By Suzanne Pender
TWO LOCAL schools have not only reached the A grade themselves but they’ve also given top marks to people within their community who are going above and beyond during the Covid-19 crisis.
Coláiste Eoin, Hacketstown and Borris Vocational School were both finalists in the national 2020 Generation Apprenticeship Schools competition. Organised by Solas, the competition asked entrants to build the letter A (based on the Generation Apprenticeship brand) from materials supplied that were previously destined for landfill.
“The competition is in its final stages and we have finalists who have created brilliant work,” said Andrew Brownlee, chief executive of Solas. “Students were asked how they could combine future careers and their role in society with a commitment to green values and sustainable futures. We were due to have an awards ceremony at the end of last month but, like many other events, it was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak,” he added.
As a way of keeping students engaged and motivated in their wider studies, the competition promoters invited the finalists to think about how their competition entries, which are in the form of 3D letter-A installations, could be used to celebrate what the people of this country are doing to keep one another safe.
“In a way we are asking them to ‘mark the homework’ and to choose unsung professions around the country who they think deserve an A grade,” said Mr Brownlee.
The Coláiste Eoin team was led by their teacher Frances Mullins and they selected Seán Murphy, the town’s butcher, for their A grade.
“The students came together to create an Apprenticeship Town, which reflected the plethora of apprenticeships available to them as they progress through education,” said Frances. “Suddenly the rural town they call home, like everywhere in the world, was struck down with Covid-19 and one of the apprenticeships they highlighted became essential to their lives,” she added.
Team members Sophie Bermingham, Megan King, Mai Jimenez, Ali Sneed and Alice Mulhall felt that throughout unprecedented times, Seán has remained open and continues to serve the people of Hacketstown.
“He has shown ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit by remaining open, introducing social distancing and hand-delivering goods to those who require them. He exemplifies community and strives to be innovative while maintaining his craft and assisting the community. We truly admire what he has done for us; he is our local hero,” they said.
In Borris Vocational School, the student chose all the retail workers in the town as their grade-A heroes.
“Our students wanted to recognise the contribution of all retail workers who have remained open with their ‘A’ grade,” said Ciarán Hanafin, speaking on behalf of the school’s TY architecture module.
“These people are keeping our food chain and medical chain open for all of us during this war against Covid -19. They get up every morning and risk themselves and their families so we can all stay healthy and survive. We would especially like to recognise those in our own community, our local Centra and Mace stores, our local pharmacies and our local service stations. You’re our heroes, stay safe, thank you,” he added.
The finalists have all inputed short videos to explain their A-grade choices. They can be accessed at www.gacomp.ie/localheroes.