WITHOUT so much as a hint of irony, a teenager told a packed school hall of parents, teachers, politicians and clerics to switch off their mobile phones.
Leaving Certificate student Conor Davis maintained a straight face as he executed a fairly comprehensive role reversal in Naas CBS last week.
The occasion was the official opening of the school’s €4.6m extension by the Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn, who was also on a visit to schools in the Monasterevin area.
Town councillors, Dail deputies, teachers, parents and representatives of the Christian Brothers, parents bodies and school authorities attended the opening.
And the MC was the event last Friday was 6th year student Davis, who clearly wasn’t in the mood for interruptions.
Chairman of the Board of Management Sean Feely said the extension would facilitate the anticipated growth in student numbers (there are almost 1,000) and he described the students as “the most important people in the school.”
Parish Priest John Brickley also stressed that the mission of the school was to nurture the students. “May they know indeed they are the salt of the earth,” he said.
Bro. Martin O’Flaherty said Naas CBS is one of 96 schools making up the Edmund Rice Schools Trust. He said the original founders would not recognise the school today but they would wholeheartedly approve of it.
Parents council chairwoman Fidelma Dunne said the council works with staff and management and added that fundraising has become very difficult. She said the council assists the school whenever possible.
Students representative John Quirke said the extension had embraced new sports, such as tennis, alongside the more traditional Naas CBS sporting pursuits.
Minister Quinn paid tribute to the school staff and emphasised the public/private partnership which enables education across Ireland.
“I don’t take the work of school staff for granted and neither does the Department of Education. We recognise the miracle that it is,” he said.
Principal Noel Merrick described the opening as another landmark in the school’s 140 year history. Recalling that Christian Brothers first came to Naas in 1871, he noted it took a long time time to get the extension built.
“It’s sixteen years since I wrote a letter seeking the extension and thirteen years since the design team was appointed.”
Mr. Merrick advised the students to be mindful of the school’s tradition and at the same time to be able to reinvent themselves as they progress through school and life.
Work on the extension started in September 2009 and was completed a year later.
- Paul O’Meara