee, the Active Committee, Global Citizenship Committee and the Yard Committee.
This year, the Students’ Council have been involved in many areas, such as the Food tasting with Carambola, Esker goes to the Movies, and the Purple Power fundraiser. With the food-tasting, they made recommendations for healthy lunches, including that all bread should be brown or half and half and that packaging should be minimised.
The Student Council organised a fundraiser for Educate Together equality based schools, called “Esker Goes to the Movies”. All funds went back to Educate Together, to help other start-up schools. We want every parent to have the option of a school like ours for their children.
The ‘Purple Power’ fundraiser for Temple Street Children's Hospital was run by the Student Council in March. Children wore purple (or blue or red) to symbolize bravery. This raised over €700 to help sick children.
Global Citizenship Schools
This year, the children have continued to learn about the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development, through project work, art, music, drama and performance. In November, the Global Citizenship Committee formed part of the Welcome Committee for President Michael D Higgin’s visit. They spoke about how human actions are changing the climate and the future of all living things on the planet. They noted that our generation and generations to come will lead lives affected by this change. They highlighted our responsibility to adapt our lifestyles in order to reduce our ecological footprint. Activism is a fundamental part of Global Citizenship so the children wrote letters to local TDs, asking them what they were doing to combat climate change at governmental level. The children believe that small actions can generate big results and that using their voices to call their government to action could lead to significant change in global policy. Well done to all our activists at Esker Educate Together!
This year, we have formed a Yard Committee to look at how best we can utilise the play spaces and games and resources that we have at school. This committee met several times at lunchtime with Tania and Catherine, and came up with some great recommendations.
The school have also engaged a playground specialist to look at the spaces around the school, so together with the recommendations from the pupils, we will be able to generate solutions that create the best play opportunities possible. As Maria Montessori said, “Play is the work of the child”: The yard is not merely a place where children just go for a break but a place in which they strengthen friendships, build social and motor skills as well as developing problem solving abilities.
The Presidential Visit and unveiling of the Book of Climate Bells and the Sunbell Garden
Monday, November 20th 2017 will go down in our history as an extraordinary, extra-special and exceptional day for Esker Educate Together. We welcomed the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins along with Mrs. Sabina Higgins to our school. The excitement was palpable in the air as children stood around the perimeter waving their flags and cheering as the black car of the President came in to view. President Higgins and Mrs Higgins were met by our oldest and youngest students, who presented them with flowers.
Then President Higgins was introduced to Cllr. Paul Gogarty (Mayor of South Dublin County) Paul Rowe (CEO of Educate Together), Vivienne Roche (Artist), Fergus Cronin (advisor to the Project), Colm O’Brien (Managing Director of Carambola), members of the Board of Management, members of the Parent-Teacher Association and Tom Costelloe (our retired Deputy Principal).
He then moved inside, where he was given a really interesting talk by the Green School/Global Citizenship Committee representatives about climate change, whilst accompanied by their teachers Paula and Niamh. The President was told about how we could make a difference to our planet and how we should try to reduce our ecological footprint. As an exceptional poet himself, he was treated to a poem by one of our budding young poets about how we could ensure our successful future by minding our earth and changing our wasteful habits.
A short walk away, through a very lively and excited guard of honour of senior infants led to the gazebo, where the artist Vivienne Roche discussed the art installations in the garden. The President opened "The Book of Climate Bells" and two sixth class children and Gemma rang the school bell three times to signify a warning bell, a call to action, and the power of individual and group action in looking after our environment.
Earth Overshoot Day 2017 was also recorded, which tells us that we are using more ecological resources and services than we can renew or regenerate. The party then moved to the Sunbell Garden, designed by Vivienne Roche and sponsored by Carambola.
This outdoor classroom is made of Corten steel with a perspex sun and an old ship's bronze bell. When the sun shines at midday, it will throw a beautiful light through the window on to the ground. Once the steel has fully rusted, we will be able to use this space to teach the children and to immerse them in nature.
Next, the Presidential party moved in to the hall, welcomed by the Presidential Salute. Catherine then formally introduced President Higgins and Mrs. Higgins. Senior infants told the story of Eddie the Penguin, who wanted to save the earth. They were joined in song by the choir. Rousing speeches followed by Peggy (Chairperson of the BOM), President Higgins and Colette.
The choir sang about the future being in our ‘Own two hands’; that we could effect change by taking responsibility for our planet.
The President was presented with a specially commissioned calligraphy version of the ‘Proclamation for a New Generation’, which we wrote for the centenary of the Easter Rising 1916, last year. Three children read out some very poignant excerpts. The choir finished with our school song, "What a Wonderful World".
Then President Higgins and Mrs. Higgins met the choir, local faith and non-faith representatives, as well as many of the invited guests. A small jig began and the President and Mrs. Higgins departed to a standing ovation from the audience.
The invited guests, followed by the parents filled in to the staff room to sample beautiful food by Mr. Khan and served by the PTA.
