There was plenty to celebrate and reflect upon at Coon National School last Thursday evening, at an open night held for parents and families.
The school recently survived a threat to teacher numbers in the latest round of Government cuts, but must maintain its present number of students if it is to preserve its fourth teacher. It will need the full support of families within its catchment area if it is to maintain its essential full complement of teachers.
And there was no better way to showcase what the school has to offer than last Thursday’s activities. All of the school’s 54 students - from infants to sixth class - were involved in some form of activity, from choir to reading or technology demonstrations.
Principal Ms Brennan spoke of the strong community spirit in Coon, and said that great children come from great families.
“We may be small and rural, but good things come in small parcels,” she said of the school.
Recently, the school’s choir came first in the Sacred Music Section of the Kilkenny Music Festival. They won the Brennan Family Cup for their performance of ‘Endless is Your Love’ by Tom Kendzia. The choir was also runners-up for the Edward Logue Memorial Shield, performing ‘Lean On Me’ by Bill Withers. The children gave their guests a hearty rendition of both songs on Thursday evening, accompanied by teacher Eleanor Drennan.
Teachers Orla Phelan and Marie Butler were on hand to ensure the smooth running of proceedings.
Also present were the Liam McCarthy Cup and the Allianz Hurling League Cup, courtesy of the school’s close neighbour Paul Kinsella, chairman of the county board, who gave a short speech extolling the school’s virtues.
The school will also collect its second Green Flag later this month - a source of pride for the students and teachers alike.
The keynote address for the evening was given by Anne Goggins, a former teacher from Dublin who spoke on the subject of literacy and numeracy
And who better to embody the value of both but the infants, who demonstrated ‘jollyphonics’ on their laptops and worked on their new iPads.
The first, second and third classes read extracts from The Witches by Roald Dahl, and recounted photo stories of the hurling league, basketball league, and bedtime story night.
The fourth, fifth and sixth classes read a drama about the Titanic, as part of the centenary memorial. They played the theme tune form the Titanic film on tin whistle, accordion, guitars, and chime bars.
The children then showed their parents around the classrooms in which they spend their days.
“This is one of the schools that has received good news,” said local councillor Maurice Shorthall, who attended last Thursday’s open night.
“It is a vibrant school, but it needs every single student from the catchment parish if it is to thrive. It has tremendous support from the local community, and there are enough numbers to keep it on track. We have staved the wolf from the door, the trick now is to maintain it.”
Cllr Shorthall pointed to the new ornate lighting, stone wall, and recently-refurbished community playground and amenity area as examples of the strong community-led efforts to revitalise the village.