LAST week, the students of the Presentation Secondary School in Loughboy presented Sister Helen Lenehan with a cheque from the board of management, the staff and the students.
Sr Helen, who has just come home, has been working with the poorest of the poor in the Philippines. She makes a return visit every few years to recharge the batteries, visit her community, friends and relations and of course to support her beloved Kilkenny hurlers.
Thankfully, Presentation Loughboy remembers her too on an annual basis. An all-school table-quiz is held as a fun activity but also to raise funds for her work abroad.
The generosity of the parents, staff and students is never found wanting. Sr Helen couldn’t hide her joy and gratitude and spoke briefly to an assembled group of senior students in the school hall.
Sr Helen of the Presentation Order is a member of the well known Lenehan family originally from Irishtown. She was principal of the Presentation Secondary School from 1973 until 1988 - a period that truly reflects the positive influence and educational effectiveness of a vibrant leader.
Under Sr Helen’s guidance, the Presentation secondary school was a leading light in modernising education in a real and pragmatic way.
She initiated Pastoral Care, where the care, security and interests of the student were of prime importance. Transition Year – a new concept of the time – was introduced and also computer studies. The interests of the less academic student was cared for by her introduction of what was then called Community Based Learning. This was later to become Senior Cert and now called Leaving Cert Applied.
She also saw very quickly the value of introducing career guidance to the school.
As far as Presentation girls and staff of today are concerned, her greatest legacy was and still is, the building and relocating of the school from James’s Street (now Superquinn) to its present location in Loughboy. It would be very difficult to accurately describe the difficulties associated with this enormous project, in what was then a massive recession in the 1980s. Her leadership, energies or initiatives never faltered.