The PTA had very kindly funded a ‘Madagascar’ themed circus. Popcorn and candyfloss were served to eager, delighted children who settled down for the show. (Our healthy eating policy returned the next day!) The children saw a magnificent magician's show and then several enormous ‘Madagascar’ characters emerged from the PE storeroom! The day ended with a countdown as the children and staff of the school celebrated 10 years of education, friendship and fun.
This day would not have been possible without the support of the children, PTA, staff and community: It is these that make our school a truly unique and wonderful school. We know that our children will treasure the memories that were created on this special day, as we will.
Health and Wellbeing week
We had a very successful Health and Wellbeing week in October 2017. The children participated in activities relating to the health of the body and the mind, including healthy eating, movement, introductions to mindfulness, yoga and self-care.
Parents also were involved with a certified Paediatric First Aid course, a 5km walk, Mindfulness for parents and Encouraging Healthy Eating. The week concluded with a well-attended coffee morning in the hall.
The parents were thrilled with the activities, which were all provided free of charge. A very big thank you to SDCC who supported our endeavours with a very generous grant for the week’s activities. Thanks to Gemma, Jane and Aoife for a very worthwhile and well attended initiative!
Thanks to David Moran from Lucan Sarsfields GAA who taught Junior Infants and 2nd Class ball-handling skills for Gaelic Football. The children really enjoyed practising their new skills bouncing, catching and throwing the ball! Heidi and Marta have also been running a GAA club for children in 3rd and 4th Class all year. Obair mhaith!
Active Week and Active Flag
Active Week 2018 took place from 23- 27 April. Our Active Children’s Committee were very busy organising a huge number of activities. Every class did 30 minutes of activity each day from yoga, GAA, rugby, skipping, kin ball, cricket, dodgeball to a whole school walk, a ‘Mile with a smile’. We also had Drop Everything And Dance (DEAD) time, music on the yard and an active thought for the day. On Friday we held our Skills Assembly where some of our talented children showcased their skills in different sports such as tae kwan do, dancing and gymnastics. What a wonderful week of action and activities, learning new skills, trying new sports and mostly having fun! Thanks to Karen, Seóna, Jane, Sinéad and Bríd for organising.
As a result of the whole school’s efforts, we were awarded our first Active Flag.
Naomi from Leinster cricket came to school to teach 5th and 6th class in February and March. She also took 5th and 6th Class for an after school cricket club that competed in the Leprechaun Cup and competed in a blitz in May. Leinster Cricket also took 3rd and 4th Class for sessions during Active Week and have already organised to come back to teach us in September. Go raibh mile maith agat, Naomi!
Rob Mullen and Ken Moore from Leinster rugby did tag rugby sessions with children in 3rd and 4th Class for a block of 5 weeks in April and May. They have also kindly been involved in running our Active Week and 1st, 5th and 6th class have been able to sample tag rugby too.
Gymnastics and Dance
Here are some photos of senior infants, 2nd and 5th class, working on their gymnastics during the months of January and February. This year we focused on gymnastics and then followed this with dance. We taught creative and folk dancing across the school. This tied in nicely with our Céilí for Seachtain na Gaeilge. Bhí lá iontach againn!
Cross country running took place from January to May this year. Fifty children from 3rd -6th class trained in all types of weather and competed in cross country running competitions, held each month in Griffeen Park.
The final event of the year took place in Corkagh Park, where over one thousand athletes competed in a fantastic event. The Esker team performed really well and fitness levels improved greatly as the competition progressed.
June 7th, saw the whole school participating in Sports Day. As with other years, junior infants to 2nd stayed on the Esker Lane campus. They had the most marvellous day with the sponge race, skipping, kin ball, egg and spoon race, sack race, parachute, yoga and a scavenger hunt. Thanks to the many parents that volunteered and made it such a special day!
3rd to 6th classes went to Le Chéile Athletics Club’s grounds in Leixlip by bus. Here, the children participated in many sprint and long distance races, relays, as well as novelty races such as the sack race, three-legged race and tug of war. The sun shone and they had a glorious day! Please see our website www.eskeretns.ie and class twitter pages for photos!
On Monday, 28th May, 32 children represented our school in track events at Morton Stadium. We saw some excellent performances from our athletes, some of whom made the final. Congratulations to Peter on his medals for sprints and shotput! Well done to all of the athletes, you did yourselves and your school proud!
Extra Curricular Activities (ECAs)
This year, we were very fortunate to have had cross country running and athletics (Seóna, Karen, Sinéad, Katie, Rob), Scratch programming (Niamh), Homework club (Tania, Aoife, Jane), Spanish club (Carmen), 2nd Class Art club (Carmen), 3rd Class Art club (Caoimhe), chess (Gemma and Katie), Cartoon Drawing club (Bríd), basketball (Linda, Aoife), GAA (Heidi) and cricket (Karen). Many thanks for all those that gave of their time!
We had a wonderful chess tournament with our friends from Lucan East ETNS on May 28th. It was great to make new chess mates!
We were extremely lucky to have had the SFI Amber Centre at Trinity College loan us microscopes for use by the senior students this year.
