FROM a very small and humble start St Francis School has grown rapidly to the point that next year, hopefully, an eight-classroom extension will be opened to cater for the overflowing number of pupils.
This development will happen just a decade after the school gained its own permanent home and will cater for not far short of 500 pupils.
The land has been acquired for the expansion, and it’s a question of the funding to be approved for work on the project to proceed.
Currently, the school needs nine pre-fabricated classrooms to accommodate the number of pupils in attendance. Two of those cater for the new autism unit that will double its numbers from six to 12 this autumn.
It is a far cry from when the school opened first in 2007 with two teachers and a roll number of just 20.
The fledging school was accommodated in pre-fab rooms in what was a temporary home at the community centre.
As enrolment increased, a permanent building was sanctioned and built at the present location on the Rock Road, and the school moved there in 2013.
The growth in the school population has continued and with the growing numbers ,pre-fabricated accommodation is necessary till the new extension is erected and ready for occupation.
A result of the expanding roll is that now there are two streams all the way from infants to sixth class, with the teaching staff number now standing at 21, with seven special needs assistants providing indispensible assistance.
ST Francis School’s new Síológa autism unit will double its intake this September, with 12 pupils being taught in it.
The unit opened last September to provide tailored learning, suited to each individual pupil’s needs. The name chosen for the unit translates to growing up different and lovely.
Six pupils started out in the unit that principal Oreena Lawless accredited with giving the school a “new buzz”, commenting shortly after it commenced that it “has given the place a whole new energy and buzz”.
By the end of the year, she noted an extraordinary transformation in the pupils.
“It’s a pleasure and privilege to see the journey they have made. It’s absolutely inspiring,” she commented.
She also paid a glowing tribute to two of the staff members, Ciara Whately and Sophie Twibill, who have played a leading role in the successful launch of the unit. “I take my hats off to them,” she said.
The school has learned a lot from other schools in the area who operate similar units, and who have been very generous with guidance and sharing their experiences.
SIGNAGE and lettering work is being undertaken at the parish’s two churches. The work is projected to cost nearly €17,500 and is due to be completed by the end of September.
In the parish’s last financial year statement ending on March 31 of last, a total of €93,500 was stated to have been spent on Saint Fursey’s and Saint Oliver’s.
The latest work entails placing signage and lettering on the right-angled wall entering the first car park at Saint Oliver’s.
A stone cladding structure – similar to the new bell tower not long in situ to the right of the main entrance door, with inscription will be erected on the left side of the entrance door to Saint Fursey’s.
THE jackpot is one step short of €10,000 in the Geraldines lottery.
Standing at €9,600, it was not won in last week’s draw, with the numbers drawn 5, 6, 8 and 29.
Two players were within one number of the jackpot and shared the €200 match-three prize. The winners were Aisling Graham and Marion Heffron.
The jackpot is €9,800 this week.