"You can dream big. You can dream small, but all that matters is that they all count."
Those were the words of pupils, Ruairí Sinnott and Michael McWeeney as they performed a short sketch about life at St Patrick's Boy's National School in Rathangan at the official opening of the new building today. The boys talked about becoming an astronaut, a musician, a builder - anything is possible.
This ethos was in strong evidence at the brand new building with a large banner declaring "Where dreams begin" hanging over the stage in the assembly hall.
Principal Sean Begley said it was a privilege to teach in Rathangan for the past 28 years, and he had loved every minute of it.
He said this was a school "that the teachers and pupils, parents and the local community can be justifiably proud of. A school that will instill learning, create dreams, promote talents, encourage creativity, inspire sporting endeavor and nurture leaders of the future."
Mr Begley talked about how the journey to achieving a new school began many years ago when Joe Lynch was principal before he handed the reins over to him.
"There were days when the route wa very steep, but we were determined to reach our destination," he said.
He thanked the design team including Robert Oogle of Turley Associates, Steven Kelly of Phm Consulting, and Steven Donovan of T5 Partnership, Conor Finnegan of MCOH and clerk of works, Seamus Aspell.
Chairperson of the Board of Managment, Maureen Hamilton and treasurer, Evelyn Sinnott were also parised for their hardwork and a presentation was made to them both.
Mr Begley also praised the Parents Association for all their hard work and for fundraising over €30,000 to extend the hall to three times the size in the original plans.
The school staff were also applauded by Mr Begley, with the pupils described as wonderful, well mannered, happy and enthusiastic.
"We have an excellent music programme, an outgoing vibrant choir and of course St. Patrick's has always been synonymous with sport," he said.
He singalled out Andy Kavanagh and Jack O'Connell for their help with coaching throughout the years. Mr Begley remarked on the new technologies now available to the pupils.
Parents, Jacinta Smith, Yvonne McConnon and Joe Foran were also thanked, while former principals, Joe Lynch and Sean Madigan were welcomed alongside former teachers, Larry Fulham and Mary Bracken.
Bishop Denis Nulty blessed the new building before Chairperson of the Board of Management, Maureen Hamilton cut the ribbon. The bishop noted how there were just 145 pupils enrolled in 1977 compared to 267 today.
A large crowd of parents and members of the community gathered at the school for the official opening at 11am.
The pupils performed fantastic poems and songs, including an excellent contribution from the school band. John Conlan, Colm Curtin, Jack Doyle, Daniel Moloney, Hugh Connolly, Calum Leavy and Óisin Conroy really impressed the audience with their singing followed by a fantastic rendition from teacher, Zeta Dillon.
Mrs Hamilton thanked Fr. Gerard O'Byrne and George Hipwell for their support for the project.
Mr Begley summed up his hopes for his pupils when he said; "We hope they will dream big and that we will praise every effort."