Furthermore, we were exceptionally fortunate to have a loan of a Hitachi- TM 400+ table top scanning electron microscope (SEM) for a week, which all classes got to see in action. Many thanks to Carmen for demonstrating and Paul for organising it! The children were brimming with excitement when they got to see it. Seeing little glimpses of items magnified by 250,000 times their real size really whet their appetites to do more investigations.
This year, we invested in a new server and five reconditioned iPads for the SEN Department.
STEM and Genius Hour
All the children at Esker worked very hard in STEM this year, especially during Engineering week, Maths week, in their use of technology (problem solving and programming) and with Genius Hour. The STEM showcase on 9th March was a huge success. Following on from all of this marvellous work, the school entered the 2017-2018 Science Foundation of Ireland (SFI) Discover Primary Science and Maths Award. See https://eskerstem2018.weebly.com
In order to be eligible for the DPSM Plaque, we had to show evidence of children’s engagement with STEM across the school. Here is the feedback from about our application:
Outstanding work. From the activism of the students (debate in the Airport, letters to Politicians etc.) to their enthusiasm, the excellence of the website to the obvious pride taken by staff and school in the collective efforts of all. This has been an absolute pleasure to assess. Huge congratulations to all!
Huge work done by all and led this year by Katie and Sinéad (6th class teachers).
Heritage in Schools: Biodiversity Talk
We were very lucky to have Michele Castiaux from the ‘Heritage in Schools’ scheme into our school in on April 18th. She gave us a talk on biodiversity and pollination. We went into our beautiful fairy garden and searched for helpful bugs and different types of trees. We also did some mapping. We had great fun finding the mini beasts, flora and fauna in the fabulous Esker garden.
This year, the school was affected by Storm Ophelia (in October) and Storm Emma (in March). These resulted in country-wide school closures.
A huge thank you to the parents that were involved in the clean up after Storm Emma. An enormous thank you too to David Stanley, of Roadstar Paving and his two helpers who brought two diggers and sorted out the worst of the problem for us, and did so free of charge. Go raibh míle maith agaibh!
Every year, we endeavour to bring the children on trips that encourage children’s learning, sense of curiosity and imagination, and that also build their skills, teamwork and independence. This year, the classes went to:
• Junior infants: Clonfert Pet Farm
• Senior infants: Imaginosity
• First class: Kildare Farm
• Second class: Pine Forest
• Third class: Rathbeggan Lakes
• Fourth class: Causey Farm
• Fifth class: Tayto Park
• Sixth class: W5 and Tayto Park.
The Department of Education and Skills have developed new Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools. These have been developed by the DES in consultation with the partners in education to take account of The Children First Act, 2015 and the revised Children First Guidelines, 2017. This year, all our staff undertook this Child Protection Training. We also received training in the new Primary Languages Curriculum.
‘Croí na Scoile’ Award
This year, the ‘Croí na Scoile’ Award was awarded to Jad Tinawi.
As with last year, the recipient of the award was chosen by both students and staff. This very special award commemorates Paul Kilgarriff, our dear colleague, who passed away in February 2014. The child that is chosen has shown school spirit, kindness, teamwork and has been an active participant in school activities and leadership in school. Well done Jad!!!
Our 6th class graduation was held on Tuesday, 26th June. This caring, curious crew of children have seen many changes since starting in Esker as junior infants in September 2011, having started in Adamstown Castle, moving to the prefabs in senior infants and then our new and magnificent building in 2015. They have made many long standing friendships that will no doubt travel on with them into secondary school, with very promising futures ahead of them!
We won’t say goodbye, but “Cheerio and be back soon!”
Ethical Education Conference
Malahide was the location of this year’s conference on “Gender Matters: Educating for Equality” on the 24th and 25th of November 2017.
Being child-centred, multi-denominational, democratic and co-educational are at the heart of the Educate Together ethos. At Esker, we encourage every single child to do their best and to reach their potential.
Change of contact details
Esker ETNS is part of the Lucan Common Enrolment System (LCES). We have offered out our places for junior infants 2018 already. For more information, please check our enrolment policies on our site www.eskeretns.ie or contact our secretary Suzanne.
Over the summer, you will be reminded about buying school books. We recommend that parents go online and use the supplier at http://www.openingminds.ie.
There are now 428 students at Esker. With so many children coming and going, everyone needs to be aware of the children’s safety when entering/exiting the school grounds. If possible, please drop children at the Castle Road entrance, walk or cycle. Please be aware of our neighbours, being mannerly and not blocking their driveways. We all need to work together to protect our children.
Board of Management
Sincere thanks to our Board of Management (BOM) for their continued support:
• Peggy (Chairperson and Patron nominee)
• Sandra (Treasurer and Patron nominee)
• Colette (Principal)
• Catherine (Teacher nominee)
• Virginija and Zydrunas (Parent nominees)
• Marie and Jacky (Community nominees).
Happy summer holidays!
We look forward to seeing you all back on Thursday, 30th August at 9:20am. School will finish at:
• 12:20 for junior infants (until 14th September)
• 2:00 for senior infants
• 3:00 for 1st-6th classes.